To Speak of Woe

Weight of love

To Speak of Woe That Is In Marriage

by Robert Lowell

The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes,
and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes,
free-lancing out along the razor’s edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust…
It’s the injustice… he is so unjust’
whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him tick? Each night now I tie
ten dollars and his car key to my thigh…
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant.’


Don’t ever accuse Robert Lowell of not having a sense of humor.  What are we to make of this sonnet?  In my opinion Lowell intentionally uses the sonnet structure to poke a little fun at the romantics by describing what may be the most selfless act of love by a female protagonist in all of poetry, the willingness to accept her lovers demons, however vile and debasing they may be.

What makes each of us tick? A question that sorely tests every relationship. I don’t believe in true love, as truth and love have little business reuniting in one ignominious lie. I do believe lasting love comes in part from the acceptance of injustice. Rare is the relationship borne of equals.  Most of us live a life with a partner where, for sometimes long periods, one member or the other pulls a greater share of the weight to make it succeed. One person is more committed, one person is more invested and that fact is worn like a yoke around both partners necks. Maybe it is through that sacrifice of accepting the injustice of love, that love abides.


 

Astrophil and Stella 47

by Sir Phillip Sydney

What, have I thus betrayed my liberty?
Can those black beams such burning marks engrave
In my free side? or am I born a slave,
Whose neck becomes such yoke of tyranny?
Or want I sense to feel my misery?
Or sprite, disdain of such disdain to have?
Who for long faith, though daily help I crave,
May get no alms but scorn of beggary.
Virtue, awake! Beauty but beauty is;
I may, I must, I can, I will, I do
Leave following that which it is gain to miss.
Let her go. Soft, but here she comes. Go to,
Unkind, I love you not! O me, that eye
Doth make my heart give to my tongue the lie!