Love is a place

One of the benefits of an active reading life is that when you read not only for pleasure but for improvement, then similar themes in different authors’ works seem to just float to you, unbidden, like synergy.

Today I read e.e.  cummings’ Love is a Place

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

The thought of love as a place and yes as a world reminded me so much of Emily Dickinson’s notion of dwelling in Possibility:

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

I want to live there.

It seems to me that to live in a place of love, to dwell in possibility isn’t an overly sweet, superficial existence. Love is neither romance, nor feel-good mantras. It’s more a matter of making the choice to try to hang on to spirit of love and possibility even when (especially when) things are life is hard.

Sometimes we will fail, of course.

We’re human.

It’s what we do.

But that’s what friends are for. Or art. Or great literature. To remind you.

Like the woman in Waterhouse’s The Soul of the Rose. Find something beautiful. Hang on to it.

'The Soul of the Rose', also known as 'My Sweet Rose', by John William Waterhouse
‘The Soul of the Rose’, also known as ‘My Sweet Rose’, by John William Waterhouse

Notice the last bit of Dickinson’s poem: /The spreading wide my narrow Hands/To gather Paradise/.  This brings to mind Christina Rossetti’s poem, which I used in this post I stretch my hands and catch at Hope

De Profundis by Christina Rossetti

Oh why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.

I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.

I never watch the scatter’d fire
Of stars, or sun’s far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:

For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.

Dickinson,dwelling in Possibility, spreads her hands to gather Paradise. Rossetti stretches her hands to catch at Hope.  We can’t become complacent. We must be permanently reaching, stretching, and ready to grab at Hope wherever we find it.

Reading all three poems together strengthens my belief that I can choose to live my life in a place of love and dwell in possibility.  Is it a permanent place? Maybe. But life has its own rhythms and we have to follow the ebb and flow. We can strike a balance between hope and melancholy. Both have their usefulness.

Or at least, that’s how I read it. You may read these works in a different way entirely. That’s why poetry is so much fun.

'Hope', Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
‘Hope’, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Also see:
Embracing the Beauty of Melancholy

I stretch my hands and catch at Hope

Katabasis: Descend into Hell

Sorrow and Sunflowers

5 thoughts on “Love is a place”

  1. Stephanie, I’m glad to see you’re feeling well enough to write again. I look forward to your words and thoughts and the wonderful things you bring to our attention, including the art. The poems in this piece were great. I wish I could say memorable, but I’m one of those people who can’t remember lines of literature no matter how much I want to. The lines “and catch at hope” and “I dwell in possibility” sum up so well a place my mind occupies.

  2. Stephanie,
    Thank you for your intelligence, your sensitivity and your ability to transcend your pain in order to touch and inspire others..


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