Love is Enough

William Morris’ Love is Enough has been on my mind this morning. “He makes a poem these days–in dismal Queen Square in black old filthy London in dull end of October he makes a pretty poem that is to be wondrously happy; and it has four sets of lovers in it and THEY ALL ARE HAPPY and it ends well, and will come out some time next summer and I shall make little ornaments to it–such is Top in these days.” –Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones.   (The capitalization there is Burne-Jones’ emphasis, not mine.  Something about it touches me.)

THEY ARE ALL HAPPY.

I find something profound in that ecstatically capitalized statement.

Love is Enough is a morality play by William Morris.  Biographers and critics often point out that it’s not one of his best works, which may be true, but for me it is the meaning  behind the work that shines through and resonates with me.  This excerpt below is the most widely known portion.

Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass’d over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.  (Read more here)

I love the imagery of it, the thought of journeying through dark  woods where it is too difficult to see the natural beauty that exists but despite that, true lovers do not fear or falter.  They persevere even in darkness.

Study of two lovers by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

This stanza also resonates with me.

Love is enough: while ye deemed him a-sleeping,
There were signs of his coming and sounds of his feet;
His touch it was that would bring you to weeping,
When the summer was deepest and music most sweet:
In his footsteps ye followed the day to its dying,
Ye went forth by his gown-skirts the morning to meet:
In his place on the beaten-down orchard-grass lying,
Of the sweet ways ye pondered left for life’s trying.

The poem is nestled within Morris’ morality tale and while it may not have the exquisite lyricism as his early works like The Earthly Paradise, there are lines in it that are incredibly poignant to me:

Through the world I will wander
Till either I finder her, or find the world empty.

‘Love Among the Ruins’, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones.

I think one reason it appeals to me is that its theme is a pursuit of love that is more than mere physical love.  It embraces a spirit of love similar to that of Dante’s for  Beatrice. Dante Alighieri first saw and fell in love with Beatrice when he was nine years old. He would later write about his instant love for her in La Vita Nuova, saying “Behold, a deity stronger than I; who coming, shall rule over me.”  Beatrice is more than a muse. She is an idealized love, the kind of love that transcends physicality. Alighieri included her in both La Vita Nuova and Divine Comedy. She is his salvation; the “gentilissima” (most kind)  and “benedetta” (blessed). It is Beatrice who serves as his guide in Heaven in Divine Comedy.

‘Beatrice’, Marie Spartali Stillman

I’ve written before about my belief, inspired by e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, and Christina Rossetti, that we can live life as if love is a place for us to occupy instead of merely a feeling to pursue.  Love should be all encompassing and nurture our corporeal selves as well as the spiritual.  It may seem rare, but it happens and it’s worth striving for and nurturing.

Study for lovers in The Blessed Damozel, Dante Gabriel Rossetti

To me, this:
Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass’d over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
Meshes well with this:

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easyAll you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Both William Morris and The Beatles were right.  Love is enough, love is all you need.

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