Sometimes a poem always comes to me. One which has been a favorite since I first read it thirty years ago. A poem which always reminded me of myself even before I understand what it fully might mean, and after I’ve have frenetic times of passion, violence and love.
The Lady of Shallott by Lord Alfred Tennyson
“There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair’d page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower’d Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror’s magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.”
How is it when you love someone? When it is not a matter of touch, or shared goals or sex and such things? How is it when it is pure ideal?
I read a review from an incredulous female reader who discounted the possibility or likelihood of men who were attracted to each other still staying apart and never truly interacting for years. That person obviously does not know the possibility of gay relationships or those who are involved in them.
I love someone. I’ve loved him a long time. Almost ten years. Such if the nature of people who’ve made choices and then respected them. The men who had questions or had loved other men but did choose to marry a woman and naturally have children and keep a life together. You still may love someone else, or fantasize of same sex love, but you respect the bond you’ve made, the partner you’ve allied yourself to. You don’t cheat on them even if in your mind and heart emotionally you are more connected to someone else, another man.
That is what keeps two people apart who continue to respect the lives they had previously chosen and been a part of. For many love is never easy and relationships can be pure hell.
And so I romanticized myself as “The Lady of Shallott”, not withstanding I wasn’t a “lady”. I knew what it was to either love someone and they didn’t love you in return, or seeing someone and falling helplessly into a passionate connection to them which cannot be fulfilled. Loving someone who loves someone else…that is indeed an exceptional agony.
So this connects to my writing. Sometimes people have a difficult life or personality which has the need to create a happily ever after ending no matter what, but that is something for which I have no ability or need to emulate although I can well understand.
Maybe because I’ve been buffetted emotionally (among other things), seen, observed, experienced and survived so much in my own life plus my cultural heritage and personality….that a HEA is not something which in anyway seems logical or believable even if in a fiction genre. It is neither satisfying or enjoyable most of the time. The ability to overcome and/or learn something for a situation or relationship, even if it was not successful, is what is highest to me. The continuation of growth. The zen of unlearning and continual learning which sees nothing as static or defined. It sees nothing as expected or intentional. One is always learning.
Some people read fiction to escape. I read fiction to experience the variety real people can create in a fictional setting of what is real and utterly the complexities that is life. I do not accept formulas as rote. I do not regard those who limit themselves to one minimalistic ideal or perceived reality.
Love has no one definition, nor a thousand or a million. It is different for people, every single one, even if we sometimes agree on a certain representations. That is the same of what some term as “gay love” or “hetero love”, or any other intergender or transgendered reality.
Loss is loss. Pain is pain. Agony is agony.
Those who say they cannot identify with a plot or theme of love just because it involves two men or two women in comparison to a man and a woman, has not truly understood what love is.
Love has no gender or bounds. It has no formulas. It has no “should be’s” or “shouldn’t be’s”. Those who compartmentalize love, lovers and living in such ways have not understood or truly experienced love because they still possess the ability to discount or scorn the possibility of it in others who simply love a different way.