Mar. 31, 2008
The Definition of Love
My Love is of a birth as rare
As 'tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by Despair
Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown
But vainly flapped its Tinsel wing.
And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixt,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.
For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect Loves; nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic power depose.
And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant Poles have placed,
(Though Love's whole World on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embraced.
Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the World should all
Be cramped into a planisphere.
As lines so Loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet:
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite can never meet.
Therefore the Love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the Mind,
And opposition of the Stars.
Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime ...
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
On this day in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated in Paris. It was built for the Paris Exposition as part of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, and also as a demonstration of the structural capabilities of iron.
The tower elicited strong reactions after its opening. A petition of 300 names, including writers Guy de Maupassant, Émile Zola, and Alexandre Dumas the younger, was sent to the city government protesting its construction. The petition read, "We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects, and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigor and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."
De Maupassant described it as, "A high and skinny pyramid of iron ladders, [a] giant ungainly skeleton upon a base that looks built to carry a colossal monument of Cyclops, but which just peters out into a ridiculous thin shape like a factory chimney." He hated the tower so much that he started eating in its restaurant every day, because, he said, "It is the only place in Paris where I don't have to see it."
In 1836, on this date, Charles Dickens began publishing his first novel, (books by this author) The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.
It's the birthday of British novelist John Fowles, (books by this author) born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England (1926). In 1963, after throwing away more than a dozen manuscripts, he published his first novel, The Collector, about a man who collects butterflies and then one day kidnaps a young woman and keeps her in his basement, hoping to win her love. He went on to publish many more novels, including The Magus (1965) and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969).
It's the birthday of poet and essayist Octavio Paz, (books by this author) born in Mexico City (1914), the son of a lawyer and the grandson of a novelist. In 1950, he published a monumental essay on Mexican national character and culture, The Labyrinth of Solitude, which has become standard reading in Latin American studies programs and has been so influential that a critic recently said, "No one can talk about the Mexican character without referring to Paz."
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