Rough weather, Sublime Poetry


To share with you this rough, divisive weather
And not to grieve because we have to share it,
Desire to wear the dark of night together
And feel no colder that we do not wear it,
Because sometimes my sight of you is clearer,
The memory not clouded by the sense,
To know that nothing now can make you dearer
Than does the close touch of intelligence,
To be the prisoner of your kindnesses
And tell myself I want you to be free,
To wish you here with me despite all this,
To wish you here, knowing you cannot be—
This is a way of love in our rough season,
This side of madness, the other side of reason.

–James Reeves (1909-1978 )

I was confounded by the syntax of this sonnet at first, but then realized a way round it was to divide its train of thought in 2s. (the commas are indicative of this) So this is my rusty attempt at paraphrase:

Lines 1-2: To share with you our woes is not an occasion for grief.

Lines 3-4:
You and I are cold despite the absence of grief.

Lines 5-6: (The “because” is perplexing because it does not answer a previous query; I can surmise that raw emotion is breaking through here as it seems like a recollection of love)
I remember you best through memory untouched by the senses.

Lines 7-8: Nothing can bring you back except cold rationality of these lines?

Lines 9-10: This is a very confusing line to a mere mortal like me. I am entrapped by your qualities (ie kindness) but I want you to be free from me, but ironically i am not free from you. A paradox or some impossible wish the speaker is making?

Lines 11-12: I wish you were here (x2), but it is impossible.

Lines 13-14: These are the strange currents of our love. Binaries: Madness/Reason, Absence/Presence, You and I. Don’t you just love complicated relationships and the madness that comes from it? There is simply no resolution and you wonder why poetry indeed makes NOTHING happen.

2 Responses to “Rough weather, Sublime Poetry”

  1. thanks for the luck! oh i ot B3 for it ): Sorry that i disappointed you but you are still my ever great lit teacher till now! how are you? do you have msn or what? (:

  2. ni hao (:

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