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What is love? It seems to be a pretty simple word, but there is so much meaning behind it. Love is difficult to define, difficult to measure, and frequently difficult to understand. Love is what great writers write about; great philosophers wonder about; singers sing about. Love is a very powerful emotion. Love saves; love conquers; love creates. Love is passion that cannot be controlled. Both poems we have read, Waiting for Icarus and One Art, tell us how love alters human minds and hearts, making people in love struggle with the desire to remain in control of themselves and with the scary feeling of “losing themselves”.
The first poem, Waiting for Icarus, reveals the story of Icarus’ girlfriend waiting for her lover to come back after his dangerous flight. She is terribly worried about Icarus, and it is easy to see how much she misses her lover: “I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.” (20) As a true lover, Icarus’ girlfriend does not even notice time. She reminds me of the line from the poem “In Retrospect”, by Maya Angelou: “We, loving, above the whim of time, did not notice.” But when Icarus’ girlfriend is left alone, she starts remembering things other people have told her before:
“ I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventors are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all” (15-20)
It is easy to see that despite her truthful love towards Icarus, she starts to struggle with the desire to remain in control of herself. She is afraid that life will become meaningless without Icarus. After spending a day without her lover, she only lives with the memory of her Icarus, his words, and his promises:
“He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation…” (2-3)
But she has found the way to stay in control of herself by deciding to “fly away” too. If he wants freedom, she will not spend her life in pain of knowing she cannot relive her memories or to replace her lover. Icarus’ girlfriend overcomes the scary feeling of loosing herself that love often generates by choosing freedom, by remaining in control of herself. She is no longer waiting for Icarus; she is a free woman: “ I would have liked to try those wings myself. It would have been better than this.” (23)
In the poem One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop, we see a story of a woman who is mastering “the art of losing.” This woman lives her life like there is no tomorrow. She admits that she has lost many things, and “their loss is no disaster.” (3) She became a master of loosing. She starts with losing “door keys, the hour badly spent”. Then she practices “the art of losing” farther:
“I lost two cities, lovely ones. And vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.” (13-16)
Apparently, this woman travels a lot, and therefore, she has got used to losing friends, houses, cities. She does not see any loss as a disaster. She achieves a perfection in “the art of losing” (6). The situation, however, changes when she meets a man, who becomes a very important person in her life. This time the decision is not easy to make. Even if she has been with her lover for a small period of time, the choice to lose “someone special” for her is not easy anymore. She looks back at her past, recalling how many things she has lost and realizing that “losing’s not too hard to master.” (19) Now she has a choice of staying with that man or move on with her life. Her choice is to stay a free woman. Some day she might wonder of how it could have been, but today she is a master of “the art of losing” (6). The woman remains in control of herself. She realizes that even losing that “someone special” in not really a disaster for her “though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.”
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Emotions, Love, Greek mythology, Icarus, Romance
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