Thursday, 1 January 2015

My vegetable love should grow / Vaster than empires, and more slow.

I'm reading "The Discarded Image" by C S Lewis. Part of it discourses on the tripartite soul, although I really shouldn't use that phrase as its wrong: the soul was not in three parts, nor were there three souls, but there were vegetable, sensitive and rational souls, or aspects to the soul. The vegetable soul was appropriate to plants, and encompassed growth and the like; the sensitive soul included sensation and movement, and was appropriate to animals and encompassed the vegetable; and the rational soul included rationality, and included both.

Which immeadiately brought to mind Marvell's
Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;

An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
Which is a somewhat puzzling image. It kinda fits; I've thought of vast ancient trees, or even sub-soil fungus; vegetables are certainly slow, and can be relentless; think of tree roots. However - especially when you consider the rather more animal imagery of the end of the poem - the opening here does fit if you interpret vegetable in the "soul" sense.

“Vegetable Love”: Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress,” Herrick’s “The Vine,” and the Attraction of Plants says similar, and also brings in Herrick's "the Vine" which is far more disturbing. I also think his interpretation of the violence implicit (in the system! Ha) or explicit in the closing of the poem is wrong, because its mutual.


* Stoat: While the youthful glue / sits on thy skin like morning dew (2007)
* Stoat: Poetry (2009)
* Stoat: Tear our pleasures with rough strife / through the iron gates of life (2005)

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