A couple of quick comments regarding The More Loving One before I go to bed:
- Brian, I think, was right to insist that ‘sublime’ is not a noun in this poem. I was perhaps overly enthusiastic about my misreading. Had he felt “the total dark sublime” I would have maintained my case, but the word in the poem is ‘its.’ That little pronoun seems to demand that the object be an attribute or quality of the empty sky, and ‘sublime’ just doesn’t work that way. I still want to believe that the sublime dark is not a substitute for the stars, and that the affection is not preserved through some transference, but rather the appreciation of the absence of the object is itself is in some way just a sublimation, so to speak, of the original sentiment. I’m certain, though, that ‘sublime’ can be used as a noun in other circumstances.
In reading this poem, I was reminded of a passage from one of my favorite novels (my appreciation is somewhat idiosyncratic, and I’m not sure I’d recommend the book to anyone else):
It’s very odd, my dear Lewis, how being loved brings out the worst in comparatively amiable people. One sees these worthy creatures lying at one’s feet and protesting their supreme devotion. And it’s a great strain to treat them with even moderate civility. I doubt whether anyone is nice enough to receive absolutely defenceless love.
I took it to mean that the speaker agrees: “If equal affection cannot be,” she’d rather not be on the receiving end. Of course, she also says, “If a love affair has come to the point when one needs to get things straight, then…it’s time to think a little about the next.” Perhaps it’s best not to pay too close attention to what she says…
- I keep wanting to skip the word ‘me’ in the last line. Without it, the line is iambic and comfortable; with it, I am forced to pay attention to what the line actually says.