Thursday Dances: Words With Which to Woo

I once heard of a couple girls (A and B, shall we say) who spent a day picking out what manner of engagement rings they wanted from a jeweler’s website: an exercise in aesthetics, perhaps.  This done, B told A’s boyfriend all about it so he could get exactly what A wanted without tipping her off.  On one hand, it seemed nice that he would trouble to learn her opinion – but on the other, it struck me that it should have been unnecessary.  Surely if he knew her well enough, he’d be able to discern whether she preferred antique or modern styles, round or square cuts, white or yellow gold.  Surely her character and personality would indicate what would suit her.

This post feels similar: picking out the things that seem shiny or seem to fit.  Any enterprising fellow who likes may feel free to use them, should he find opportunity.  But surely anyone interested in winning my heart would be able to find his own words.

…or perhaps not; “Sihaya” was the nickname an old boyfriend gave me, and I include it now though it has lost most of its power.

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
– W. Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

“Joanna,” he said, “y’ ’ave saved my life, and I have saved yours; and we have seen blood flow, and been friends and enemies—ay, and I took my belt to thrash you; and all that time I thought ye were a boy.  But now death has me, and my time’s out, and before I die I must say this: Y’ are the best maid and the bravest under heaven, and, if only I could live, I would marry you blithely; and, live or die, I love you.”

“And, dear Dick—good Dick—but that ye can get me forth of this house before the morning, we must even kiss and say good-bye.”
“Nay,” said Dick, “not I; I will never say that word.  ’Tis like despair; but while there’s life, Joanna, there is hope.  Yet will I hope.  Ay, by the mass, and triumph!  Look ye, now, when ye were but a name to me, did I not follow—did I not rouse good men—did I not stake my life upon the quarrel?  And now that I have seen you for what ye are—the fairest maid and stateliest of England—think ye I would turn?—if the deep sea were there, I would straight through it; if the way were full of lions, I would scatter them like mice.”
“Ay,” she said, dryly, “ye make a great ado about a sky-blue robe!”
“Nay, Joan,” protested Dick, “’tis not alone the robe.”
– R. L. Stevenson, The Black Arrow

I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:
that you were beautiful, and that I strove
to love you in the old high way of love…
– W. B. Yeats, “Adam’s Curse”

O go you onward; where you are Shall honor and laughter be,
Past purpled forest and pearled foam, God’s winged pavilion free to roam,
Your face, that is a wandering home, A flying home for me.

– G. K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
– E. E. Cummings, “somewhere i have never traveled,gladly beyond”

“Miss Vane – I admired you for speaking as you did tonight. Detachment is a rare virtue, and very few people find it lovable, either in themselves or in others. If you ever find a person who likes you in spite of it – still more, because of it – that liking has very great value, because it is perfectly sincere and because, with that person, you will never need to be anything but sincere yourself.”

“Just exercise your devastating talent for keeping to the point and speaking the truth.”
“That sounds easy.”
“It is – for you. That’s what I love you for. Didn’t you know?

She had often wondered, in a detached kind of way, what it was that Peter valued in her and had apparently valued from that first day when she had stood in the dock and spoken for her own life. Now that she knew, she thought that a more unattractive pair of qualities could seldom have been put forward as an excuse for devotion.

“Placetne, magistra?”
– Lord Peter Wimsey, D. Sayers, Gaudy Night

“I am beginning to understand,” said the little prince. “There is a flower… I think that she has tamed me…”

To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you– the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Le Petit Prince

“You are Sihaya, the desert spring.”
– Paul Muad’dib, Frank Herbert, Dune

“Dying would have been the easy way never to have to answer your question,” he said, “or any questions, and if there is one thing that has always been true about you, it’s that you make me question myself — and questioning myself inevitably proves to me how little of myself exists to sustain that sort of interrogation. I know you, my dear, better than I know myself. You are whole and entire — loyal and honest and stupidly, amazingly stubborn and beautiful as you are — and I’m shadows and the ghost of old lies held together by good intentions and hope.”
– Not telling.  Muahah.


10 thoughts on “Thursday Dances: Words With Which to Woo

    • To be fair, it’s not quite off the top of my head. I’ve read a fair few books online, and squirreled away some of my favorite lines for later enjoyment.

      The most romantic of them is, I think, Miss de Vine’s assessment of Harriet’s character and Peter’s excuses for devotion; the question of what the lover admires in his beloved is much more fascinating when it extends beyond looks and into character.

      • Ah, but the fact that you have squirreled them away proclaims you a romantic, or at least more romantic than I. It isn’t hard to be more romantic than I am, at least in the modern sense of the word. That may be one of the reasons only mentally unstable men have ever professed love for me. >_<

        Agreed. I do not find surface-admiration very compelling in literature (or real life, for that matter). Quirks and oddities of love, however, are often quite compelling, as they echo the quirks and oddities inherent in real-world love.

      • I like especially how he mentions two conventionally “unattractive qualities” as his “excuse for devotion.” Things that don’t appear grand, dramatic, and bursting of poetry and wind-blown hair or fiery outbursts of passion. Things that, rather, reflect how a person is every day, in mundane life, the way you will know them and have to love them if you are to live with them. And that’s beautiful.

        “Your face, that is a wandering home, A flying home for me.”

        I also greatly liked this quote. More poetic than the one I mentioned above, but still true.

  1. DUNE! Paul’s relationship to Chani is really fascinating. He is faithful and honorable to her, even when politics prevent their marriage from having official sanction. But Chani is Paul’s true wife. Their love is sweet and heartbreaking.

    • I need to reread Dune, honestly. It’s been ages. Was she the one he handed his water rings to at the start? Rather cute ^_^

    • Trust me, I’m aware. But anyone who asks a) deserves what he gets and 2) will profit if such a thing turns out to be some kind of deal-breaker.

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