Sunday, February 13, 2011

runes & tunes: "To His Coy Mistress" and "Besame Mucho"

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.
   But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song: then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
   Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

                               - Andrew Marvell

For more wonderful poem-snippet valentines to print and send, click the carrots.

A smarty teacher-friend of mine just told me that she informs her students that she'll be teaching them an X-rated poem, and then trots this one out.  By the time they're done with it, they're all loving literature!  Can't say I'm surprised, with this racy little number offering itself up to their peeping eyes...

The Poet: Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) was a Cambridge educated polyglot, teacher and creature of many additional hats (poet, politician, clergyman) and many pals (John's Milton and Donne, to name a couple).  This particular metaphysical poem has been alluded to by writers as various as Woodie Allen, Ursula LeGuin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It's also the source of the central phrase "World enough and time" used in the novel and film The Time Traveller's Wife.

And then there's a classic tune with a similar urgency: 
click the sheet music to hear the tune...
The Musician: Andrea Bocelli?  Come on: You know him.  Italian tenor & pop crossover artist promoted shamelessly by star-maker David Foster?  Handsome guy with the sexy voice who also happens to be blind?  Sings duets with Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman and Mary J. Blige and various Muppets?  Yes, him.

The Composer: Consuelo Velasquez wrote this hot little number in 1940, and it's been recorded by Elvis, The Beatles, Maynard Ferguson & Diane Schuur, Dean Martin, to name just a few.  Who knew that this young Mexican composer-concert pianist, who at age 24 had never been kissed, would pen such an enduring and malleable tune?  And she, like Marvell, served as a politician at times (she was elected to the Mexican congress). 

PLEASE support these poets & musicians who change us with their art.


FYI: Pairings for 'runes & tunes' are my own.  They might be thematically related or structurally or tonally or just associatively in some way that only my particular subconscious understands.  They'll be enjoyable always - worth a moment or two to read, to ponder, to listen, to ponder again.


Robyn said...

I remember reading this poem in college...such strange metaphors. When I saw the picture at the top and the quote, I thought you were going to be writing about actual love of vegetables, and the porn that seed catalogues can become for avid gardeners, but that might have just been me projecting my own eagerness for spring. What a grea idea to pair a poem and a song together. It makes me remember how much I appreciae poetry. Thanks for hopping by and Happy Valentine's Day.

Laurie said...

Well, I very well could have written about those catalogues: I know entirely too well what you mean! And, yes, whether or not you or I would find them persuasive, Marvell's metaphysical devices here are surely memorable!

LBC said...

This is so much fun. I love to teach Marvell. I use it sometimes for a first day diagnostic writing activity.

Great feature.

jackieisreading said...

I LOVE teaching this poem--I used to do it with my juniors, and their reactions as they realized what he was talking about was priceless! Poetry can be sexy!

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