You may have noticed the word ‘romance’ twice in today’s title. One version is capitalized and the other isn’t. That was done purposely and either is correct. The meanings differ a bit and such is the distinction.
Most of us are aware of the everyday, hum-drum term of romance. It’s all those jewelry commercials, sexy clothing, and horrible reality-tv shows. It’s more materialistic than emotional. But if a diamond ring gives you goosebumps, so be it. I’m not here to talk about that type of romance today.
I’m a Romantic. One of the definitions of romance from the Cambridge English dictionary states: “the feeling of excitement or mystery that you have from a particular experience or event.” While this fits into the category of what we think of as romance, I’m going to ask you to ascend to a higher plane of sensory perception.
When I used to rent a camp for the summer, I often sat on the dock and gazed at the wooded area across the lake from me. It’s what inspired The Quarry’s Child (as yet unfinished). All sorts of ideas sprang from my imagination, fueled by my perception of the moodiness of those woods. Robert Frost wrote: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.” He could have said they were dreary. He didn’t. He said they’re lovely. Think about that juxtaposition of images. Powerful AND exciting.
The concept of Romance often relates to intense emotions, perhaps from the beauty of literature, nature, or the concept of individualism. The British captured it during the latter part of the 19th century (more on them in a post to come). Incredible poetry espousing the qualities of Romance was written during that time. Words are powerful. Words are beautiful. Words are Romantic.
Let’s look at an American writer most often known for his terrifying short stories and his own tragic life. Many forget Edgar Allen Poe was a poet. Not only was he a poet, he was an excellent poet. His short life was a frantic search for Romance. He knew his share of tragedy. The beauty of his prose and poetry incite intense emotion in me. If you’ve never read his poem “Annabel Lee,” you are missing out on an intense word imagery experience that evokes a response like no other.
“Annabel Lee” was Poe’s last poem and was published posthumously about a month after he was discovered wandering in a delirium through the streets of Baltimore. He died shortly after. Its common theme of a death of a beautiful woman might suggest that it is a dreary, depressing tale. In some ways it is, but its beautiful language and imagery saves it, hat and its Romantic quality of being like a fairy tale.
Basically the poem spins a story of two children who fall in love, a love that transcends any other type of love. As they grow older, the angels are jealous of their love and cause Annabel Lee’s death. This is a very simplistic synopsis. Let’s look at some of Poe’s language:
“The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.”
The imagery of the wind springing up and giving Annabel a chill is easy for any reader to understand. That it kills her adds to the tragedy and loss. We feel the loss of our narrator and can identify what loss can do to a person. The last stanza tells us.
“For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.”
His devotion to Annabel is evident. He can’t see the moon or stars without thinking of her. She has become an ideal of beauty in his mind. The notion of Romance harkens to idealistic images. Characters are almost perfection personified. When read in its entirety, this poems gives me goosebumps, nudges my stomach into a bit of a thrill, and causes me to feel the melancholy. That’s Romance. Is Romance part of your life? Or is it mere romance? I’m so blessed to know Romance.