The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns

The thing I don’t understand about the people who analyse Plath’s poems in terms of the tawdry details of her life – ‘She wrote this one after Ted put his dick in what’s her name’ – is that it demeans the nature of the relationship. Plath’s poetry isn’t a never-ending series of reactions to whose vagina her husband’s penis is in today. Her poetry is, if you like, her contribution to the never-ending discussion of the meaning of life. I don’t see that it is being interpreted the right way if we take some microscope to it and her.

Same here. Look at this rather lovely poem:

Ae Fond Kiss

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee.
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerfu’ twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.

I’ll ne’er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy;
But to see her was to love her;
Love but her, and love forever.
Had we never lov’d sae kindly,
Had we never lov’d sae blindly,
Never met—or never parted—
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.

Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace. enjoyment, love, and pleasure!
Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, forever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!

******************************************

So, do you want to know why he wrote this? For whom and what happened? I’m a compulsive researcher and yet. There are places you shouldn’t go and this is one. This is a contribution by Robert Burns to a never-ending conversation about the meaning of life. Sir Walter Scott thought that ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ contained the ‘essence of a thousand love tales’. We don’t need to know that he wrote it for Clarinda. Oh. And one for Ann and Maria, Jessie and Eliza. Not to mention there’s Mally and there’s Polly, Mary and Peggy. And. And the list goes on.

None of that is relevant. There is the poet. His poem. The meaning of life.

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2 thoughts on “The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns

  1. What a pity that you can’t discuss this with Nabokov, who also had strong opinions on the subject! I would have loved to hear the conversation, and he even lived near here, We just arrived a little late.

  2. Oh, you’ve reminded me. I must post my review of Lolita….though I don’t know if Nabokov would have wanted to discuss that with me.

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