Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Missing Pieces: Who Was the Dark Lady?

On this day 400 years ago - May 20, 1609 - William's Shakespeare's sonnets (supposedly) were published (supposedly) by Thomas Thorpe.

I like this one, because it's refreshingly realistic about "true love" for a change, and it reminds me of what I often teasingly tell my husband is our marriage theme song - "If You Wanna Be Happy":

Sonnet CXXX

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

-William Shakespeare

Who isn't intrigued by literary or musical clues of a possible secret love, such as Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved," and Shakespeare's "Dark Lady?"

Was Shakespeare's "Dark Lady" a woman of African descent, as Anthony Burgess imagines in his novel Nothing Like the Sun, or a Mediterranean fellow-writer of sonnets as in Carol Goodman's book The Sonnet Lover?

I've often wondered about all the anonymous, completely-lost-to-history individuals who have enriched the lives and art of famous creative geniuses. Who were they? Were they "ordinary" people with inspring stories to tell? Were they incredible talents in their own right for whom these great artists pined in a kind of ecstatic self-torment, or seemingly unremarkable people with whom these historic greats could find a special, sheltered intimacy, or perhaps an overpowering, wild passion?

We'll never know, of course. Isn't that deliciously frustrating?

Sometimes the most significant, life-altering moments are those that seem to be the smallest, and the greatest influences, those that most people might overlook. As I think of the people and experiences in my life that seem to hover in its tiny moments, I wonder what shape my life might have taken without them, and I realize how important even the most fleeting moment can be. The moment a doctor taught me how to mask ventilate a patient manually couldn't have taken more than a few seconds, but it altered the course of my whole life.

Perhaps there's really no such thing as a small moment or an insignificant interaction.


Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka TBTAM) said...

Like reading a blog post - who knows how that interaction can change a person?

At minimum, it is an enjoyable few moments spent.

Thanks for that.

K. said...

I love that poem...