Friday, August 5, 2011
(Bowl with Sugar Cubes by André Kertész, 1894-1985,
When we speak of a Platonic friendship, we mean the chaste but passionate feelings between two people who would normally be expected to share a romantic attraction for each other.
By its nature, friendship is good and desirable. We welcome it with open arms.
But not always, especially when we expect romance but are offered Platonic friendship instead.
“Just friends” is what we would say. And a sad phrase it is.
I knew it the first of the Summer —
I knew it the same at the end —
That you and your love were plighted,
But couldn’t you be my friend?
Couldn’t we sit in the twilight,
Couldn’t we walk on the shore,
With only a pleasant friendship
To bind us, and nothing more?
There was not a word of nonsense
Spoken between us two,
Though we lingered oft in the garden
Till the roses were wet with dew.
We touched on a thousand subjects —
The moon and the worlds above;
But our talk was tinctured with science,
With never a hint of love.
“A wholly Platonic friendship,”
You said I had proved to you,
“Could bind a man and a woman
The whole long season through,
With never a thought of folly,
Though both are in their youth.”
What would you have said, my lady,
If you had known the truth?
Had I done what my mad heart prompted —
Gone down on my knees to you,
And told you my passionate story
There in the dusk and the dew;
My burning, burdensome story,
Hidden and hushed so long,
My story of hopeless loving —
Say, would you have thought it wrong?
But I thought with my heart and conquered,
I hid my wound from sight,
You were going away in the morning,
And I said a calm good-night.
But now, when I sit in the twilight,
Or when I walk by the sea
That friendship, quite “platonic”
Comes surging over me.
And a passionate longing fill me
For the roses, the dusk and the dew, —
For the beautiful Summer vanished —
For the moonlight talks — and you.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1915), American poet