13 Feb 2010


Bright Star

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

John Keats


To his Coy Mistress

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 winged 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 preserv'd 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 am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Andrew Marvell


Apparently, yes. Scientists used thermal imaging cameras "to investigate whether love poems can really ignite 'instant fires' in every pore", as the Guardian explains.
What's is the emotional and physical impact of tender love, asked the researchers who conducted the experiment for Aberystwyth University .

"With around five terabytes of thermal data to evaluate, a complete scientific explanation is going to take some time, but the idea does have a grounding in literary theory. The Romantic poets believed their inspiration came to them as a burst of heat that gradually dissipated during the writing process. When someone reads a poem, they were thought to experience some of that original heat themselves. Keats described passionate verse as creating "a burning forehead" and "a parched tongue" in the lovestruck reader", says the Guardian.
The experimenters asked six volunteers from each department to silently read 12 love poems, while a less amorous text about thermal imaging served as a control. As the participants read the poems, thermal cameras monitored their faces for any change in temperature.

And which poems did the researchers used? Ha, that's the important question. A good choice they made. Those are two of the most beautiful poems ever written: Bright Star by John Keats and To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
I'll post them in the 2 next posts.


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