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Monday, July 30, 2012

Lost In Love? Is Your Lover Not Yours?



I Am Not Yours by Sara Teasdale

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.


You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.


Oh plunge me deep in love -- put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

Two souls fueled by fiery passion touch to become one flame of torrid, inseparable love. Isn't this the expectation of anyone who falls for another and becomes unwittingly lost in love?

We can dissect love and carefully describe its various stages with words such as fancy, attachment, infatuation, yearning, lusting, and rapture. But, all our logic and our scholarly evaluation of the situation fail to help us understand how to adjust as our once-titillating love affair slowly matures.

Although we desire to sustain and even to increase the heat of the erotic flame, we find passion in ever-shorter supply as love lingers. At some point, we begin quenching our sensual thirsts by relying more upon our imaginations and memories than upon reality. We, as lovers, are expected to increase our ingenuity to maintain our own passion.

With considerable regret, all lovers comprehend these subtle changes and accept the dimming fire as a result of increased familiarity or aging, leading to pragmatic, unconditional or even unrequited love. The longer it burns, the flame of love is fed more by charity, generosity, and kind virtue. Some would say love mellows while some would say it dwindles.



In her poem "I Am Not Yours," Sara Teasdale employs the speaker to address her beloved in an unusual way by saying that she does not belong to him. The speaker says she is "not lost" in him although she does "long to be." Teasdale uses the imagery of a "candle lit at noon" and a "snowflake in the sea" to illustrate the unfathomable depths of her passion for a perfect union of impassioned love.

The speaker freely admits her companion does "love" her with a spirit "beautiful and bright." Yet, she desires more. She longs to be completely transparent and one with the "light" of her life, not a separate, shiny entity "in love" but instead a crystalline fusion shaped by the forge of Eros. Her declaration of "I am I" emphasizes her passionate, romantic vision of pure, burning love. 

In the last stanza, the speaker is is pleading for the realization of her desire. She yearns for her beloved to absorb her so completely that she has no separate existence apart from him. The speaker gives no explanation for the apparent romantic division, but she emphasizes her complete desire for becoming lost in a "tempest of (his) love," helpless to resist.

To me, "I Am Not Yours" speaks of longing and disconnection. For whatever reasons, we humans seek the incredible spice with many tastes -- love. Although we become disoriented and dizzy in love, we long to be in this mental and physical state of consuming attraction -- a burning magnetism for a lover.

But, love is like an economic exchange in the respect that if one partner is putting more into it than another, it will likely fail. Why? Because love is a nutrient of the soul and a
love-starved person is unfulfilled.

It seems to me that the biggest craving for most hungry lovers is being Teasdale's "taper in a rushing wind." They expect their lovers to consume them with untold passion and fashion ways to keep them "lost in love." Since the extension of this love requires so much attention to interdependency, many find they cannot meet lofty erotic expectations.

This is not to say people shouldn't want to live "as one in love." Yet, I think this is an ideal most have to sacrifice due to the realities of living in the real world. To me, Teasdale is confirming the gap between beautiful desires and accepted attainments. When searching for love, some find a soul mate; some find a best friend; some find an acceptable companion; and some even find themselves sharing a bed with a complete stranger.

I wonder how many people in love with another realize "I am not yours"? How many people just cannot seem to find a connection to fulfill their expectations of love? Teasdale speaks to those who understand the contrary nature of the emotion of love. "I want mine" is such a simple phrase that seems to cause so much confusion and so many problems.

Everybody wants their own, especially after they solidify a love relationship. During courtship, torrid love gives freely and consistently promises inseparability. But later, after longer attainment, love dies down and separate egos hold court. What does each lover owe the other in terms of rekindling the "burn"? I don't know.

Is it that we really never know how to find the means to sustain the power of love? Why else would our greatest desires turn to something less after we unselfishly give our all to get what we want? For whatever reason, many of us understand deep inside "I am not yours."

For those who feel such a disconnect, the poem creates a lonely mood of being in love. Whether the actualization of passionate love is denied by a "one-way street" of affection or by an "alone/together" relationship of convenience, the desire does not die. It remains in the heart of a lover, flickering like a candle ready to ignite a blaze.


"Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God."
-TONI MORRISON, Paradise
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