Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal--yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn
John Keats uses the words above to paint for our minds a picture, a picture painted thousands of years before Keats saw it on an urn and, presumably, itself a translation into another medium of the scene the original artist was witnessing. Two characters in William Faulkner
's, "The Bear
," read part of Keats' poem, "She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, / Forever wilt thou love and she be fair.," and conclude that Keats was "talking about a girl." He was talking about a girl because he, "had to talk about something." The musician and poet Leonard Cohen
took these words as an answer posed to him in a recent interview as to what he thinks about the fact that his work has become fodder for literary academia. He didn't really answer the question in any way, he just mentioned that he used that quote in his first book of poems, and that, "we all have to talk about something
Love in the Tarot is a thing outside of time. The moment that you set eyes on your beloved there is a connection to something eternal, something complete and unchanged, showed on the traditional depiction of The Lovers by the angel who watches over the two lovers in a setting suspiciously like the Garden of Eden. In that single moment when the lover chases after his beloved they have become one not only with each other, but through each other with a fundamental truth that hovers just beyond human perception. "Ever wilt thou love, and she be fair," Keats says to the youth on the grecian urn because on the urn the youth will truly chase after his beloved forever; the urn is representation of that single moment of love when the two lovers are joined with each other, and joined with truth.
In the Keats poem a figure watches these two lovers from over to the side. In T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land a similar function is performed by Tiresias, the blind poet of myth who was through the course of his life both male and female. According to Eliot himself in the notes to the poem it is in Tiresias that all the people of the poem are joined in some fashion; the prophet takes everyone into himself, as does the figure watching on the urn. We all participate in love, simply by observing.
Whoever painted the picture on that urn saw in the moment the two lovers joined something that spoke to him. Through their love he saw a deeper truth, and with that truth he participated in their love, making them a part of himself by crafting them again in his art, interpreting their love with his eyes. Keats, seeing the urn, joined with the painter, saw his vision and made it his own, fell in love with the painter and even with the lovers. With his poem Keats participated in the love, the original love. Likewise did Faulkner participate in that love, did Leonard Cohen participate in that love, do you participate in that love.
In the Tarot Love is nothing more nor less than allowing another into one's own definition of self to the point where harm to or distance from the other is just the same as being harmed or fractured within one's own self. Love of one's husband, one's parents, one's dog, and even one's country show us how many ways that people can begin to define themselves not in terms of other things necessarily, but including other things. As a card the lovers signifies this deep bond that makes two things into one in all of these forms. It is a step away from the Fool's lack of attachment, but the end result of love, if indeed it is possible for one to love everyting in the universe, ends up back at the Fool, having merged again with the infinite.
We all have to talk about something. True love points through the beloved and sees in the bond the infinitude of the divine and of ourselves. Ultimately, when we love we accept the other into our relationship with the divine, our definition of self, and our definition of the meaning of life. The lovers signify duality and unity in that duality, the two that stand apart from each other and yet that together create a larger whole that is far more than the sum of its parts.
taken with permission from www.final-form