A sonnet of Love

In In search of lost time, Swann has aristocratic friends and is welcomed in the salons of Paris society, until he marries Odette, his mistress.

She glowed. “Ah, what a pleasure to receive.”
Odette’s sweet radiant delight caressed
Swann’s virgin heart, awakening it. She blessed
his touch-starved hand with hers, began to weave
in him a passion he would not believe.
Unknown wellbeing faded, as you guessed.
The man, the lover, undertook a quest
the salon raconteur could not conceive.
The valued, welcomed, connoisseur of art
might keep a mistress, quietly. Men have needs.
He marries her, and has what once he craved.
A rule is broken. Monsters will be freed!
His friends are friends no more. Each shields her heart.
Convention reasserted, they are saved.

5 thoughts on “A sonnet of Love

  1. The poem in question reminds me a bit of a translation I did of a poem by the French courtesan poet Veronica Franco:

    We danced a youthful jig through that fair city—
    Venice, our paradise, so pompous and pretty.
    We lived for love, for primal lust and beauty;
    to please ourselves became our only duty.
    Floating there in a fog between heaven and earth,
    We grew drunk on excesses and wild mirth.
    We thought ourselves immortal poets then,
    Our glory endorsed by God’s illustrious pen.
    But paradise, we learned, is fraught with error,
    and sooner or later love succumbs to terror.
    —Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

    Veronica Franco was a woman ahead of her time, and probably still ahead of ours. She wrote:

    I wish it were not considered a sin
    to have liked fucking.
    Women have yet to realize
    the cowardice that presides.
    And if they should ever decide
    to fight the shallow,
    I would be the first, setting an example for them to follow.
    —Veronica Franco, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


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