Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Don't know much about history...

but I do know that I love you.

Andrew drew the association in his comment on my last post. At first, I thought it was just free association, but then I realized how profound it is.

To love someone is to be able to write a poem about them. So, Sam Cooke is really saying:

I don't know much about history, not your personal history or the larger history in which you are implicated, but I know that am I here, that I exist to extricate your beauty from the history of injustice that your body, like all bodies, is subject to, any history, yes, and from its biology and its geography and its algebra.

And if you will do the same for me, if you will untangle the intricate suffering that is my beauty from the history of my own body, then this world in which we both live will be, yes, full of wonder.

I am a poor scholar, Cooke says, but quite a lover, and while our political history reaches too far back into the past for me, and our scientific world too far into the reaches of space and too far into the nucleus of the cell, the surface of your body, your skin, your beautiful skin, is right here with me, and it is not by actually understanding your history, nor is it by uncovering the natural laws that govern the mechanisms of the stars above and the leaves in the trees, and it is not by actually deciphering the political codes that interpret your face and your shoulders and what Tony Tost calls "the genius of your legs" (and, yes, everything in between), that I will fathom this feeling that has captured me. But by "trying to be" an A-student of the immediate presence of this body before me I will, if you'll let me, win your love, extricate your beauty from the prison of space, liberate us from the despotism of time, conquer the universe.

In short: There you are. And here is my poem. Love me.


1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

When I play the song and sing the first verse again at the end, I change the lyrics slightly: "Don't know much about the French I took, but I do know je t'aime beaucoup." That gives an extra emphasis to your reading that what one remembers from what one learns is driven by love and by what one loves.