Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Shakespeare on Love

Much of the English language and English and American cultural sentiments have been shaped by the verse of Shakespeare. Shakespeare used words to idolize certain cultural virtues and ideals. We, as readers and spectators of Shakespeare, remain enamored by words we still sometimes memorize and, even more often, exemplify and live out in our own lives. Take, for example, love, of which he writes so beautifully in Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Love was, for Shakespeare and his cultural time-period, something universally permanent, “an ever-fixed mark.” While these ideals are so beautifully put in verse by Shakespeare or any other poet or playwright, why believe them? Why live these values? Is it really so good to live up to and live according to such permanently possessive things? Maybe it’s about time to get pass these dangerous notions about love?