Guest poem submitted by Neha Kumar:
(Poem #618) The More Loving One
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well That, for all they care, I can go to hell, But on earth indifference is the least We have to dread from man or beast. How should we like it were stars to burn With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me. Admirer as I think I am Of stars that do not give a damn, I cannot, now I see them, say I missed one terribly all day. Were all stars to disappear or die, I should learn to look at an empty sky And feel its total dark sublime, Though this might take me a little time.
There's a certain satisfaction in being able to confront this situation, and still go on -- to find a meaning in our lives that comes, not from the outer universe, but from within ourselves. The poet would much rather be "the more loving one" than the one to show indifference to those that love. Perhaps it is the notion of being able to govern one's own emotions independently of others' towards us that leads him to feel this way. And yet, there is a comfort in knowing that, regardless of the absence of mutual love and admiration, everything in nature approaches that point of equilibrium where indifference is matched by indifference, love by love. In the first stanza, the predominant theme is of indifference. We know the stars to be incapable of feeling or expressing any kind of emotion towards us, but that indifference is insignificant if compared to the several concerns that plague us in our relationships with other creatures of the earth. And yet, as he says in the next stanza, what if the stars did love us passionately and we were unable to reciprocate? It is the failiarity of the poet with the pain of unrequited love that leads him to desire being "the more loving one". After all, we rarely wish for others to be afflicted with the same pain and anguish we ourselves recognize to be unbearable. Perhaps the last two stanzas are a means of consolation for the poet, as he realizes (or wishes himself to realize) the fact that however deeply he might admire and love the stars that care little about him, were he to lose them, time would play its role as the great healer and he would eventually learn to go on living without them. I think the imagery of the stars is especially beautiful in that it serves to emphasize the notion of distance/separation that characterizes unrequited love. No matter how much love he may feel, the poet realizes that he could never quite lessen this separation and acquire the love of the one he loves, and thus resigns himself to wait indefinitely for time to heal his wounds. Neha.