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Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) on the Nature of Love

Long before Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad ibn Saʿīd ibn Ḥazm became known for his jurisprudence, his philosophy or his scathing polemics he wrote an interesting treatise on love theory known as Tawq al-Hamama (“The Neck-Ring of the Dove”). It was composed around 1022, when Ibn Hazm was still about 28 years old and reflects elements of Ibn Hazm’s philosophical outlook, his psychology and his poetry. These excerpts are not my own translation but are taken from http://muslimphilosophy.com/hazm/dove/index.html, where the full text (translated by A.J. Arberyy, 1951) of the treatise can be read. 

Of the Nature of Love

Of Love–may God exalt you! -the first part is jesting, and the last part is right earnestness. So majestic are its diverse aspects, they are too subtle to be described; their reality can only be apprehended by personal experience. Love is neither disapproved by Religion, nor prohibited by the Law; for every heart is in God’s hands.

Many rightly guided caliphs and orthodox imams have been lovers…Such instances are extremely numerous; and but for the rightful claims of our rulers upon the respect of all Moslems, so that we ought to recount concerning them only such stories as illustrate martial resolution and the propagation of the faith-and their amours were after all conducted in the privacy of their palaces and in the bosom of their families, so that it would not be at all seemly to report on them-but for this I would certainly have introduced not a few anecdotes illustrating their part in the love-business. As for their men of state and pillars of empire, their tender romances are indeed innumerable. Of the saints and learned doctors of the faith who lived in past ages and times long ago, some there are whose love lyrics are sufficient testimony to their passion, so that they require no further notice.

Concerning the nature of Love men have held various and divergent opinions, which they have debated at great length. For my part I consider Love as a conjunction between scattered parts of souls that have become divided in this physical universe, a union effected within the substance of their original sublime element. I do not share the view advanced by Muhammad ibn Dawud-God have mercy on his soul! -who followed certain philosophers in declaring that spirits are segmented spheres; rather do I suppose an affinity of their vital forces in the supernal world, which is their everlasting home, and a close approximation in the manner of their constitution. We know the secret of commingling and separation in created things to be simply a process of union and disassociation; every form always cries out for its corresponding form; like is ever at rest with like. Congeneity has a perceptible effect and a visible influence; repulsion of opposites, accord between similar, attractions of like for like these are facts taking place all round us. How much more then should the same factors operate within the soul, whose world is pure and ethereal, whose substance is volatile and perfectly poised, whose constituent principle is so disposed as to be intensely sensitive to harmony, inclination, yearning, aversion, passionate desire and antipathy. All this is common knowledge it is immediately observable in the moods which successively control every man, and to which we all accommodate ourselves successfully. God Himself says, “It is He that created you of one soul, and fashioned thereof its spouse, that he might find repose in her”…

If the cause of Love were physical beauty, the consequence would be that nobody defective in any shape or form would attract admiration; yet we know of many a man actually preferring the inferior article, though well aware that another is superior, and quite unable to turn his heart away from it. Again, if Love were due to a harmony of characters, no man would love a person who was not of like purpose and in concord with him. We therefore conclude that Love is something within the soul itself. Sometimes, it is true, Love comes as a result of a definite cause outside the soul, but then it passes away when the cause itself disappears: one who is fond of you because of a certain circumstance will turn his back on you when that motive no longer exists. I have made this point in the verses, which follow.

My love for thee shall aye endure.

As now, most perfect and most pure; 

It brooks no increase, no decline, 

Since it’s complete, and wholly thine.

I cannot any cause discover,
Except my will, to be thy lover,
And boldly challenge any man
To name another, if he can.

For sure, when anything we see
Of its own self sole cause to be,
That being, being of that thing,
Lives ever undiminishing

But when we find its origin
Is other than the thing it’s in,
Our losing that which made it be
Annihilates it instantly.

This statement is confirmed by the fact that Love, as we know, is of various kinds. The noblest sort, of Love is that which exists between persons who love each other in God either because of an identical zeal for the righteous work upon which they are engaged, or as the result of a harmony in belief and principles, or by virtue of a common possession of some noble knowledge. Next to this is the love, which springs from kinship; then the love of familiarity and the sharing of identical aims; the love of comradeship and acquaintance; the love, which is rooted in a benevolent regard for one’s fellow; the love that results from coveting the loved one’s worldly elevation; the love that is based upon a shared secret which both must conceal; love for the sake of getting enjoyment and satisfying desire; and passionate love, that has no other cause but that union of souls to which we have referred above.

All these varieties of Love come to an end when their causes disappear and increase or diminish with them; they are intensified according to the degree of their proximity, and grow languid as their causes draw further and further away. The only exception is the Love of true passion, which has the mastery of the soul: this is the love, which passes not away save with death. You will find a man far advanced in years, who swears that he has forgotten love entirely; yet when you remind him of it, he calls that love back to mind, and is rejoiced; he is filled with youthful desire; his old emotion returns to him; his yearning is mightily stirred. In none of the other sorts of love does anything like this happen: that mental preoccupation, that derangement of the reason, that melancholia, that transformation of settled temperaments, and alteration of natural dispositions, that moodiness, that sighing, and all the other, symptoms of profound agitation which accompany passionate love.

All this proves that true Love is a spiritual approbation, a fusion of souls. It may be objected, that if Love were as I have described, it would be exactly equal in both the parties concerned, since the two parts would be partners in the act of union and the share of each would be the same. To this I reply, that the objection is indeed well-founded; but the soul of the man who loves not one who loves him is beset on all sides by various accidents which occlude, and veils that encompass it about, those earthy temperaments which now overlay it, so that his soul does not sense that part which was united with it before it came to occupy its present lodging-place. Had his soul been liberated from these restrictions, the two would have been equal in their experience of union and love. As for the lover, his soul is indeed free and aware of where that other is that shared with it in ancient proximity; his soul is ever seeking for the other, striving after it, searching it out, yearning to encounter it again, drawing it to itself if might be as a magnet draws the iron.

The essential force of the magnet, when in contact with the essential force of the iron, is not so strong or so refined as to seek out after the iron, for all that the iron is of the self-same kind and element; it is the force of the iron, by virtue of its natural strength, that reaches out after its kind’ and is drawn towards it. Movement always takes place from the side of the more powerful. The force of the iron, when left to itself and not prevented by any restriction, seeks out what- resembles itself and with single-minded devotion, so to speak, hastens towards it; this it does naturally and necessarily, not out of free choice and set purpose. When you hold back the iron in your hand it is no longer attracted to the magnet, because the force it possesses is not sufficient to overcome the stronger force holding it back. When the particles of iron are numerous, one group of these is fully occupied with the other and all are adequately satisfied by their own kind, and do not care to seek after that small portion of their forces standing at a distance from them. When the mass of the magnet is large, however, and its forces are a match for all the forces lying within the iron’s mass, the iron reverts to its accustomed nature.
Similarly the fire which is latent in the flint, in spite of the force belonging to fire to unite and to summon together its scattered parts wherever they may be, does not in fact issue from the flint until the latter is struck. When the two masses press and rub closely against each other, the fire is liberated; otherwise it remains latent within the flint, and does not show or manifest itself at all.

My theory is further proved by the fact that you will never find two persons in love with one another without there being some likeness and agreement of natural attributes between them. This condition must definitely obtain, even if only to a small degree; the more numerous the resemblances, the greater will be their congeneity and the firmer their affection. It is only necessary to look for this, and you will see it quite plainly on all hands. The Messenger of God confirmed the matter when he said, “Spirits are regimented battalions those which know one another associate familiarly together, while those which do not know one another remain at variance.” A saint is reported as having stated, “The spirits of believers know one another.”

For the same reason Hippocrates was not distressed when he was told of a man deficient in virtue who was in love with him. The matter being remarked upon, he said, “He would not have fallen in love with me if I had not accorded with him in some aspect of my character.” Plato relates how a certain king threw him in prison unjustly, and he did not cease to argue his case until he proved his innocence, and the king realized that he had been unjust to him. The minister who had charged himself with conveying Plato’s words to the monarch exclaimed, ” O king, it has now become evident to you that he is innocent; what more lies between you and him?” The king answered, “Upon my life, I have nothing against him, except that I feel within myself an inexplicable disgust with him.” The minister reported this saying to Plato. The latter remarked, continuing his story, “So I was obliged to search within my soul and my character for something resembling his soul and his character, which might be a point of correspondence between us. I considered his character, and observed that he loved equity and hated injustice. I diagnosed the same disposition within myself; and no sooner did I set this point of agreement into motion and confront his soul with this characteristic which he possessed in common with me, than he gave orders for my release.” Plato relates that the king then said to his minister, “All the antipathy against him that I formerly felt within me has now been dissolved.”
As for what causes Love in most cases to choose a beautiful form to light upon, it is evident that the soul itself being beautiful, it is affected by all beautiful things, and has a yearning for perfect symmetrical images whenever it sees any such image, it fixes itself upon it; then, if it discerns behind that image something of its own kind, it becomes united and true love is established. If however the soul does not discover anything of its own kind behind the image, its affection goes no further than the form, and remains mere carnal desire. Indeed, physical forms have a wonderful faculty of drawing together the scattered parts of men’s souls.
I myself have treated the topic in the verses, which follow.

No other cause of victory

There is, when we defeat the foe, 

No other reason that we flee 

Before their onset, as I know,

But that the souls of all mankind
In urgently unanimity,
O pearl in human hearts enshrined!
Strive to possess themselves of thee.

And so, where’re thou dost precede,
None following lags far behind,
But with thy mounting light to lead
All see the way, and triumph find.

But when to rearward thou dost stand
The warriors emulate thy deed,
And, answering their hearts’ command,
Wheel round to join thee with all speed.

I have another poem on the same subject.

Say, art thou of the angels’ sphere,

Or sharest thou our human kind? 

My dazzled judgment sees not clear;

Bewilderment defeats my mind.’

The vision of my outward eye
A human shape descries in thee;
When inward reason I apply,
I know thy form is heavenly.

Then blessed be God, Who did design
His creatures so symmetrical,
And fashioned thee a light to shine
In natural beauty over all.

Thou the primeval Spirit art,
As I undoubtingly believe,
Which an affinity of heart
Made our souls worthy to receive.

No other proof do we possess
To argue thy mortality,
But that thy visual loveliness
Impinges on our eyes, to see.

Did we not view thy essence clear
Within -this world of space and time,
We would declare in faith sincere
Thou art pure Reason, true, sublime!

Precisely the same thing is to be found in the case of Hatred: you will see two persons hating one another for no basic cause or reason whatsoever, but simply because the one has .a wholly irrational antipathy for the other.
Love-may God exalt you! -is in truth a baffling ailment, and its remedy is in strict accord with the degree to which it is treated; it is a delightful malady, a most desirable sickness. Whoever is free of it likes not to be immune, and whoever is struck down by it yearns not to recover. Love represents as glamorous that which a man formerly disdained, and renders easy for him that which he hitherto found hard; so that it even transforms established temperaments and inborn dispositions, as shall be set forth briefly in its own appropriate chapter, God willing.

Among my acquaintances I once knew a youth who was bogged down in love and stuck fast in its toils passion had grievously affected him, sickness had worn 1-dm out. Yet his soul found no comfort in praying to Almighty God to remove his afflictions; his tongue was not loosed in any petition for deliverance. His only prayer was to be united with and to be possessed of the one he loved, despite the enormity of his sufferings and the long protraction of his cares. (What is one to think of the sick man who desires not to be rid of his sickness?). One day I was seated with him, and felt so distressed at the visible evidence of his miserable condition, his head cast down, his staring eyes, that I said to him (among other things), ” May God grant you relief! ” I at once observed in his face the marks of strong displeasure with what I had said. It was with such a situation in mind that I composed the follow verses, part of a long poem.

O rare delight, these pains that break

My heart, dear hope, for thy sweet sake! 

Through all the days, in all my woe, 

I will not ever let thee go.

If any man should dare to say,
” Thou shalt forget his love one day”
The only answer I will give
Is an eternal negative?

Love has certain signs, which the intelligent man quickly detects, and the shrewd man readily recognizes. Of these the first is the brooding gaze: the eye is the wide gateway of the soul, the scrutinizer of its secrets, conveying its most private thoughts, and giving expression to its deepest-hid feelings. You will see the lover gazing at the beloved unblinkingly; his eyes follow the loved one’s every movement, withdrawing as he withdraws, inclining as he inclines, just as the chameleon’s stare shifts with the shifting of the sun. I have written a poem on this topic, from which the following may be quoted.

My eye no other place of rest

Discovers, save with thee;

Men say the lodestone is possessed

Of a like property.

To right or left it doth pursue
Thy movements up or down,
As adjectives in grammar do
Accord them with their noun.

The lover will direct his conversation to the beloved, even when he purports however earnestly to address another: the affectation is apparent to anyone with eyes to see. When the loved one speaks, the lover listens with rapt attention to his every word; he marvels at everything the beloved says, however extraordinary and absurd his observations may be; he believes him implicitly even when he is clearly lying, agrees with him though he is obviously in the wrong, testifies on his behalf for all that he may be unjust, follows after him however he may proceed and whatever line of argument he may adopt. The lover hurries to the spot where the beloved is at the moment, endeavors to sit as near him as possible sidles up close to him, lays aside all occupations that might oblige him to leave his company, makes light of any matter however weighty that would demand his parting from him, is very slow to move when he takes his leave of him. I have put this somewhere into verse.

No captive for the gallows bound

With more reluctance quits his cell

Than I thy presence, in profound

Regret to say farewell.

But when, my darling, comes the time
That we may be together, I
Run swiftly as the moon doth climb
The ramparts of the sky.

At last, alas! That sweet delight
Must end anew; I, lingering yet,
Turn slowly, as from heaven’s height
The fixed stars creep to set.

Other signs of love are that sudden confusion and excitement betrayed by the lover when he unexpectedly sees the one he loves coming upon him unawares, that agitation which overmasters him on beholding someone who resembles his beloved or, on hearing his name suddenly pronounced. This I have put into verse, as the following extract indicates.

Whene’er my ranging eyes descry

A person clad in red,

My heart is split with agony

And sore discomforted.

His roguish glance, as I conclude,
Has shed such human blood
That now his garments are imbrued
All saffron from the flood.

A man in love will give prodigally to the limit of his capacity, in a way that formerly he would have refused; as if he were the one receiving the donation, he the one whose happiness is the object in view; all this in order that he may show off his good points, and make himself desirable. How often has the miser opened his purse strings, the scowler relaxed his frown, the coward leapt heroically into the fray, the clod suddenly become sharp-witted, the boor turned into the perfect gentleman, the stinker transformed himself into the elegant dandy, the sloucher smartened up, the decrepit recaptured his lost youth, the godly gone wild, the self-respecting kicked over the traces-and all because of love!
All these signs are to be observed even before the fire of Love is properly kindled, ere its conflagration truly bursts forth, its blaze waxes fierce, its flames leap up. But when the fire really takes a hold and is firmly established, then you will see the secret whispering, the unconcealed turning away from all present but the beloved. I have some verses in which I have contrived to bring together many of these signs, and will now quote from these.

I love to hear when men converse
And in the midst his name rehearse;
The air I breathe seems redolent
That moment with the amber’s scent,
But when he speaketh, I give ear
Unto no other sitting near,
But lean to catch delightedly
His pretty talk and coquetry,
Nor yet, though my companion there
The Prince of All the Faithful were,
Permit my mind to be removed
On his account from my beloved.
And if, through dire compulsion, I
Stand up at last to say good-bye,
Still glancing fondly at my sweet
I stumble, as on wounded feet;
My eyes upon his features play
The while my body drifts away,
As one the billows tumble o’er
Yet gazes, drowning, on the shore.
When I recall how distant he
Now is, I choke in sorrow’s sea,
Weary as one who sinks, to expire
In some deep bog, or raging fire.
Yet, if thou sayest, “Canst thou still
Aspire to heaven?” “That I will “,
I answer boldly, “and I know
The stairs that to its summit go! “

Other outward signs and tokens of love are the following, which are apparent to all having eyes in their heads: abundant and exceeding cheerfulness at finding oneself with the beloved in a narrow space, and a corresponding depression on being together in a wide expanse; to engage in a playful tug-of-war for anything the one or the other lays hold of; much clandestine winking; leaning sideways and supporting oneself against the object of one’s affection; endeavoring to touch his hand, and whatever other part of his body one can reach, while engaged in conversation ; and drinking the remainder of what the beloved has left in his cup, seeking out the very spot against which his lips were pressed.

There are also contrary signs that occur according to casual provocations and accidental incitements, and a variety of motivating causes and stimulating thoughts. Opposites are of course likes, in reality; when things reach the limit of contrariety, and stand at the furthest bounds of divergence, they come to resemble one another. This is decreed by God’s omnipotent power, in a manner that baffles entirely the human imagination. Thus, when ice is pressed a long time in the hand, it finally produces the same effect as fire. We find that extreme joy and extreme sorrow kill equally; excessive and violent laughter sends the tears coursing from the eyes. It is a very common phenomenon in the world about us. Similarly with lovers: when they love each other with an equal ardor, and their mutual affection is intensely strong, they will turn against one another without any valid reason, each purposely contradicting the other in whatever he may say; they quarrel violently over the smallest things, each picking up every word that the other lets fall and willfully misinterpreting it. All these devices are aimed at testing and proving what each is seeking in the other.

Now the difference between this sham, and real aversion and contrariness born of deep-seated hatred and inveterate contention, is that lovers are very quickly reconciled after their disputes. You will see a pair of lovers seeming to have reached the extreme limit of contrariety, to the point that you would reckon not to be mended even in the instance of a person of most tranquil spirit, wholly exempt from rancor, save after a long interval, and wholly irreparable in the case of a quarrelsome man; yet in next to no time you will observe them to have become the best of friends once more; silenced are those mutual reproaches, vanished that disharmony; forthwith they are laughing again and playfully sporting together. The same scene may be enacted several times at a single session. When you see a pair of lovers behaving in such a fashion, let no doubt enter your mind, no uncertainty invade your thoughts; you may be sure without hesitation, and convinced as by an unshakable certainty, that there lies between them a deep and hidden secret-the secret of true love. Take this then for a sure test, a universally valid experiment: it is the product only of an equal partnership in love, and a true concord of hearts. I myself have observed it frequently.

Another sign is when you find the lover almost entreating to hear the loved one’s name pronounced, taking an extreme delight in speaking about him, so that the subject is a positive obsession with him; nothing so much rejoices him, and he is not in the least restrained by the fear that someone listening may realize what he is about, and someone present will understand his true motives. Love for a thing renders you blind and deaf. If the lover could so contrive, that in the place where he happens to be there should be no talk of anything but his beloved, he would never leave that spot for any other in the whole world.
It can happen that a man sincerely affected by love will start to eat his meal with an excellent appetite; yet the instant the recollection of his loved one is excited, the food sticks in his throat and chokes his gullet. It is the same if he is drinking, or talking he begins to converse with you gaily enough, and then all at once he is invaded by a chance thought of his dear one. You will notice the change in his manner of speaking, the instantaneous failure of his conversational powers; the sure signs are his long silences, the way he stares at the ground, his extreme taciturnity. One moment he is all smiles, lightly gesticulating; the next, and he has become completely boxed up, sluggish, distrait, rigid, too weary to utter a single word, irritated by the most innocent question.

Love’s signs also include a fondness for solitude and a pleasure in being alone, as well as a wasting of the body not accompanied by any fever or ache preventing free activity and liberty of movement. The walk is also an unerring indication and never-deceiving sign of an inward lassitude of spirit. Sleeplessness too is a common affliction of lovers; the poets have described this condition frequently, relating how they watch the stars, and giving an account of the night’s interminable length. I too have some verses on this topic, in which I also touch on the guarding of Love’s secret, and mention the signs from which it may be prognosticated.

The clouds, when they my tears discerned,

A lesson from my weeping learned 

And covered all the parched domain 

With deluges of flooding rain.

And has the night because of thee
Now come to share my misery,
Or will it succor bring, perchance,
To this my weary vigilance?

For if the shadows of the night
Will ne’er disperse, and turn to light,
Until my eyes, pressed down by woes,
At last in weary slumber close;

I do not think that any way
Remains, to lead me back to day,
But still augmenting sleeplessness
My every moment shall oppress.

And now dark clouds o’erspread the
And hide the starlight from my eyes,
Concealing from my anxious gaze
The comfort of their fitful blaze.

Such inward torment of the mind,
Thee loving, dearest heart, I find,
Surmise alone can fully guess
And advertize my soul’s distress.

Another poem of mine-I quote an extract-deals with the same notion:

I am the shepherd of the skies,

Deputed to preserve

The planets as they sink and rise,

The stars that do not swerve.

Those, as they swing their lamps above
Our earth, by night possessed,
Are like the kindled fires of love
Within my darkling breast.

Or I am now the gardener
Of some green mead, methinks,
And through the grasses, here and there,
A white narcissus winks.

Were Ptolemy alive to-day,
And did he know of me,
” Thou art the maestro “, he would say,
” Of all astronomy! ”

A thing is sometimes mentioned on account of that which causes it to occur. In the verses I have just cited, I have compared two pairs of things with each other in one and the same stanza, the second of the poem beginning ” Those, as they swing their lamps above this is considered very unusual in poetry. However, I can also quote an even more perfect example of virtuosity from my own works-the likening of three, and even four pairs of things in a single stanza; both these feats have been accomplished in the piece here following.

Still yearning, and disquieted,

Still sleepless tossing on his bed, 

Wits drunken and disorderly

With the coarse wine of calumny;

He shows to thee in one brief hour
Marvels defeating reason’s power
Now hostile, now the friend sincere,
Now running off, now pressing near

As if this passion, this reproof,
To be complacent, or aloof,
Were stars conjoining, or in flight,
Fortune’s benevolence, or spite.

After so long refusal, he
Took pity on my love, and me,
And I, who envied others’ chance,
Am target now for envy’s glance.

Together in a garden gay
With bloom we passed our happy day,
The while the bright and whispering flowers
Gave thanks to God for morning’s showers

As if the matin rains, indeed,
The clouds, and that sweet-scented mead,
Were dropping tears, and eyes bedewed,
And cheeks with roses all imbued.

Let none find fault with me or object to my use of the term “conjoining “, for those who have knowledge of the stars speak of the meeting of two stars in a single degree as a “conjunction “. I have not yet exhausted my repertoire, but can cite a still more perfect example, the likening of five pairs of things in a single stanza, as in my next quotation.

She sat there privily with me,

And wine besides, to make us three, 

While night profound o’ershadowing 

Stretched out its long and stealthy wing.

A damsel fair-I would prefer
To die, than not live close with her;
And is it such a dreadful crime
To wish to live this little time?

It was as if myself, and she,
The cup, the wine, the obscurity,
Were earth, and raindrops, and pearls set
Upon a thread, and gold, and jet.

That is a point beyond which it is impossible for anyone to go; neither prosody nor the structure of words will tolerate more than five comparisons in the same stanza. Trepidation overtakes lovers in two situations. The first is when the lover hopes to meet the beloved, and then some obstacle intervenes to prevent it. I know a man whose loved one had promised to visit hi; thereafter I never saw him but that he was coming and going the whole time, quite unable to be still or to remain in one place; now he would advance, anon he would retire; joy had made him positively nimble and spritely, though formerly he was exceedingly grave and sedate. I have some verses on the subject of awaiting the visit of the beloved.

I waited still, until night came

Upon me, hoping yet

To meet thee, O my quest, and aim

On which my heart is set!

Then I, who never any day
Despaired, though long the night,
At last to dark despair gave way
When dark o’ercame my light.

Moreover I a proof will cite
That cannot tell a lie;
The like such problems solve aright
As reason else defy:

To wit, if thou shouldst ever deign
One night to visit me,
No longer darkness would remain,
But light eternally.

The second cause of trepidation is when a quarrel breaks out between the loving couple, in the course of which reproaches fly about, the true grounds whereof only a detailed explanation can make clear. Then the lover’s agitation becomes violent indeed, and continues until the matter comes completely into the open; when either the burden under which he has been struggling is lifted, if he has cause to hope for forgiveness, or his trepidation converts into sorrow and despair, if he is fearful that the beloved will thenceforward banish him. The lover may however submit humbly to the loved one’s cruelty, as shall be expounded hereafter in its proper context, God willing.
Among the accidents of Love may be mentioned an extreme impatience under affliction, such a paroxysm of emotion as completely overwhelms the lover and leaves him speechless, as when he sees his beloved turning from him in undisguised aversion. I have a line or two referring to this.

Fair fortitude imprisoned lies,
And tears flow freely from the eyes.

        Another sign of Love is that you will see the lover loving his beloved’s kith and kin and the intimate ones of his household, to such an extent that they are nearer and dearer to him than his own folk, himself, and all his familiar friends.

Weeping is a well-known sign of Love; except that men differ very greatly from one another in this particular. Some are ready weepers; their tear-ducts are always overflowing, and their eyes respond immediately to their emotions, the tears rolling down at a moment’s notice. Others are dry-eyed and barren of tears…

It will happen in Love that the lovers have evil thoughts of one another; each suspects every word the partner utters, and misconstrues it willfully; which is the origin of those reproaches which lovers often level each against each. I have an acquaintance who is normally the most unsuspicious man in the world, extremely broad-minded, possessed of great patience and untold tolerance, indulgent to a fault; yet when he is in love, he cannot endure the slightest thing between him and the object of his affection; let the least difference arise between them, and he will forthwith utter all kinds of reproaches and give voice to every manner of mistrust. I have put this situation into verse.

I have a dark, suspicious mind,

And nothing negligible find 

Thou doest; despicable they, 

Who do despise Love’s least affray-! 

They will not see, until too late,
The roots of rupture and of hate,
Forgetting, to their own despite,
A spark may set a town alight.

Things of the greatest moment in
The humblest origins begin;
Witness the date-tree, hugely grown
To heaven from a little stone.

You will see the lover, when unsure of the constancy of his loved one’s feelings for him, perpetually on his guard in a way that he never troubled to be before; he polishes his language, he refines his gestures and his glances, particularly if he has the misfortune and mischance to be in love with one given to making unjust accusations, or of a quarrelsome disposition.
Another sign of Love is the way the lover pays attention to the beloved; remembering everything that falls from his lips; searching out all the news about him, so that nothing small or great that happens to him may escape his knowledge; in short, following closely his every movement. Upon my life, sometimes you will see a complete dolt under these circumstances become most keen, a careless fellow turn exceedingly quick-witted…

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1 Comment

  1. Hanbali says:

    Good literature..

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