Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent 12

Suppose, then, that there was a king who loved a maiden of lowly station in life. The king's heart was unstained by the wisdom (loudly enough proclaimed) unacquainted with the difficulties that the understanding uncovers in order to trap the heart and that give the poets enough to do and make their magic formulas necessary. His resolution was easy to carry out, for every politician feared his wrath and dared not even to hint at anything. Every foreign country trembled before his power and dared not to refrain from sending a congratulatory delegation to the wedding. And no cringing courtier, groveling before him, dared to hurt his feelings lesthis own head be crushed. So let the harp be tuned; let the poets' songs begin; let all be festive while erotic love celebrates its triumph, for erotic love is jubilant when it unites equal and equal and is triumphant when it makes equal in erotic love that which was unequal.

Then a concern awakened in the king's soul. Who but a king who thinks royally would dream of such a thing! He did not speak to anyone about his concern, for if he had done so, anyone of his courtiers would presumably have said, "Your Majesty, you are doing the girl a favor for which she can never in her lifetime thank you adequately." No doubt the courtier would arouse the king's wrath, so that the king would have him executed for high treason against his beloved, and thereby would cause the king another kind of sorrow. Alone he grappled with the sorrow in his heart: whether the girl would be made happy by this, whether she would acquire the bold confidence never to remember what the king only wished to forget-that he was the king and she had been a lowly maiden. For if this happened, if this recollection awakened and at times, like a favored rival, took her mind away from the king, lured it into the inclosing reserve of secret sorrow, or if at times it walked past her soul as death walks across the grave--what would be the gloriousness of erotic love then! Then she would indeed have been happier if she had remained in obscurity, loved by one in a position of equality, contented in the humble hut, but boldly confident in "her love and cheerful early and late. What a rich overabundance of sorrow stands here as if ripe, almost bending under the weight of its fertility, only awaiting the time of harvest when the thought of the king will thresh all the seeds of concern out of it. For even if the girl were satisfied to become nothing, that could not satisfy the king, simply because he loved her and because it would be far harder for him to be her benefactor than to lose her. And what if she could not even understand him-for if we are going to speak loosely about the human, we may well assume an intellectual difference that makes understanding impossible. What a depth of sorrow slumbers in this unhappy erotic love! Who dares to arouse it!

Johannes Climacus, Philosophical Fragments, ed. Soren Kierkegaard, tr. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Unversity Press, 1985, pp. 26-28)

No comments:

Post a Comment