‘The Beloved’: What is this which we call ‘love’?

Who amongst us can truly understand the ways of the heart?  Who can explain its every intricacy, its every whim, its every ebb and flow?  Are not we all drowned by its tides and torrents in unexpected ways and at unforeseen times?  Even the most intimate of familiars with its ins and outs cannot see or comprehend its every mystery.

I purified my lips with sacred fire that I might speak of love, but when I opened my mouth to speak, I found myself mute.

I sang the melodies of a love I did not yet know, but when I came to know it, the words became a muffled whisper in my mouth, the songs in my breast a profound silence.

[. . .]

Will you not tell me what is this fire kindled in my breast? It consumes my faculties and melts my emotions and desires.

What are these invisible hands, soft yet coarse, that grip my spirit in my hours of solitude and loneliness? Into my heart they pour wine mixed with the bitterness of pleasure and the sweetness of pain.

What are these wings rustling about my couch in the silence of the night as I watch wakeful for what I know not, listening to what I do not hear, staring at what I do not see, pondering what I do not comprehend, aware of what I do not apprehend, sighing because in sighs are the groanings more beloved to me than the echoes of laughter and joy, submitting to an unseen power that slays me, then gives me life, then slays me again and again until dawn breaks and light fills the corners of my room. Then I sleep. Yet behind my spent eyelids forms of wakefulness dance and on my stony blanket sway the phantoms of dreams.

What is this which we call ‘love’?

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