The poem I posted yesterday has been one of my favorites for a long time. Recently, though, I've had to make some difficult and heart-rending decisions, and I've found phrases of this poem echoing and re-echoing in my head. In culture, I think it's expected that we view ourselves as unique, even as the demands of popular culture insist that we are connectedandsimilar to everyone else.
Most people want to feel known by others, and I think we desire even more to be loved by someone who (to use a cheesy Avatar reference) "sees" us. I wonder if this is a cultural thing -- but for many people I know, to be known deeply, seen authentically, and THEN loved seems to be the most sought-after way of doing relationship.
The speaker in this poem loves "the pilgrim soul" in his beloved; for me, the phrase has always conjured images of pioneers and ships and travel -- of people unafraid and courageous, even as they are different or set apart. Although his beloved is "old and gray and full of sleep," the speaker is reminding her that she has alwaysalways held a spark of life for him. To him, she is the Only. Many have "loved her moments of glad grace / and loved her beauty with love false or true" but HE is the one who has seen her "pilgrim soul" and has "loved the sorrows of [her] changing face."
Being loved authentically and sincerely and through time and life and sorrow -- who doesn't want that? I could go into the beauty of Christ's love here, but I won't :) Suffice it to say, I think part of the reason my soul has been feasting on this poem lately is because I am feeling, through these darker times, the love of Someone who knows me. Sees me. And loves me. Pilgrim soul and all.