love poets


A poet should never fall in love with another poet — love is already too much like gambling on oil futures. Two poets in love must succumb to the same folie à deux as the actor and the actress, the magician and the fellow magician, because each knows already the flaws beneath the greasepaint, the pigeons hidden in top hats, all the pockmarked truth beneath illusion. Real lovers, Shakespeare long ago reminded us, have reeking breath and hair like a scouring pad.

Lovers may be permitted an exception to this ironclad rule, if they never achieve the bliss of consummation — and therefore never have to wake to the beloved’s morning breath the morning after. Many would-be lovers have been divided by family, law or plain bad luck; before the days of long-distance phone calls or e-mail, the sublimated affair was conducted by postage stamp. The letters of Nietzsche and Lou Andreas-Salomé, Pirandello and Marta Abba, Gautier and Carlotta Grisi show that, though literature has always been good for love (think how many seductions may be chalked up to Shakespeare’s sonnets), love was even better for literature if there was a mailbox nearby.

more from the NY Times here.