A recent post in simply wait shows an Indian wedding with the caption, "come live with me and be my love." Of course, that's the first line of Christopher Marlowe's poem, "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love." I've always loved that poem. And even though I usually read the parody first, and often appreciate it more than the original, I've never much liked Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," which is sort of a parody. Raleigh's heavy dose of stark realism gives me the feeling that he knows it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and he wouldn't have it any other way. The ballad "The Golden Vanity" is based on a broadside naming Walter Raleigh as the heartless captain. Somehow, I have an easy time believing it.
While I grew up reading Bierce, I don't see his cynicism in the same way as I do Raleigh's. While Bierce's Civil War stories are often gruesome and seem to celebrate death, they often show his passion for the beautiful countryside of western Virginia. "A Horseman in the Sky," is a good example. In his later years, Bierce fought the barons of the Southern Pacific, who were trying to get out of repaying a loan to the U.S. Treasury--a noble campaign if there ever was one.
My causes often seem hopeless ones--what Howard Dean called the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," railroad passenger service, and the Episcopal Church (particularly struggling urban parishes like the Memorial Church of St. Luke in Philadelphia and St. Martin's in Chicago). And I've been married to the same woman for 32 years--and I still think she's amazing. I may often sound cynical, but underneath I'm a hopeless romantic.