01 January 2005

First-sight Love

For 5 years I've been brooding on a dimly-remembered verse that I had come across here in Tuscany. As I recalled, it perfectly captured and defined the experience of love at first sight.

Last night I found the slim volume, Kingsley Amis' "A Look Round the Estate -- Poems 1957-67".

The poem in question, "Sight Unseen", and the verse

Love at first sight - by this we mean
A stellar entrant thrown
Clear on the psyche's radar-screen,
Recognised before known
Shrinking World Syndrome: no sooner do I trace the Amis poem than I come across this exchange in Somerset Maugham's short story, 'The Book-Bag':
You only believe in love at first sight?

'Well, I suppose I do, but with the proviso that people may have met twenty times before seeing one another. "Seeing" has an active side and a passive one. Most people we run across mean so little to us that we never bestir ourselves to look at them. We just suffer the impression they make on us.

'Bestir' ourselves, indeed. Where did all the language go?

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