Love is my religion – I could die for it.
– John Keats
How can you resist this quote?
While I’m always worried that a quotation has been wrongly credited to someone (Read The New Yorker Middlemarch article by Rebecca Mead yet? – link to abstract here), my worry is not a reason to live in doubt of every quote I find.
Honestly, I don’t know if this was a line in Keats work or letters or what. I don’t care terribly, right now. “Love is my religion – I could die for it,” is such a beautiful thought. Not that I advise martyrdom. But the hyperbole tells you a lot. Apparently, he was big on love. It’s a good thing to be big on.
Jesus was big on it. Hallmark seems big on it if it gets you to buy its cards. Virginia is, apparently, big on it, at least according to the bumper stickers. The chocolate industry is realllly big on it this time of year.
So, when I was looking for a quote to post, and I spotted this one in my commonplace book– I would advise everyone to start a commonplace book- SO much fun – I thought hmmm, how could I tie this in to anything? Then, I realized Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Perfection.
Of course, Keats’s quote is much more beautiful when not limited to romantic love. (But, by all means, including it. 🙂 Make no mistake.) The shear passion for goodwill in this quote and the vow to commit to it in the second sentence….you can just hear a young idealist willing to go to his end to live up to his principles.
Now, of course, I’m feeling mighty ignorant as I don’t know if Keats was a great idealist, but you get the picture of what comes through for me in this quotation. It’s lovely. It reminds me of that phase so many people go through as young adults in social activism. But, certainly, that’s not all of it.
Speaking for myself, I think I could do a better job of letting my own occasional meanness die when I’m tired or grumpy from a bad day. That thing you do when you try to remember that everyone’s stressed and you don’t know what’s going on in their lives, so you’re kind and bite your tongue? I should probably do that more often.
If any of this makes you want to spend a bit more time this Valentine’s Day thinking about love and its broader implications, I would recommend David Foster Wallace’s This is Water. Not stricly about love, really, but pertinent nonetheless.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!