Thursday, November 24, 2011

I recently caught up with an old friend of mine from school and neighbor from the old building where we lived. I remember she was my main competition in our English Literature class and we were always trying to score points with our teacher. But we were also good friends but cautiously so, in the belief that it was best to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

It had been some time so we proceeded to recall the good old days and what books we were currently reading. We moved from one book to another author and then to another poet and then to our vast and rich heritage of Arabic literature that we vowed to (re)discover and in depth. A must. And then we were back to our dear William Shakespeare. We began to exhibit our prowess in how much of Shakespearean literature we knew by heart. And I remembered...

...the first time I decided that I wanted to fall in love with Shakespeare. It was after I'd watched Marianne (played by Kate Winslet) in a scene from Sense and Sensibility recite the following stanzas from Shakespeare's Sonnet 116:

Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds, / Or bends with the remover to remove: / O no! it is an ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

I don't think that at fourteen I really understood the significance of such a sonnet or the rest of his sonnets for that matter. But I was smitten and so it was the first sonnet that I'd decided to memorize; after I finished the film, I went into my room and repeated the sonnet until I could recite it by heart.

As I watch this scene again, I am taken back to that evening. How time flies. It feels like yesterday although a decade and a half has passed. I think I do understand the sonnet better today than I did then. And the scene too. How in the pursuit of love Marianne was convinced that it was (the unkind) Mr. Willloughby for whom she had traveled very far and with whom her happiness rested when all along her happiness was with the honest and loving Colonel Christopher Brandon. It was only a matter of time before she'd realized it - and she was fortunate he was still there to have her. Life is funny like that.

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