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Item Four
Written about 1968

Background: I'm self-centered.  I admit it.  I have always admitted it.

In general, I can't put someone else's needs ahead of my own.  I can't even equate them to my own.  I must look out for number one, and unfortunately number one is me.

We all want to be loved, and we're willing to give affection in return.  But merging one's self completely with another person, pulling up stakes to be there, giving up one's own life?  "Whither thou goest, I will go"?  That's a route that I haven't wanted to take.

Nevertheless, in college someone meant enough to me that I wrote the following to her.  I broke into poetry, into a sonnet even.

But then, of course, I kept the note to myself.  I find it now, loose, among my papers.

(The significance of the title, if any, has been lost.  In the line in which it appears, it may be there merely for the rhyme; it even breaks the scansion, although in an effective way.)


I have come as close to loving you as I will ever come to loving another.

Why?  The sparkle, enthusiasm, which made me feel liked by a wonderful person.

Take away the sparkle, or give more enthusiasm to someone else, and I feel rejected.  My hands are tied.  I'm unable to get through to you.  I fail.

But can I claim to love thee?  Wherefore so?
I doubt that I would give my life for thine
Should circumstance demand that one must go.
I please instead to live this life of mine.

Or if I lived a thousand miles away,
I would not fly to meet thee at thy call,
To raise thy weak'ning spirits or to play,
Abandoning my work for days withal.

It is a pattern deep within my grain:
It matters naught how lovely thou may be,
Or how much happiness I hope to gain;
I'll not give all my love, my life, to thee.

I love thee not, then?  Item four:
I'll never love another person more.



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