The Loveless, Causing Confusion And Torment

I read a poem from the 1800’s that challenged me to think. The poem was about a man who loves a woman who does not love him because she can’t love him. She can’t love because it’s herself whom she loves. Because of this all kinds of horrible things happen to her.

She’s tricked by a witch who leads her off to suffer horrible, unknowable torment. She has a spectacularly agonizing time, at this woman’s (witch’s) hand, and then she dies.

The man sees her there, dead. He mourns her death and then he goes off to marry another woman who can love him. He’s pretty righteous about the whole situation. Reading the poem, I was aware I was only hearing one side of the story but hey. It’s still a good poem.

In the end, the addresses the harsh sentence the woman received. He believes it was just and this is the part that slayed me: he states that it’s just as well that the loveless lose their lives as they cause terrible harm on the earth. They run around and confuse people. They make the world lousy, basically. They cause torment so why not have some torment of their own, plus let’s get rid of them. What else makes sense?

To modernize this, just consider a man or a woman who seduces others into relationship when they have no love to give. We are big on “tolerance” in this era, in stark contrast to the man in the poem. But what about the psychopathic man or woman? What does society gain from allowing them to run loose and run amok? Anything?

I don’t have an answer to this, I’m just wondering. What if a witch came along and tricked people of this ilk? Would you care? Would the world be a better place?

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Comments

The Loveless, Causing Confusion And Torment — 69 Comments

  1. Haven’t read the poem. Reading this post now, and disregarding the metaphoricality of it, I say sour grapes to the man. So you want to be loved, why were you involved with someone who could not provide you with what you way you wanted. I would ask him, are you sure being loved is what you wanedt? I would hope the man found that it is better to love than be loved. To feel love that is the greatest gift.

    I really don’t think love is the issue with the o-paths. I think it is all about drive. Drive to get. They can’t see anyone else, they just need to get. There’s a disconnect there. Perhaps a socialization problem. Perhaps there is a mis-wiring in the brain that does not permit socialization. And I had to laugh at the “tolerance” in this era. This was written in 2018? What a difference now, hunh? Tolerance is in the toilet unless you are a cop shootin black people or a rich person breaking all the rules that everyone else has to follow. That’s all okay. So perhaps it’s selective tolerance now. What am I tolerating? I feel shame about what is going on for some reason so I don’t go there. And all I can do is feel as much love as possible every day in every way. Love, I will not let it die, I will not be stripped of it.

  2. I think the synopsis of the poem is still very timely. I believe we are only capable of receiving the same quality of love we have for ourselves. Therefore, many (including myself) have lost out on what could have been an incredible love because of their own spell cast upon theirselves. If you look at it metaphorically, it is like a self-imposed death sentence, or at the very least, a very lonely life based on an illusion that only we can heal. It’s a painful situation for all involved and takes kindness, compassion for ourselves and others. It’s not easy.

  3. These people let you give your all. They will receive until you realize that not everyone is as loving as you are. They take advantage of people’s innocence and loving nature.

    Eventually they drain you, leaving you jaded and disheartened, and without the same bounty of goodness to give to someone more deserving.

    Let’s not blame the victim.

    Yes, we would be better off without them.

  4. The story Elsa tells us and many of the replies make me think about the “unreliable narrator,” and less about seducers and sociopaths who use others badly. For me, this story is told in a way that ‘unreliably’ favors the man’s story and his desire but demonizes the woman’s.

    Elsa tells us the woman did not love him. She was happy. She was not responsible for him, and there is no evidence in the description that she did anything to abuse him, except to refuse his long-term play. She never sought a chance for this new life with him delivered on a silver platter – how honest was that! She was anything but transactional or a common seducer, at a time when so much of coupling was. She loved herself, and courageously I imagine — and perhaps this is what attracted him to her. But he continued to pursue her in a way that allowed for one outcome only – the one he preferred. She didn’t trick him. She showed him exactly who she was. But he didn’t love her enough to wish her every happiness and to let her go. He chose to stay in the frame. He chose to luxuriate in his hurt and in a way that people noticed — until the only communal response most of the Village have is “burn the (another) witch.” Her crime — She refused a man… which in the 1800s took one helluva a lot of self-love and continues to till this day. I bet most on this site are cut from that same better bolt of fabric.

    We are allowed to love who we choose in this life, and that is tolerance… And the Lover we choose gets to be us. Her life was harder because she chose herself. Brave girl. We do get to be kind to others — even interested in others without sacrificing ourselves to their idealized notions of us and their fantasies of a life they make with us.

    We get to choose, and we are allowed to let that choice continue to evolve until it matures and we are clear about what we need and want too. There need not have been any victims in this story. The man chose that for both of them.

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