The Loveless, Confusion And Torment

I read a poem recently that’s challenged me immensely. The poem is from the 1800’s and I am not going to post it because it’s just too personal and also because it’s just the one line or concept that I am caught on.

The poem is 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 and because of this all kinds of horrible things happen to her. I mean, 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 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.

The poem ends with the poet addressing the harsh sentence this woman received. He believes that 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?

Now 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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The Loveless, Confusion And Torment — 57 Comments

  1. That’s an interesting question. I’m a firm believer that eventually stuff like that catches up with people in one form or another. Even if their only reprecussion is dying a long hard death alone. It could very well seem as if a witch has cast a curse upon them. I don’t know if that conveys tolerance? But, my only business with it is to try to recognize it if ever approached and steer the hell away from it. As far as thinking it as just, or “they got what they deserved” well..that really isn’t any of my business.

  2. I subscribe to the idea that evil only learns a lesson when meeting a greater evil. They can stop at any point, but they don’t. Their only redemption would be to recognize their limitation and mimic loving behavior while not actually feeling anything in service. If they get there. I can tolerate accidental hurt, but deliberate harm, nope.

    I think it makes people like me who run into them smarter and more able to detect who has love and who doesn’t. It taught me to be a kind person and love as fully as I can because some people can’t. It also made me consider why I would even attempt to love someone who can’t love back – and my answer was because I can, so I do. But I face facts and know some can’t. Neptune wants to love everybody, but it’s not always smart. 🙂

    P.S. this is just for narcissists, not other varieties that perpetrate serious violence on children who deserve squat.

  3. I thought that ‘tolerance’ meant unconditional acceptance of other races, creeds, and religions. I had no idea that the concept was used in consideration of toxic personalities; as I can remember no example of such — save for a judge releasing a sociopath back into society, after being arrested for just ‘being himself’.

    As for people getting their ‘just desserts’, I don’t know. All I know for sure, is that we each create our own individual experience; and attract that which is most like us. Maybe the man with the unrequited love was actually underdeveloped in his ability to receive love; so he threw his shadow at the one that he projected his errant emotions onto. Maybe he needed to first learn whether he was worthy of being loved, before expecting someone else to do it for him. THIS behaviour, I have first-hand experience with; and it is baffling for the other party — who is in fact, demonised in the end. Where is the justice in that ?

  4. Sometimes people cannot love others, because they don’t love themselves. It’s nothing intentional. If love is missing from their live, from their spirit, from their soul, from their core it’s not something that you can just say well I need to love this person, and then all of the sudden you love them. I realize that is not the story line of the poem, but just another perspective.

    You cannot make yourself love someone, and you cannot make yourself not love someone. Life would be so much easier if you could do either of the above.

  5. That is a very 1800’s point of view for sure. I too believe that every one eventually gets what is their due for good or for bad. That old saying what goes around comes around.

    If you are intolerant then you will only meet with intolerance. However if you are a tolerant person you will most likely be met with tolerance. May be not all the time but by in large you will be afforded more tolerance than someone who is not tolerant who doesn’t know how to love others as they love themselves. At one time you would have to wait till your next life time to reap the Karma but I have noticed that Karma is more instant than it once was. Not saying that we should all just lay down and let the world run us over. A person or people should protect themselves but getting all inflamed over small stuff can fill your life with unwanted drama.

  6. I don’t buy that old comfort stuff that people who don’t love others can’t, because they don’t love themselves. In my considerable experience of the type over sixty or so years, I’d say they have no room to love others since their self-love is so great.

    The damage they do is enormous, whether as seducers or as parents (and I’ve experienced both). They rarely get their just desserts either, in this life at least, since they’re almost all terrific dissemblers – and most are very ‘attractive’, as they have to be, to live in the manner they do.

    Nota wrote: <> Good observation Nota!

    As for the world being a better place if they too were tricked and made to suffer: yes I think on balance it might, since if even a few of them – even one of them! – learned from that and stopped deceiving others!

  7. @acaseofsunburn
    captured eloquently
    As much as I dont like to accept people who “can’t” love, I have experienced that it IS about lack of self-love and inner pain (subconscious or not) It is often masked as arrogance or enormous self-love and yes the damage they do is incredible.

    Aside from pure “evil”(psychosis), you can only feel sorry and have compassion for them, and protect yourself from it. Sometimes it takes a painful experience with one to learn this lesson. We all build walls, just depend on how tough and inpenetrable they are (often even to someone’s own awareness)

  8. I think the evil part of it stems not so much from their incapacity to love ‘other’, but rather from the predeliction of this ‘type’ to consider any and all resources of the other as their just due…

    Hmnn…how to better put this thought/observation…?

    So, using the woman in the poem (and makin a bunch of stuff up, since I don’t know that poem being referenced…
    It never seems to play out that this gal would look at the beau and say, “Scram! Get outta here. I am complete and happy all in and of myself. See that chick over there? She digs you. Go play in her sandbox and leave me alone in my awesomeness”.

    Instead, there’s more of a black hole effect. Where any who approach or show interest are pulled into orbit for the purpose of materially and emotionally propping up the self-interested party.

    Once the lover is sucked dry, or at any point in which they ‘falter’? That’s about the time they’re castigated as weak, shallow or otherwise unworthy of the object of their affection.

    Do I think there is justice or merit in the idea that these archetypes might experience some magnitude of suffering of which they *are* capable? Sure do, because I agree with the poet that they cause tremendous pain and damage in the world.
    Do I think this plays out universally? Well, not really, since so many of the personal examples of which I am aware are so self-absorbed that any and all adversity or hardship is quickly deflected outward as anything but personal fault or responsibility.

    Would the world be better off without them? That is a trickier question since they do participate at extremes in the dynamic tension that is light/dark, ‘good’/’evil’ and form an intrisic part of that landscape and crucible in which we all test, learn, refine and are measured.

  9. People get away with a lot of crap in the name of “love”, as you know I’ve been mentioning for about a year. I was involved with someone who was so messed up in the head that the “love” they had to give was actually hate, and he did not know that.

    In modern parlance it’s the “damaged” individual who still thinks they are capable of having a relationship. They’re not, but they don’t know it and neither do you until it’s too late.

  10. My initial reaction to this was that the guy was one of those men that demonize women who don’t return their affections. Ha-ha! I don’t know what that says about me.

    But I think when it comes to people who end up in a relationship with someone who can’t love others is that they themselves are broken in some way & that’s why they enter into loveless relationships.

    That being said, I’m not talking about narcissists or psychopaths—that is a different kettle of fish altogether. If a witch came along and tricked those people and put them out of their misery, I think it would be ‘cruel to be kind’ or something…being incapable of love must be a wretched place to live.

    ~ys

  11. that wasn’t very clear, sorry
    I mean I think tricking them out of their misery would be maybe the kindest thing to do for/to them

  12. This poem sounds like the poet had some issues with a woman who would not love him, no matter how true he thought his love was expressed to her. Maybe he is the psychopath himself, he mentions witches curses and the deserved death of the woman. He even says she is unable to love him because she loves herself too much. That sounds like he has a cruel mind to me.The headspace of the time was witch hunts and women as brainless chattel. I think in modern times we have only changed the labels, it is still the same.Easier to blame others, the moon, born under a bad star than take responsibility for self.

  13. Is he sure that’s why she couldn’t love him like he wanted?

    Did she do bad things to others or just remain on her own? (Being a single woman is a challenge. I’m always safer when I’m seen as the property of a man.)

    He could be p.o.ed because she refused him?

    Or the tricky witches of the world may be the problem?

    If she’s not hurting anyone else, what’s the problem?

    There’s just no tellin.

  14. notch, that’s what I thought. We only heard his side of the story and people have demonized me before so I felt for the woman. However, the man had great words, passion, some grace and a deep understanding of pain, so like you say, who knows?

    In the end it was inconclusive but whether he was right or wrong about the woman, his thoughts about this sort of person were no less potent and that is why I focused on them.

    The man does not think society should cater to or coddle troublemakers, or bad seeds, that’s for sure.

  15. This poem sounds like a modern version of “Narcissus.”

    I copied this from Wikipedia.

    “Narcissus or Narkissos (Greek: Νάρκισσος), possibly derived from ναρκη (narke) meaning “sleep, numbness,” in Greek mythology was a hunter from the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis saw this and attracted Narcissus to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the waters and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died.”

  16. I think this sorta does happen, the witch coming along and tricking these people that is. They can’t see in their own blind spots, so their reality becomes their own less than good behavior which is tantamount to hell.

  17. The poem ends with the poet addressing the harsh sentence this woman received. He believes that 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?

    if that’s his love, it isn’t worth much, ya know? What a tool.

  18. I think there needs to be more clarification around the meaning of “loveless” — does it mean incapable of love, or does it mean someone who (maybe at that point in time) has no one who loves them?
    There’s nothing to say that a man who is able to express himself well and has passionate emotions is not also demonizing this woman because his ego was bruised… I’m sure there have to be a few of us on this board who have been bad-mouthed by men who we rejected.
    Regardless, people who have any (one or more as they’re often co-morbid) of the personality disorders, i.e. narcissists, could be that way for a number of reasons and for the poet to conclude the woman deserved to die seems rather harsh to me and more than a little arrogant.
    Heh. I have Libra, can you tell?

  19. He didn’t get the one he wanted. He was glad she received just desserts. We reap what we sow.

    I thought of housewives of Hollywood or whatever that same nonsense featuring the venomous vampire women who have “pitiful” lives. “Is that a new meat suit you’re wearing?” “It’s lovely!” “It’s so sad you’re losing the lovely Mansion to bankruptcy and you’re husband beats you and committed suicide.”
    Yikes

  20. Elsa, I think anytime someone puts themselves out there, and hell you got mars merc so you pack some punch, they run the risk of being demonized.

    And I guess tis true the poem is probably his perception of the woman and his reaction. I mean life events can look nasty and unfortunate to someone else, but heck is that what the subject is really about. Is that really what she’s feeling 24-7, 365 days a year? I’m doubtful anyone is really that consistent and simple?

  21. Hm. What if the self-absorbed, loveless person was aware of their self-absorbtion and tried not to hurt others through it? Where do you draw the line between “not nice” and “pure evil”?

    I don’t know if tolerance is the answer or not. Probably not for the hard case and the sociopath, but what about others? Maybe things were better before tolerance was such a lauded virtue.

  22. I think the world would be a better place frankly but I don’t know about our own psychs if we started another witch hunt. To kill those who don’t love is to not love ourselves. The shadow is shaky.

  23. Really? I always thought the world was getting more judgmental due social media, the internet, and the faster life, in general.

  24. I think this is down to social situations. After a girl gets into her late twenties early thirties, she is often in a managerial position in a job she does not like and would prefer to be at home looking after a child. The neuroticness she experiences that would have gone to looking after a baby simply spreads like a virus and corrupts everything around her.

    This world needs a lot of healing.

  25. Furthermore this can be taken down into symbolism.

    Women don’t love men women love children. They provide ‘support’ not love to their partners. The first woman got caught by the witch because she was unable to relate to the man and got caught by an older version of herself. Her bad fate was decided when the man grew tired of her, which is why he appears to think she deserves it. Because he has to think that. At first his wisdom withdraws him from her side, due to some material circumstance, perhaps she is creating trouble with her neuroticism that is beyond the pale, and then his love follows, this is her real penalty because she is no longer protected, and further he hates her for not allower him to love her.

    So she is a feminist. The feminist will pass all sorts of workplace rules to prevent men expressing love for women. Because men always have to do so directly. Women are far more subtle.

    I do believe feminists do not deserve love. But I do love them sometimes nonetheless.

  26. Its pretty classic. Theres not a lot of talk about the bitterness of a man scorned, but ive witnessed it countless times in my life. In essence i dont think he was upset that she loved herself, but that she didnt love him. It couldve been another guy she was in love with and same result.

    To answer the question…yes theres no doubt in my mind that the world would be a better place without people who cant love. Its not my place to judge but that answer seems pretty obvious to me.
    Im not sure that tolerance has much to do with it though. Psycopaths dont respect any social boundary anyway. They dont care if we tolerate them or not. Theyre not responding to society in that way. Theyre resoonding to their own inner drive to destroy innocence.

  27. I loved a psychopath with all my heart for many years. You said my aquarius moon just adored him. He ended up almost destroying me, my career, and for sure my relationships with my children. I was left in a heap while he moved on carelessly to the next woman, and several after that. A part of me will always love him and just can’t believe he didn’t love me. Its now a torturous kernal in my heart. Yes, I married a man who does love me, but its not the same. It will never be the same.

  28. Damn, this is thought provoking on a Friday night and really spoke to me. I’ve been on both sides of this situation, currently dealing with someone I’ve come to realize may not have any love to give, despite words and actions to the contrary up until now. Before that, I’ve been the one with the walls keeping people out.

    Hurt people, hurt people.

    With Pluto squaring my sun and Saturn finishing its run in my 1st soon, but also soon to conjunct my Mars in the 1st, I am committed to killing and burying that horrible, angry side of me that tormented mates, but really was the real cause of my own (many) broken hearts.

    It’s funny, seeing someone who was the mirror image of my own behavior in the past, while infuriating and painful at times, is best lesson I could ask for. As much as I want to do to him what others have done to me when I acted this way, it’s making me consider how I always wanted to be treated with compassion and understanding in the past, and giving that to him now – because he deserves that, and so do I. Forcing myself to be vulnerable opens the door to love for everyone involved.

    So what does society gain? In my case, and as a member of society, a cold, hard look in the mirror and with a dose of tolerance, a chance to at least spark the beginning of the healing process for other tormented souls.

    • This is why I don’t like the use of the word ‘sociopath’. Some people just snap out of these behaviours.

      I don’t know how bad your behaviour was but… all the same.

  29. They should all die in a fiery crash for the hurt they spread. The world is worse for their being in it. I don’t care how they became the way they are.
    Eff them!!!
    😀

  30. Guilt is the root of all evil. Remorse if one is capable is fine but guilt is a loser through and through. I know a woman who has gone through an unthinkable tragedy of which it appears was her”fault”. Her family karma was so brutal I say something more than her was at play. And yes anyone who gets near her is at risk. The boundary of decency is thin. No one being can heal that wound so she continually feels wounded which I see her trying to feel safe in a guilt ridden world of which she is to blame deep down. People, places and things die around her. And yes I have learned to keep distant and feel she should be kept from having much play in the world. But to say get rid of these folks seems a bit crude and will not solve the issue. For me it’s lead me to be more aware, mature, less vapid in my perceptions of life in my interactions with her. And being a bit of a do gooder my interactions with her helped me deeply let go of that. The bullies if the world serve a function. It’s better than some utopia or opiated world because we feel depressed. He’s a man. They like to fix things but there’s wisdom in letting things be.

    • he just sounds like a man scorned, so he goes around talking bad about his ex. but weirdly this man didnt get romantically/physically involved. he only got emotionally involved from a “distance”….and he suffers for it. that makes me also think this woman who the witch targeted was very powerful in her way. when a woman brings out deep desire from you, she has a kind of power that these men want. cause no man wants to feel this helpless, and to top it off, being helpless when they haven’t even been together, it was a distant thing. that’s very powerful to be effected like that.

  31. I find it hard to imagine falling in love, or even like, with someone who is empty inside, but I suppose it is possible. I’ll guess that it was a Christina Rossetti poem…

  32. “What does society gain from allowing them to run loose and run amok? Anything?”

    Self-knowledge to the know who does not know himself or herself.
    He/she got attracted to that person for a reason.

    Just my 2cents.

  33. I don’t know bad crowd?
    My box of being with a narcissist
    Infantile self absorbed selfish
    Circus act was checked so many times; but still don’t think the
    Loveless losing life is a thought worth having. When someone only in
    Love with themselves,what a world their missing is justice enough

  34. it’s definitely hearing only one side of the story. the poem or what implies is a man who is self righteous and doesn’t seem to grieve over the woman who passed who couldnt love him. Or maybe he does grieve and he is just showing off, primping but deep inside he is tormented and finds someone else to love and loves him back. But really, if he didnt care, this whole poem/story would exist. when the man in the poem said the loveless loses their lives,well so do the loving and the ones full of love. It’s his torment i seem to be catching. sounds like a very cool poem. it might be his mirror. some people just give inspiration, which is i think borne of love/admiration, positive or negative.

  35. “The poem is 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”

    This says more about him (and his so-called “love”) than about her (and hers).

    What kind of man goes for “this kind of woman” (seeing as how he ultimately/really perceives her as evil)? And what kind of man gets upset because “this kind of woman” (evil) doesn’t love him back? I think HE has a serious problem. Or two.

    In what book is it written that she cannot love herself? And that she has to love him. (Personally, I despised HIM from the very first sentence.)

    Sounds like he’s a self-entitled (and self-righteous) prick who got (rightfully) rejected.

    I wish the witch had gotten her hands and potions into HIM instead. HE’s the vilain that needs to be gotten rid of.

  36. I keeping reading this
    Yes he is still trying to munipulate
    The judgement of her, not wanting
    To love him,talk about dragging a dead horse around
    March is screwing with me
    And I guess this is my manipulation of these darn winds ,how lost in my
    Emotions,I look here thinking it will
    What? Anchor me?make me bounce
    Write on mon amis
    My ship is rocking and I am breathing as deep as I can.

  37. Revisiting this, five years after the fact, I believe the man felt he was of a higher “caste” than the woman, though they are not Indian. He was nobility. She was a (fetching) peasant with whom he was taken.

    He just couldn’t function on her rejection or indifference to him. Actually, I’m not even sure she felt that way. She seems more oblivious than anything. Like a gal dancing around a maypole; she’s not necessarily as deep as he is; at least not yet. This angers him as he feels he offers her an opportunity that would be beyond her reach, without him.

  38. wow, Elsa, that sheds more light into the story.
    almost too sad and tragic. on both ends. He wanting to give her the world on a platter but she didnt feel the same way.
    his resentment still is felt, and i think he hated that, maybe he also thought, what a terrible waste for he could have given her so much love & happiness. And maybe she just simply didnt feel that she deserves it.

    • I don’t think he understood her at all. She was living in accord with her nature, her depth, what she knew in the moment. She because his obsession and ultimately he cursed her. If he can’t have her, then nobody can.

  39. He sounds like the one that’s the narcissist. “I own you.” Ppffft, I’ve met gay men like that before. It’s scary.

  40. If we really love someone, HOPEFULLY, we honor where they are at, don’t wish them harm, and if they are unable to return love to us, we love ourselves enough to move on and develop a relationship with someone that can. I think what he felt was way tied up in his ego and projections, and I wonder what his childhood relationship was like with his mother-figure…

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