Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Power of Theme

Strange the things we remember from childhood and teen years. People who can tell me where they were on a particular date back in 1982, or more embarrassingly, where I was, amaze me. I have very few solid memories of my younger life, not because it was particularly horrible or anything like that, but more likely because even then my head was in the clouds. So when a piece of poetry I had first read many years ago recently came to mind I was a little surprised a) that I remembered it and b) where I remembered it from.

My mother was a committed Mills & Boon/Harlequin reader and I would often raid her stash. As a quintessential pack-rat she was in possession of books from way back when. One day I picked up a Mills & Boon from some time back in the ‘60s. I hope the author, should she ever come across this post, will forgive me for neither remembering her name nor the title of the book (although I think it was My Old Love Came). I do, however, remember the story was based on a poem I somehow memorised but had to Google yesterday to find out the writer’s name!

I made another garden, yea,
For my new love;
I left the dead rose where it lay
And set the new above.
Why did the summer not begin?
Why did my heart not haste?
My old love came and walked therein,
And laid the garden waste.

A.W.E. O’Shaughnessy

Who knows why it popped back into my head after, oh, probably twenty-five years. What it did tell me however is how powerful a book’s theme can be. That Mills & Boon is long gone, but the theme, and the poem it’s based on, has lingered in my scatter-brained head all these years. That’s pretty impressive, especially in light of the fact the only other poem I think I can recite on request is Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

And for anyone wondering, the old love came, but the new (and true) love won out in the end!

BTW, Blogger wouldn't let me use the ampersand between 'Mills' and 'Boon' in the labels. Thought I'd mention it, in hopes no one will fuss me for not using the company's full legal name there!

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