Does Love Conquer All?

Jun 10 2012 @ 7:35am

Ron Rosenbaum explores how the poets W.H. Auden and Philip Larkin came to regret their more effusive invocations of love:

These two lines—Larkin’s “What will survive of us is love” and Auden’s “We must love one another or die”—may be the most well-known lines of poetry about love written in the past century. But what’s remarkable about them both is that the poets who wrote them agonized over them, were conflicted and critical of their own lines. Both Larkin and Auden eventually tried to distance themselves from their original unmediated utterances.

And yet perhaps those momentary affirmations were revealing:

And then there's the unanswered question that's been troubling me personally and is perhaps the reason I’ve been a bit obsessed with these lines. What happens to the love between two people when it’s over? Seriously, where does it go, all that feeling, all those memories—do they dissolve into the air or do they survive somewhere, in some way—perhaps in a parallel universe?

I think our two poets believed, but were too shy to say it outright:

Amor vincit omnia.

Recent Dish coverage of Larkin here, here, and here, and Auden here, here, and here