THE EXPERIENCE OF MUTUAL LOVE
When love is mutual, for a moment or a life time, it has certain characteristics. When love is mutual the lovers often feel their love is unique; the feeling of uniqueness is one of its defining characteristic. Regardless of its duration, romantic love is not only exultant but transformative. It changes thinking, feeling, perception and the very sense of self.
When apart, each has a dread of something going wrong, imagining the worst when they are not in each other’s company. There is panic when the letters don’t arrive, the call is cut short, the weekend cancelled. The lovers alternate between feeling a need to be cared for and a wish to protect the Other.
Pledges are made to establish the covenant of love. The covenant is a guaranty of safety; by promising continuity, it makes the risk of opening up seem smaller. Tokens are exchanged as the concrete expressions of the promise that the lovers belong to each other, now and forever. The ring and the pin are the material evidence of good faith and the promise of eternal union.
In love, there is a desire to generate endless time. Only the present matters, past and future are dispensable, irrelevant. Only the present matters, past and future are dispensable, irrelevant. When love is interrupted by death, the surviving lover may fear the very passage of time that friends look to as balm for the pain. Time may indeed heal, but to the lover, time is like a terrible train, rushing the lover away from the last moment with the beloved. Time becomes space and inexorably separates.
The lover’s sense of self is expanded in the arms of the beloved and the lover’s life is suffused with a sense of drama. Love catalyzes a kind of high –the feeling that the true, most spirited, most alive part of the self, long slumbering, has been awakened. The beloved’s affirmation of the lovers desirability awakens in the lover a capacity to love in a the lover that the lover may never have felt before. This is one way Romantic Love can change a life. Only feelings lead to truth, the body does not lie. The lovers feel a deep sense of affinity. Their dreams coincide; they believe that the way their wishes and rhythms match must be unique. Nothing the Beloved wants feels like an obligation or imposition. To be alone together and feel as one is to experience a harmony more perfect than either thought possible.
This experience is conveyed in the duet that Sigmund and Siglinde sing together upon discovering their love for each other. This is called Winter Song from Wagner’s Die Walkurie.
Siegmund likens the exaltation he feels about his love for Sieglinde to the vanishing of winter storms and the arrival of spring. He speaks of feelings within that feel like balmy breezes bringing miraculous scents that blow through the woods. Bird songs proclaim the arrival of this love. And marvelous flowers sprout from its hot blood while buds and shoots grow from the strength of his feelings. Siegmund’s aria conveys this feeling of exaltation.
Look the spring shines into the room.
Winter storms have vanished
In a gentle light spring time shines out.
On balmy breezes light and lovely
It weaves miracles as it wafts.
Through woods and meadow its breath blows,
Buds and shoots grow from its strength.
With an armory of delicate charm it conquers the world.
Winter and storms vanish before there stout defense.
At these bold blows, of course,
The stout doors yield too,
For stubborn and hard they kept us from the spring.
To its sister here it flew.
Love decoyed the spring.
In our hearts it was hidden deep;
Now it smiles joyfully at the light.
The sister as bride is freed by her brother.
In ruins lies all that kept them apart.
Joyfully the young couple greet one another.
Love and Spring are united.
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Sieglinde responds that he is the Spring that she longed for in the frosty winter time. She declares that her heart greeted him with holy terror at first when his glance first fell upon her. Before he came she was surrounded by strangers and her surroundings were friendless. However, when she saw him she felt he belonged to her. She saw her friend.