Tuesday, December 19, 2006

from The Anatomy of Melancholy

I finally got my own copy of The Anatomy of Melancholy last weekend from a used book store. This is not the kind of book which one reads from beginning to end, just pick up a random chapter and read a few pages. It is funny in a strange sort of way. One extract from the book from the "third partition" dedicated exclusively to "Love-Melancholy"... (more here. the latin translations are from this edition of the book)

Symptoms or signs of Love-Melancholy, in Body, Mind, good, bad, etc.

Symptoms are either of body or mind; of body, paleness, leanness, dryness, etc. Pallidus omnis amans, color hic est aptus amanti [pale is every lover, this hue beseemeth love], as the poet describes lovers: fecit amor maciem, love causeth leanness. Avicenna de Ilishi, c. 33. "makes hollow eyes, dryness, symptoms of this disease, to go smiling to themselves, or acting as if they saw or heard some delectable object." Valleriola, lib. 3. observat. cap. 7. Laurentius, cap. 10. Ælianus Montaltus de Her. amore. Langius, epist. 24. lib. 1. epist. med. deliver as much, corpus exangue pallet, corpus gracile, oculi cavi [the body bloodless and pale, a lean body, hollow eyes], lean, pale,-- ut nudis qui pressit calcibus anguem, "as one who trod with naked foot upon a snake," hollow-eyed, their eyes are hidden in their heads,-- Tenerque nitidi corposis cecidit decor [their sleep charm falls away], they pine away, and look ill with waking, cares, sighs.

"Et qui tenebant signa Phœbeæ facis
Oculi, nihil gentile nec patrium micant."

["And eyes that once rivalled the locks of Phœbus, lose the patrial and paternal lustre."]

With groans, griefs, sadness, dullness,

--"Nulla jam Cereris subi
Cura aut salutis" --

want of appetite, etc. A reason of all this, Jason Pratensis gives, "because of the distraction of the spirits the liver doth not perform his part, nor turns the aliment into blood as it ought, and for that cause the members are weak for want of sustenance, they are lean and pine, as the herbs of my garden do this month of May, for want of rain." The green sickness therefore often happeneth to young women, a cachexia or an evil habit to men, besides their ordinary sighs, complaints, and lamentations, which are too frequent. As drops from a still,-- ut occluso stillat ab igne liquor, doth Cupid's fire provoke tears from a true lover's eyes,

"The mighty Mars did oft for Venus shriek,
Privily moistening his horrid cheek
With womanish tears," --

--"ignis distillat in undas,
Testis erit largus qui rigat ora liquor,"

[Fire distills into water, witness the copious streams that bathes his cheeks;]

with many such like passions.


Antonia said...

why don't I have more time for reading?

Alok said...

you have already read a lot of books... :)

Antonia said...

yes but there are always so many new and interesting ones ...as you know

jyothsnay said...

lovely post Alok.
Managed to reach the half-distance mile-stone of the long n winding delirious journey into the pastoral landscapes of love n passion...sat on the mile-stone, counting the no.of breaths my heart skipped while thinking og him...
so far, the journey has been smooth, unruffling, throbbed with excitement as none goaded me into this...
it's a motive generated within, to struggle in his lap, to sprawl across the sacrificial altar, a tumultous ride of emotions I am willing to be part, oh such a brave heart I wear on ym fragile bosom,dnot laugh oh my dear redolent lips at those who never ventured into this, oh world sink into the depths of my eyes as they glow with the grandeur of being love-struck, dnot pity me, I am dead, his thoughts keep me alive~~~~

reminds me of a gentle thing from Dorothy Parker...

with you my heart is quiet here
and all my thoughts are cool as rain,
I sit and let the shifting year
go by before the windownpane
and I reach my hand to yours, my dear ...
I wonder what it's like in spain

Alok said...

lots of complicated words and thoughts :)

jyothsnay said...

when complexity arrives on your porch, hug it ardently and then crush into manageable parts n then arrange them in a symbiotic format so that you could get the gist...
gosh, since morning, am being hurt by pearls of wisdom...howubeen, Alok?