To His Coy Mistress is Apparently Not About Food

I was reading Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, and I thought it would be funny to post that poem in its entirety, with no exposition, because of the line “my vegetable love”. But that awesome line is only one of about 4 dozen in the poem, and none of the rest lend themselves to such specific and hilarious misinterpretation. However, in searching for the image below, the internet once again delivered me further delights.

Author and professor Albert Rolls wrote a great explication entitled Andrew Marvell’s Sweet Vegetable Love. Great title, right? Rolls says we should look to Aristotle and to former hobo and renowned literary critic JV Cunningham to understand vegetable love. This is far, far beyond what I intended when I set out to write this glib post, but these things happen when you get the impulse to visit your badly neglected blog at 3am after an unusually fine meal and five cups of coffee.

But why doesn’t Marvell use the word “natural” rather than “vegetable”? He wants, I would argue, to allude not simply to natural love but also to the doctrine of the three souls and to draw out the green connotations that Cunningham reduces to an absurdity with his image of “an expansive cabbage.” [link]

Not sure whether I forgot or never learned about Aristotle’s notion of three souls, but thanks to Google Book Search I have Harvard Medical School’s copy of Science from 1891, which contains a nice little relevant passage. Check out the scan; how handsome is that?

…coming now to his generalizations it was true philosophical insight which enabled Aristotle to perceive in organic nature an ascending complexity of organization from the vegetable kindom up to man. [link]

While looking for the Aristotle bit, I came across an essay on the Epicurean concept of love. I had to know who posted such an extensive treatise to the Yahoo Groups International Stoic Forum, so I searched the author’s name, Jan E. Garrett. This led me to an interview of Jane E. Garrett on the blog Ms. Garrett may or may not have written the post on Epicurean love, but she definitely wrote a book containing several hundred mid 20th century recipes from the Lawrence Journal World, which is of course right up my alley. [link]

The time is 3:44am and the caffeine is running strong. To quote my friend Dan Schultz, who was last seen somewhere in Southeast Asia, I’m hanging on by a very thin thread. I think I’ll go read some more poetry.

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