Love, That Cupid Couldn’T Find

An empty white canvas. A woman drawn on it. Alone had she spent a 100 years in it, in search of love, of happiness and of life. Some years back, a painter had painted a baby cupid throwing arrows at her, but couldn’t paint her loved one. He then painted the cupid white again, leaving the woman alone. One day, early in the morning, from a distant, a voice spoke to her. It said she had to wander into the woods and the canvas would be filled with all that she touched while she was there. Delighted was she that she could color the canvas with all that she would like. But the voice warned her again saying, if you touch something dangerous, that too would get painted and it won’t get fixed until you meet your love. Once you unite with your beloved, the canvas will itself be painted, creating a magnificent art.

She went into the woods, joyous, in search of a life she would create on the canvas. As she walked around, she saw flowers with vibrant colours, she plucked seven of them, and there formed a rainbow on the canvas. She was delighted. Being happy and gay she wandered around, on the way her happiness was empowered by anger. Her heart told anger to leave her, but anger commanded the mind to hold her tight. The mind forced her hands towards the ground and touch the chains, that lay beside her. Her knee forced her to fall down and her mind dragged her hands towards the chain. The heart reasoned out with the mind, but with no success. With hands chained she kept moving. The canvas started to paint a dark shadow, and the woman surrounded by it.

On the way further, obedience engulfed her and she went on where the chains took her. Although reason justified it, her heart was against being led. It revolted, screamed, to be left alone, but obedience could not follow her heart but the chains tied around her. Obedience dragged her towards a statue of a knight. Reason began to act as a shield for her. It believed it was the love she was looking for. It fought with obedience and won. But it blindfolded her, so she would touch only what it would want her to touch. She touched, with a hope everything would fall in place. The painting had a knight with a shining armor in it. But nothing changed. The painting was not complete. Reason could not reason out anymore. The heart too was astonished. She kept moving around and heard a lovely song. She heard birds chirping, river flowing and in a nearby pond, a beautiful lotus singing a melodious song of wanting to be loved by somebody. Her heart pounded as she heard the lotus singing. Her song was sheer poetry for the woman. She was blindfolded, her eyes could not see where she was going, but her heart was guiding her. She sat on the lakeside and felt the cold water on the pond and slowly reached the lotus. The sun shone bright, the colors of the rainbows were spectacular, the shadow had left the painting, neither was the knight there. The painting had rainbows, a pond, and two women lost in each other’s eyes.

“Love that Cupid Couldn’t Find”, rejects the ideas of courtly love and defies how we understand love to be. It is not the form of love that we see in this century, but it is the foundation of love, that, “Love is blind”. The empty canvas with a woman in it, symbolizes the world of ours, which we need to fill ourselves by finding people, creating memories and having things that matter to us. I have particularly chosen a woman because in most of the texts, it is about a man’s quest of finding his love. “When the Sweet Air Goes Bitter”, talks about a man’s desire to be with his beloved, “A Love Afar, similarly is about a man’s despair and his grief over his beloved being far from him. “The Skylark”, too starts with a man sending his message to his beloved through the skylark. Even in “The Art of Courtly Love”, the rule number 24, that is, “the lover's every deed is performed with the thought of his beloved in mind”, clearly shows how when “love” is talked about, the lover is mostly assumed to be the man.

With the cupid’s arrow not striking the woman, it tries to explain that cupid struck the arrow, that would make her fall for a knightly man, however, at the end of “Love, that Cupid Couldn’t Find”, shows the contrary. When she was to begin her journey, the voices warned her, it represents the careful decisions our mind makes when we are set on to so something for the first time. However, here too, love has been given importance of the highest pedestal, as it has power to change everything and provide with immense pleasure.

Similar significance can be drawn from “When Tender Grass and Leaves Appear”, which praises the beloved and talks about how wonderful everything seems with the presence of love in one’s life. When everything was going on well and happy, then anger came, representing the societal chains we are bound by. As an individual we can do all we want to, but somehow, we are pulled back and get into the clutches of the society, and get directed to follow a certain way. These chains are symbolic to what Jean Jacques Rousseau had said, “A man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”, and these chains are those imposed by our societies on us, that we are often bound to follow religiously. “Love, That Cupid Couldn’t Find”, challenges these notions of our societies, with much hardships. Following where society wanted her to, she followed the heteronormative rule, of choosing a man. Even reason did not question, because that was how she was socially constructed, believed to be a heterosexual. When she was blindfolded, her heart guided her towards a lotus, which sang beautifully. She was driven towards her. It was not her vision that her near the pond, it was her heart that did. This challenges the notion of visionary courtly love, where, in “The Art Of Courtly Love”, it says that love needed to be seen in order to be felt and to praise. Moreover, the lotus is the woman’s love, a flower, an object before she touched it, but it has voice, as opposed to “The Romance Of The Rose”, where the rose is an object who has no say of her own. The painting being completed when the woman touches it, with her partner beside her, on the pond challenges the notions of love of medieval times. It also makes us reconsider medieval thoughts and practices on love.

However, in “The Lais Of Marie de France”, “When a Lady Loves”, sends out the similar message that love from both the lover’s should be equal, in love they should be seen as equals, as friends. This could not have been possible in the Medieval time, where men were supposed to love more, thrive for love and be reckless waiting for the beloved. But it does make me wonder, if during those times, the lovers would be two women, would it be a more egalitarian society in terms of love? Probably, as “When A Lady Loves”, states, “Lover only owes what bears love’s name”.

11 February 2020
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