“Being’s Law”

Micheal Fields’ poem “AH, Eros…,” on the bottom of page eight, illustrates the beauty and honor in chivalry; and illuminates masculine courage in the face of unjust desires through the use of dictation and imagery. 

The poem begins with an introduction of Eros, the Greek god of erotic love. In the first quatrain, Eros’ is shown to have the ability to overcome men and dictating their sexual interactions. In the proceeding line of the first quatrain, the power of Eros is at work with “…smite/ With cruel, shining dart,/ Whose bitter point with sudden might,… (8). The imagery and diction in these lines reveal the “dart” and “point” represent a penis, unexpectedly and with cruel intentions interacting with a woman. When this interaction occurs, with Eros’s power-consuming the male and dictating his actions, the woman is left with an “unhappy heart–” (8). 

The woman is not only left with an unhappy heart, but her innate “purple-stained” purity is forever lost (8). The color purple represents wealth, wisdom, dignity, and many other positive traits, and those are all lost when a man cruelly interjects with her. 

Yet, Eros’s power is not invincible. It takes a courageous man to resist Eros temptations of erotic love and reside to more chivalrous interaction that leads to more mutual love and appreciation.  

The final quatrain begins with a call of hope. “O’er it sometimes the boy will deign” (8). This first line reveals that sometimes the boy, possessed by Eros power, will deem his submission to his desires beneath his dignity and resist cruelly pursuing erotic love. Instead, he decides to “Sweep the shaft’s feathered end;” and put away his cock. Also, the rhythmic pattern ties together the word “end” and “descend,” which produces the imagery that reveals the surrender of his sexual devices. 

Finally, the last two lines reveal the rise of a long-term intimate relationship through “friendship,” which comes in place of resisting a destructive short-term form of pleasure. Finally, the word choice reveres the act of resisting Eros’s sexual temptation in the final line. “White plumes” at the time of publication were used as symbols of public shaming and cowardice. If a white plume descended or fell to the ground, so too would the cowardice, and what would rise would be a courageous, chivalrous man. 

This specific poem’s meaning fits into the overarching premise of Book I. The poems share imagery and metaphors that reveal a deep appreciation for the order and beauty of nature, environmental nature, and human nature. “AH, Eros…” uses specific diction to unravel one of the most curious pieces of human nature; that being, love and intimacy. This particular passage engages with “being’s law” and the laws that govern us as humans (20.) Similar to how all other sounds in nature repeal the laws of the wind, humans too have laws that guide their being and situate them in the universe (7).