Loving Unrequited Love

“A Pause of Thought” written by Christina Rossetti perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to have a crush on someone. The poem is written in an ABBA pattern and it seems to mirror the theme of push and pull or the reality vs. daydream scenarios we often play in our minds regarding our special someone.

The first stanza begins with,

“I looked for that which is not, nor can be,
And hope deferred made my heart sick in truth
But years must pass before a hope of youth
Is resigned utterly.”

It begins with Rossetti acknowledging the person whom she is admiring is unattainable or unrealistic from her position. It is not like today where we can easily DM or yet alone email those we fancy. There were probably only a few occasions where Rossetti was able to meet a male counterpart, at least those she found at least mildly attractive. Even then, there was no guarantee that she would see him again (it’s not like she could look him up). And if she did have the chance to mail him letters, it would take too much time and effort and she would never know if he had other women or if he would vanish into the sea!

Rossetti knows it’s not logical, but she still longs for it.

“I watched and waited with a steadfast will:
And though the object seemed to flee away
That I so longed for, every day by day
I watched and waited still.”

As a girl who has once had big crushes, I get this. There is something so forbidden and addicting about fanaticizing what we could have been.

Rosseti goes on to go back and forth with her thoughts in the next three stanzas.
“Sometimes I said: This thing shall be no more;
My expectation wearies and shall cease;
I will resign it now and be at peace:
Yet never gave it o’er.

Sometimes I said: It is an empty name
I long for; a name why should I give
The peace of all the days I have to live?–
Yet gave it all the same.
Alas, thou foolish one! alike unfit
For healthy joy and salutary pain:
Thou knowest the chase useless, and again
Turnest to follow it.”

She knows that she lives a life of peace without the thought of the nameless man she secretly admires, but the fact that this person could be her potential lover drives her crazy.

When your expectations aren’t broken, there is more room to daydream and more time to spend thinking about wasted potential. What if? How come? One day? It is a struggle to let go of the thoughts that give hope and comfort. Christina Rossetti acknowledges how love is not simple. As humans, we desire to be loved, but we also fear rejection and unfulfilled expectations. We know when to be logical but still go against our own good judgments. Humans are not sound when it comes to love. Obviously, Rossetti knows better. But frankly, it doesn’t matter who she’s convinced herself of loving, because what she really loves is the thrill/chase of unrequited love.

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