Wednesday, March 23, 2016

If Such Fury Be In Vegetals

Now we are to the part of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY that addresses the power of love. Burton says that even trees fall in love. He sounds like Cole Porter! "Boughs live for love, and every flourishing tree in turn feels the passion." Palm trees are especially prone to falling in love, we find out. "Ammianus Marcellinus reports that they marry one another, and fall in love if they grow in sight; and when the wind brings the smell to them, they are marvellously affected." Caretakers should "stroke many Palms that grow together, and so stroking again the Palm that is enamored, they carry kisses from the one to the other." Burton asks what we're all thinking: "If such fury be in vegetals, what shall we think of sensible creatures?" He doesn't mean "fury" in a negative way. I'd say he means "passion" - though, as we have seen, he uses that word too. "But for an old fool to dote, to see an old lecher, what more odious, what can be more absurd? and yet what so common? Who so furious?... How many decrepit, hoary, harsh, writhen, bursten-bellied, crooked, toothless, bald, blear-eyed, impotent, rotten, old men shall you see flickering still in every place!" Okay, okay, gee whiz. I wanted to get to that interesting use of "furious," so I skipped over some things, including "Fishes pine away for love and wax lean."