To Have Loved and Lost

In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 17
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

I envy not in any moods
         The captive void of noble rage,
         The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:

I envy not the beast that takes
         His license in the field of time,
         Unfetter’d by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
         The heart that never plighted troth
         But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
         I feel it, when I sorrow most;
         ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Love is a tricky thing. All love ends in loss. Either people drift apart through the course of their lives, they come to a dramatic divide or there is a death. But in the end, all love ends in loss. Because of this, many choose to shutter up their hearts and not take the risk of being hurt from these inevitable losses.

But this is folly. Human relationships are what make us thrive. A life in isolation is one of sorrow. When we shun human relationships we choose a life that is cold and hard. With this is an inevitable suffering. This suffering of loneliness is greater than the suffering of love lost. For always, there is a pining for that which has been denied.

We are designed, coded into our genes, to be social creatures. We are enriched by every person who crosses into our lives, regardless of how briefly. Other people teach us about life and about ourselves. There is no way for us to fully come into the knowing of this world, ourselves or the nature of existence without first engaging with other humans.

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