M is for Magnolia

| April 6, 2014

Equanimity dissipated weeks ago. My undergraduate honors thesis, which explores idealized love in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and The Winter’s Tale, was due in a few days: On the first day of spring, I believe. I had to finish chapter three, compose the conclusion, and revise everything.

Nobody was on campus because undergraduates had spring break. I did too. I trudged from the New Brunswick train station and to Alexander library: I completed no work in the latter.

In the latter part of Winter, Shakespeare constructs a microcosm wherein the essence of blossoming love and emerging rebirth suffuse it. Perdita’s flowers and her discussion thereof establish the tranquility found herein:

PERDITA.                                                      O, these I lack

To make you garlands of, and my sweet friend

To strew him o’er and o’er.

FLORIZEL. What, like a corpse?

PERDITA.  No, like a bank, for love to lie and play on,

Not like a corpse – or if, not to be buried,

But quick and in mine arms. Come, take your flowers.

Methinks I play as I have seen them do

In Whitesun pastorals; sure this robe of mine

Does change my disposition.


Florizel and Perdita’s tender, wity exchanges alter the destructive route of Winter. The transformative powers of this couple—and this season—initiate the course of familial restoration.

Sometimes you come to a point wherein you don’t know how to handle anything—yourself, your work, your family, your friends—and anxiety cripples you; intellectually and emotionally debilitates you.

I remember, either en route to Alexander Library or coming therefrom, the magnolias, in columns of pink and white, adorning the grass and Murray Hall. They were all that comforted me.