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.

(IV.iv.127-34)

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.