Let Me...

Roman Bark, from Barnard Art

Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds,
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
            Admit impediments. Love is not love
            Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
            That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
            It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
            Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
             Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
            But bears it out even to the edge of doom:
                        If this be error and upon me proved,
                        I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

                                 From The Oxford Book of English Verse

Revision, inspired by Amelie Rorty's
"Love Is Not Love Which Alters Not
When It Alteration Finds" (Mind in Action)

Let me not, in the marriage of nimble minds,
            Insist on constancy. Love is love
            Which alters when it alteration finds,
And bends with the mover to be moved.
O, yes, it is a wandering bark,
            That rides on tempests, adjusts its course.
            It holds lightly, leaves no mark,
            Is unfastened, untethered, will not be forced.
Love adapts, responds in kind,
            Attends with joy to twist and turn.
Love does not fix the other mind,
            But learns to bend, and to discern.
                        Fine attunement of the act,
                        Love, changed by loving, learns to tack.

                                                            By Anne Dalke

Thanks to Mike Tratner, who saw "through" an earlier draft.

tack, n. (from the OED):
I. That which fastens or attaches.

4. a. An act of tacking or fastening together, now esp. in a slight or temporary way... as hanging by a tack.
II. Nautical and derived senses. (Sense 5 is a special application of 1, and is the origin of sense 7, whence again comes sense 6 here.)
5. a. A rope, wire, or chain and hook, used to secure to the ship's side the lower square sails of a sailing ship when sailing close hauled on a wind.
6. a. An act of tacking; hence, the direction given to a ship's course by tacking; the course of a ship in relation to the direction of the wind and the position of her sails; a course or movement obliquely opposed to the direction of the wind.
6b. A zigzag course.
7 a. A course or line of conduct or action implying change or difference from some preceding or other course.
7 b. A circuitous course of conduct.
(Cf. "cleave me only unto thee..."--in which to "cleave" means both to cling AND to split.)

And thanks to Karl Kirchwey, who flagged the archaisms and suggested this contemporary connection to "learns to bend":

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everything on earth the compass round,
And only by one's going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

The Silken Tent, by Robert Frost

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