The Ring of the Dove

THE SIGNS OF LOVELOVE has certain signs, which the intelligent man quickly detects, and the shrewd man readily recognizes. Of these the first is the brooding gaze: the eye is the wide gateway of the soul, the scrutinizer of its secrets, conveying its most private thoughts, and giving expression to its deepest-hid feelings. You will see the lover gazing at the beloved unblinkingly; his eyes follow the loved one’s every movement, withdrawing as he withdraws, inclining as he inclines, just as the chameleon’s stare shifts with the shifting of the sun. I have written a poem on this topic, from which the following may be quoted.

My eye no other place of restDiscovers, save with thee;Men say the lodestone is possessedOf a like property.To right or left it doth pursueThy movements up or down, As adjectives in grammar doAccord them with their noun. The lover will direct his conversation to the beloved, even when he purports however earnestly to address another: the affectation is apparent to anyone with eyes to see. When the loved one speaks, the lover listens with rapt attention to his every word; he marvels at everything the beloved says, however extraordinary and absurd his observations may be; he believes him implicitly even when he is clearly lying, agrees with him though he is obviously in the wrong, testifies on his behalf for all that he may be unjust, follows after him however he may proceed and whatever line of argument he may adopt. The lover hurries to the spot where the beloved is at the moment, endeavors to sit as near him as possible sidles up close to him, lays aside all occupations that might oblige him to leave his company, makes light of any matter however weighty that would demand his parting from him, is very slow to move when he takes his leave of him. I have put this somewhere into verse.

No captive for the gallows boundWith more reluctance quits his cellThan I thy presence, in profoundRegret to say farewell.But when, my darling, comes the timeThat we may be together, IRun swiftly as the moon doth climbThe ramparts of the sky.At last, alas! That sweet delightMust end anew; I, lingering yet, Turn slowly, as from heaven’s heightThe fixed stars creep to set. Other signs of love are that sudden confusion and excitement betrayed by the lover when he unexpectedly sees the one he loves coming upon him unawares, that agitation which overmasters him on beholding someone who resembles his beloved or, on hearing his name suddenly pronounced. This I have put into verse, as the following extract indicates.

Whene’er my ranging eyes descryA person clad in red,My heart is split with agonyAnd sore discomforted.His roguish glance, as I conclude,Has shed such human bloodThat now his garments are imbruedAll saffron from the flood. A man in love will give prodigally to the limit of his capacity, in a way that formerly he would have refused; as if he were the one receiving the donation, he the one whose happiness is the object in view; all this in order that he may show off his good points, and make himself desirable. How often has the miser opened his purse strings, the scowler relaxed his frown, the coward leapt heroically into the fray, the clod suddenly become sharp-witted, the boor turned into the perfect gentleman, the stinker transformed himself into the elegant dandy, the sloucher smartened up, the decrepit recaptured his lost youth, the godly gone wild, the self-respecting kicked over the traces-and all because of love! All these signs are to be observed even before the fire of Love is properly kindled, ere its conflagration truly bursts forth, its blaze waxes fierce, its flames leap up. But when the fire really takes a hold and is firmly established, then you will see the secret whispering, the unconcealed turning away from all present but the beloved.

IBN HAZM

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