Memories: Only Love

In 1984, I first fell in love. She wore a glittering dress, large glasses over twinkling eyes, shoulder length hair and the most charming of smiles. For years, I had this image in my head of the unnamed woman and a memory of the mesmerising song she sang. At only five years old, it wasn’t the weightiest of crushes, but with her I was fascinated. Only last week I identified who she was: Nana Mouskouri, the Greek warbler. Her big, horn-rimmed specs and quivering voice seem rather old fashioned, but that song which so moved me as a little boy continues to haunt. I looked up its lyrics:  

You were there and all the world was young

And all it's songs unsung.

And I remember you then, when love was all,

All you were living for,

And how you gave that love to me.

Only then I felt my heart was free,

I was part of you and you were all of me.

(Songwriters: Vladimir Cosma & Norman Gimbel)

In one respect, it’s a sickly-sweet love song, a cloying puddle of sentimental syrup. Yet I recall Augustine’s teaching, and indirectly, the Bible’s, that we humans were designed to love and be loved, freely and naturally expressing it towards each other and to God. The Fall slashed these beautiful, interwoven bonds of intimacy, substituting ugly lust, domination and pride. Our love songs and ballads are often, I think, dim recollections of innocent, Edenic ardour.

For those who think my link tenuous and Mouskouri’s song vacuous, one should recall that the biblical Song of Songs is more than just a record of Solomon’s trysts and courtly flirtations. Rather, it is a picture of Christ’s wooing His beloved Church, the filthy harlot whom He raises out of shame and dishonour to royal dignity and glorious betrothal.

And I remember you then,

When love was all, all you were living for;

And how you gave that love to me,

Only then I knew my heart was free.

I was part of you and you were all of me.

The Shulammite says of Solomon: “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song 5:16).

Image by 272447 from Pixabay