This is a photo of part of the monument at the Glorieta de Becquer, in la Parque de Maria Louisa, in Sevilla, where I was after the dinner last week. This part of the monument includes three life-sized women in marble, who are said to represent the different stages of love.
That should be simple, right? And many say that the three stages of love represented in the three women are past love, present love, and future love. But surely we can do better than that, and many Spaniards have done just that.
With some license, and some expansion, I will share in English what some of the thoughts on the significance and meaning of these three women in the monument of Becquer are. One description applies full love, dreamed love, and lost love to the three figures. The “full” in Spanish is the term used to say “in the middle of the street” and “in broad daylight,” so I would say that the first is love that is out in the open, in plain view. Now dreamed love could be fantasies, which are perhaps more dangerous than the more general dreamed love. Now lost love conjures up an image for me of something that I erroneously let fall by the wayside, that I have misplaced, not that I put it in the trash, but that its not at hand, and I’d like to find it again.
Another version has the three figures represent a love of illusion (thrilled, excited, with unfounded hopes, possibly deluded), then possessed love, and lost love. In this set of possibilities, it seems that the first would be most closely associated with fantasies and dreams. Now when we talk of lost love, I have to think of “forgotten love.” After all, this monument is to honor Becquer, and one of my favorite poems of his (the first I read) is:
Sighs are air and go to the air,
Tears are water and go to the sea,
Tell me woman, when love is forgotten,
Do you know where it goes?
Now in a blog somewhat based on the Book of Good Love, I have to propose that another possibility is that the three woman represent Good Love, Crazy (worldly) Love, and once again forgotten love, which Becquer wants to know where it goes.
And in line with the title of my blog I have to mention that the three women could represent Good Love, Better Love, and Best Love. But I have to complicate the discussion a little. You see, the Becquer monument contains in addition to the three woman, two cupids. One is flat on the ground with a dagger in the chest and represents wounded love. While the other cupid is upright and launching arrows at the three women, who represent three types of love.
I even thought, how appropriate that the Becquer monument in Sevilla has representations of five aspects of love, much as the daisy oracle in France has five possibilities for love, while in English and Spanish there are only two possibilities – you are either loved or you are not. But as always, the meaning is somewhat in the eye of the beholder, as illustrated in the Book of Good Love’s early story on the debate between the Greek and the Roman.
But let me share my conclusion, while in Sevilla and admiring the three women in stone. The three kinds of love illustrated there, for me, are based on thoughts in Spanish, which provide additional rabbit trails of interpretation. But the first is amor comprometido, which would be committed love, as in one of the three principle parts of love in Sternberg’s triangle – commitment. In Spanish, the word is used to describe someone who is engaged to be married, but also something awkward and delicate. And I think we all know that committed love is at times awkward and delicate, at the minimum. The first woman is looking down, hands crossed across her lap. Could she be embarrassed that her love is now in the broad daylight and full knowledge of coworkers and neighbors?
The second woman of stone has her head back, eyes closed, hands to her chest. I think she represents amor compartido, that is, shared love. What can Good Love or Better Love mean, if they are not shared with those you love? The major cell phone vendor here in Spain, Movistar, has a slogan that I like very much – “shared, life is more.” That is, whatever life you have, it is bigger, greater, more meaningful, and more enjoyed, if it is shared with others. It of course also begs the question, what do we share? Our innermost thoughts and feelings? Our interests in this life and this world? Good humor and profound laughs? A bed? Sex? Maybe for the younger crowd – text messages, or video games?
The third woman represents amor recordado, that is remembered love. And you even have a choice on what you chose to remember. Is it the dreamed love, the illusions, the fantasies, the hopes for love? Or do you chose to remember the shared love, what you shared, when, where, with who?
A final thought of Becquer’s, I share with all of you. For over 20 years, every time I went up the stairwell in my favorite book store in Madrid, Casa de Libro, I admired a poster on Becquer. Two years ago they reformed the stairwell and all the posters went away. But at the top of the poster for Becquer was one of his passages – It is very sad to die young and never have had a woman shed a tear for you.