This odd draft was inspired last night by reading something in Umberto Eco's Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language. It's a bit weak and flabby in parts, but it's somewhat interesting.
I see her face on every billboard passing,
on television, and hear her name
a hundred times a day, on radio,
in dialogue, in whispers echoing
from out my subconscious into light.
Her form haunts my every waking hour,
I cannot turn attention to the side,
but must give to her the natural prayer,
the natural piety, of my haunted mind.
As Romans in ancient days gave nod to numen
Of tree or water, hoping for return,
I spend my days in nod to a woman,
without return, no nod of recognition,
for she does not know me, nor I (in truth) her.
She is an ideal passing, an idea in my mind,
calling to the will to make it love.
And love I must, as I lie here waking,
for her voice still echoes in my mind
from when I saw her, Sylvie, on the screen,
an ideal woman beyond my reaching grasp,
than whom a better never will I find.
But as I lie here waking, I am half-sleeping,
my memory reaching backward, searching
for I know not what, in fancy's play,
and I am taken back to a childhood day,
all shrouded in the obscure fog of time,
and suddenly, as were it thrust on me,
I recall unto myself an older love,
whose image haunted me in vernal youth.
She was the one who taught me that true prayer
is attention of the mind, that piety
is rush of will and though around the one,
the idea that stands for more, but stands alone.
As when the lover dreams of roses, he knows he dreams,
and knows the beloved is the object of the dream,
but yet is caught in wandernig, trying to see
how this rose captures, but does not hold, a blushing girl;
so were my thoughts of Sylvie, or it seemed
that all my thoughts were symbols of Marie,
the two being but one, in fancy's play --
I started briefly to the waking day,
wondering at the invention of my mind,
to reach back through the depths of time,
and teach me what I knew, but did not think:
beloved Sylvie is but code for fair Marie;
my love for one is but my other love,
remotely present Sylvie is but absented Marie,
not as though they were the same,
but in the will that loves them, and the thought,
the only difference is appearance and the name.
But now I drift again through foggy times
to think, not of Sylvie, but of Marie,
although it takes no effort (they are one,
the one a masking for the other in my mind),
and drift in musement's play upon a girl
I hardly knew, but loved in every way,
and think her face, her voice, her form
as if were present her every charm,
and all of it seems so clearly ideal,
an idea before me that now draws
my love away, but yet, it slips away,
for thinking of Marie, I think another girl,
her sister, Jeanne, who was my closest friend,
through whom I knew the ideal girl,
and in the shifting play of shifting mind,,
I interchange the other for the one,
commingled and conjoined, all differences unknowing,
and find there is no change, no change at all.
Maries presence was but Jeanne's, yet symbolized,
something standing for this something that I knew,
though I thought it not, and knew it never.
And somewhere on the cusp of now and ever
a chain of nods, of references to other,
Marie a yes to Jeanne, and Sylvie to Marie,
ideal for ideal traded, and both for real,
the thing made ideated in another thing.
Sylvie was the rose; she stood a sign
for yet another girl, who was idea,
that stood for yet another, who was Jeanne.
And loving every symbol was but to love the real,
and loving every woman a loving of fair Jeanne.