The Greeks classified four types of love. In modern life, we often get hung up on passionate love alone, but the other three also enrich our lives.
Eros :: the love that includes sexual passion. This is the love that we usually mean, the miraculous and mysterious love that joins two hearts in a relationship
Storge :: the love between parents and children, familial love. It has expanded to include the love we feel toward a protective patron (such as patriotic love for our nation) or fan-based love (“That’s my sports team.”)
Agape :: the love of God for people and of people for God; the charity of Corinthians 13.
Philia :: “brotherly love” which is loyalty, comradeship, affectionate friendship; community compassion.
Philia is our focus on Love in this blog. Many of us have experienced that desirous connection to family and community that drives us to reach out to those in need.
This brotherly love forms the basis of Rufus Wainwright’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother,” the 1969 hit by the Hollies.
In our road of life, with its twisting turns and steep hills and declines, we do need the occasional support of others. If we have the philia when we see someone troubled, we want to help. We are all equal, linked together by ties as strong as blood.
And those we help, they do not seek to “encumber” or overly burden us. They are equally on the road.
Unfortunately, we must admit that some people’s dysfunction means they want to share misery rather than hope and gladness.
Remember, Wainwright, tells us, it’s memento mori, not carpe diem. We all come to the same dark mysterious end, and when considering that end, we should reach out to others. Then our own burdens will not “weigh [us] down”.
Easy metaphors, easy alliteration, easy repetition. The only interesting line is the 2nd about the road that “leads us to who knows where who knows when”. That oblique line is more clearly expressed in the 1st line of the last stanza :: Death. That’s depressing.
Which is Wainwright’s point. With death at the end, life is depressing enough. Make it brighter by connecting to family and community.
Help others, for we are then helping ourselves. Love others, for we are then loving ourselves.
Ain’t that the truth?
Broken Hearts on the 28th before we launch into the fertility of March and the rebirth of Spring
This series of blogs is for poetry lovers, hosted by Emily R. Dunn of Writers Ink Books. Visit our page on every multiple of 7 (7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th) to see which poem has inspired a lesson in thinking and writing.