At one point, I toyed with the idea of writing a reflective poem on everything I read. That idea lasted precisely long enough to read The Courtship of Miles Standish and resulted in this poem.
At the risk of spoiling a 150-year-old poem based off events from almost 400 years ago, the story goes that John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, two passengers on the Mayflower, were in love but hadn’t admitted it to each other, and Miles Standish, whose wife died on the Mayflower’s voyage, asked John to propose to Priscilla on his behalf. He did, awkwardly, to which Priscilla’s reply was “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” But John couldn’t betray his friend like that and maintained a safe friendship with Priscilla until they got word that Miles had died in a war, at which point he proposed, she accepted, and they got married. And Miles Standish walked in at a super awkward time—during the ceremony—and just laughed it off.
Miles Standish’s arrogance resonated with me the most. If I recall correctly, he had no real relationship, even a friendship, with Priscilla, hence asking John to propose; since she was apparently the only eligible bachelorette among the pilgrims, and he was one of the few bachelors, a man of good reputation, and a famed leader, he just assumed she’d be fine with it. But, as I can attest, assumptions are not a good basis for a relationship.
Miles, Priscilla, John
Originally written January 24, 2017. Poem #106.
You cannot force someone to fall in love,
Nor force their heart to change allegiance true.
Not potions, nor a shaft launched from above:
No: they have cultivated what love grew.
Though fiery words or deeds of great renown
May water roots of blossomed tenderness,
Or mis-spoke words may cause them to lay down
Their rakes and hoes, and dreams of wedded bliss,
Still you can’t plant your seeds on someone’s soil:
Just hand them seeds, and pray that they take root,
And if so, freely labor with dear toil,
And hope your offerings may one day bear fruit.
But if they choose to plant another’s seed,
Then bless them, friend, in word and faith and deed.
Image source: Wikipedia