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The Plural of UsPoetry and Community in Auden and Others$
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Bonnie Costello

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172811

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172811.001.0001

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Private Stuff and Public Spirit

Private Stuff and Public Spirit

(p.64) 4 Private Stuff and Public Spirit
The Plural of Us

Bonnie Costello

Princeton University Press

This chapter looks at some of the ways the “we” of love poetry expands to perform a civil or didactic function, and it connects this function to the puzzle of love's number, tense, and grammar, which constitutes the subject matter of many love poems. Plato argued that eros could be a rung on the ladder to other forms of love. Love's number may involve not only addition but also an exponential process, in sublimation “mounting upwards from one to two, and from two to all fair forms.” But a great deal of thinking since has set romantic love at odds, not only with truth and reason, but with social and ethical thinking. Later philosophers saw romantic love as exclusive and private, indifferent or even hostile to the world beyond itself and inscrutable to that world.

Keywords:   love poems, love poetry, we, Plato

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