(e) The Ring and the Book
Pages 15

The male speaker seeks an intensity of physical and spiritual communion, and he speaks about it with eloquence: he wants to ‘drink my fill [a physical image] | At your soul’s springs [a spiritual image]’ (43-4), and, similarly: ‘I kiss your cheek, | Catch your soul’s warmth’ (47-8). The speaker gets tantalizingly near to this fulfilment, but ‘then the good minute goes’ (50). He is left with his dissatisfaction and the knowledge of a contradiction: ‘Infinite passion, and the pain | Of finite hearts that yearn’ (59-60). Love in Men and Women is a transcendent reality, but it is hard to scale its heights.