Monday, February 13, 2017

Newport Beach and The Courtship of Miles Standish

"Just in the gray of the dawn, as the mists uprose from the meadows.
There was a stir and a sound in the slumbering village of 
Plymouth;
Clanging and clinking of arms, and the order imperative,
"Forward!"" -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish

We reach the Oregon Coast.  We come out of the mountain pass through the trees and the great ocean lays before us stretching as far as the horizon.

"Figures ten, in the mist, marched slowly out of the village.
Standish the stalwart it was, with eight of his valorous army."  -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish

The Oregon Coast can only truly be loved by native North Westerners.  The icy surf. The desolate sands.  The bitter wind.  It stands for something we hold sacred, our own version of beauty.  The romantic hero is like that.
"Many a mile had they marched, when at length the village of 
Plymouth
Woke from its sleep, and arose, intent on it's manifold labors.
Sweet was the air and soft; and slowly the smoke from the 
Chimneys
Rose over the roofs of thatch, and pointed steadily eastward;
Men came forth from the doors, and paused and talked of the 
Weather
Said that the wind had changed, and was blowing fair for the Mayflower."  -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish

People always confuse "Valentine's Romance" with the "Romantic Hero." They think it's about a flirty kind of love that rises and swells and falters and is won back through the slaying of dragons and climbing of high castle walls.  But the Romantic Hero... he's something entirely different.
"So they returned to their homes; but Alden lingered a little,
Musing alone on the shore, and watching the wash of the billows
Round the base of rock, and the sparkle and flash of the 
Sunshine
Like the spirit of God, moving visibly over the waters."  -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish.

The Romantic Hero is about a belief.  A person who holds to a singular ideal no matter how insane or daunting.  The world laughs and dismisses him, but the Romantic Hero stands like a light in the dark.  He serves as an inspiration, a hero of ideals, a dream we can aspire toward achieving.  I search for this American counterpart and often come up empty.  Then today, while reading Longfellow's Courtship of Miles Standish, I saw this crazy, kitschy suit of armor lamp in the window of a Mexican burrito joint... and it made me smile.  Oh, America!  How far we've come.

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