21 May 2011

Had we but world enough, and time

Not the title, but the first line of Andrew marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" - the theme for the excellent Harry Eyres's "Slow Lane" column in today's Financial Times. Always thought-provoking, this one is a delightful reflection on length, of time. And perhaps a little paradoxical, for it seems in some ways to argue against the leisurely pace usually advocated in the column.

From musing about coffee - genuine Italian espresso compared with Starbucks latte - he draws wider lessons:
Length as opposed to intensity, volume rather than flavour: here we have not just two ways of making coffee but two philosophies of life. Is it better to draw something out as long as possible, or, as the poet Andrew Marvell put it in another, erotic, context, to “roll all [its] strength and all [its] sweetness up into one ball” so that we can “tear our pleasures ... thorough the iron gates of life”?
Fortunately, intensity and length, volume and flavour, can be combined in a long run - which I am now itching to have in the morning ... well, as long as I can manage after my irregular running over the past few months.

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