Confusing love poetry

I always thought it curious that someone should write love songs or poetry outside of their own experience. Tom Petty wrote a lot of standard rock material: break-ups, one night stands, etc. I remember being surprised that he had been married to the same gal for 20+ years. I shouldn’t have been surprised though. If all a songwriter had to explore was their own first-hand experiences, they would run out of material pretty quickly.

Charles Williams wrote 84 romantic sonnets for his wife:

She read them carefully. ‘So lovely they seemed,’ she said. But she also noted – and it puzzled her – that, thought they were addressed to her, their theme was the renunciation of love.

Why should he have consider renouncing love? In part it was simply his awareness that marriage with its many obligations and strains might destroy love: he was never easily optimistic. But, more than this, he was discontented about the very ordinariness of ‘being in love’. His mind was too subtle and self-aware, too capable of seeing endless possibilities in every human thought and action, for the state of loving to seem enough. He asked himself ‘whether love were not meant for something more than wantonness and child-bearing and the future that closes in death’. He meditated on the notion of achieving some spiritual advancement through renunciation, speculating in the sonnets he wrote for ‘Michal’ whether they might not ‘put off love for love’s sake’. And there was another possibility. Turning to his Christian beliefs, he considered the idea that love for another human being might be a step towards God – ‘the steep’, as he expressed it in the sonnet sequence, ‘whence I see God’.

-Humphrey Carpenter, The Inklings, p.79

Williams went on to find a lot in common with Dante and his love for Beatrice. Later in life he wrote about that extensively.