I studied your letter, which put me in mind of a favourite poem of mine called ‘Not Love, Perhaps’ by a long-neglected poet called A.S.J. Tessimond. Then — believe it or not — in the same postbag I found that a lady called Sylvia, writing with her own problem, had copied out for me that very poem!
Amazed, I decided that it must have a message for you — so please Google it now. (Though out of print for years, this wonderful poet is reprinted now by Faber Finds).
The poem compares the romantic idea of love ‘that many waters cannot quench’ with the mutual companionship and support, which helps a couple ‘walk more firmly through dark narrow places’.
Tessimond celebrates the idea of love as an ‘alliance’ — though, of course, his title ironically questions the very word ‘love’. Oh, let’s join in the chorus of ‘You got a friend’ with Carole King! Let us be grateful to have found an inn to give us shelter, when the road is dark and empty and the wind blows cold. Let’s cherish companionship and learn not to listen to the siren call of this thing called ‘true love’, which can wreak such destruction.
Evidently the manner in which disparate readers feel themselves moved and consoled by this piece of Tessimond’s is a proof of the enduring merit of his work; and one more reason for Faber Finds to be proud of having restored his great posthumous selection Not Love, Perhaps to print, available to order here. Thanks go to Bel Mooney for bringing Tessimond to this broader attention, and also for the generous mention of Finds.