The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Solemn Mass, by the Reverend James Ross Smith

One of the pleasures of reading a love poem is to watch the poet try, joyously and exuberantly, to describe the beloved. Of Juliet, Shakespeare has Romeo say, “She doth teach the torches to burn bright . . . Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear” [I, 5, 44, 47]. This is not exaggeration so much as it is an insistence that, when it comes to Juliet, it is impossible to exaggerate. Juliet returns the compliment later in the play when she describes Romeo as “the god of her idolatry” [II, 2, 114]. To Juliet, Romeo is, literally, adorable, worthy of worship, something, it has been suggested, that borders on the blasphemous.[i] And so it goes: in order to praise the beloved, the poet often uses language that is carefully and deliberately excessive.
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