Cupid’s Arrow

Artists often depict Cupid, the ancient Roman god of love, as a winged baby that carries a golden bow and a quiver of arrows. He inflicts love and passion to his victims and has become an iconic symbol of Valentine’s Day. Cupid is the son of Mercury, the winged messenger of the gods, and Venus, the goddess of love.

In his 1482 painting, La Primavera, Sandro Botticelli positions a blindfolded Cupid above Venus, shooting an arrow.

Shakespeare said this about Cupid’s blindness in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath love’s mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is love said to be a child
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled

Are you ever struck by Cupid’s arrow? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell at first. He doesn’t always aim for dead center. The love arrow can graze or nick the skin. In such cases, platonic thoughts shift to romantic ones. Friendship may transform into something more. Like the act of wading into the water to acclimate before a swim, love can ease its way into life. Other times, when it’s a bull’s eye hit to the heart, persons dive into the deep end. We have often compared the highs from intense romance to that of a drug. Love can resemble symptoms of addiction — euphoria, craving, dependence, withdrawal and relapse. Cupid’s arrow not only affects the heart, it can overtake the mind. Neuroscience has linked passionate love with intense changes in emotion and attention, and the reduced ability to control attention. When head-over-heals in love, thoughts drift to the object of affection, sometimes obsessively.

Pablo Neruda describes the feelings of being driven to distraction by love in his poem Love Sonnet XI:

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

Whether you’re ever hit by Cupid’s arrow or not, may love, in all its potential and varieties, capture your heart and thoughts on Valentine’s Day.

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