The story of Cupid and Psyche has intrigued me for years. Many classicists favor Apuleius’s telling of the story, and I take to it simply because of its unfortunate complications. But against all odds, love prevails.
Recently, however, I question the convenience of the classic love stories. Even Romeo and Juliet allows the star-cross’d lovers the consolation of death when love cannot thrive.
But literature leaves often unaddressed the irresolution of our souls’ uncertainties. We are left to ask what life means when mysteries go unresolved, when calls receive no answer, when souls peer into the expanse and fill themselves with the wonder of nothing.
Apuleius will, I hope, forgive me for changing the ending of his story. I struggle to understand that Cupid would let his mother subject Psyche to the labors depicted in the story. And still, I feel his helplessness as he witnesses her trials.
Amor vincit omnia, sed Psyche vincit Cupidon. -Apuleius
Dear Psyche, chance and charm have aimed awry;
An amorous arrow not ordained for me
Has scratched me, and sweet poison casts my eye,
Enchanted, to a love that cannot be.
And sweetly you confess your own distress
Your heart is likewise punctured, and the weight
Of paradox afflicts you with duress
To yearn as circumstance would soon frustrate.
Soon Venus would impel you to grave chores
To Hades and Olympus high above
With me constrained, the burden fully yours–
Her price before she cedes these hearts to love.
That toil cruel, our tender ways will part:
Harsh labors loom now for my anguished heart