The ancient Greeks knew,
and the Romans did recognize,
that the two Hellenic gods who
mattered most were not the most wise,
for their union was a great affair
of Love and War, and a War of Love,
and Love of War, the illicit pair
raising hell below and above.
Ares and Aphrodite,
Mars and Venus,
how they beset the mighty
to unite, or come between us.
It was no secret why their son
praised and feared as Eros and Cupid
shot arrows to pierce hearts to run
and bleed, lovers raving and stupid
as within the lift of a war rally
that raised one’s passions to a fire,
whether by kiss or by sally
for that marriage and funeral pyre.
Nor were Greeks or Romans alone
in the wisdom of this human folly,
for the dichotomous dynamic was sown
in the minds of Saxon, Mongol, and Bengali.
Hindus knew what was true
for they worshiped Kali, the beautiful,
and dreaded her, too, for she slew
and loved, being so mutable
with her dark side, and her light,
a creature of duality who inspired
worshipers with joy and fright
so they would not be mired
in samsara, so as to ascend
the lower realms with their weights,
spurring them to make amends
until moksha liberates.
And Inanna-Ishtar was, as one,
War and Love together
in the mind of many a Sumerian,
praised from Babylon to Assur to Ur,
and rejected by Gilgamesh, which cost
him his friend, Enkidu, Love and War
together waging battle with him, star-crossed
as she was in all of her lovers’ lore.
The Nords had Freya, an ice giantess
at war with Odin, and yet bound to him
by love, and marriage, a pliant tress
entwined always— root and stem—
with her husband, with whom
she shared the spoils of war,
half and half, beloved in scarlet bloom
if sprung from battle’s Valkyrian score.
How she loved those born anew
with thrusting spear and swinging sword,
spilling their love of her like crimson dew
for the Njord goddess they adored!
Nor is Life, stripped of myths,
denuded of such insights
when we see its iterative tiffs,
changing the world with lovers’ fights.
What is Evolution’s constant battle
of environment, myriad creatures,
and sexual selection, but love’s spat till
we change in habits and in features?
To fight for territory is to fight for mates,
this being the modus operandi
of all animals whose quotas in fertility rates
are met when wars are won and victors are randy.
Myth and Science thus agree
that Love and War conjoin
in a congress of Fate, a destiny
like two sides of the proverbial coin.
And all is fair in Love and War,
nor anything worthier for the strife—
what else is there, what is there more
than what begins, and ends, a life?
The ancient Greeks knew,