I convened an academic symposium
and gathered together the great and the good
from a wide variety of disciplines
to consider the question, ‘What is love?’
The philosophers said we must first start with Plato.
The historians showed how it had changed over time.
The chemists spoke of oxytocin and dopamine.
The psychologists thought it was all in the mind.
The political scientists declared it undemocratic.
The sociologists deemed it a social construct.
The economists said that nothing else mattered
except for how little there was, or how much.
The linguists explained the word came from Old English.
The theologians claimed it came straight from God.
The media studies professors weren’t present
but they said they’d send their thoughts in a vlog.
The anthropologists spoke of love across cultures.
The mathematicians tried to work out its square root.
The neuroscientists pointed at MRI scans.
The musicologists played its song on a lute.
The art historians said it was all about perspective.
The geologists believed it from molten rock hewn.
The classicists read extracts from Sappho and Ovid.
The astrophysicists thought it to do with the moon.
The geographers tried to map all its contours.
The literature scholars quoted Auden and Keats.
At the end we were no nearer an answer;
we reconvene on Wednesday next week.
‘Let’s jump off this cliff – it’ll be fun! A right laugh!’
urged all the people (well, I mean just over half
of those who had bothered to speak up at all).
I peered down at the rocks; it was a long way to fall.
I said, ‘This cliff’s more than three hundred feet high
and my doctor tells me if I jump I will die.’
‘Cliff-jumping’s fine!’ they said. ‘Don’t trust doctors, trust us!
We read all about it on the side of a bus.’
Worried, I met up with my local MP.
I shared my concerns. He was forced to agree:
‘Why the rocks below would smash you to bits!
Where did you get this idea of jumping off cliffs?’
‘It was the will of some of the people,’ I said
and his expression changed to another instead.
‘I think,’ he revised, ‘you’re being melodramatic.
The problem is you. You’re undemocratic.’
On the clifftop, we waited. In silence we stood.
Then a voice: ‘Remind me, why is cliff-jumping good?’
But we looked down at our shoes, baffled and stumped.
Then, out of embarrassment, we held hands and jumped.