Monday Meditations: The Fever

Did you ever think that you could relate 70’s rock music and ancient epic poetry? I dare you to think it. I was listening to one of my father’s favorite New Jersey bands this morning when I heard a love song that they played. It was brooding; it was obsessive; it was passionate. It reminded me, ever so slightly, of the restless passion Dido felt for Aeneas in Virgil’s The Aeneid. 

Nothing in the lyrics matches up, obviously. But the mood in that song and the mood in Dido’s story match up a little bit. There’s a driving flame of desire running through both. See for yourself.


“The Fever” by Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes

Written by the great Bruce Springsteen, this song is impeccably smooth and stylish- and at the same time restless and unforgettable. It might one of the best songs about attraction I’ve ever heard. When you hear Johnny Lyons croon, “All I hear is you whisper in my ear / The words that you used to say,” you believe it.


“But anxious cares already seiz’d the queen: 
She fed within her veins a flame unseen; 
The hero’s valor, acts, and birth inspire 
Her soul with love, and fan the secret fire. 
His words, his looks, imprinted in her heart, 
Improve the passion, and increase the smart. 
Now, when the purple morn had chas’d away 
The dewy shadows, and restor’d the day, 
Her sister first with early care she sought, 
And thus in mournful accents eas’d her thought: 
“My dearest Anna, what new dreams affright 
My lab’ring soul! what visions of the night 
Disturb my quiet, and distract my breast 
With strange ideas of our Trojan guest! 
His worth, his actions, and majestic air, 
A man descended from the gods declare. 
Fear ever argues a degenerate kind; 
His birth is well asserted by his mind. 
Then, what he suffer’d, when by Fate betray’d! 
What brave attempts for falling Troy he made! 
Such were his looks, so gracefully he spoke, 
That, were I not resolv’d against the yoke 
Of hapless marriage, never to be curst 
With second love, so fatal was my first, 
To this one error I might yield again”

Virgil, Book IV of The Aeneid.


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