‘You beat back the weakness of my gaze, beaming upon me with intensity, and I trembled with love and horror,’ Confessions 7.10.16.
‘I lacked the power to fix my gaze there. My weakness was rebuffed, and I returned to my accustomed ways, taking nothing back with me but a loving memory and the desire for a food I had smelled but could not yet eat,’ 7.17.16.
What is this love, a love so mingled with horror? As a gloss on these, consider this from Edmund Spenser:
My hungry eyes through greedy couetize
still to behold the obiect of their paine:
with no contentment can themselves suffize,
with having pine and having not complaine.
For lacking it they cannot lyfe sustayne,
and hauing it they gaze on it the more:
in their amazement lyke Narcissus vaine
whose eyes he staru’d: so plenty makes me poor, Amoretti 35.1-8.
Let that be enough for now. Somehow the melancholy Jacques, amongst others, will join with Spenser in an uneasy venture to wrangle with Augustine’s great works.