How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist- no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she left behind. Would she be happy at his side? How could he know?
If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross over the gulf between them.
The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosely about him. He renounced the throne to win her hand.
by Kierhegaard in Yancey’s Disappointment with God
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