Oh, I did sincerely hope that two Sunday poems would not come together, but here I'm afraid they did. (It's my lack of laptop and limited borrowing time on another that prevents me from blogging efficiently! Still not sorted on that front....)
But back to the poem. I know I intimated that I would not be including the so called traditionalist poems that are so well-known they're loathed, but here, I have to make an exception, my only defence being that it is not a common classic poem, and definitely not a long and rambling one!
My mind has been on weddings this week due to a relative of mine getting married - more specifically, the language and etiquette of weddings - and namely, how poetry should feature more prominently at these events. For isn't poetry the language of love and love, poetry in itself? So why aren't more poems read at weddings I ask? They're more common at funerals! Death, it seems, needs the expression of poetry to be explained, to be accepted, but what about Love?
Is it fitting that love should be filtered through staged comic speeches, general greetings and inebriate stuttering declarations? I could never imagine having a wedding without a few poems embroidered into the event! How is it that quote goes - 'there are too many mediocre things in life and love should not be one of them.' So many times it seems weddings are more about a grand 'shindig' than an actual celebration and reverence of love. Especially here in Ireland, where people can't seem to express their emotions, and instead of gushing loved-up couples, we have take-a-hand banter and alcohol-fuelled jollity to take the place of real articulation. (Oh, do not get me started on this topic!!! Let's just say real romantics are left cold by most wedding celebrations!) All I'm saying is a poem or two would bring the ceremony back into its intended realm of romantic.
Anyway, this train of thought led me to having a look again at a collection of love poems I have, edited by Daisy Lowe, selector of the real Sunday poem for many years. There's a section on weddings, and instead of the well-known verses - Shakespeare's sonnet 'Love is not love which alters where it alteration finds' or the Corinthians passage defining love, there are a few lesser-known but suiting stunning poems.
And one of them is the Tennyson one below, in which the marriage day is described in terms of light, golden to be precise. I just can't help but swoon at the line, 'Here is the golden close of love'. Ahh. What better more accurate way to describe the marriage ceremony? And the light, filling the land 'so low upon the earth.' Light as a metaphor for love is a fairly common one, and epecially gold. We merely need look at the wedding rings. And it always seems to remind me of alchemy, the transformation of ordinary substances into gold, by some mysterious magic. It's a fitting analogy of love don't you think? And this poem captures perfectly this awe at the light and indeed, its ability to sustain through hardships, 'a love that never tires.' Powerful stuff.
So here's a toast to more poems at weddings! And this one, 'Marriage Morning', by Tennyson, would be one of my chosen to read.
'Marriage Morning' - Alfred Lord Tennyson
Light, so low upon earh,
You send a flash to the sun.
Here is the golden close of love,
All my wooing is done.
Oh, all the woods and the meadows,
Woods, where we hid from the wet,
Stiles where we stayed to be kind,
Meadows in which we met!
Light, so low in the vale
You flash and lighten afar,
For this is the golden morning of love,
And you are his morning star.
Flash, I am coming, I come,
By meadow and stile and wood,
Oh, lighten into my eyes and my heart,
Into my heart and my blood!
Heart, are you great enough
For a love that never tires?
O heart, are you great enough for love?
I have heard of thorns and briers.
Over the thorns and briers,
Over the meadows and stiles,
Over the world to the end of it
Flash of a million miles.