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Wedding Poetry

April 16, 2008 | 2 Comments

Dear Garrison,
When I came to US from China 11 years ago, I only knew a few English words. On one lonely Saturday night I randomly tuned my radio to PHC. I couldn't understand a word you said, but the laughing and clapping from the audience and the wonderful music kept me listening. It took me a couple of years before I could start to laugh at your jokes. I went to see you in Berkeley on Feb 12. I was so happy that I am finally one of your audience who I once envied.

I want to ask you a favor. I am getting married in May this year. Could you please help recommend several short poems for my best friend to read at the wedding ceremony? I think poem is the best form to express my feeling as a joyful bride, with faith in love, commitment to marriage, and confidence in living a happy life.

Thank you,
Mimi L.

An honor to make your acquaintance, my dear, and congratulations on your mastery of English. Your sentence "I was so happy that I am finally one of your audience who I once envied" is an excellent sentence, elegant and economical and very true — I remember envying Danes in Copenhagen who were laughing hard at lines in a play I couldn't understand. For a wedding poem, I recommend that you consult an anthology edited by Robert Hass and Stephen Mitchell, called Into The Garden: A Wedding Anthology which has texts from various religions and poems and lyrics, all of them suitable for a wedding ceremony. I love the Yeats poem (so short you could say it yourself to your true love) — Wine it comes in at the mouth, and love comes at the eye. That is all we know of truth 'fore we get old and die. I lift the glass up to my mouth, I look at you and sigh. — There is Robert Burns's "My love is like a red, red rose" and "A Blessing" by James Wright, good especially if you love horses. There are many good E.E. Cummings poems, including "Since feeling is first, who pays any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you" — and of course there is "Come live with me and be my love". I happen to love a poem by Sharon Olds called "Topography" that I daresay nobody ever recited at a wedding—

After we flew across the country we got in bed, laid our bodies delicately together, like maps laid face to face, East to West, my San Francisco against your New York, your Fire Island against my Sonoma, my New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho bright on my Great Lakes....
And so forth. I wish you all the best in your married life, Mimi.


Dear Mimi,

Warmest congratulations on you upcoming nuptuals! Allow me to share with you a poem I had the privilege to read at the February River City Radio Hour (our local version of the PCH here in the Quad Cities). It was very well received, and not a few tears were shed in its wake. This sort of took me aback, as I generally do not go in for writing such romantic notions. My work tends more toward a bit of free verse mixed in with forays into traditional forms, as the spirit moves. However, the humor was on me, as they say, and out it came. My wife says it would be perfect for a wedding, and she is usually right about such things. Anyway, here it is:

With Me

Will you stand with me in the morning light
when first we meet, and day has just begun?
Under the buckeye tree, in the spring
as our hearts awake in the soft breeze,
will you stand with me?

Will you walk with me across the meadow
as we share and learn of one another?
Down by the old bridge, as fragrance of
bright daffodils quickens our young hearts,
will you walk with me?

Will you go with me on a still, warm eve
as I hold my breath, while holding you tight?
Around midnight the courage will come,
and hearts will leap as two become one.
Will you go with me?

Will you dance with me in your lacy gown,
and share my great joy on our day of days?
Across the hall we will turn and whirl,
all hearts lifting as the music swells.
Will you dance with me?

Will you run with me down the winding road,
always hand-in-hand, come wind, rain, or shine?
Through the journey we will carry on,
side-by-side, heart-to-heart, strong and free.
Will you run with me?

Will you be with me in a quiet time,
when day is spent, and at last we part?
'Neath the twinkling stars, as God allows,
we'll join hearts again, and forever
will you be with me.

Best wishes again, and God bless!

D. W. McMillen


During Pope Benedict's recent trip to the USA, he gave a speech on the White House Lawn. At some point during the speech he pronounced "God Bless America!" in a way that I have never heard it said before. He really took my breath away! There was a bounce in his voice that seemed to say so much more than those three words typically communicate. In my heart, I heard him say, "I love the United States. I understand you. It makes me very very happy to be here and I wish you God's best."

Mimi, your letter speaks in a similar way. My eyes were wet before I got to the end.

God bless you.


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