coral is far more red than her lips' red
August 22, 2007 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Wedding readings: I'm looking for a poem or a passage that will emphasize the couple's love of travel and their focus on the environment/outdoors.

I've searched the previous threads, Indie Bride and other websites and have a short list of possible readings, including e.e. cummings, Neruda, Nash, 'The Invitation,' etc.

But I'd particularly like to find a reading that includes emphasis on one or a combination of the following concepts: trees, forest, travel, nature, voyages. They're neither saccharine nor cutesy, but it doesn't have to be entirely serious - playful is good. For her bridal shower, I gave out these small saplings to the guests as a party favour, and put this quote on them and the couple loved it. So I am going for something in that vein; a passage or poem about love and partnership in the midst of an understanding of the world at large and the environment in which they live would be perfect.

Any suggestions?
posted by barometer to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This is quite long, but you can prune as you see fit--I think it's beautiful:

When We With Sappho (Kenneth Rexroth, 1944)

“. . . about the cool water
the wind sounds through sprays
of apple, and from the quivering leaves
slumber pours down . . .”

We lie here in the bee filled, ruinous
Orchard of a decayed New England farm,
Summer in our hair, and the smell
Of summer in our twined bodies,
Summer in our mouths, and summer
In the luminous, fragmentary words
Of this dead Greek woman.
Stop reading. Lean back. Give me your mouth.
Your grace is as beautiful as sleep.
You move against me like a wave
That moves in sleep.
Your body spreads across my brain
Like a bird filled summer;
Not like a body, not like a separate thing,
But like a nimbus that hovers
Over every other thing in all the world.
Lean back. You are beautiful,
As beautiful as the folding
Of your hands in sleep.

We have grown old in the afternoon.
Here in our orchard we are as old
As she is now, wherever dissipate
In that distant sea her gleaming dust
Flashes in the wave crest
Or stains the murex shell.
All about us the old farm subsides
Into the honey bearing chaos of high summer.
In those far islands the temples
Have fallen away, and the marble
Is the color of wild honey.
There is nothing left of the gardens
That were once about them, of the fat
Turf marked with cloven hooves.
Only the sea grass struggles
Over the crumbled stone,
Over the splintered steps,
Only the blue and yellow
Of the sea, and the cliffs
Red in the distance across the bay.
Lean back.
Her memory has passed to our lips now.
Our kisses fall through summer’s chaos
In our own breasts and thighs.

Gold colossal domes of cumulus cloud
Lift over the undulant, sibilant forest.
The air presses against the earth.
Thunder breaks over the mountains.
Far off, over the Adirondacks,
Lightning quivers, almost invisible
In the bright sky, violet against
The grey, deep shadows of the bellied clouds.
The sweet virile hair of thunder storms
Brushes over the swelling horizon.
Take off your shoes and stockings.
I will kiss your sweet legs and feet
As they lie half buried in the tangle
Of rank scented midsummer flowers.
Take off your clothes. I will press
Your summer honeyed flesh into the hot
Soil, into the crushed, acrid herbage
Of midsummer. Let your body sink
Like honey through the hot
Granular fingers of summer.

Rest. Wait. We have enough for a while.
Kiss me with your mouth
Wet and ragged, your mouth that tastes
Of my own flesh. Read to me again
The twisting music of that language
That is of all others, itself a work of art.
Read again those isolate, poignant words
Saved by ancient grammarians
To illustrate the conjugations
And declensions of the more ancient dead.
Lean back in the curve of my body,
Press your bruised shoulders against
The damp hair of my body.
Kiss me again. Think, sweet linguist,
In this world the ablative is impossible.
No other one will help us here.
We must help ourselves to each other.
The wind walks slowly away from the storm;
Veers on the wooded crests; sounds
In the valleys. Here we are isolate,
One with the other; and beyond
This orchard lies isolation,
The isolation of all the world.
Never let anything intrude
On the isolation of this day,
These words, isolate on dead tongues,
This orchard, hidden from fact and history,
These shadows, blended in the summer light,
Together isolate beyond the world’s reciprocity.

Do not talk any more. Do not speak.
Do not break silence until
We are weary of each other.
Let our fingers run like steel
Carving the contours of our bodies’ gold.
Do not speak. My face sinks
In the clotted summer of your hair.
The sound of the bees stops.
Stillness falls like a cloud.
Be still. Let your body fall away
Into the awe filled silence
Of the fulfilled summer —
Back, back, infinitely away —
Our lips weak, faint with stillness.

See. The sun has fallen away.
Now there are amber
Long lights on the shattered
Boles of the ancient apple trees.
Our bodies move to each other
As bodies move in sleep;
At once filled and exhausted,
As the summer moves to autumn,
As we, with Sappho, move towards death.
My eyelids sink toward sleep in the hot
Autumn of your uncoiled hair.
Your body moves in my arms
On the verge of sleep;
And it is as though I held
In my arms the bird filled
Evening sky of summer.
posted by nasreddin at 12:52 PM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?"

Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
posted by ottereroticist at 3:26 PM on August 22, 2007

Dear god but that Rexroth poem is beautiful...
posted by ottereroticist at 3:28 PM on August 22, 2007

How about Lucille Clifton's Blessing the Boats?

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
posted by MsMolly at 4:37 PM on August 22, 2007

Check out Jane Hirschfield. We used her poem "For a Wedding on Mt. Tamalpais" in our wedding, and she writes a lot about nature.

and the rich apples
once again falling.

You put them to your lips,
as you were meant to,
enter a sweetness
the earth wants to give.

Everything loves this way,
in gold honey,
in gold mountain grass,
that carries lightly the shadow of hawks,
the shadow of clouds passing by.

And the dry grasses,
the live oaks and bays,
taste the apples' deep sweetness
because you taste it, as you were meant to,
tasting the life that is yours,

while below, the foghorns bend to their work,
bringing home what is coming home,
blessing what goes.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:31 PM on August 22, 2007

My husband and I were married a month after September 11, 2001 on the bank of the Potomac at a place called River Farm in Virginia. It was once owned by George Washington; we were married under a huge walnut tree that is said to date to his ownership.

Our celebrant had told us beforehand that she was going to say a few words about us before she went into the written ceremony - and she opened (among the cricket, tree frog and cicada noise) by saying, "Here we are in this very green place to join together this very green couple." It got a huge laugh.

We picked this reading because we loved its sense of likeness with nature and interdependence within a love relationship. It is a little long, but its meandering breathless joy captured just how we felt and feel about each other.

“Wedlock”, parts III-VI by D.H. Lawrence.]


My little one, my big one,
My bird, my brown sparrow in my breast.
My squirrel clutching in to me;
My pigeon, my little one, so warm,
So close, breathing so still.

My little one, my big one,
I, who am so fierce and strong, enfolding you,
If you start away from my breast, and leave me,
How suddenly I shall go down into nothing
Like a flame that falls of a sudden.

And you will be before me, tall and towering,
And I shall be wavering uncertain
Like a sunken flame that grasps for support.


But now I am full and strong and certain
With you there firm at the core of me
Keeping me.

How sure I feel, how warm and strong and happy
For the future! How sure the future is within me
I am like a seed with a perfect flower enclosed.

I wonder what it will be,
What will come forth of us.
What flower, my love?

No matter, I am so happy,
I feel like a firm, rich, healthy root,
Rejoicing in what is to come.

How I depend on you utterly,
My little one, my big one!
How everything that will be, will not be of me,
Nor of either of us,
But of both of us.


And think, there will something come forth from us,
We two, folded so small together,
There will something come forth from us.
Children, acts, utterance,
Perhaps only happiness.

Perhaps only happiness will come forth from us.
Old sorrow, and new happiness.
Only that one newness.

But that is all I want.
And I am sure of that.
We are sure of that.


And yet all the while you are you, you are not me.
And I am I, I am never you.
How awfully distinct and far off from each other’s being we are!

Yet I am glad.
I am so glad there is always you beyond my scope,
Something that stands over,
Something I shall never be,
That I shall always wonder over, and wait for,
Look for like the breath of life as long as I live,
Still waiting for you, however old you are, and I am,
I shall always wonder over you, and look for you.

And you will always be with me.
I shall never cease to be filled with newness,
Having you near me.
posted by jocelmeow at 6:14 PM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: These are great - that DH Lawrence one is particularly fitting. Will let you know what we decide!
posted by barometer at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2007

The Owl and the Pussycat. It's got a wedding, it's got travel, it's even got a double entendre! What more could you want? My friends used this for their wedding, in combination with some Rilke and some other more serious stuff.
posted by biffa at 6:15 AM on August 26, 2007

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