As I’ve reprised Amanda’s Words To Read When You Wed seires (Part I, Part II, now with Cara’s amazing photographs), I’ve been purposely vague about which of these readings we used in our wedding. But I will tell you that we used Craig Arnold’s poem from today’s selection. It was a fraught choice, and people were very confused as to why we’d have a poem about death at our wedding. But it was what we wanted to say. Not just that we loved each other, but as my Dad finally said, “Weddings are about death. That’s the whole point.” So we did. And it was the right choice.
And then, when I started re-running Amanda’s amazing wedding readings, I got an email from a reader. She told me I could share a bit with you:
“It would mean so much if you and Amanda reprised the Craig Arnold poem you put up last February. Craig was a wonderful friend and poet who died tragically and unexpectedly in an accident last year. He was so excited when I pointed out that his work was presented as a potential reading for weddings on your site. It thrilled him to his sweet, fun, funny core that his words might guest star in such important moments in like-minded peoples’ lives. He told everyone for days about how excited the idea of ‘being a reading’ made him.”
So this post is for those who loved him. Craig got to ‘be a reading’ at our wedding last August, and we could not have been happier to have him there. Thank you, for letting us borrow him, if only for a few very present, very important moments of our lives.
For “sickness,” for “poorer,” for “dust” and “until.”
EPITAPH FOR HIS PARENTS
— Ben Franklin
Josiah Franklin and Abiah his wife
lie here interred.
They lived lovingly together in wedlock fifty-five years;
and without an estate or any gainful employment,
with God’s blessing,
maintained a large family comfortably;
and brought up thirteen children and seven grandchildren
From this instance, reader,
be encouraged to diligence in thy calling, by constant labour,
and honest industry, and distrust not Providence.
He was a pious and prudent man,
she a discreet and virtuous woman.
Their youngest son,
in filial regard to their memory,
places this stone.
It is nothing that they did
Or could have helped, two people
Falling in love. Not even
Because they shared a toothbrush,
Once. It is their germs
They take turns being sick
–one makes the tea, the other
answers the phone. Slowly,
they can’t tell better from worse.
This goes on
Until one dies.
From I LIKE YOU
–Sandol Stoddard Warburg
And I like you because when I am feeling sad, you don’t always cheer me up right away. Sometimes it is better to be sad.
You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute.
You want to think about things.
It takes time.
I like you because if I am mad at you, then you are mad at me too.
It’s awful when the other person isn’t. Phooey.
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose.
I like you because if I think I am going to throw up, then you are really sorry.
You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that.
You say, “maybe it was something you ate.”
You say, “same thing happened to me one time.”
And the same thing did.
If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one.
If I find four, I give you two.
If we only find three, we keep on looking.
Sometimes we have good luck and sometimes we don’t.
If I break my arm and if you break your arm too, then it is fun to have a broken arm.
I tell you about mine; you tell me about yours.
We are both sorry.
We write our names and draw pictures.
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too.
Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.
— Alfred, Lord Tennyson
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me —
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads …
Come, my friends.
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides: and though
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.