Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm not the bread and the knife. Not even close.

My fiance and I picked up our wedding bands last night. Despite a month of hassle from Jared "the Galleria of Jewelry", who managed to screw up David's ring three times, it did feel really good to have the rings in our hands at last. So much of wedding planning is about the party--the food, the colors, the music, etc. It's nice to have a reminder that the whole point of the wedding is the actual marriage, the promises we make to each other and what the rings symbolize. While thinking of the wedding as an event makes me nervous, I can't wait to be married.

Two of Jared's three screw-ups were related to the inscription, which is from a line from a poem by e.e. cummings that we are having read at the ceremony. Yup, one was a capitalization error (and the first time they left the first word off entirely). My wedding band was ordered from Rogers & Hollands, and while they stumbled a little over the capitalization, the engravers contacted the store to clarify it, and the band was done correctly the first time.

It's important to me to have a poem read at the ceremony, something beautiful and artful. Love poetry is tough because the sentimentality usually makes me uncomfortable. But every time I read this poem, I feel a little flutter, because it is so beautiful and simple, and it expresses a sentiment that I want our marriage always to embody. Can you guess which e.e. cummings poem I chose to have read?

I got to thinking about this because this morning a Facebook friend posted a Youtube video of a 3-year-old reciting the poem "Litany" by Billy Collins. I can't watch videos at work, but I'm sure the kid in the video is both cute and hilarious. I did Google "Litany," though, and read it.

Generally, I find Colllins' work clever but empty, and this poem is no exception. It is a poem which mocks an overused trope in love poetry, and while I am no fan of either overused tropes or love poetry, there is something about it that makes me uncomfortable. Does language Collins mocks edge too close to what I love about the cummings poem we picked for our wedding ceremony? There are few if any rules that cannot be broken in poetry--the reason many people repeat something badly is because a few people did it extremely well. Should I be grateful to Collins for pointing out how more recent poems have cheapened the language cummings used in 1958? I doubt he was the first to use that turn of phrase, but a lot of mid-twentieth century poets used language that no one could get away with today. Or do I just wish that Collins' poem was simply... better?

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