I’m spending some time at the moment looking for wedding readings – not too frantically given it’s a year away, but also given my love of literature and the volume I’ve read about love (especially teaching the Love through the Ages A-level course). This poem keeps coming up as a suggestion, and it is beautiful. cummings is an interesting poet – I first came across him in a modernist American poetry class during my third year at university. Then, I think I had trouble seeing past the lack of punctuation and capitalisation which to some extent I still see as a bit of an affectation detracting from the main poetic impact. Now, though, I love the modernist sensibility of clear cut, simple but gorgeous images. As my appreciation of the timeline of Literature has also developed I think I also see more how it is the perfect reaction to the Victorian era of their parents and grandparents. It’s the same reason I love Fitzgerald and Hemingway of the same lost generation, that sparse use of language that captures everythin that needs to be said, but not at the expense of the images – the images are often very precisely observed.
I carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
My favourite line is “You are whatever a moon has always meant/and whatever a sun will always sing is you”. It speaks exactly to what love is, using the often clichéd images of the moon and sun, beloved of romance poets since cave poetry, probably, but in a way that acknowledges all of that romantic history, and claims it just for us.
We probably won’t use this one, but it’s on the top 10 list.