On a personal note, over the past short amount of time, both of my sons have become engaged to wonderful women. We at Chez Guiney couldn’t be happier, but the writer-in-residence here can’t help from being a bit contemplative, as well. And one of the things I am contemplating about is the supposed death-knell of poetry.
Every year or two, someone in the media proclaims the death of poetry or the death of the novel. The amount of times these literary genres have been resurrected is enough to make even the staunchest atheist believe in God. Life-changing events, like births and deaths and weddings and funerals and, yes, engagements, are enough to show us all that poetry, and our need for it, is far from gone. Think about all the major occasions of your life. How many of them have included someone, somehow, reading or alluding to a poem? Personally, I can’t think of any important events which haven’t had a touch of poetry in them. It is evident to me that as human beings rather than animals, we yearn for poetry the way that we yearn for stories. Our ability and need to translate our experiences into language is surely one of the greatest marks of our humanity.
And so, as I contemplate my sons, now grown, and the lives stretching out before them and the women they have chosen to be their lives’ companions, I turn to poetry, too. Not one of my own — it’s all still too new for me to be able to write one of those. But instead, this by Anne Bradstreet (ca 1678):
To My Dear and Loving Husband
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.