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Friday, May 25, 2012

Wedding Festivities

Today's post will be short (I promise!). I'm heading down to MA tonight to begin a party that will last through Sunday, as one of my out-laws is getting married. (Definition of an out-law: My older brother's wife's brothers and sisters.) In honor of the occasion, and also to keep your Richard Wilbur appetites whetted for June 2nd, let me share with you this lovely poem one of my fellow-teachers showed me yesterday:


Wedding Toast

St. John tells how, at Cana's wedding feast,
The water-pots poured wine in such amount
That by his sober count
There were a hundred gallons at the least.

It made no earthly sense, unless to show
How whatsoever love elects to bless
Brims to a sweet excess
That can without depletion overflow.

Which is to say that what love sees is true;
That this world's fullness is not made but found.
Life hungers to abound
And pour its plenty out for such as you.

Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine,
I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.
May you not lack for water,
And may that water smack of Cana's wine.

The second stanza is my favorite. Wonderful enjambment, beautiful imagery, smooth sweet sounds. And stanza three is so true. Anyway, time for some last minute shopping. Have a good weekend, and congratulations to Sukie and John!


  1. Wilbur... a great poet and a greater person. Many years ago, when my drunken friends and I afflicted Wilbur by sending him some of our mediocre verse, he replied with a very gracious telegram on Christmas Eve!

    1. What a delightful story. A telegram. I have always wanted to receive a telegram (with good news, of course).
      PS What did he say about your poems?

      Speaking of poets, I'm always sorry that I never met Wallace Stevens. Something about an insurance agent who writes poetry (good poetry in fact) appeals to me. However, he was not famous for his cordiality. This story I heard many years ago. Maybe true. maybe not. But fun to tell. At some public function or other, probably having to do with poetry and or letters, Stevens was approached by a young graduate student who engaged him in conversation for awhile and then with the brashness of youth (a la Prof. WIlliams vis a vis Wilbur) asked if he could stop by sometime and pay him a visit at his home. Stevens said no. Nice.

    2. Oh, heavens, it was so long ago... Wilbur said something like "Thank you for the spirited verse," by which I deduced that he could tell the poetry was influenced by alcohol. It must have been wretched doggerel. But it was the thought that counted... and to send it on Christmas Eve, no less! It was one of only two telegrams I have ever received in my life. I don't think they exist any more, do they?

    3. Richard Wilbur seems to have a pretty genial personality. When one of my friends met him, he asked him to sign his arm, and promptly went to a tattoo parlor to have the poet's signature permanently inscribed. But really, he sent you a telegram Christmas Eve?! What a great fellow. I'm sorry to hear that Stevens was not as friendly. I've always been intrigued and delighted by his "double-life" as well.

      As far as wondering if telegrams still exist, I believe that they do. At least, they did 5 years ago when my sister was married. My grandmother, who was unable to attend, sent a telegram of congratulations. Pretty classy:)