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Posts Tagged ‘novels’

Alternative wedding readings (no Corinthians, promise) Part I

In Readings on June 27, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Hoping to avoid identi-kit wedding readings? Here are a few less obvious selections, courtesy of my marvelously well read sister-in-law-to-be. And no, 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 is not included. Hopefully they avoid patronising lecturing on how to have a good marriage, and don’t mention that sickening word ‘joy’ too much.
First, up is a twentieth century American poet, Ogden Nash.

The versifier extraordinaire, Ogden Nash

The versifier extraordinaire, Ogden Nash

My Dream by Ogden Nash

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.

The next extract is by an American contemporary novelist, Richard Bausch and it positions love as all about the little moments and domestic trivia.

Richard Bausch

Richard Bausch

The Last Good Time by Richard Bausch

There was a lovely time, long ago, too private to tell anyone, or too ordinary. It had nothing to do with anything, really: it was almost embarrassingly humble. One December night, unable to sleep, he had glanced out the bedroom window to discover that it had snowed. He woke his wife and made her come to the window, and the surprise of it delighted her as it had delighted him.

They dressed and bundled the baby up and took a walk, and watched the dawn arrive, and when they returned to the house, he took the day off. They played with the baby, cooked dinner, and baked bread. They listened to the baby playing in his playpen, and they talked idly about anything that came into their minds, and that evening, late, they lay whispering to each other about what a beautiful day it had been.

He thought about all this on his way down to the grocery store. The memory of it came through him like a breath, and then he was savoring it, basking in its warmth. And he thought that this is what love really meant: this very ordinary memory. That love was easy and plentiful as grass, and as still, as calm somehow.

Next up, Charles Darwin‘s memorandum on marriage. Used to jotting down daily notes on animal breeding, he scrawled rambling thoughts about career and prospects on two scraps of paper, one with columns headed “Marry” and “Not Marry”. Brilliantly practical.

Darwins two columns: Not marry? Marry?

Darwin's two columns: Not marry? Marry?

Notes on Marriage by Charles Darwin


Not Marry?
Freedom to go where one liked
choice of Society and little of it.
Conversation of clever men at clubs
Not forced to visit relatives, and to bend in every trifle
to have the expense and anxiety of children –
perhaps quarrelling –
Loss of time –
cannot read in the Evenings –
fatness and idleness –
anxiety and responsibility –
less money for books
if many children forced to gain one’s bread (But then it is very bad for one’s health to work too much).
Perhaps my wife won’t like London, then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent, idle fool.

Marry?
Children – (if it please God) –
constant companion, who will feel interested in one
(a friend in old age) –
object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow
Home, and someone to take care of house
Charms of Music and female Chit Chat –
These things good for ones health but terrible loss of time
My God, it is unthinkable to think of spending
one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all
No, no won’t do
Imagine living all one’s days solitarily in smoky
dirty London House –
Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa
with good fire, and books and music perhaps – compare this vision with
dingy reality.
Marry! Marry! Marry!

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Poetry-free wedding readings

In Readings on May 10, 2009 at 10:04 pm

If you’re more prosaic than poetic, or find that poetry makes your head swim, maybe a wedding reading from a novel might work out better for you. Plus, if you have a burly chap doing a reading, prose might prove less emasculating for him.

Here’s a selection of the finest wedding readings from novels:

1. From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

For those who go slack jawed for some period drama romance, try Mr. Darcy’s response, when asked by Elizabeth how he came to fall in love with her…

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.

2. From A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

3. From Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

4. From The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.

5. From The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Chapter 21, The Little Prince Befriends the Fox

It’s all about the little prince learning to value a rose because it is his particular rose, the one he watered and looked after. Kooky, with just a touch of the hallucinogenic about it.

“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.”

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses…

6. From The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

Here’s a profundity, the best I can do: sometimes you just know… You just know when two people belong together. I had never really experienced that odd happenstance before, but this time, with her, I did. Before, I was always trying to make my relationships work by means of willpower and forced affability. This time I didn’t have to strive for anything. A quality of ease spread over us. Whatever I was, well, that was apparently what she wanted… To this day I don’t know exactly what she loves about me and that’s because I don’t have to know. She just does. It was the entire menu of myself. She ordered all of it.

 The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter