You can’t go wrong with a pow’ful first line… Arma virumque cano. Of man’s first disobedience and the forbidden fruit. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? My heart aches….

I’ve been reading poetry recently.  A few months ago, Dora and Ro asked me if I’d read at their wedding – do I mean *do* a reading?  Anyway, they asked me to choose something.  Darlings, this sort of thing is not my forte, but I spent a while browsing and noted down a few suggestions.  The other day, Ro asked me what I’d come up with.  So I had another look, eliminated a couple of those I’d jotted down, added another and sent them off, three of them.

They chose the second one for the registrar to read…  I did some more research and sent off four more suggestions, though I know that one of them will be dismissed as too short.  It’s not the easiest thing to do – I’m not that knowledgeable about luurve poetry in any case, so it’s been a matter of browsing.  I didn’t want anything that was likely to be well known and, though Dora is asking for a longer poem, I couldn’t find anything more than about 20 lines.  A good many poems about love suddenly go gloomy in the middle, so I wanted something happy, loving (but suitable for mother of the groom to read), not trite, not well known, not too heavy.

I’m waiting to hear back.  There is only one Shakespeare sonnet I learned by heart, by the way – yes, I know the well known ones, but the one I bothered to learn, rather than pick up because it’s well known, is Sonnet 145 –  I like it because it’s sweet and flirty, yet not sentimental – but not suitable on this occasion.

Those lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said ‘I hate’
To me that languish’d for her sake;
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
‘I hate’ she alter’d with an end,
That follow’d it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away;
‘I hate’ from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying ‘not you.’

I learned it when I was about 14 – I said I was that age when I read Eliot’s poem too, so ‘about 14’ is evidently a metaphor for when I started to notice what was going on around me.

20-something years ago, I borrowed a book from the library, of poems to learn by heart, and then went with Russell to Wells-Next-The-Sea in North Norfolk, and learned one of them on the way.

The child of Mary Queen of Scots,
A shifty mother’s shiftless son,
Bred up among intrigues and plots,
Learned in all things, wise in none.
Ungainly, babbling, wasteful, weak,
Shrewd, clever, cowardly, pedantic,
The sight of steel would blanch his cheek,
The smell of baccy drive him frantic.
He was the author of his line–
He wrote that witches should be burnt;
He wrote that monarchs were divine,
And left a son who–proved they weren’t! 

 You can see, by my choice, that I’m not especially sentimental.

Today has been another day of sorting out Russell’s stuff, that he hasn’t managed recently.  I’m almost tearing my hair out.  But it’s a relief, or it will be once it’s done, to know that things are straight.  It doesn’t matter that he isn’t coping with business stuff, but it does matter that he doesn’t let me know he needs help until it’s really quite difficult.

Things are still the same – he maintains that he feels fine, but he isn’t eating enough.  Nor am I.  I feel compelled not to eat more than he does and mostly I eat less.  I’m on one meal a day and snacks to stop me falling over now.  This is silly and please don’t tell me so, I know.  I’m frantic with anxiety and can only manage food when I don’t give it much thought.  All the same, I’m still not too thin.  He is.


5 comments on “You can’t go wrong with a pow’ful first line… Arma virumque cano. Of man’s first disobedience and the forbidden fruit. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? My heart aches….

  1. Blue Witch

    Lots of calories in alcohol. Fortunately.

    A certain phrase in para 2 might need a little, erm, attention if it is not to raise smutty eyebrows…. 😉

  2. Blue Witch

    And as for burning witches. Well, what can I say? 🙂

    So sorry to hear of all the stresses on you at the moment. have you any idea when you might have more news, or any idea about what can be done?

    Is Russell the sort of person who can write lists? Could he manage to put jobs he thinks need doing in a special book, kept somewhere particular (so that you can both find and review/write in it), as he thinks of them? That way you’d know what he thought needed doing, before it was too late, and be able to support/direct/do as necessary.

  3. Z Post author

    Darling, you have a filthy mind, I finally guessed what you might have meant, I think. R’s having more blood tests on Wednesday – waiting to hear more. Russell is nowhere near organised enough to write a list, and he prefers not to tell me what he’s doing unless it can’t be helped. He’s very secretive where I’m concerned and it’s testing my patience and endurance.

  4. Liz

    I was thrilled when my brother asked me to do the first reading at his wedding and I loved doing it (even if I couldn’t see over the lectern!) Nearly 8 years later, I can remember nothing at all about the piece I read out (which my sister-in-law had chosen) but I believe I have a copy of it somewhere. As you know, there are bits of A A Milne rhymes that I can still recite but other than that, poetry is not really my thing. The only poetry I ever studied was a bit of war poetry as part of my CSE English Literature and then when I did an AS level in English in my early 30s, the poetry element was Keats. I don’t mind some of the shorter Keats pieces but I cannot be bothered with epic poems.

    I’m sorry to hear that R is still not well and also adding to your admin load too. I hope you get a proper diagnosis soon and that you both get your appetites back.


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