“What Will Be Your Epithalamium?”
May 08, 2019 12:00 AM Back By Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks
Poems written to celebrate a couple’s wedding have been composed from early Greek times right up to today, when they may likely be contributed by someone in the wedding party or by a poetically inspired friend or relative.  Probably the most famous near-contemporary, and surely one of the longest, epithalamium (pronounced “EP-pe-tha-LA-me-um”), or wedding poem, was written by the well-known, normally comedic, American poet E.E. Cummings (also seen written without caps as e.e. cummings), who died in 1962.  As a young man in 1916 he composed,  at the bridal couple’s personal request, his own “Epithalamium” to celebrate the marriage of his best friend, Scofield Thayer.  He wrote it in a classical format that consisted of 21 rhyming stanzas of eight lines each.
 
Here is a very brief four-line excerpt:
 
O still miraculous May! O shining girl
of time untarnished! O small intimate
gently primeval hands,  frivolous feet
divine! O singular and breathless pearl!
             
Two hundred years earlier, Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672),  the first writer to be published in America, composed this poem “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[e],
That when we live no more we may live ever.
 
Lastly, one of the most famous wedding or love poem is this sonnet written by none other than William Shakespeare (1564-1616):
 
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st [own],
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
 
So we ask, “What Will Be Your Epithalamium?”  
 
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