As this blog attests, I’m an eager beaver reader. I have been all of my life. You would think this track record would leave me in an excellent place for the one public occasion probably of my life where I get to chose a reading for my entire friends and family to be subjected to. Something original, thoughtful, revealing, charming, unusual. Even obscure Shakespeare would be too obvious.
And it can’t be too slushy. Woe to a reading that is head-buried-in-the-sand romantic – it merely brings to mind star crossed lovers who’ll divorce two years later having wrongly believed their troubles were over having met their other half who completes them.
No, it needs to be a reading reflecting the two of you as a couple, the important and serious yet joyful nature of the occasion, that works in isolation of its context but that if you have knowledge of the context isn’t inappropriate, that at least doesn’t jar with your known reading habits, that is neither two sentences nor several pages long…
I have perhaps over-thought this.
But the result is – Woe. WOE AND STRUGGLE. I am being punished for not having read more romantic novels in my life.
The internet did not help me. The internet is the place for many things, but not the place to find something personal or unique. I have sat in front of my bookcase, searching for appropriate passages from old favourites and only finding phrases of minute specificity as “Together, they could face the world. If they could overcome the wrath of the Rajah and the flee to Peshawar, what could they not achieve together?” (Horrible paraphrase of The Far Pavilions.)
Having once more slogged over this on the bank holiday weekend, though, I think I have found something. It’s not a passage from a novel (dammit) but it does have a pleasant note of realism and Auden appeals to my literary snob side with which I fear you’re all familiar.
‘As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.
‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’
I like the first four stanzas. I can just about deal with five, at a cheesy push (this is a wedding after all.) What I don’t like are stanzas six, seven, eight, nine and ten which I don’t even copy here as they go into a dark tirade against time which makes a mockery of love. Ho hum. Perhaps that’ll just be our little secret.