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Two Epithalamia, Offering Similar Advice

For David and Lindsay

Married at Rhydycroesau, 23 July 1994

Round here is where the Saxon tangled with the Celt,
where tribal struggles and the lust for land
left scars, walls, dykes and ditches: markers and warnings
saying in either language, ‘Here I stand.’

Today at Rhydycroesau, ‘crossroads at the stream’,
two ramblers come to wed. Both from the borders,
I know they like to walk the quiet Marches once patrolled
by sentries with a dangerous idea: the nation.
Poets, then as now, have special licence on occasion,
so here’s my wedding gift of irresponsible advice.

Two persons are two countries, but let the boundary
be not too clearly marked. And live beyond your income (mostly).
Journey without maps — those of the heart are out of date
as soon as printed. Both when God’s sun shines brightly
for you on the border hills, and facing time’s adversity,
keep in each other’s shadow, and be free.

For Alix and Ben

Married in Perth, Western Australia, 19 February 2016

Poets have performed at weddings
since the ancient Greeks.
But it’s still a risky moment
when the poet speaks.
Some too solemn; some too silly;
some whose rhyming creaks.

Thank you, Ben and Alix, that you
let this foreign poet in.
Will you take two words of counsel
from a licensed larrikin?
One is sober; one is silly;
with the sober I’ll begin.

In the art of long-term loving
both must say their word.
It takes two for conversation;
neither is preferred.
Be yourselves; but let the line where
self and other meet be blurred.

That’s the sober thought; and here’s the
irresponsible advice:
Live beyond your income (mostly);
life is more than price.
Let your laughter be the coin you
never sacrifice.

I have done; so, with these others,
playing our supporting parts
to the leads you take as you
enact the union of your hearts,
I say: may your life, now joined,
transcend the joy in which it starts!

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author