I want to call you thou, the sound
of the shape of the start
of a kiss - like this, thou -
and to say, after, I love,
thou, I love, thou I love, not
I love you.
Because I so do -
as we say now - I want to say
thee, I adore, I adore thee,
and to know in my lips
the syntax of love resides,
and to gaze in thine eyes.
Love's language starts, stops, starts;
the right words flowing or clotting in the heart.
Carol Ann Duffy
Had I been aware of the above poem three weeks or so ago I might well have used it as my reading during our registry office wedding. Not for all the soppy 'thou' stuff - though the worshipful tone can ring true - but for the last couple of lines expressing the awkwardness of finding the right words to talk about love. I scoured various volumes of poetry in the days before the wedding and even made the mistake of typing in 'poems for marriage' into Google. Unable to find anything that wasn't wilfully oblique, or cloyingly, clingily, cringingly awful I wrote my own poem instead. How embarrassing. I won't publish it here, not due to any sense of modesty or privacy, but because it is not, in hindsight, very good at all. But the sentiment it expressed, I think, was right.
Sadly, I don't think I can say the same of my speech at our Saturday wedding, the one with a hundred or so people at it. Years of wandering into a class full of baying teenagers with nothing prepared and winging it to a reasonable degree of success had lulled me into thinking it would be OK to do the same thing on my wedding day. It wasn't. I burbled a lot, glanced at the skimpy notes I had made with utter incomprehension, and forgot to thank half the people I really ought to have thanked. I was thinking of things I should have said for the first three or four days of our honeymoon - a kind of esprit d'escaliers without the prior insult. Perhaps I could blame blogging for giving me all the time in the world to think about what I want to say. Articulacy is easier when you only write something every couple of weeks.
But it was when I came to acknowledging my beautiful wife that words failed me most and I blithered on with a crack in my voice. The sense of what a significant moment in our lives this was meant that my brain was simultaneously simpering and squalling, cooing and caterwauling. But that's alright, I think. My feelings for my wife should never, all being well, be less than a maelstrom of thoughts that I can't easily express.