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Published on June 25, 2007 By Syre William Byrd In Marriage
The Excellence of Marriage


It has been said often times before
‘That being married may have its pains
But being single has no pleasures’
For after all Marriage is full of its Own treasures:

Such as friendship founded on mutual trust
No matter the weather, unable to rust;
Such as selfless unconditional love
That will bond two lives into One holy dove;
Such as companionships deepest moments
Often without needing words, just that sense;
Such as sharing in all the woes and joys
Of raising children (and how to afford their toys!);
Such as the sight of growth and maturity
As you two walk hand in hand into eternity.

These are the treasures that Marriage brings
Unlike any precious stones about which Shirley Bassey sings
Yet sealed today by the exchanging of rings.

25 June 2007 Review of: ‘The Excellence of Marriage’

Unlike most of the work I produce, this poem has a clear context and purpose. I wanted to read a poem at a friends Wedding. Yet I could find nothing that really suited. What was I to do? I thought that perhaps it was an unfashionable idea to read poetry nowadays, so to choose to do something else would perhaps be more up to date. I remember thinking about alternatives, yet still really hankering after wanting some poetry (and reading Donne at the time) when it just struck me with some force (of revelation?) that I should have a go myself. So I just wrote a piece, based on Dr Johnson’s assessment of matrimony, as the starting point for my thoughts. It was short, sentimental and has key terms that people associate with the occasion I.e. trust, love, companionship, dove, treasures.

It is thus, as a result of its peculiar history, the only piece of my poetry that has been publicly recited (at the wedding). It is , I admit, special to me personally as a result. Yet only now, when re-reading the piece, am I aware of the other typically personal thematic styles that are apparent; biblical allusions for instance. It seems that I have been, for want of a better word, baptised, in biblical language and typology and allusion! Line 6 for instance is an allusion to Matthew 6 vs. 20-21. I find this, now, interesting because obviously marriage is indeed an earthly institution that will, as I understand the Christian perspective, be redundant and not replicated in Heaven! Bodies of those married will indeed go the way of all flesh and return to dust! Yet it was not the materialistic, wordly perspective that was the focus here. It was the love…companionship…emotions… that the poem states are the really valuable and lasting attributes within marriage, and I guess in everyday life as well (after all, not all those listening were married) We conventionally understand these ideas and largely as a society assent to their value. Are they valuable? If there are no persons to feel these feelings, do they exist? Is convention have enough force in the trajectory of a piece of aspiring poetry?

These attributes are not material objects as such, but have an impact upon our lives, so I guess that they cannot rust or return to dust. This raises the question generally as whether this poetical sub-text would have worked or been appropriate in a wedding that wasn’t solemnised in a religious fashion? The conventions, I think, would make it appropriate. Justification? Well, every February 14th there is a ghastly misappropriation of those values, again under the cover of a Saints Feast Day! No-one, unfortunately, raises a critical eyebrow then (religious or non religious persons all strangely in a common comatose assent). The conventions, terms, allusions are left to wash over the masses. Consequently I admit that doesn’t say much for my poem! Was it designed to make people feel good by touching certain emotional buttons in the listeners (already prepared for by the marriage ceremony itself etc) via the medium of certain key words and turned phrases? Was it designed to last? Or is it more akin to the inside verse of a greetings card? Yes, a greetings card, that is exactly what it now reads like to me!

It is a product. I produced a piece of writing for a purpose. Can such a product be a work of art? Yes it could. This piece, is however no such product. It is a one off. A forgotten and sentimental one off 'greetings card' type piece. Special to me, due to happy memories and a sense of accomplishment; but not art.


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