make your own bed skirt
and forget to cut off
the loose fringe

home in sweden
ph: martin löf


I want to read a poem
for my sister's wedding

I'm looking for something real.
not necessarily about love.

something quiet.
on nature, life, water
I don't know.

any ideas?


Ann Munro said...

Mary Oliver or Denise Levertov write wonderful quite poems on nature, life, water....

francisca said...

i think rainer maria rilke is a great poet and exactly what you are looking for. his poems are about nature, life, friendship, the ocean etc. have a look!
by the way, great blog! i love this purity a lot!

Tatjana said...

let me think about it.

love poem?

mezzanine said...

try ezra pound.

Anonymous said...

oh i love thsi place...such a great space and atmosphere...

oh may i be so bold as to suggest: Pablo Neruda: Me Gustos Cuando Callas (Poema 15)...


or just any other poem by him...

what a lovely thought to read a poem at a wedding.


Matthew said...

A version of this poem was featured in the credits for the film Never Cry Wolf.

Little SongAnd I think over again
My small adventures
When with a shore wind I drifted out
In my kayak
And I thought I was in danger.

My fears,
Those small ones
That I thought so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach.

And yet, there is only
One great thing,
The only thing.
To live to see in huts and on journeys
The great day that dawns,
And the little light that fills the world.

Mackenzie Eskimo (Orpingalik?)

recorded by Knud Rasmussen, 1932, a report of the Fifth Thule
Expedition to the Arctic in 1923
reproduced in:
Colombo, John Robert, ed. Songs of the Great Land, Oberon Press, Ottawa, 1989, p.98

The version used in the film is shorter and leaves out some of the arctic-specific imagery:

"I think over again my small adventures
My fears, those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things I had to get and reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world."

It could be used as it, or rewritten in the second person, in which it would read as more of a blessing.

benhunting said...

How about 'Snow' by Louis MacNeice?
Or something by Wallace Stevens.

Anonymous said...

jaime sabines.

Emily said...

Wendell Berry

Anonymous said...

I second Wallace Stevens.

Also, I love your blog.


lee said...

how about "since feeling is first" by e.e. cummings?

paraiso garage said...

Hi, my name is vanesa and i live in argentina. i teach literature and love english poetry (and read your blog daily, also). hope you like this:

To-day these have been lovely things
I never saw before;
sunlight through a jar of marmalade;
a blue gate;
a rainbow
in soapsuds on dishwater;
candlelight on butter;
the crinkled smile of a little girl
who had new shoes with tassels;
a chickadee on a thorn-apple;
empurpled mud under a willow,
where white geese slept;
white ruffled curtains sifting moonlight
on the scrubbed kitchen floor;
the under side of a white-oak leaf;
ruts in the road at sunset;
an egg yolk in a blue bowl.

My love kissed my eyes last night.
(May Thielgaard Watts)

My heart is like a singing bird
whose nest is in a watered shoot;
my heart is like an apple tree
whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
my heart is like a rainblow shell
that paddles in a halcyon sea;
my heart is gladder than all these
because my love is come to me.

Raise me a dais of silk and down;
hang it with wair and purple dyes;
carve it in doves and pomegranates,
and peacocks whith a hundred eyes;
work it in gold and silver grapes,
in leaves and silver fleur-de-lys;
because the birthday of my life
is come, my love is come to me.

(Christina Rosetti)

Stephanie said...

I think this one is lovely:

The Master Speed, by Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste,
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still ?
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

Manue said...

Cycle of Life

We are like Seeds
Scattered on the field
Without any control carried by the wind
Rain came, buried our day
And two days later, light dawns

We spring forth and meet the sun
Knowing all is well the rain is gone
We grow each day taller and stronger
Greeting the wind, enjoying the breeze
We grow with love, nurtured by you
No pain, only faith

We gaze brightly with our innocent eyes
The Sun and Moon teaches us
That this is the Cycle of Life
We embrace and sing

We are like Seeds
A beginning, a new moment
Ever free to be, free to be eternity
Ever growing, ever being
This is the Cycle of Life

Jiro Goh

Jon said...

Nature Notes by Louis MacNeice

Incorrigible, brash,
They brightened the cinder path of my childhood,
Unsubtle, the opposite of primroses,
But, unlike primroses, capable
Of growing anywhere, railway track, pierhead,
Like our extrovert friends who never
Make us fall in love, yet fill
The primroseless roseless gaps.


Incorrigible, uncommitted,
They leavened the long flat hours of my childhood,
Subtle, the opposite of dogs,
And unlike dogs, capable
Of flirting, falling, and yawning anywhere,
Like women who want no contract
But going their own way
Make the way of their lovers lighter.


Incorrigible, unmusical,
They bridged the surrounding hedge of my childhood,
Unsubtle, the opposite of blackbirds,
But, unlike blackbirds, capable
Of anywhere they are endorsing summer
Like loud men around the corner
Whom we never see but whose raucous
Voices can give us confidence.

The Sea

Incorrigible, ruthless,
It rattled the shingly beach of my childhood,
Subtle, the opposite of earth,
And, unlike earth, capable
Any time at all of proclaiming eternity
Like something or someone to whom
We have to surrender, finding
Through that surrender life.

evencleveland said...

I third the Wallace Stevens recommendation. One of my favorites is The Idea of Order at Key West:

It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

honeydonthink said...

When You Are Old
by William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Anonymous said...

Khalil Gibran has some great stuff and also Wendell Berry "The Country of Marriage"

Anonymous said...

annie dillard

mqh said...

This poem is lovely for a wedding:

Harlem Night Song
Langston Hughes

Let us roam the night together

I love you.

The Harlem roof-tops
Moon is shining.
Night sky is blue.
Stars are great drops
Of golden dew.

Down the street
A band is playing.

I love you.

Let us roam the night together

Thank you for such a wonderful blog. It's always so inspiring!

Anonymous said...

I love, love this blog. Thanks. I second "Snow" by Louis MacNiece, and maybe Paul Muldoon's poem to follow, the one that goes with it. & William Carlos Williams's love songs, with their little loaves of scent and clean dresses and let's run outside a-maying.

So many beautiful poems! How will you choose? I would say Paul Durcan's "My Beloved Compares Herself to a Pint of Stout", but it's perhaps too long, a little too intimate ... Or Anna Akhmatova:

Broad and yellow is the evening light
Tender the April coolness
You are so many years late,
Nevertheless I am glad you came.

Sit here close to me
And look on joyfully:
Here is a blue composition book
With the poems of my childhood.

Forgive me that I ignored the sun
And that I lived in sorrow
Forgive, forgive that I
Mistook too many others for you.

Glass Delusion said...

somehwere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands


Heather said...

hi. i read rilke's [as once the winged energy of delight] at my sister's wedding 10 years ago. otherwise something wallace stevens? enjoy!

imightbechad said...

Tree Marriage

by William Meredith

In Chota Nagpur and Bengal
the betrothed are tied with threads to
mango trees, they marry the trees
as well as one another, and
the two trees marry each other.
Could we do that some time with oaks
or beeches? This gossamer we
hold each other with, this web
of love and habit is not enough.
In mistrust of heavier ties,
I would like tree-siblings for us,
standing together somewhere, two
trees married with us, lightly, their fingers barely touching in sleep, our threads invisible but holding.

Jen said...

Hi Lee, Many thanks for your constant inspiration. I am happy to contribute to what is already a queue of beautiful poetry!

Broke Song (Later)
by: Catherine Bowman

You move through the world broken. Navigating
by the stars encoded on your heart's axis. July
grasses. Rain. How the world breaks us.
Midnight scatters across what's left
from an evening prayer. The broken
song of the warbler at dawn
on the last day of winter. You move
through the world gathered
together in a pulse. Running your fingers
up and down what is odd and so familiar.
How dazzling the fit. To be remade
by the glue of your oaths and kisses.

Anonymous said...


is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o'clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them

I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it's in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven't gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider as carefully
as the horse

it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

—Frank O'Hara

Amy A said...

One of my favorite things to read at weddings is the story of the Velveteen Rabbit-- a children's story about loving...

Jill said...

mary oliver writes beautiful and simple contemporary poetry about nature.

Anonymous said...

I second Annie Dillard....the most beautiful writing about nature and our place in the mystery of it..what a good idea lee...xxooLynnda

Ria said...

I do not love you as if
you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations
the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain
dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between
the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant
that never blooms
but carries in itself the
light of hidden flowers;

....and there's a little more, but it's really good.
~Pablo Neruda

Unknown said...


I lay down for a nap. But every time I closed my eyes,
mares' tails passed slowly over the Strait
toward Canada. And the waves. They rolled up on the beach
and then back again. You know I don't dream.
But last night I dreamt we were watching
a burial at sea. At first I was astonished.
And then filled with regret. But you
touched my arm and said, "No, it's allright.
She was very old, and he'd loved her all her life."


'May the rivers of your life be always flowing at their fullest.'

Brita Frost said...

I have been reading August Kleinzahler, Sleeping it off in Rapid City. His poems are about travel, real and imaginary, but they are also about love. I think you would like them. They are very beautiful.

accentuate said...

Rememberance- Rainer Maria Rilke

And you wait, keep waiting for that one thing
which would infinitely enrich your life:
the powerful, uniquely uncommon,
the awakening of dormant stones,
depths that would reveal you to yourself.

In the dusk you notice the book shelves
with their volumes in gold and in brown;
and you think of far lands you journeyed,
of pictures and of shimmering gowns
worn by women you conquered and lost.

And it comes to you all of a sudden:
That was it! And you arise, for you are
aware of a year in your distant past
with its fears and events and prayers.

Sputnik said...

Sonnet 69 by Pablo Neruda

Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,
without you moving, slicing the noon
like a blue flower, without you walking
later through the fog and the cobbles,

without the light you carry in your hand,
golden, which maybe others will not see,
which maybe no one knew was growing
like the red beginnings of a rose.

In short, without your presence: without your coming
suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,
gust of a rosebush, wheat of wind:

since then I am because you are,
since then you are, I am, we are,
and through love I will be, you will be, we'll be.

Give Us Names said...

Manifesto by Windall Berry

The most inspiring piece of poetry I have yet to read.

embodying paradise said...

wislawa szymborska -

she speaks about life
with such a subtlety .

percymak said...

I really love your blog.