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Monday, October 10, 2011

Did you Miss Me?

Did you miss me? I've been gone for a week to Arden, North Carolina where my youngest niece got married...She lives in Cut Bank, Montana as does her now-husband.  My sister lives in Washington state ane as his family is HUGE (ours is not) and her older sister is doing a post-doc at Chapel Hill, the wedding was on his family's orchard/organic truck farm.

Just prior to my driving down, I made the quilt top which is on the altar, a faithful rendition of their wedding announcement and something which turned out to be a recurring theme.   This was brought down just to have the family sign as a wall hanging, but she needed something to cover the "altar' so I brought it out for that. 

I worked hard....we prepared for 250, but only about 125 came.  We did the food ourselves which was quite interesting--making pasties for 250 people in a commercial kitchen....and dealing with all the hiccups which not having a caterer causes.....and just getting the grounds ready....oh yes, and my sister did the flowers as well...and I helped with logistics, bringing down tons of fabrics to use on the tables...Her wedding was at 5:00 pm, outside, down on the banks of the French Broad River.  They left in a canoe...wedding dress and all.

Beth is a published poet and lover of words.  Katie, the 19th century British Lit. prof read  Litany by Billy Collins for her "Toast." You can find it on line, here
but here it is only to make it easier for you.


You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.




Katie read it to bring in some humor.  Afterwards, she mentioned to me that she didn't think that anyone "got it."

I have read this before....I think either Katie or another friend, Lori Gravely, introduced me to it.  I love the language...and I m always given pause.  What did Collins really mean?  Was it as one of the commentators on the Poem Hunter site says "This poem isn't about love at all - he's making fun of the overuse of objects as symbols. It's basically showing how symbolism isn't symbolic when over done, not how he loves someone." (Shannon Swanson)  a "litany of metaphors?

I wonder...perhaps it is as the reader is to interpret it.  Perhaps it is merely something to make us think.  Perhaps it is just as he describes it...in this case, a cigar is sometimes just a cigar.
Probably I'm just being to direct, and too representational again...
 


Yes, that's me on the right, my sister Mary in the center, and the blushing bride on the left...So...did you miss me?

6 comments:

KLC said...

Glad you found the poem. Great pictures too. I would agree that Collins is satirizing metaphor in love poetry, but I think he's doing it (as he usually does) with a great deal of affection and a final twist that erases most of the bite. In other words, he pokes fun at literary preciousness and romantic idealism even as he affirms that love can retain its poetry even once one has discovered the beloved's feet of clay . . . not to mention one's own. I love Collins for his gentle satire, his ability to both celebrate and mock word-drunkeness, and those ending twists.

I hope my interpretation is right. I ran it by seven other English graduate students one night to make sure, because many are the breakup poems that get mistakenly used at weddings . . .

Michigoose said...

The rhythm and imagery he uses are just fantastic....I suppose that just goes to show that he's really good...

I suppose I love Frost because he DOES paint such a picture with wonderful words....words I know but haven't heard for years...or read in the dusty musty novels I was prone to reading when in high school and younger.

I'm afraid that I am ignorant of most recent poets...Angelou, Frost and some of the earlier 20th century poets are just about it! Oh yeah...you can't leave out Sandburg I suppose!

Sherrie Spangler said...

I missed you! It sounds like a really fun wedding, especially the bride and groom's departure in a canoe.

Shady Character said...

I missed you and it looks like i missed a wedding, too! It also sounds like there would have been enough food if I had shown up. ;) I agree with KLC's interpretation of the poem. Every time I hear it I smile at its goofy, romantic denial of romance.

Michigoose said...

Thanks Shady and Sherrie! The wedding was a lot of work, beautiful, but I'm amazed at the toll it took on me. I'm still recovering.

KLC is my adored and brilliant niece Katie, the one who is laughing at the left of the "kiss at the altar" photo (she says as she ducks Katie's mudball for outing her...).

Linnette said...

The wedding looks just as you described it and the pictures make it all come together.