Poems and Readings For Weddings And Civil Partnerships, compiled by A. Vasudevan
This is an interesting collection of poetic materials relating to romantic love and the hopes and expectations for marriage. I happen to know people who despite not having a lot of foundation in the Bible or any other religious text have found themselves being registered clergy, and I must admit that I am not. This is not a book aimed at me, directly, because I am not engaged in the business of officiating weddings or civil partnerships–the rules are very different–but it definitely made for an interesting read. It may be for somewhat perverse reasons that a man as awkwardly single as I am reads about marriage to the extent that I do , but regardless of the reason I found this book interesting from the point of view of someone giving a ceremony. These readings are not organized in a fashion that someone would be able to use in a plug and play fashion. Rather, someone using this book is going to have to do a large amount of effort to get a smooth ceremony out of these reasons. That may not be a bad thing.
This book is organized very simply in being alphabetically organized by author, except for Bible citations which are organized alphabetically by their book. This is great, for example, if you are looking for all of the Kahlil Gibran or Pablo Neruda poems, as there are many of those, but it can be a bit jarring in tone to read some of the writings in the order in which they are included, as the tone jumps from mystical to scriptural to somewhat casual and flippant from one writer to the next. That said, though, there is a lot to appreciate here. A lot of these readings are enjoyable to read, and while I could quibble a bit about the translated used for the Bible verses, the materials really do a good job at showing the diverse nature of the hopes and concerns of people entering into marriage. This is certainly something worth thinking about, and the book, if used well, is certainly one that can provide someone officiating a marriage with a great deal of worthwhile insight. One would do well to know what kind of people one is working with, as grooms and especially brides like to have a great deal of input into ceremonies.
To be sure, this book isn’t for everyone, and not all of its material is going to be used in any given marriage, or perhaps in any of the marriages that someone officiates. Religiou traditions like my own have their own well-organized marriage liturgies that already incorporate a good deal of the biblical material included here, and civil ceremonies forbid the use of not only biblical but religious material in the broader sense. Even so, despite the fact that the materials vary widely, this book gives a good idea of the hope as well as the concern that leads people to marry. People marry with a sense of hope that it will make their lives better. Yet people marry knowing that they are imperfect and that the people they are marrying are imperfect and that marriage depends on will more than emotion, but to know these things is one thing and to do them another. It is far easier to know, and these poems show a good deal of knowledge, than it is to put into practice. Even the lives of some of the writers of these poems suggests the difficulties involved, whether we are looking at the awkwardness of C.S. Lewis or the fragmented Sapphic odes or the people who wrote lovingly of their second marriages or those who never married at all but wished love for others.
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