The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Love and marriage

Jamie's vows: we all blubbed like babies

As you must know by now, true love is not my natural element. Yesterday, however, I was surrounded by it, immersed in a day of deep friendship and goodwill at the wedding of my friends Jamie and Kate. After heavy rain, the sky cleared for a perfect sunny afternoon and the wedding began in a garden overlooking Windermere.

At twilight we watched lightning forking over the fells on the far side of the lake. The storm reached us just as the band struck up for the first dance…. So why am I not hungover? Because dear reader, instead of drinking, I sat down in the middle of the wedding reception to write. This is the blessing I read to a room of tired and emotional friends at 1am. It’s very place- and time-specific, but it expresses some of the day’s pleasures.

A blessing for Jamie and Kate, 6th May 2011

On Wetherlam and Crinkle Crags
it looks like rain; but we’re not having that.
By force of will we clear the clouds.

The sun comes in like a bride.
The bride comes in like May.
The air on our skins is a gift.

Hold this moment like a flower.
We are gathered here today
to say the things the English do not say.

A man and a woman stand together
in a garden walled with bunting,
hung with scented night-stocks.

Their truths as deep, their vows as wide
as Windermere. Each promise skims
and ripples out to Allen Crags.

This man. This woman. This child,
these friends. We stand together

A calm before our storm. The talk
suspended in a half-light
purple with wisteria and wishes.

On Wetherlam and Crinkle Crags
the sky is fit to split: small wonder
if it shudders with the weight of grace.

And when it breaks above us like an egg
it’s a release of upland blessings,
kindnesses refreshed; a great huzzah of clouds.

Let it come. We’re ready for a soaking,
welcoming the torrent
as it drenches all our skins,

and never wishing to be dry.

Daddy and bridesmaid


7 comments on “Love and marriage

  1. Angi
    May 7, 2011

    T’other half says: Excellent.
    Far better than drinking – a hangover of memorable words. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ailsa Holland
    May 8, 2011

    Wonderful, Jo.

    We are gathered here today
    to say the things the English do not say.

    … should be put into the wedding service 🙂

    ‘never wishing to be dry’ is gorgeous.

    (You’ve made me want to try to write about my own wedding.)

  3. Angi
    May 8, 2011

    Red pen moment : True love is indeed your natural element. Just maybe not the marrying kind….

  4. leilaheartbooks
    May 8, 2011

    Aw, that’s beautiful. And done in one evening as well – I’m impressed.

  5. Jenn Ashworth
    May 15, 2011

    this is brilliant Jo – perhaps a new business idea? Poems for weddings…

    x x J

  6. Jo Bell
    May 16, 2011

    Jenn – yeah, then I could branch out into bar mitzvahs! 🙂

  7. Angi
    May 19, 2011

    Or perhaps an anthology idea? There are several books of poems & readings for weddings, hand-fastings etc, but most of them are naff, cheesey and dated. There’s certainly a gap in the market for an intelligent anthology of material that young people can relate to.

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on May 7, 2011 by in Writing exercises.
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