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Featured Poem: Fidelity by D.H Lawrence

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 25th April 2011

No sooner have the hot cross buns been polished off and the Easter feast consumed than it’s time to put up the red, white and blue bunting and arrange the commemorative china; the event of the year (depending on your viewpoint), the Royal Wedding, is mere days away. After months of wall-to-wall media coverage – which hasn’t reached its peak just yet – the nation seems to be divided into two groups: those who come Friday will be eagerly raising a glass or several at street parties across the land and those who would rather bypass the celebrations completely, having had their fill of proceedings along with so many chocolate eggs. Most of us probably come somewhere in-between; happy to gaze upon the newlywed couple and smile for a moment but not consumed by royal wedding fever.

But people have been quick enough to point out that such occasions don’t come around too often and so in accordance have been marking the upcoming nuptials in every way you could think of, and also in some that you couldn’t come up with even given lots of time and idle wondering. The 21st century quality is captured with downloadable apps and viral videos, yet alongside those are the far more traditional, if sometimes slightly eccentric, acknowledgements (not sure how useful a knitted wedding cake is – though it is quite sweet). Literary tributes are also being made and not just by an assortment of budding romance novelists; Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has penned a verse entitled Rings which will be published on the morning of the wedding, contrary to previous suggestions that she would not be observing the event in poetic form. So with this change of heart by one of the nation’s most regarded poets, it seems that we should serve up a poem to commemorate the big day. This selection by D.H Lawrence has become a popular choice for a reading at a range of ceremonies – as well as writing a royal wedding ode, Carol Ann Duffy has also commissioned works from twenty other poets to be used in a similar fashion at weddings and civil partnerships - and contains some of the key ingredients for a successful and happy marriage: peace, trust and fidelity. Who can say whether the royal couple’s relationship thus far has been particularly wild or chaotic but at least the chosen gem is accurate. And with the poem are extended warm wishes and hopes for a future as shining as that sapphire for William and Kate.


Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man's heart and a woman's,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

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