Shakespearean sonnet: Love and marriage

There’s not much left now. All that stuff, brand-new,
We unwrapped, gasping, twenty years ago
Has faded, been passed on, expired, worn through
Or simply vanished. Little did we know
That toaster would explode, those shining pans
Burn black, the glasses chip, the gleaming knives
Turn dull, plates end up mismatched. Some grand plans
Got mislaid, too, somehow. But what survives
We had no need to list; came with no box
Or owner’s manual, spares or guarantee.
It’s just kept right on working, stood life’s shocks
And daily labours; quietly, constantly.
A gift we gave each other with no strings.
Still ours when we have lost all other things.


This isn’t my usual line of country, but we’ve been invited to a wedding in May, which got me thinking about wedding gifts, and then our own forthcoming 21st anniversary this summer. Love changes with life and time, but for us, at least, it keeps soldiering on somehow. I guess we’re the lucky ones. N.

5 thoughts on “Shakespearean sonnet: Love and marriage

  1. I love this! Nick. Wendell Berry wrote a book of poetry, “The Country of Marriage,” which has always been one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. It explores long-term marriage and what it really means beyond the glitter-wrapping of a wedding day. The best poems can dance or jazz up like a train whistle as a steam engine labors up a steep slope in the early spring in the San Juan Mountains while waterfalls ribbon silver in the sun, but the best poems of all strike a pocket of golden truth that really means something. This sonnet is direct, and the gold is easy to find, but often, I’ve discovered, some very good poets know what they thought they were writing, but they do not actually see the depth of the meaning and the gold in the word vein they mined. This is excellent, delightful work.

    • As I said, love-and-marriage isn’t my usual row to hoe, so I’m glad this one turned out OK. You also know that I’ve long struggled with a sense that my work is overly simplistic: I guess my training as a journalist, and many years as a commercial writer, have conditioned me to cut to the chase, which isn’t always right for poetry. So I’m very encouraged when you say you find depth in this. I shall keep digging. N.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.