For the Old Married Folk

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this about 14 years after his marriage:

“Love is temporary and ends with marriage. Marriage is the perfection which love aimed at- ignorant of what it sought. Marriage is a good known only to the parties, – a relation of perfect understanding, aid, contentment, possession of themselves and of the world, -which dwarfs love to green fruit.”

Josephine Moffett Benton, in The Pace of a Hen, shares that:

“Mark Twain once observed that no couple could begin to know the bliss of being married, short of twenty-five years together. In the presence of a companionable middle-aged pair, young romance seems a feeble reed in comparison to the strong plant of their devotion. How have they weathered the storms and reached such a mature affection, that the shining joy in being together is a blessing to all who touch their lives?”

And one of my favorite American poets, Phyllis McGinley writes in:

The Landscape of Love


Do not believe them. Do not believe what strangers
Or casual tourists, moored a night and day
In some snug, sunny, April-sheltering bay
(Along the coast and guarded from great dangers)
Tattle to friends when ignorant they return.
Love is no lotus-island endlessly
Washed by a summer ocean, no Capri;
But a huge landscape, perilous and stern–

More poplared than the nations to the north,
More bird-beguiled, stream-haunted. But the ground
Shakes underfoot. Incessant thunders sound,
Winds shake the trees, and tides run back and forth
And tempests winter there, and flood and frost
In which too many a voyager is lost.


None knows this country save the colonist,
His homestead planted. He alone has seen
The hidden groves unconquerably green,
The secret mountains steepling through the mist.
Each is his own discovery. No chart
Has pointed him past chasm, bog, quicksand,
Earthquake, mirage, into his chosen land–
Only the steadfast compass of the heart.

Turn a deaf ear, then, on the traveler who,
Speaking a foreign tongue, has never stood
Upon love’s hills or in a holy wood
Sung incantations; yet, having bought a few
Postcards and trinkets at some cheap bazaar,
Cries, “This and thus the God’s dominions are!”

~Phyllis McGinley

I think it’s impossible to truly convey the deep and rich loam of married life to a child, for many of the same reasons it’s nearly impossible to explain the deep fullfillment that comes from parenthood to the deliberately childless. How can you describe the color of your baby’s eyes to a blind man? How do you describe the sound of a lullabye to the deaf?

Even to those in love and preparing to marry it is impossible to explain. They think it is all the giddy butterflies in the stomach, the throb of your hearts when you first touch, when you first kiss, when you snuggle up one another and feel the jolt of touching fingertips.

Any hormonal pair of kids can slobber. Nobody can read the Headmaster’s mind, body language, and facial expressions like I can- and that’s far more romantic and intimate than all the face-sucking in the world.

Although that’s kinda fun, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This entry was posted in Celebrations/feasts/memorials/high holy days, poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

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