Friday, April 29, 2011

A Refusal to Watch the Wedding by Glitz of a Royal in London

I was not up at 4 am, and I won’t be watching highlights of the royal wedding. The only reason I even know what Kate Middleton looks like is that I was strapped into a dentist’s chair on Tuesday morning, staring blankly at one of those screens that are everywhere nowadays, when her face came on and her name appeared in the crawl. She is lovely indeed, but Dylan Thomas had it right.

His great poem “A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London” laments the banality of our common response to life’s great mysteries.

Written in 1945, at the end of the worst war in history, when so many had died in London alone, from the horror of the Blitz, the poem refuses to join the chorus of weeping over the fiery death of a single child. 

After 26 years of marriage, I swear that marriage is as much a mystery to me as death. Let’s catch up with the Prince and his Lady 26 years from now and see how they’re doing. Then we can celebrate and maybe even watch the late news.

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all-humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child’s death.
I will not murder
The mankind of her going with some grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London’s daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.


  1. Webster, this is the first "Witness2Christ" that is definitely NOT Christ-like.
    We weren't raised in a country that has a monarchy like the British. Don't begrudge them that, or judge them for it.
    And Dylan Thomas died in New York at the age of 39 after lying in an alcohol-induced coma for a week.

    After you walk your daughter down the aisle, will you then also remark "let them check back in after 26 years"?

    Methinks there are other, darker issues hidden in this particular blog.

    They married in an Anglican church, before God and, literally, the world. Let them celebrate their young love. Christ is. After all, his first miracle was at a wedding.

  2. ATL Coach,

    I am not Christ, so that was bound to happen sooner or later. What is on display in this blog is not "Christlikeness," but my own humanity, which has its little ups and downs. If this was a down, so be it. I only hope that occasionally a glimmer of Christ breaks through here and there because I am on the lookout for him almost daily, though not in the mirror.

    The "darker" issues in this blog are not personal. I am happily married after 26 years and am planning on the duration. Meanwhile, neither of my daughters is yet married, and yes, you're right, when, God willing, I do walk one of them down the aisle, I will do more than "check back in 26 years."

    However, when 50 percent of our marriages fail after untold millions are spent by, yes, their fathers on "a bit of show," skepticism is warranted. William's parents' weddding was the last to get this world-media treatment and our awe. How did that work out? Tragically. A solemn $100 marriage in front of a lone priest and two witnesses works just as well sacramentally. Most of the rest is "fire."

    Thanks in any event for your comment. As you can see, I don't get too many, so all are accepted happily! :-) Please keep reading and correcting me when I stray.


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