Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, A BLESSING FOR A WEDDING, by JANE HIRSHFIELD



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

A BLESSING FOR A WEDDING, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


In "A Blessing for a Wedding," Jane Hirshfield captures the expansive nature of love and life through the lens of a singular, monumental day-a wedding. The poem's reach is broad, encompassing moments of joy and sorrow, birth and death, warmth and cold, thereby painting a vivid picture of the complexities of human experience that are bound to unfurl in a marriage.

The repetition of the word "Today" acts as a rhythmic anchor, tethering the poem to the immediacy of the wedding day while also reaching into the multitude of days that will follow. By contrasting distinct events, like the ripening of persimmons with the exit of fox-kits into snow, or the joyous song of a wren with the setting down of maple leaves, Hirshfield hints at the dichotomies that make life both beautiful and unpredictable. The juxtapositions remind the reader that life is a mosaic of experiences that cannot be sectioned off into mere happiness or sorrow.

Importantly, the poem does not shy away from the reality of mortality and sorrow. "Today when someone you love has died / or someone you never met has died" serves as a stark contrast to lines about birth and opening windows. This bold inclusion serves to underscore that a wedding is not just a beginning but a merging of two lives with their unique complexities and inevitable difficulties. A successful marriage, then, is one that will embrace these inescapable elements of human life.

The phrase "Today, let this light bless you" is the pivot around which the poem turns from observation to blessing, from laying out life's panorama to bestowing a wish upon the wedded couple. The light symbolizes understanding, warmth, and the illumination of shared experiences. It is not a light that eradicates darkness but one that makes it manageable, even meaningful.

The concluding lines, which speak of vows, delve into the realm of promises that are both "spoken and silent." These vows are dynamic, destined to "surprise you inside your ears" and "unfold itself inside your eyes," a beautiful metaphor for the evolution and deepening of love and commitment over time.

Lastly, the terms "fierceness and tenderness" reflect the dual nature of love, while the concept of "vastness" speaks to the limitless potential and boundless challenges that await in the realm of shared existence. The poem ends with a call for this vastness to be "undisguised in all your days," a plea for authenticity and a full embrace of life in all its complexity.

In sum, "A Blessing for a Wedding" is a profound meditation on the multifaceted nature of life and love, encapsulating not just the joyous occasion of a wedding but the entire range of human experience that a marriage will undoubtedly encounter. Hirshfield's verse is a solemn yet uplifting benediction, capturing the gravitas and jubilation inherent in committing to another person for a lifetime.


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