Describing love is hard. Describing the love you and your partner share in front of a congregation of family and friends? That’s hard enough to render any author speechless—even UVA creative writing professor and distinguished poet Lisa Russ Spaar.
When couples ask Spaar for recommendations, her go-to, she says, is poetry. “Everything looks like a love poem, depending on how you read it,” she says.
Spaar’s daughter, Suzannah, will be married this November, and while Spaar hasn’t yet been asked to pen a poem for her daughter’s wedding, there are a few moving pieces on her list of recommendations.
Song of Songs 2:10-12, King James version of the Bible
“My beloved spoke, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away […].
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”
Passage from Letters to a Young Poet
by Rainer Maria Rilke
“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”
by Elizabeth Bishop, lines 13-18
“The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon? —
Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.”
“Blessing the Boats (at St. Mary’s)”
by Lucille Clifton, lines 1-9
“may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back”