Category Archives: Astronomy

Three Poems About Marriage

The following poem beautifully and, kind of darkly, describes the duress that marriage presents to two people who have opted to engage in the process of becoming, “one flesh.”  I like to think, facetiously, that marriage was invented by the gods just to torment mankind, forcing two diametrically opposed forces to live together under the same roof.  Traditional life has controlled the tension of this union of opposites by implementing overt power, defining the term “marriage” as a relationship in which the female would be subservient to the male.  Technically this subservience went to the extent that it deprived women of a subjective experience, that their desire should only be to please their husband. But women usually managed to get their pound of flesh in the relationship which Alfred Hitchcock beautifully and darkly portrayed in his movie “Frenzy.”  In this movie a psychopathic killer was on a rampage of grisly murder of young women and the stiff and proper police inspector was obsessed with stopping the rampage.  After a hard day at the office and on the streets looking for the killer, the poor police inspector would retire to the comfort of his home where his would wife would have dinner waiting.  However, as she dutifully and daintily presented an ornate and formal dinner, he would grimace as she had prepared food that he didn’t like or was given to him in minuscule portions.  In one scene, when she stepped back into the kitchen he hurriedly poured his soup out.  But all the while as he was tortured through these scenes, she would be so delightful, loving, and gracious and he would respond in kind.

Here is a narrative poem by poet Anne Carson in the most recent edition of The New Yorker Magazine.  It is quite witty and pointed:

We really want them to like us. We want it to go well. We overdress. They are narrow people, art people, offhand, linens. It is early summer, first hot weekend. We meet on the street, jumble about with kisses and are we late? They had been late, we’d half-decided to leave, now oh well. That place across the street, ever tried it? Think we went there once, looks closed, says open, well. People coming out. O.K. Inside is dark, cool, oaken. Turns out they know the owner. He beams, ushers, we sit. And realize at once two things, first, the noise is unbearable, two, neither of us knows the other well enough to say bag it. Our hearts crumble. We order food by pointing and break into two yell factions, one each side of the table. He and she both look exhausted, from (I suppose) doing art all day and then the new baby. We eat intently, as if eating were conversation. We keep passing the bread. My fish comes unboned, I weep pretending allergies. Finally someone pays the bill and we escape to the street. For some reason I was expecting snow outside. There is none. We decide not to go for ice cream and part, a little more broken. Saturday night as an adult, so this is it. We thought we’d be Nick and Nora, not their blurred friends in greatcoats. We cover our ears inside our souls. But you can’t stop it that way.  

And here Wendell Berry offers my favorite poem on marriage, vividly stresses and strains of two different forces of energy living in the constraint of committed relationship:

How hard it is for me, who live
in the excitement of women
and have the desire for them
in my mouth like salt. Yet
you have taken me and quieted me.
You have been such light to me
that other women have been
your shadows. You come near me
with the nearness of sleep.
And yet I am not quiet.
It is to be broken. It is to be
torn open. It is not to be
reached and come to rest in
ever. I turn against you,
I break from you, I turn to you.
We hurt, and are hurt,
and have each other for healing.
It is healing. It is never whole.

And here is W. H. Auden with a witty, facetious and playfully grim description of marriage.

If all a top physicist knows
About the Truth be true,
Then, for all the so-and-so’s,
Futility and grime,
Our common world contains,
We have a better time
Than the Greater Nebulae do,
Or the atoms in our brains.

Marriage is rarely bliss
But, surely it would be worse
As particles to pelt
At thousands of miles per sec
About a universe
Wherein a lover’s kiss
Would either not be felt
Or break the loved one’s neck.

Though the face at which I stare
While shaving it be cruel
For, year after year, it repels
An ageing suitor, it has,
Thank God, sufficient mass
To be altogether there,
Not an indeterminate gruel
Which is partly somewhere else.

Our eyes prefer to suppose
That a habitable place
Has a geocentric view,
That architects enclose
A quiet Euclidian space:
Exploded myths – but who
Could feel at home astraddle
An ever expanding saddle?

This passion of our kind
For the process of finding out
Is a fact one can hardly doubt,
But I would rejoice in it more
If I knew more clearly what
We wanted the knowledge for,
Felt certain still that the mind
Is free to know or not.

It has chosen once, it seems,
And whether our concern
For magnitude’s extremes
Really become a creature
Who comes in a median size,
Or politicizing Nature
Be altogether wise,
Is something we shall learn.


Two other blogs of mine are listed here which I invited you to check out:


The End of Time & “The Blood Red Moon”

A blood-red moon is coming up shortly and the hyper conservative Christians are again being whipped into a frenzy by the likes of televangelist John Hagee who feverishly proclaim that this is a sure sign that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent.  Now growing up in a fundamentalist Baptist church, I’ve lived through six decades of this fear-mongering and remember so clearly how effective it was with me.  But what I haven’t admitted before is that I had mixed emotions—I was supposed to be excited that Jesus was finally coming back but I secretly wanted to live longer…and to get to have sex!  I got the impression there would not be any of those shenanigans in heaven!  (See John Hagee in a 10 minute spiel:

Part of me wants to snicker at this lunacy but mostly I’m just so sad, knowing that worldwide thousands of young people are being bludgeoned into Christianity…or other conservative faiths…because of fear-mongering of this sorts.  A good dose of fear every now and then will always “rally the troops” and intensify the loyalty to the church or group. However, I remember clearly that Jesus taught that “perfect love casteth out fear” so that convinces me He would not feel he needs to rely on fear mongering to coerce people…especially little children…into the fold.

The real issue is the fear of death which I have used my Christian faith to avoid most of my life.  My faith was only a denial system, designed to stem the tide from the steady torrent of fear, shame, and humiliation that lurked beneath the surface of my life.  But now my faith is getting me beyond my immaturity and allowing me to be more accepting of things like “death.”  Certainly, there are remnants of fear remaining; for my love has yet to find “perfection.”!  But the focus of my spiritual energy is on the remaining 5-6 decades of my life and living authentically in each one of these days, no longer haunted by the past or escaping into a fantasy future.  (Actually, I’m only kidding!  I do not expect, nor do I desire, to live that old!)

Life and death are inextricably intermingled.  Those who fear death inevitably are also fearful of life and its uncertainty.  I think Jesus knew that and offered us to invest in another dimension of life…the Spiritual…but we immediately took this notion and made it concrete so that we could worship the idea and escape the experience.