Marriage: The Commonwealth of Joy – Thoughts from My Father-of-the-Groom Speech a la Wendell Berry #Poetry #Berry #Joy #Marriage

Photo by Jeremy Wong on

We have returned, having shrunk and grown, having lost and gained, having witnessed death and birth. In my father-of-the-groom speech, I ruminated on each of these thoughts as we celebrated the union of my son and his bride. The day was perfect, despite the downpour just before the ceremony and humidity that followed. I closed my speech with these words from Wendell Berry’s perfect poem The Country of Marriage, a fitting welcome “into the commonwealth of [marriage’s] joy.” You MUST read the entire poem to fully appreciate Berry’s genius (follow the hyperlinked title below). If you do, please let me know your thoughts in the comments OR suggest other great marriage poems. I wavered between this poem and one by J. R. R. Tolkien and another by Mary Oliver (I’ll save those for another post).

from The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry


What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.

August 5, 1934 / Henry County, Kentucky

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s