Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sweet Nothings

My favorite wedding moments are the badeken and the chuppah. While it should be that "seen one, seen them all," I find most touching and inspirational. 

When the groom enters the room, seeing his beloved enframed in blinding white, her eyes fixated only on him, despite his hearty escort of his nearest and dearest. Her father blesses her; his father blesses her; in some happy cases grandfathers will be present for that touching ceremony as well. 

The chosson then leans in, perhaps clasping a single bloom that clashes with the multiplicity of flowers that already drape the room, and whispers a few romantic words in her ear. 

At this wedding, I saw her mouth, "I love you so much," and his identical response. 

Underneath the chuppah, the two gazed adoringly into each others' faces. And yes, they intermittently repeated the same refrain: "I love you. So much." "Love you." "I love you." And that's with my non-existent skills as a lip-reader. 

It didn't take long before I began to squirm. Is there no other poetic way to profess thy severity of feeling? With the length and breadth of the English language before you, that's all you got? 

Consider the hysterical scene in Singin' in the Rain, when the maiden attempt at a talkie implodes because, among other things, Gene Kelly messes with the script, opting instead for "IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyou."

At the 2:32 mark. 
If contemplative silence is not your thing, make sure to be armed with a plethora of well-established verse or prose so there isn't another awkward Dueling Cavalier situation. 

Such as Shakespeare's 18th Sonnet: 
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
     So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 
Or just stick to the last two lines. Very swoon-able. 

How about Shir HaShirim? That stuff is awesome. 
Groom to bride: Thou hast ravished my heart, my bride; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one bead of thy necklace. (4:9)

Bride to groom: Until the day breathe, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a gazelle or a young hart upon the mountains of spices. (2:17)

(Don't quote Shir HaShirim willy-nilly, since many of the praises are a little off by our modern frame of reference, like comparing her hair to goats'. But it must have been the equivalent of Hallmark back then.)

Or even song lyrics. 

You're my only sunshine


I believe in love, you’re my reason to be 
        — Matisyahu 

To all the love-sick swains out there, there's always copyright infringement. Please.


iRiR said...

Why are the bride and groom telling each other such stuff by the chuppah? I think the meaning becomes very watered-down when you say these things to your spouse when everyone around you can hear/see. That's why we have a yichud room.

Anonymous said...

my husband just told me something silly at the badeken- to make me laugh. "I love you" should be private.

Mr. Cohen said...

Most people can't match Shakespeare for eloquence; that is why he is unique.

Our great Rabbis had extremely harsh words for people who say that Shir HaShirim is an ordinary love song.

Sporadic Intelligence said...

My husband, not gonna tell you, is private. :)

But PL, you should read e e cumming's "i carry your heart with me". That's my all-time favorite love poem. Even got it memorized.

Maya Resnikoff said...

Those are the moments I love about a wedding too. The badeken was probably the most emotionally intense moment of my own wedding. There were lots of quiet words, but what passed between my husband and I was wordless- it was the blessings of our parents that brought us to tears. Go figure. We went with emotive silence under the chuppah.

wellspring said...

Hah. My husband quoted a line from a Rilke's poem I gave him. I am glad to say this line didn't reference 'love' in any way.

Shir Hashirim is NOT a good idea, unless you have a real understanding of it, and enough judgment to decide whether something is beautifully biblical or, frankly, just sacrilegious.

FrumGeek said...

Not all guys, especially those of us who've gone through the yeshiva system, are such eloquent speakers. Words are meaningless anyhow. It's actions that prove love.

Yitzhak said...

Some favorites, from R. Yehudah Ha'Levi:

יפת מראה וקולך ערב

בך אראה יפי מתערב

מוצאי בקר וערב

על-לחיך ושער ראשך אברך יוצר אור ובורא חשך


דדיה ללבי שסו,

ויעשו בי וינסו

להטיהם אשר לא יעשו

כן חרטומי מצרים.

הוד אבן יקרה הבן:

איך תאדם ואיך תלבן!-

ותמה בחזות על-אבן

אחת שבעה עינים.


לחי שושן ועיני קוטפים-

שדי רמון וידי אוספים-

אם שפתותיך רצפים-

מלקוחי מלקחים.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Shakespeare choice. That sonnet was very likely about himself or his writings. More narcissistic than romantic.

Princess Lea said...

iRiR: I certainly agree. Public displays of affection, whether physical or spoken, is meant for only the two.

Anon: I am all for jokes under the chuppah! My brother and his wife didn't stop cracking wise.

Mr. C: Did I say it was ordinary? I just said feel free to rip off some of its more eloquent lines.

SI: Oh, wow, that is a kick in a gut. Tree of life? How lovely!

MR: A fellow devotee!

WS: Just throwing a few ideas.

FG: I happen to hate sweet nothings. I prefer actions myself. A suggestion to all wordy couples . . .

Yitzhak: The poets of the Spanish Golden Age were fabbo. But my Hebrew is so pathetically bad I am going to have to scrounge up an online translation.

Single on the Scene said...

seriously?! a chosson said it to his kallah and you were able to read his lips?!?! either that means ur really good at lipreading, or odds are-that others at the wedding witnessed the same thing. I seem perplexed, like I sorta wanted to know what the guy always mumbled at that point, but always assumed it was a small wisecrack or a 'you look gorgeous', or 'don't trip on the way to the chuppah'. I think saying it there and then cheapened it (if everyone was able to hear). Wonder what it sounded/looked like on the wedding video....

Anonymous said...

You're right; that is sickitating. Seriously, "I love you"s under the chuppa? Guys, get a life.

Under the chuppa, you daven. Yeah, that's what that time is for. Davening, and listening to what is going on, and being said - because no one is there just for kicks, and no part of what happens under the chuppa is done just for kicks. The chatan and kalla need to be listening, and/or davening (each at the appropriate moments, don't daven during birchat ha'erusin).

And yes, I did say something to my husband during the badeken: He was bawling his eyes out, so I told him to calm down, and that everything would be okay. He said, "I know", or some such thing, and nodded. Does that pass?

Princess Lea said...

SS: Everyone in the room saw. It was really embarrassing.

LD: I concur.

Ah, a man in touch with his emotions.