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Silver Wedding

Vernon Scannell

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Added by: Andrew Mayers
The poem should read:
The party is over and I sit among
The flotsam that its passing leaves,
The dirty glasses and fag-ends:
Outside, a black wind grieves.

Two decades and a half of marriage;
It does not really seem as long,
And yet I find I have scant knowledge
Of youth's ebullient song.

David, my son, my loved rival,
And Julia, my tapering daughter,
Now grant me one achievement only:
I turn their wine to water.

And Helen, partner of all these years,
Helen my spouse, my sack of sighs,
Reproaches me for every hurt
With injured bovine eyes.

There must have been passion once, I grant,
But neither she nor I could bear
To have its ghost come prowling from
Its dark and frowsy lair.

And we, to keep our nuptials warm,
Still wage sporadic, fireside war;
Numb with insult each yet strives
To scratch the other raw.

Twenty-five years we've now survived;
I'm not sure either why or how
As I sit with a wreath of quarrels set
On my tired and balding brow.
A quarter of a century
Added by: Andrew Mayers
The humour of this poem prevents me from seeing it as a self-pitying and miserable set of reflections (although I have no problem with poetry that is miserable, given that much of life is). I love the description of his wife – his ‘sack of sighs’ and his recognition that his children believe the only miracles he can perform in their eyes is to ‘turn their wine to water.’ Instead of the victor’s wreath of laurels, the speaker has to make do with his more mundane and usual ‘wreath of quarrels’. He often reminds me of Larkin.
Added by: anonymous
Oh dear grim humour maybe but reckon that separation would be better by far than such a raw crown of thorns

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