Sunday, May 22, 2011

Orkney Wedding, but First a History of the World

Entry for 14 May 2010

For Louisa and Steve

1. A Brief History of the World as a Search for the Master Motive

Jesus, Plato, Augustine, Bowlby,
And latterly, Lennon all proclaimed,
Love is the force that rules the world.
Freud, at first, reframed this as Sex,
But later, depressed and dying of cancer,
Joined medieval painters of murals,
And early Bergman in the Dance of Death.

In the face of this, the Buddha said,
All is suffering and sought release,
While Greenberg grasped for emotion regulation,
And Nietzsche, Adler, Machiavelli willed
A pecking order of Power and Self.

Others followed: We competed
For Money, and Market; we told ourselves
Everything is Story and Language;
The fruit of the One Tree is bits and bytes,
Knowledge, Reason; Information and Code:
Binary, decimal, genetic, semantic.

Thus we architected the great Archetypes
Of human thought, type-cast ourselves
And others, as players in a theatre of the mind.

Louisa and Steve, what say you to this?
On which of these is your marriage based?

2. Orkney Wedding Journey

Maes Howe, sunrise, the first of May:
Entrance in shadow, cross-quarter day,
Family and friends gather around.
Bending low, you enter the narrow way,
Bury yourselves under the mound.

In central chamber, you strike flint:
Light the flame, reflections glint,
Shadows wave from rooms either side.
Together, you say the old, old words,
Greet old ghosts, barely heard,
People loved and gone before.
Prepare to leave your old life behind!

* * *

Quarter of an hour, which seems a century,
Then we see you emerge, reborn from the cairn,
Hoist you on litters, monarchs of the May,
And carry you on to Ring of Brodgar.

There you lead us, dancing from stone
To standing stone, and weaving between.
Glancing over shoulder we see all around
The ancestors dancing, circling, tall
In our long early morning shadows.

Three times we dance around the Ring:
Once for Death, all of us sing;
Twice for Rebirth, returning again,
And thrice for your Joining, birds on the wing.

* * *

It’s a long journey then, to the Brough of Birsay,
In the far northwest, hours away.
But the tide is out when we arrive,
The two of you lead us by the narrow way:
We carefully walk, rock to rock,
And safely cross to the sacred isle.

There at the foot of the windswept hill,
We gather together by the ancient shrine.
In the afternoon sun, the oldest of all,
The old Father Druid recites the lines
Of Life and Death, Leaving and Joining.

Then hand in hand, Louisa and Steve,
You walk the steep path, ascend the hill,
Silhouetted by sun, blown by wind.

We don’t know yet what adventures wait,
Deepening love, family and friends,
Travel and work, beginnings and ends.

But we do know this: From the top of that place,
High cliffs above the crashing waves,
There you can see… Eternity.

-Robert Elliott, 14 May 2011

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