It was a more than decent weekend for wedding reads, even beyond the Chelsea Clinton and Lisa Simpson news. The Post wrote about a wedding proposal involving a dog in a musical Santa costume. Googling for future blogging turned up the Scrabble proposal NPR’s Melissa Block received. Best of the bunch, a Post wedding story ended in the bride and groom’s friends reading from Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road.”
I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
I’d never read the poem before.
Good thing my beloved Poetry Foundation had the full text. I read the work aloud to myself — more like whispered because a louder reading would have slowed me and I wanted to consume it quickly, for myself and for Whitman, whom one can’t imagine in his lists and exclamations recited slowly. I had a suspicion the wedding passage was the poem’s conclusion, and it was. But my suspicion and minimal surprise at such were rooted in similar reasons, so I wasn’t disappointed. On the open road, as so often in Whitman as he’s always on an open road of some kind, the journey is more important. Let’s see that case at a wedding.
No, really, let’s see it. Read us the hard road, prime us for celebration. There are more difficult, unread sections in the poem, parts where you have to keep moving and not let the world’s demands get hold of you.
Bring it. Early in the poem, the start of the second section:
You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are
not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.