Sharon Olds

(November 19, 1942 / San Francisco)

The Wedding Vow - Poem by Sharon Olds

I did not stand at the altar, I stood
at the foot of the chancel steps, with my beloved,
and the minister stood on the top step
holding the open Bible. The church
was wood, painted ivory inside, no people—God's
stable perfectly cleaned. It was night,
spring—outside, a moat of mud,
and inside, from the rafters, flies
fell onto the open Bible, and the minister
tilted it and brushed them off. We stood
beside each other, crying slightly
with fear and awe. In truth, we had married
that first night, in bed, we had been
married by our bodies, but now we stood
in history—what our bodies had said,
mouth to mouth, we now said publicly,
gathered together, death. We stood
holding each other by the hand, yet I also
stood as if alone, for a moment,
just before the vow, though taken
years before, took. It was a vow
of the present and the future, and yet I felt it
to have some touch on the distant past
or the distant past on it, I felt
the silent, dry, crying ghost of my
parents' marriage there, somewhere
in the bright space—perhaps one of the
plummeting flies, bouncing slightly
as it hit forsaking all others, then was brushed
away. I felt as if I had come
to claim a promise—the sweetness I'd inferred
from their sourness; and at the same time that I had
come, congenitally unworthy, to beg.
And yet, I had been working toward this hour
all my life. And then it was time
to speak—he was offering me, no matter
what, his life. That is all I had to
do, that evening, to accept the gift
I had longed for—to say I had accepted it,
as if being asked if I breathe. Do I take?
I do. I take as he takes—we have been
practicing this. Do you bear this pleasure? I do.


Comments about The Wedding Vow by Sharon Olds

  • Adeeb Alfateh (7/20/2019 11:23:00 PM)

    the sweetness I'd inferred
    from their sourness; and at the same time that I had
    come, congenitally unworthy, to beg.
    And yet, I had been working toward this hour
    all my life. And then it was time
    to speak


    GREAT POEM
    great write
    great 10+++++++++++++++++++++++
    (Report)Reply

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  • (7/20/2019 11:20:00 AM)

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  • (7/20/2019 9:08:00 AM)

    This is a poem with a tragic context: her very personal history. To grasp some of that context read her " I Go Back To May 1937" , also on these pages, and then research what it's about, in order to be fully able to comprehend what she's referring to in The Wedding Vow. (Report)Reply

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  • Glen Kappy (7/20/2019 8:19:00 AM)

    sharon's experience was different than mine, but i appreciate her meditation, her detailed recollection, of what is such a weighty moment, a covenant moment. -glen (Report)Reply

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  • Kumarmani Mahakul (7/20/2019 4:58:00 AM)

    We stood
    beside each other, crying slightly
    with fear and awe. In truth, we had married
    that first night, in bed, we had been
    married by our bodies, but now we stood
    in history—what our bodies had said, .......outstanding conceptualization. A beautiful poem is amazingly shared. Thanks and congratulations for being selected this poem as the modern poem of the poem of the day.
    (Report)Reply

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  • (7/20/2019 2:28:00 AM)

    Beautifully penned dear Sharoncongratulations for being selected as the POD God bless (Report)Reply

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  • (7/20/2019 12:30:00 AM)

    An excellent poem worthy of a marriage. (Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi Louis (7/20/2019 12:29:00 AM)

    Married by our bodies! !


    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
    (Report)Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (10/13/2015 8:23:00 AM)

    ''.. he was offering me, no matter
    what, his life. That is all I had to
    do, that evening, to accept the gift
    I had longed for.. ''

    this is what we hope when we marry.. Then it's up to.. Life..
    A very good poem, indeed
    (Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, October 13, 2015



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