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Love and Death Radio Show: Poetry Readings for Weddings and Funerals

Updated: Jan 2

I've started a monthly radio show! Each month I will play some lovely music of different genres and read poetry and other readings around the themes of love and death. Maybe you'll be inspired by some of this poetry or even use it for a reading at your wedding or in a funeral, but ultimately, I'm interested in love and death (who isn't?) and want to share thoughts on the radio!

Love & Death with TabTay on Voices Radio Artwork

This month's show is very calm with lots of meditative music and a collection of poems inspired by that music, plus a couple of favourites. The idea is that I've been reading a lot of lovely stuff lately and it's just too good not to share! I hope that some of it resonates with you and also, sometimes it's just nice to have something calm and nourishing to listen to in the morning.

The readings I chose this month are:

For the Beauty that’s Yet to Come by Heavy Hearted

Before the sun ascends

Through the dawns first cloud

Hold on to the pastel sky

Of a late November's morning.

Let the waking world below slowly warm your spirit,

Play a song to soothe the pain and remember, but don't fear it-

All this beauty and what is to come

can only ever be made real

When shared with the the ones who really matter - who understand just what you feel.

I chose this because it's a pretty poem about the morning and since my show goes out early, I thought it would be a good one to start with. Couples who are getting married outside might like this poem, or it could be a nice opening to a morning ceremony of any kind.

When I go by Donna Ashworth

When I go don't learn to live without me

Just learn to live with my love

In a different way. 

And if you need to see me

Close your eyes 

or look in your shadow

When the sun shines

I'm there. 

Sit with me in the quiet

and you will know

that I did not leave. 

There is no leaving 

when one soul is blended 

with another. 

When I go 

don't learn to live without me

just look for me

In the moment. 

I will be there.

This is a beautiful poem about grief. One of the tracks I selected is called Suit Pour L'Invisible, so it got me thinking about how when someone dies perhaps they are not gone, but just go invisible and this poem seemed to represent that idea perfectly.

Is It For Now Or For Always by Philip Larkin

Is it for now or for always,

The world hangs on a stalk?

Is it a trick or a trysting-place,

The woods we have found to walk?

Is it a mirage or miracle,

Your lips that lift at mine:

And the suns like a juggler's juggling-balls,

Are they a sham or a sign?

Shine out, my sudden angel,

Break fear with breast and brow,

I take you now and for always,

For always is always now.

This poem creates beautiful imagery and is a metaphor for the beauty of a marriage union. Though Larkin himself may not have been as beautiful in personality, he certainly knew how to write poetry!

Wedding Bells by Nikunj Sharma

The stars shall shine little longer

tonight, little brighter as well, for they

need to match the spark of her eyes. The

flowers ' fragrance shall have to live

Longer, for the night is still young.

The Music shall have to fill the air, reach

farther, for the hearts have just begun

to move their feet. The nuptial

dance of destiny waits for the curtain

to be raised. The eyes shall have to

remain awake, for they need to witness

the genesis of a journey, that shall begin

tonight. The wedding ring finds a new

home, It shall enjoy a new freedom out

of the velvet box. The road

needs to convert itself into a runway

for the wishes shall take off and kiss

the clouds with their wings, aiming

for the horizon and nothing less. The

night sky has to create some space

for the eyes are full of stars tonight

The echo of music, shall resonate

till the doors of the dreams open

and welcome the couple in their home.

Two of the tracks I selected and plaed back to back (Maye by Anja Lauvdal and Freedom on the 45th Floor by Pauline Anna Strom) reminded me of the traditional church bell ring after a wedding - that kind of falling of jubilant bells. So I found this lovely poem called Wedding Bells written by Nikunj Sharma for a friend who just got married. It's full of heartfelt wishes for a newly wed couple.

Rock by Tari Mtetwa

I embrace rock

tightly sink

into the grace

of my breast’s softness

I overflow its silence

like a stream’s mellow flow

over stubborn boulders

my fleshly passions flood

its unyielding stillness

till my arms’ caress

sculpt it into form

persuades it into feeling

and in the perpetuity

of its solidity

and stoniness of its granite

unchanged by time

the self I’m losing etches deeply

a forever image

cast in rock

I think my favourite track on the show is Stratum by Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima, Satsuki Shibano because it is just so joyful and gentle at the same time. I think this poem, using the metaphor of a rock could be used at a wedding or funeral ceremony because really its about staying power. I matched it with this track because rocks have strata... tenuous I know, but it's such a good poem!

I Would Live In Your Love by Sara Teasdale

I would live in your love as the sea-grasses live in the sea,

Borne up by each wave as it passes,

drawn down by each wave that recedes;

I would empty my soul as the dreams

that have gathered in me,

I would beat with your heart as it beats,

I would follow your soul as it leads.

I matched this poem with a song called A Sea of Love by Huerco S. and I think it's pretty clear why! It's a lovely short poem that would definitely bring a tear to your eye at a wedding ceremony.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 3

Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest

Now is the time that face should form another;

Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,

Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.

For where is she so fair whose uneared womb

Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?

Or who is he so fond will be the tomb

Of his self-love, to stop posterity?

Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee

Calls back the lovely April of her prime;

So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,

Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

But if thou live, remembered not to be,

Die single and thine image dies with thee.

Can't get away with reading good poetry without a bit of Shakespeare! This one is actually not that romantic and is more about the duty of a man to be married and procreate. Shakespeare is looking at his reflection and telling him what to do with his life! Although it's a bit old fashioned, I actually just really like this poem because it's less obvious and speaks to the duty of love.

Litany by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine.

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker,

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the house of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,

but you are not even close

to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,

the evening paper blowing down an alley

and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman's tea cup.

But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife.

You will always be the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

Finally, this is my favourite poem in this selection because it's funny and sweet and romantic, whilst also being a bit of a parody! Billy Collins is a bit of a genius and any wedding ceremony would be improved with the addition of this poem, I think anyway.

The show will go out at 7am-9am live on Voices Radio every second Tuesday of the month and you can listen back on Mixcloud after.


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