Today’s Oulipost prompt: An Oulipian epithalamium, or marriage song, is one composed exclusively with the letters of the names of bride and groom (bride and bride, groom and groom, etc). Visit the engagement or wedding announcements section of your newspaper and select a couple. Write a poem using only words that can be made with the letters in their name. You may choose to use first names only if you prefer anonymity or full names if you’re desperate for more letters.

Sounded simple enough. I’ve written one before. Well, almost. I wrote a reverse epithalamium, a non-epithalamium about a wedding that did not take place.  The first difficulty was that there is no longer a section for these announcements in the paper. Going to the link showed me announcements for weddings that happened in 2004-2005!

So, I stole a trick out of a fellow Ouliposter’s bag, thanks Amanda Earl!  I used my own name and the name of my second husband. That gave me a good selection of letters, all but D, F, M, Q, U, V, X, Y, Z.  Amazing though the number of good solid words that ruled out, with no D, no F and no M.  Even a Y would have come in handy at one point.

The second difficulty was that even though I had a fair number of words to choose from, there was a high count for repetitions.  The first article gave me 378 words according to Word but SortMyLIst said there was 47.  (Didn’t check the second article.)

I won’t bore you with the lists themselves, but here is my epithalamium, the bride’s words to the groom. The names I used?  Carol Anne Swaebe Stephen and John Attila Galko.  It was sad to write as John died 10 years ago, but good memories even so.

As We Begin Again

Bridal bouquet

Bridal bouquet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This is the best thing, where
two can be one, the past
opening to the heart,
to tears,
to new secrets,
to start in one last season.
To know when to
take this step.

We were.
We are.
We will be
two as one,
the heart wearing no holes,
It is all the breath
that knows no longer night.
–CAS April 13, 2014


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    • Thanks, Sonja. As I read your comments and re-read my piece, I realize it was really meant as a tribute to my late husband, who was already 43 when I met him.

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