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May 14 2013

Someone Kiss The Bride For Me!

So I just got back (never announce your departures–it’s like leaving a “rob my house” sign on your door) from many days of driving, smiling, lifting, hauling, driving, shivering, waiting, driving, greeting, hugging, driving, and driving. With very little chance to check email (students who did not come to class for the last half of the semester are now wondering what they can do to make up for it), let alone check comments here. But now that I have, I am glad I did. Any less-happy weekend, and the comment on this post would have been in the position of making up for the whole weekend. And it likely would have. But this was a great weekend, so the comment was only like the third or fourth most happy-making thing.

The comment notes that

My sister asked our niece to read this at her wedding today. It was paired with “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Lear (read by the bride’s mother).

Thank you for this wonderful poem!

I have no idea where this wedding was, nor who the bride and groom were, but if any of you know, congratulate them for me and (only with consent) kiss the bride for me. She clearly has spectacular taste in poetry (Lear, I mean–plus, she chose mine!)

So, for those of you who didn’t click through, It was the Evolutionary Biology Valentine’s Day Poem (one of the few of my own poems I know by heart and can and will recite):

In sociobiology,
Why I love you and you love me—
Which anyone can plainly see—
Is mostly in our genes.
No, not the ones you buy in stores,
But what a scientist explores–
I like the way you look in yours,
And you know what that means.

What subtly-coded stimulus
Takes you and me, and makes us “us
And makes us feel ‘twas ever thus?
The list of suspects narrows.
No longer are we all a-shiver
From some Cupid with a quiver
Out of which he might deliver
Fusillades of Eros.

Nor Dopamine, nor Serotonin
Tell us why our hearts are moanin’
Though they serve to help us hone in
On–not why, but how;
The parasympathetic blush,
Adrenaline to bring a rush,
Are how, not why, I’ve got a crush
On you, my darling, now.

But if old Charles Darwin’s right,
The reason that the merest sight
Of you will always give delight
Is…reproductive fitness.
Throughout our species’ family tree,
Producing proper progeny
Is what determined you and me
And Darwin was the witness.

Is thinking that you’re oh so sweet
And how you’ll make my life complete
Some trick to make our gametes meet?
It seems it may be so.
I feel the way I feel today
Because some bit of DNA
Sees your genetics on display
And wants to say “hello.”

But think of this, for what it’s worth:
Millennia before my birth
That DNA had roamed the earth,
In residents thereof;
The neat thing is, it’s really true,
The feeling that I have for you
Although, of course, it feels brand-new
Is truly ageless love.

Congratulations!

7 comments

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  1. 1
    rq

    That is awesome! Congratulations to the happy couple (hopefully), and congratulations to the Cuttlefish for making the final selections! :)

  2. 2
    David Hart

    Though they serve to help us hone in

    Can I be a terrible pedant? I’m pretty sure it should be ‘home in’. To ‘hone’ means to sharpen (a blade or, metaphorically, a talent or skill) but does not mean to move precisely towards a location.

    [/pedantry]

  3. 3
    Cuttlefish

    You have to out-pedant me, first. Fully aware of the “hone-home” wars, I thoroughly checked (since “home in” would have been a poor rhyme); “hone in” is acceptable in both American and British English, has been used for nearly half a century, combining the “zeroing in” of “home in” with the sharp edge of “hone” to imply a more precise targeting than “home in”. Which, oddly enough, is exactly the intended use in this case.

    It does fascinate me that the hone-home wars exist. Language is fluid; a word that embiggens our language may be perfectly cromulent, after all. Complaints that “everybody uses that word incorrectly” are the flip side of Yogi Berra’s “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded”.

    And this is from one who plans to be the last one standing in the who-whom war, and who still corrects students who use “data” as a singular noun (even the APA is caving on that one). “Hone in” is, I believe, a legitimate term in its own right, not merely a mistaken variant of “home in”. I am hopeful that my verse might find its way into the debate as an example of when it is properly used.

  4. 4
    Synfandel

    ‘Hone in’ is an example of what I deplore about ‘fluid’ language. Yes, language evolves, but it should evolve because we need new words and usages to express ideas that don’t already have perfectly good ones and because we’re clever enough to coin them as required. New words—or more often new meanings of old words—that appear because of users’ ignorance and which thrive because of the pervasive ignorance of the general populace are signs of language decay, not of language evolution.

    I have worked in software development for a quarter century now. This year, I finally, reluctantly, relented and started using “data” as a singular noun, because ignorance of its proper usage is now so ubiquitous that treating it as a plural causes more confusion than it avoids.

    And get off my lawn.

  5. 5
    Callinectes

    When my mum got re-married, she had my brother and soon-to-be step-brother do readings at the ceremony. But I? I was asked to write a poem for the occasion. This seemed like an unfair distribution of workload and I had no idea what to write about, given the usual subject matter for such an occasion is utterly outside of my experience.

    I managed to knock one out in a couple of hours the preceding week, and even build a prop out of toilet paper the night before (it was necessary for the punchline). The subject? Writer’s block, procrastination, poetry writing and an eleventh-hour scribbling in the venue’s toilets. It was a roaring success, and I performed pretty well, even if I was shaking too hard to read my writing.

    Wait long enough, I find, and inspiration will come. In one form or another.

  6. 6
    rikitiki

    Though a different type of relationship poem, you might like this:

    Till Death?

    Why does the fragile dragonfly
    Attain concupiscence in air,
    Sustaining rapid, forward flight
    While mating there?
    What impulse makes a widower’s fate
    To walk: four, seven, two, eight, five,
    Into the parlour where his mate
    Eats him alive?
    What of the mantis with no fear
    Of his fell mistress’s artifice,
    Religiously she draws him near
    To sacrifice?
    And was it nature that decreed
    That path be followed with no clue,
    What masochistic, primal need
    Led me to you?

  7. 7
    Joan

    First of all, I love the poem, and intend to use it on our 45th anniversary. Next, in reading comments I became intrigued at the discussion on ‘fluid’ language, which gave me a chance to grouse in verse form.

    BTW. I had a devil of a time finding the comments section which I eventually found through “recent posts”. Is this new, or did my browser, (or more likely, haste and old age) mess me up again?

    War on Word

    Long ago ‘tween you and me
    The argument then seemed to be
    Whether “affect” or “effect”
    Was proper usage. Now, by heck,
    I look with fondness on that time.
    In retrospect it seems sublime
    Compared to that which takes its place
    Both on the air and printed space.
    “Impacted?” Surely it’s a spoof.
    This word concerns a crowded tooth
    Or objects crushed together tight
    But now the word has taken flight.
    “Affected” hasn’t the impact.
    “Impacted” is the nouveau tact.
    No one’s affected by event
    Of storm or war or ill wind sent.
    They’re all impacted. I gave up
    My futile war against this pup.
    But just when I was quite resigned
    To swallow all this bilge I find
    New courage. It is quite a mouthful
    To say that something is “impactful.”

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