The silver moon is in the sky,
The stars their silver light are shedding,
Where silver meadows silent lie,
That silver feet are softly treading.
A silver bridge the water spans,
Where silver fountains pure are flowing,
And fairy boats o'er silver sands
With silver oars are lightly rowing.
And silver voices, sweet and clear,
In silver tones are gayly singing;
While merry guests, afar and near,
Their costly silver gifts are bringing.
With empty hands but swelling heart,
A wreath of silver thoughts entwining,
I bring a gift of lowly art,
From my poetic silver mining.
In merry England's days of old,
When maids were fair and knights were bold,
A crusty old bachelor sat, one day,
Grumbling alone, and was heard to say
That never yet was there known a fight
By lord or vassal, yeoman or knight,
On any occasion, wrong or right,
But a woman was in the rout.
A gallant wit at once replied,
" The statement need not be denied ;
Nothing else is worth fighting about."
And now, in our degenerate time,
When lovers' battles are fought in rhyme,
When the iron armor worn of yore
Gives place to a baby's pinafore,
When the flashing sword that cut to the quick
Is changed for a dandy's walking-stick,
And chivalry stern, which wielded the lance,
Is dwindled down to such fine romance,
That every girl who is courted at all
Is courted under a " waterfall,"
While nameless animals build their lair
Within the folds of her shining hair;—
And heroes brave and stalwart men,
Who once were knighted the sons of Mars,
Are now but knights of Apollo's pen,
Who idle gaze at falling stars,
And vainly seek, with feeble will,
To rule the world with a gray goose quill.
E'en now that the sword is changed for the pen,
We hear it said by sensible men,
Not that woman, as maiden or wife,
Is the innocent cause of every strife,
But that woman is still the poet's dream,
And marriage is still the author's theme,
And whoever thinks to write a book,
On which the public will deign to look,—
A book to be anything but a miscarriage,—
Begins it with love and ends it with marriage ;
For not only youth and beauty incline
To worship together at Cupid's shrine,
But men and matrons are heard to sing
The praise of the matrimonial ring ;
And those who, seeking hymeneal bowers,
Are married at twenty with music and flowers,
Pleased with their chains, if both are alive,
Are married with SILVER at forty-five.
And so, it happens, to-night we are threading
The winding maze of a Silver Wedding.
But turn, my muse, and lift the veil
Where secrets of the past were said ;
Move backward on the track of time
Where five-and-twenty years have sped,
And bring a glimpse of life's fair morn
Of which this festive eve is born.
On TRURO'S shore, whose silver sand
Rolls back Atlantic's restless tide,
A boy and girl walk hand in hand,
A youth and maid sit side by side.
As fragrance of the dewy morn,
Or flowers blooming at their feet,
The joys that in their hearts are born
Of their communion low and sweet.
Life's hopes are budding in their path ;
Life's star is rising in their sky ;
Fair promise all their future hath,—
One love, one home, one destiny.
A sacred service makes them one,
And life's long marriage is begun.
Methinks I see them as they stand
Before the altar, hand in hand,—
A manly youth with forehead high,
Of noble form and eagle eye ;
A blushing maiden young and fair,
Sweet orange blossoms in her hair.
Kind friends, no favor is denied;
I give you leave to kiss the bride.
The muse must now venture a secret to tell,—
'Twas everywhere whispered this pair married well ;
For whatever joys he could wish for in life,
He found ready made at the hands of his wife ;
And she, it is said, was more envied than he,
As happy as fortunate woman could be ;
For hers was the one prize so eagerly sought
By managing dames at a summer resort,
And one that the stoniest heart can bewitch ;
You've guessed her good fortune,—she married RICH.
But not these scenes alone our thought shall claim ;
For downward in the course of passing years,
Through scenes too sweet to last, too dear to name,
A richer field of riper joys appears,—
Joys of which no school-boy ever dreamed,
Which no maiden's fancy ever brought to view,
Better than to our youthful hopes they seemed,
Holier far and of a deeper hue ;
For joy grows sweeter amid falling tears,
And love grows stronger as 'tis tried by pain ;
And hope is brighter when 'tis set in fears,
And life is dearer when it seems to wane.
And from the anxious fears and toil and strife,
And all the changing scenes of middle life,—
From earnest efforts that success has crowned ;
From sympathy in disappointment found ;
From hopes that in the tiny cradle lie ;
From joys that by the silent grave do die ;
There comes a deeper love, uniting heart to heart,
That neither good nor ill, nor life nor death can part.
Such, my dear friends, is the union you have known,
Through all the changing scenes of five-and-twenty years,
Such may it be when as many more have flown,
Rich with still brighter joys and dimmed with fewer tears.
And when, if life be spared while these years shall pass away,
You shall clasp your hands again on your Golden Wedding day,
May it be with filial trust in Him who rules on high,
That life shall ever live, and that love can never die.
- A Poem read at the Silver Wedding of Matthias Rich and Sarah A Knowles Rich, Nov. 19th 1866, by Rev. RA Ballou, Boston, Innes & Niles, 1867 (Internet Archive ID poemreadatsilver00bostiala).
Clare is the best thing in my life, and has furthermore been central to making me the person able to achieve the many almost-best things in my life.
We're just celebrating with a meal, and maybe going out for the day later in the week. But clearly this is doing it all wrong, in comparison with the celebrations that are findable in the Internet Archive, which involved commisioned poems, self-published pamphlets with biographical accounts, and so on. A surprising number of works are inspired by the theme, too. A few of interest:
- An account of the silver wedding of Mr. and Mrs. F. P. Draper, at Westford, N.Y. (1871)
- Silver Wedding of John B. and Mary E. Gough: Hillside, November 24, 1868
- Their Silver Wedding Journey, William Dean Howells.
- Aunt Amity's silver wedding, and other stories (Ruth McEnery Stuart, 1909)