No Marriage Is an Island unto Itself

(After John Donne, Meditation 17)

Music: Planxty Eleanor Plunkett.
By Turlough O'Carolan.
Sequenced by Barry Taylor at Kunst der Fuge.


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No marriage is an island unto itself.
It is a piece of a mainland – of a family, of friends, of a community, of history.

Couples tend their gardens, but the water of life comes from elsewhere.
However great their efforts and their love, they cannot thrive alone.

Of each person, the boundaries are uncertain.
Lines are drawn on surfaces, but underneath roots tunnel where they will.
A marriage is but the most intimate intertwining.
So many others – even strangers – burrow into us for sustenance, or give us, unknowing, their nutrients underground.

A great love does not shine on only one small patch of ground,
Nor does love between husband and wife light only the space between the walls of their marriage.
Do not doubt that love felt in the privacy of one's heart will someday lend a bit of beauty to someone else's night.

Early in the history of Earth, the air was poisonous, and the land was sand and naked stone.
Later, living things sweetened the air and clothed the land and made it fertile.
Love also must be replenished daily, like soil, like air.
Each bit of love we feel helps all of us to breathe, enables all of us to grow.
No more than one tree can survive alone in a desert, can one marriage survive without a landscape of love.

Copyright by Nicholas Gordon





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