An Epithalamium: Twenty-Five Years Later by Our Son, John Michael

An epithalamium (other spellings include the title that John Donne used in his famous poem) is a nuptial poem. Sometimes, in Roman days, a choir of all-girls might have sung it to the wedding party. Over the years many of the great poets have contributed their versions of this poetic form. I particularly like Donne’s moving “Epithalamion, or Marriage Song on the Lady Elizabeth and Count Palatine being Married on St. Valentine’s Day.” Listen, yes listen, to the words as you read John Donne’s opening lines:

“Hail Bishop Valentine, whose day this is; 
all the air is thy diocese, 
and all the chirping choristers 
and other birds are thy parishioners; 
thou marriest every year 
the lyric lark, and the grave whispering dove, 
the sparrow that neglects his life for love”

While I appreciate Donne’s mastery, I prefer Milton: John Milton. No, not that John Milton! Our John Milton: John Michael Ellis Milton! Our son gave us an epithalamium of sorts, twenty-five years later, on this our Twenty Fifth Wedding Anniversary—June 8, 2010. Without further adieu, here is the wonderful poem that our son gave to us as his gift:

On this very special day
There is something I should say
To each and every one of you
Yes, I know there are only two
Firstly, Mom, my matriarch
The one who governs o’er my heart
Taking care of  Dad and me
(Not to mention all for free!)
Now for Dad, whom I hold dear
Even if you cannot hear
I really do love you a lot
And I’m thankful for all you’ve taught
Apart, both great, but together: Gee!
Nothing less than heavenly harmony!
So on his Anniversary Day
Of twenty-five, we shout “Hooray!”
And now there is offered the greatest toast
From the kid who loves you the most!


John Michael E. Milton

As you might well suppose, this is our favorite epithalamium ever, as it is a wedding poem for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Thank you John Michael. You could not have given us anything more personal or touching or memorable! Now, you join the ranks of Theocritus, Spenser, Tennyson and Donne.  And of course Milton.

June 8, 2010

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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