November 28, 2010

As may befit a Poet's marriage-morn

Thomas Bailey Aldrich, future editor of the Atlantic Monthly and one-time dramatist, married Lillian Woodman on November 28, 1865. His friend Bayard Taylor wrote a sonnet to commemorate the event:

Sad Autumn, drop thy weedy crown forlorn,
Put off thy cloak of cloud, thy scarf of mist,
And dress in gauzy gold and amethyst
A day benign, of sunniest influence born,
As may befit a Poet's marriage-morn!
Give buds another dream, another tryst
To loving hearts, and print on lips unkissed
Betrothal-kisses, laughing Spring to scorn!
Yet, if unfriendly thou, with sullen skies,
Bleak rains, or moaning winds, dost menace wrong,
Here art thou foiled: a bridal sun shall rise,
And bridal emblems unto these belong:
Round her the sunshine of her beauty lies,
And breathes round him the spring-time of his song!

One the eve of his 40th anniversary, Aldrich wrote that the couple suffered only one sorrow (the death of their grown son): "How many married pairs in this sad world can say as much?" After his wife's death, he wrote a poem to her titled "Forever and a Day":

I little know or care
If the blackbird on the bough
Is filling all the air
With his soft crescendo now;
     For she is gone away,
     And when she went she took
     The springtime in her look,
     The peachblow on her cheek,
     The laughter from the brook,
     The blue from out the May —
     And what she calls a week
     Is forever and a day!


  1. Mark Twain, on the other hand, held a different view of Lillian: "a strange and vanity-devoured, detestable woman! I do not believe I could ever learn to like her except on a raft at sea with no other provisions in sight. . . . I conceived an aversion for her the first time I ever saw her, which was thirty-nine years ago, and that aversion has remained with me ever since. She is one of those people who are profusely affectionate, and whose demonstrations disorder your stomach."

  2. He never was without an opinion, was he?