i carry your heart

I’m a poet at heart.

Back in college, I was the classic English major bouncing around campus with a novel in her hands and newly-released iPod earbuds in her ears. I have incredibly happy memories of wandering the University of Maryland campus, getting lost on the mall — sunny days when I was alone but not lonely.

Because I commuted to school for three years, I didn’t have many on-campus friends. There were times I wouldn’t speak to another living soul until I’d call my mom to check in on my lunch break, my voice hoarse with disuse. But what I did have?

Poems.

I had a creative writing focus in my English program . . . but not in anything I actually, you know, use now. No, friends, I was a poetry student — someone who literally sat in the shade of a tree and jotted down random thoughts because I had an “assignment” — a poem — due in class in an hour.

Those poetry classes, though occasionally tedious, were some of the happiest in my life. They were one of the few times I didn’t feel anonymous on campus, for one; because our class was only 12-15 students, rather than the typical 30-300, I actually felt seen. Even when I was basically told I was a no-talent hack who should have chosen a different major (whatevs), I loved those classes. Loved pouring over others’ words.

We studied poets too, of course. I remember a few of the works I selected to read aloud as some of my favorites, my inspiration. While classmates chose highfalutin never-heard-of-’em writers, maybe to impress the lot of us, I stuck with tried and true classics. Like E. E. Cummings.

When Spencer and I were working with our officiant on our wedding ceremony, I knew I wanted to share a poem. Though my post-college life has been dedicated to my column, humorous narratives and blog posts, I still harbor a deep love of poetry. The ability of writers like Cummings to cut right to the heart of readers with one perfectly-worded, incandescent thought just amazes me.

It didn’t take long for me to come up with the work I wanted read. After asking my matron of honor — my lovely sister — if she’d mind a little public speaking, we settled on “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in],” first published in 1952.

Made famous in a wedding scene from “In Her Shoes,” I’ve loved the poem for as long as I can remember — and love that, on our wedding day, it spoke not only to the love between Spencer and me but also to the idea that we can carry the hearts of so many we love. It’s much deeper than that, I know, but it’s also . . . just as simple as that.

I loved it. Katie rocked it. It was a highlight of our day — and included on half of the bookmark wedding favors that left with our guests.


Katie reading


[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


Reprinted from The Poetry Foundation.
For poem’s original formatting, please visit the link.


Spencer and me


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27 thoughts on “i carry your heart

  1. It’s so beautiful how words can accompany and grow with us through the years. From poetry being your friend in college, to being your witness at your wedding, it sounds like poets and poems have traveled with you through various life scenarios. What a lovely post!

    • I hadn’t thought of it that way, Caitlin, but you’re absolutely right: poetry was my friend through school, and also witness to my wedding. πŸ™‚ I love that. Thanks so much!

  2. This is such a great poem and such lovely words to have read at a wedding. I’ll admit I didn’t “discover” the poem until “In her Shoes” but it has been one that has stuck with me. Unfortunately, I passed it along to my college boyfriend when he was moving for Teach For America. Long story short- we broke up a long time ago, but I still feel like I can’t reuse the poem for any other romances in my life ;). What are some of your other favorite poems?

    • Sarah, what a beautiful poem to have had read at your mom’s funeral . . . “i carry your heart” has so much meaning for so many, and speaks to so many different types of love. xo

  3. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Someone called you a “hack” and told you to change your major? WTF? I hope it was just a jealous student, not a professor. That little comment just stopped my brain. What an asshole, whoever it was. Glad you didn’t listen. And I love the poem, from a person who doesn’t really appreciate poetry. Perfect for a wedding.

    • Oh yes, Sandy — I had some interesting times. The no-talent part was actually said by a professor. In front of the class. In my first semester as an official English major. Looking back on it, I’m surprised that didn’t break me; in some ways, I was much more fragile then than I am now. Sometimes I think about looking her up and sending her my newspaper clippings. πŸ˜‰ Who can’t write now, huh?

    • I’d recommend starting small, Kailana — find a poet you enjoy and seek out their work, then build your way up! It’s an acquired taste, for sure, but I appreciate the control of language, the vivid imagery, the ability to create a sensation in the reader using so few words . . . good poetry really stirs the soul.

  4. I have always loved that poem. Always. It is perfect for a wedding. My husband and I spoke poems to each other at our wedding, and again when we renewed our vows on our twentieth anniversary. When/if we do that again, this one will be at the top of those considered. πŸ™‚

    • I love that idea, Elizabeth! I think Spence would have been a bit too nervous to recite poetry (and not his style, ha), but I still love to read poetry aloud. It really creates some space inside my heart for memories and new experiences and hope to nestle in.

    • It’s quite the tough decision! I wavered a bit on having a reading at all, but it felt really right to include this one. Having my sister recite it was perfect — even if I was almost too nervous to pay attention to the words! πŸ™‚

  5. Love your writing voice … What a comfortable and uplifting blog … Makes me want to gather my friends, sit and talk about the things that are truly important … Thank you!!!

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