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Ruby Jubilee

We’ve made a grand tour of exuberance,
Repeated as our hearts reverberate,
Imagining abodes where we might dwell
For seasons long enough to celebrate
Red-letter days our travel plans foretell.
Though rooms or rain or hindrances displease,
Experience and memory advance
The journey through our realm of jubilees.

Commingling treasures of inheritance,
We’ve shaped for children a unique estate.
Home school is an instructive citadel,
Developing supernal gifts innate
In personal distinctions parallel.
Grace reconciles smart animosities,
For rosy generosities enhance
Delightful warmth in sanguine synergies.

We live with art of scattered provenance.
Cut glass and heirloom paintings decorate
Our halls, and gems of joint collection swell
Large storage chests with cherished freight
Occasionally exhibited, as well.
Eclectic plantings screen our scenes of ease:
Pal garden, and the overgrown expanse
Of future landscape capabilities.

In fields of scholarly significance,
The wheat from chaff we strive to separate,
Not muddling minds as diverse trends impel,
But building old brick paths to contemplate
The truth real objects and sound logic spell.
We take our crimson graduate degrees
As expertise to cultivate romance
In arts beyond well-grounded specialties.

Our catholic tastes in daily sustenance
Demand that elegance inebriate
Our spirits. Candles serve as dinner bell,
And perfect table wares surround each plate
When special festival repasts excel
Competing restaurants’ finest recipes.
Here’s ruby port among choice stimulants
For friends at this year’s private revelries!

With sacred trust we’ve walked on many strands
Attained because we chose to cross red seas,
Preparing for love’s long continuance
Past yet uncounted anniversaries.

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Poet’s Note: Line 24 alludes to English landscape architect and gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown, who got his nickname from using the word to describe aesthetic potential in their properties to his prospective patrons. Bruce and Margaret Coats have seen every one of Capability Brown’s vistas.

.

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Margaret Coats lives in California.  She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.  She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others. 


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45 Responses

  1. Margaret Coats

    Epigraph or subtitle of this poem is “for the 40th wedding anniversary of Bruce and Margaret Coats.” We were married on August 21, 1982.

    Reply
  2. Roy E. Peterson

    Such a lovely and fitting anniversary poem. (I am glad you added the note it is for your 40th anniversary.) As one who has spent considerable time overseas, as well, I understand the interesting features you have admired and the eclectic treasures you have found and now display. Your personal notes about homeschooling and now building “old brick paths,” add so much. I appreciate all you have shared and, of course, the mastery, as always, of classical poetic skills.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks, Roy. The path carefully crafted from discarded bricks is a beautiful artisanal feature in our garden. It was all done by Bruce, who also told me where I needed a finishing touch on this poem. He has an eye for making good things better.

      Reply
  3. James Sale

    Yes, a wonderful sense of a life well-lived in this and like Roy I especially like the lines about the ‘old brick paths’. Our task to exhume them all again!

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      James, now that you say so, working with old bricks is a wonderful metaphor for our task as traditional poets. The bricks from a demolished structure have individual textures, colors, and shapes. It is no easy process to arrange them in a pleasing pattern, much less to settle them into sand and earth so that they will provide a level and stable path for moving forward. But this is what we do as we bring to light and make use of our poetic heritage, to produce beauty that brand new bricks cannot match. Thanks for this thought I’ll remember as I look out the window!

      Reply
  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    This is more than just an anniversary poem. It is a variation on the literary topos called the “locus amoenus,” or “pleasant place.” Usually the locus amoenus poem will describe a beautiful garden, a lovely grove, a beloved house, a place in the forest, a flowery sylvan meadow, or any other situation where the speaker can descant on the joys and gratifications that come just from being in the place and drinking in its charms.

    In this poem, Margaret makes her entire marriage and all of its connected blessings the “locus amoenus.” It’s the home, the children, the shared love, the treasures, the achievements, the things studied, the travels, and even the meals that are consumed.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Joseph, for this informed insight about the poem. I merely thought that when it is time to celebrate an important milestone, hardships and human failures need to be minimized, even though everyone knows they occur. You’ve given my plan a delightful interpretation and name, corresponding to my feelings and Bruce’s. The table has been very important in making our life together what it is. We both enjoy every aspect of making any dinner (ordinary or festive) a time of pleasant relaxation for everyone present. You may be happy to know that our wedding cake was Italian rum cake from Boston’s North End.

      Reply
  5. Jeff Eardley

    Margaret, the happiest of anniversaries to you both. I wonder, if in the course of your travels, you visited our local “Brown” landscape at Trentham and his first, and now gloriously restored commission at Croome in Worcestershire? Best wishes again, have a great day.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Jeff. It has been a great day. We can still surprise one another after 40 years. We have seen Trentham, but not the restored Croome. It was extremely lucky that Bruce as an art historian started to study garden history soon after we married. He has good photos of Capability Brown landscapes both before and after the Great Storm of 1987, when Britain lost 15 million trees in a single night. In fact, during our visit in summer 1988, eight months after the Storm, we saw trees Brown had planted (200+ years old) lying uprooted in grand parks, because landowners and the National Trust were still considering how best to proceed–and how to pay for it. Our experience was a serious lesson in the natural impermanence of gardens as works of art. I hear that you have a new work of art on Capability Brown, and both Bruce and I look forward to seeing it.

      Reply
  6. Brian Yapko

    Margaret, first and foremost a very happy 40th wedding anniversary to you and Bruce. May God grant you many, many more happy years together!

    For your 40th anniversary you have created a poem of exceptional delight, with extraordinary attention to detail. As far as the form goes I believe you have created a chant royal, a very fair form for a worthy celebration. It is also an extremely meticulous and demanding form which you handle beautifully with an a-b-c-b-c-d-a-d rhyme scheme in which the same rhymes occur throughout each stanza and into the envoi. Though difficult, you do it admirably well, managing these difficult rhymes (especially the “anniversaries” rhyme) with great skill and with appropriate — nay, elegant — word choice throughout. As is often a part of your style, numerology plays a role here. We happen to have five stanzas of 8 lines each which totals 40, to reflect your past 40 years. You then have a 4 line envoi which looks forward to the future. (I hope each one of those 4 lines represents an additional 15 years!)

    Your poem’s substance, which reflects fondly upon aspects of your married life together, also delightfully embeds “red” colors to emphasize your ruby anniversary. I see red, rosy, brick, crimson and ruby itself subtly woven into your text. You also use words of considerable significance to your life in a subtle way. Your “catholic tastes” for example. Or “grace reconciles smart animosities.”

    This poem is a celebration of love and yet it is filled with playful, intellectual “Easter eggs” which make it a joy to read and then read through again. I love it — it’s a splendid gift to your beloved husband, and I couldn’t be happier for you both. Again, happy anniversary!

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you so very much, Brian, for your good wishes and for your attention to the poem. It is a chant royal, and I will have to have that added to its categories. Chant royal is the grande ballade, but when these forms originated, the envoi characterized the 5-stanza chant royal, and a refrain was typical of the 3-stanza ballade. Now both ballade and chant royal may have both refrain and envoi. “Ruby Jubilee” is the older form of chant royal, with envoi and the same rhyme sounds throughout, but no refrain. Chant royal is a favorite form of mine, and I chose five important things about our married life (travel, children, art, scholarship, and the table) for the five stanzas. I’m glad you noticed the appropriate color words. You missed “sanguine,” but I see in my Shorter OED that using this word to indicate color is now thought to be “literary” rather than ordinary speech. I’ll take multiple connotations. You are quite correct to say that there are “Easter eggs” for any reader, and for my family, still more subtle allusions. The “future landscape capabilities” means our hope to re-shape the back garden, after having visited the Chelsea Garden Show on this year’s travels. We haven’t begun doing that yet, but we’ve always liked to enjoy the planning stage.

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks, Michael. A wonderful day becomes yet more wonderful with the greetings of friends like you.

      Reply
  7. Loretta Garcia

    Dear Margaret and Bruce, May God continue to bless you and Bruce on this, your 40th wedding anniversary!

    In the hearts of Jesus Mary and Joseph,

    Loretta

    I sense a love profound on display in your lovely writings on this Ruby Anniversary❤

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Many thanks, Loretta. It is always good to think of the profoundly loving hearts of the Holy Family. And thanks for the extra little ruby of the heart emoji!

      Reply
  8. Irene Childs

    CONGRATULATIONS on your 40th Anniversary dear Margaret and Bruce.
    May the Good Lord grant you and all yours even better years still and like the Wedding Feast in Cana, know that the best is yet to come.
    The poem and background picture compliment one another ; beautiful, rich, calm, serene. Reminds me of my school days when we had to read and appreciate such wonderful handiwork, brilliant minds. Thank you for sharing such a blessed life.
    May The Lord bless you and keep you. May The Lord lift high His Countenance on you and be gracious you and may God continue to smile down on you, keep you safe and bind you together in love and His Love, grant you His perfect Peace which the world cannot give. Now may you be blessed In The Name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Amen Amen Amen.
    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ❤

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      What a beautiful Biblical blessing you give, Irene! These are wonderful words to consider on this holy day recalling our vows of union according to God’s plan. Thanks for the blessing you are to us in the Saturday choir, and in your own family.

      Reply
  9. Christina Lesinski

    Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Coats! May God continue to bless you and your husband, as well as all of your wonderful family. I love the joyous mood of this poem and the travel themes which both reflect your physical journeys as well as your journey in marriage. Your poem showcases how your travels have been filled with extravagance, sophistication, culture and delight. The opulent word choices are fitting for the occasion: the grandeur of a “ruby.” I pray that you both are able to enjoy many more fond memories together!

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Christina. I am so glad the mood and themes of the poem please you. On this day, you help fill me with gratitude for my blessings, and for the prayers you and others have given me throughout the time we have been acquainted. For you and for your loved ones, I wish and pray many joys in return.

      Reply
  10. Pat and Harvey

    It is beautiful, Margaret; a loving tribute to the long path you have followed together from that church in Cambridge.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you for making the effort to read and respond! It’s great to get a comment from the two of you who were at the church on the wedding day.
      .

      Reply
  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Margaret, firstly – huge CONGRATULATIONS to you and to Bruce. Happy Anniversary!

    What a beautiful celebratory poem. I am grateful to Dr. Salemi for explaining the intricacies of this superlative piece. It adds to my enjoyment. I particularly like: “Home school is an instructive citadel, / Developing supernal gifts innate / In personal distinctions parallel.” This is the sort of education every child should experience. It exudes love, meaning and values – a firm foundation for our beloved children to build upon. I love the closing stanza. It is a measure of the strength of your union. “With sacred trust” is a glorious reminder of the significance of God in marriage.

    This striking poem has me reveling in the wonders of my marriage… most certainly a gift from God. May you and Bruce enjoy many more years in the joy of each other’s company. Thank you for sharing your special milestone through poetry… a wonderful way to celebrate.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you from both of us, Susan! I’m especially glad you like the homeschooling lines. Married life is entirely different when parents actively take up their role as their children’s principal educators. Only the citadel of the home stands strong against dangers children face today. I’m happy we realized that soon enough to prepare for long years of homeschooling to be one of the joys of our marriage.

      And thanks for giving me another opportunity to be grateful to Joseph Salemi for his interpretation of the poem. He did elevate the work above any personal piece for a special occasion, making it a “poem of place” and thereby an ingenious means for me to express love and gratitude to my husband. Not often are critics so kind, Joe.

      And you will understand, Susan, that we are glad to have a jubilee of our own during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year. We have many English stories and customs, and I will just say that after the Italian rum cake at our wedding, we gave out colorfully wrapped pieces of English black fruitcake as favors. The old traditional recipe mellows perfectly in about a year, to make it a great dessert for the first anniversary.

      Reply
      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Margaret, I did notice and thought it marvelous that you and Bruce have your own Jubilee year in the same year as Queen Elizabeth II. I’m surprised you have not received a message of congratulations from Her Majesty. My grandparents received a Diamond wedding anniversary card from the Queen. I’m also most impressed by the English wedding cake. I adore English wedding cake. It’s usually three tiered, covered in a layer of marzipan, then royal icing. It’s tradition for the top tier to be kept for the christening of the first child. My parents kept the top tier for me. You’ve brought back many beautiful memories for me. Thank you, Margaret.

      • R M Moore

        Dear Margaret,
        I agree with Susan Jarvis Bryant and Joseph Salemi. Hope to talk to you soon.

      • Margaret Coats

        Thank you for reading the poem and other comments, Mrs. Moore. Such a happy collection on this thread, that Bruce and I appreciate. I’m just about to give you a call!

  12. Rosana Alamilla

    Dear Margaret,
    Your poem is beautiful! I wish you and your husband a very Happy Anniversary! May God bless your marriage always. My prayers for you and your family.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks so much for your prayers and good wishes, and especially for making the extra effort to offer them here. I’m glad you enjoyed the poem–and I’ve said a prayer in return for you and your family.

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks, Fox! We’d love to have you visit the pal garden, but the squirrels are satisfied as things are. Best wishes in your current hunting grounds!

      Reply
  13. Phyllis Schabow

    Dear Friends of Margaret:

    All the world should know that, in addition to what she has said of the high points of her 40 years of marriage, that she has also contributed greatly to the beauty of the Latin Mass. At our little rather-obscure parish in Ontario, CA, she has provided her leadership as our choir director and lead singer each and every Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m., to the great delight of all who attend. People come from miles around to be present in the quiet of a Saturday morning in order to offer God the best of their attention and devotion, and Margaret’s faithful gift of music has enhanced the beauty of the Latin liturgy for us all. Thank you, Bruce, for supporting and sheltering this fine woman, your dear spouse, and enabling many people to benefit by her presence among us. God bless you and keep you both for many more years of happiness together.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Phyllis. You know yourself how the support of a husband can introduce and sustain a special interest into a major aspect of a woman’s life. I had no school training in choral singing, just as you had none in bookselling and publishing. Yet with on-the-job training and fidelity to the tasks, these activities became not only a source of satisfaction for ourselves and others, but an important means of serving God and helping many to follow His way toward our ultimate goal in heaven. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus! I have to count many things Bruce and I have done as gathered in the line of the poem, “romance in arts beyond well-grounded specialties.”

      Reply
  14. Phyllis Schabow

    Yes, I see that now that you point it out. Fidelity to God’s will for us, every day and every moment, takes us to places we would never have dreamed possible. Inside the Church there is everything the heart was made to long for. His very self in Holy Communion. As fellow converts who were led to – rather than born into this Holy Faith, we know now and enjoy the God who loved us from all eternity, when He first thought of us. May He be praised forever! With kindest regards in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

    Reply
  15. Satyananda Sarangi

    Happy belated anniversary, Margaret ma’am.

    I read the poem and went into a trance. I was walking in the woods for some time.

    This poem can be summed up in three words –

    Mellifluous,Magnificent,Majestic.

    Best wishes.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Your response overwhelms me, Satyananda. Thank you for expressing your appreciation, and for your good wishes. I hope that you too may have many joys throughout life.

      Reply
  16. Jonicis Bulalacao

    Congratulations to you, Margaret and Bruce!
    And thanks for being a witness to the beauty and sacredness of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
    God bless you with many more years of grace-filled married life.

    Reply
  17. Laura Deagon

    Margaret, your poem brings together such an array of aspects of your 40 years of marriage. To me it was a dreamy peak into the years.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Laura, you’re right that it is something like a dream sequence, with many pictures rushing by quickly, not clearly linked in a logical narrative. That’s how we may see them too. Bruce just happened to mention at dinner how he likes observing the cut glass with the sun at different angles during the course of the day. Thanks for your perceptive comment!

      Reply
  18. Kathy

    “You have made us for yourself(O Lord), and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”. Confessions, Book 1 Chapter 1

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Kathy, I’m so glad you were able to find the poem and make a comment. Thanks for your efforts! The passage you quote certainly can apply to holy matrimony, as a place where the couple can enjoy peace at heart while sharing in God’s grace.

      Reply

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