Here comes the bride and a few poems too

My niece and goddaughter got married last weekend in Maryland.  It was a great occasion to celebrate with my family (70 and counting), and a great occasion for poem elfing.



There’s no poem hidden in this picture but I do think I captured one in her expression. Look how she grips her father as she walks down the aisle towards her beloved with such transparent joy.  She can hardly hold it all in.  If I could have placed a poem on her person it would be this, from an unknown Chinese poet:

If I were a tree or a plant

I would feel the soft influence of spring.

Since I am a man . . .

Do not be astonished at my joy.


But I did manage to hide a few poems over the weekend.  I tied a Rumi poem to the bouquet Tricia used for rehearsal:



You can’t go wrong with Rumi for a wedding.



Tricia was a very happy bride, dancing and laughing all night, but at no point did she reach the “disgraceful” or “crazy” stage.  Neither did Poem Elf, I’ll have you know.   Still the poem’s a useful reminder to switch gears from planning to  celebrating.


Tricia didn’t notice the dangling poem until I pointed it out.


I planted another poem in the office of the father of the bride, my brother Donnie.


poem is taped to phone in foreground


I found “The Giving” in a collection of poems by someone named Max Ellison in a used bookstore in northern Michigan last summer.



I’ll reprint the words because I’m sure someone searching on “wedding poem” will want to copy them:


The Giving

by Max Ellison


Who give this woman to be wed?

Her mother and I.

We gave her dawn.

We gave her grace.

We stamped our image

On her face.

We gave her books,

And through the years

We calmed her early

Childhood fears.

We gave her faith.

We gave her prayer.

She walked our road.

She climbed our stairs.

And now in solemn troth

We swear,

We can not give.

We only share.


I love this poem.  At first I had reservations about the whole idea of “giving” a woman to a man or “sharing” her, but in the face of such loving fatherly sentiments, those reservations be darned.  This poem is just flat-out sweet and true.  We are each of us a gift to the world.


Poet Max Ellison was less obscure than I originally thought.   Well-known in his hometown of Bellaire, Michigan, he sold his books on street corners, spoke at Governor Milliken’s inauguration, and may have been—although I can’t confirm—the poet laureate of Michigan. He lived simply in a house he built called “Frog Holler,”  which had no running water or electricity.  His poetry is also simple, in the best sense:  clean and straightforward and honest.  No frippery.


In the goody bags for the out-of-town guests staying at the hotel, I left Dante’s “La Vita Nuova.”



I’ve already written about this poem, so I’ll include the link, post the picture and not say one more word about it:


Poem Elf got fancy with vellum and ribbon


Finally I included this poem (or excerpt from a poem) with the newlyweds’ wedding gift, a lamp.  I forgot to take a picture of the actual lamp with the poem, so I put another copy in my front window:



The poem provides an answer to the question Rodgers and Hammerstein posed in Cinderella:

Do I love you because

you’re beautiful

or are you beautiful

because I love you?


I can’t find a thing on the poet, Fulvia Lupulo, except that’s she’s Mexican.  Tricia’s husband is also of Mexican descent, so I hope this poem finds a special place in his heart.


And here’s the bridegroom himself, with my mother at the rehearsal dinner:



I can’t resist including two more pictures of my mother at the wedding.  First, dancing with one of her grandsons:



And then surprised by her grandsons’ Zou Bisou Bisou:



Ain’t love grand?



  1. Kelly

    Love, love, love every bit of this!!! And apparently all poems were much better received than the “I married you” poem you sent to a relative in the past….Always enjoy the pics of your mom – so great! Very thoughtful gift of the lamp with the mexican poem – of course I would enjoy seeing the lamp as well!

  2. 3dobes

    Max Ellison was, indeed, the poet laureate of Michigan. I heard him recite his poetry two or three times as a child in Redford, MI. His book, “The Underbark” is my favorite.

    Here’s a thread that was started about him on Flickr. Enjoy!

    … At the end of his talk, we would all beg for him to recite his “train” poem. I never read it, only heard him do it… Engine, engine, boxcar, flatcar, and he would name all the cars as if they were passing faster and faster until he got to Caboose!

    rachwms (18 months ago)

    he was my grandfather

    3Dobes (17 months ago)

    I just read (your post) that he was your grandfather! I’m sure you heard the train poem many times.
    Are you surprised by the lack of information about him on the web? Might the reason be that he died before the web became popular?
    I think he should at least have a listing in Wikipedia!

    rachwms (17 months ago)

    Yeah I should probably put something up on the wiki. Maybe some day. I am not surprised by the lack of information. He lived in a one room log cabin in the woods and although he loved telling stories and reciting his poems, he was not one to submit them to be published.

    3Dobes (17 months ago)

    Does your family have any of his unpublished poems? Maybe you could get them published!

    island.girl1 (14 months ago)

    rachwms…he was also a relative of mine…Olive Alspaugh was his first cousin and my grandmother. We were quite close to Max and I spent many afternoons at home with him sitting at our kitchen table drinking coffee and chatting, throwing in a poem here and there. He always made the trip to Northville to recite at my elementary school…the kids loved the train, the auctioneer and his rendition of the Star Bellied Sneeches. Once my father told him he liked head cheese (Max had a pig farm at the time) and what did the silly man do? He brought over the head and set it on the kitchen counter, much to my mother’s horror! He had a fantastic sense of humor!

    rachwms (13 months ago)


    jpcauz (8 months ago)

    Max taught me how to fish the trout pond at Shanty Creek with nothing but a hook baited with cheese. My Mother and I got stuck while two tracking back in 77-78 when out of no where came a little blue VW Bug and this huge man in overalls a black Amish hat and a full white beard came out of his car to ask us if we needed any help. He got us unstuck and told us to follow him to his cabin. He became a fast friend with my folks and had many fun nights sitting with him and his dog “Dog”. Every time I am up at Shanty Creek I make it a point to got out to where his cabin was and remember the fun we had. I’d love to know if anyone has any plans for renovating what is left of the property.

    rachwms (5 weeks ago | reply)

    The property belongs to a few of his grandchildren, but the cabin is not being maintained. They still call it Frog Holler

    1. poemelf

      Thank you so much for sending this thread! Wow, what a character….sounds like he needs a wikipedia entry at the very least…somewhere all these great stories need to be put together. Thanks again.

  3. Marie

    Just became acquainted with Max today 4/26/2021. What a joy! I am lucky to have been given the Bluebird book by a friend.
    Inspiring. I look forward to reading it again this evening.

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