Monday, 5 May 2008

The Naming of Names

We named Lily on Saturday.
Of course she has had a name for quite some time now, being a full One Years Old and all but something has long been nagging me about the importance of ceremonies, marking occasions and honouring rites of passage. I have been wanting to celebrate Lily's arrival and her name since she appeared but it has taken us this long to remove our heads from our backsides and make it happen.
The day turned out just splendidly and it was also an opportunity to formally introduce her godparents or 'supporters' as I am reliably informed is the correct non-religious title. It was just a joy to be surrounded by all our closest friends and family and watch them laugh and drink and eat together, getting slowly sozzled under the apple tree.
My father (who is a very fine man indeed and a published poet) wrote this poem, which made me cry:

It's May, and the blossom's off the tree, my Lily,
but not for you, though generations gather
around you. Light is playing in your hair,
and splintering in bubbles of champagne,
for this is your naming of names.

There was a day when our fathers left the forest
for holes in distant hills. The Shaman said,
"Will you be more than a herd, or a flight of birds?
How will you be different?" We could not answer
until he gave us names.

Beneath the standing boulders, gods of stone,
our tribe assembled. We had not yet dreamed
of billions howling in a swollen world.
One mother held her child, one father sang,
we drank to the gift of names.

Once more we've gathered, looking through glass, not stone,
through envious lenses can not catch us here.
and I, a relic from an earlier scene,
may spill rough verses on a tolerant crowd
who drink to Lily August.

In the faint fantastic glow of an evening sun.
I watch her grow into a silhouette
that I may never see. The film of my mind
snap-snaps at images not yet created,
time's gift to Lily August.

May she have whatever she needs to have,
and may she love whoever she ought to love,
and may she hold her children out to be named
but this is Lily August's naming day,
so drink to Lily August.

No comments: