July 7: Tours – Baltics 2014, Brides

Jon CurtisSeason of the Day, SOTD - July

We conclude our tour of the Baltics with Kevin Memley’s “Sister Gone,” a poem by William Barnes.  It is about a girl left behind after her sister’s wedding.  

Because we were quite far north, where summers are short, weddings tend to cluster over just a few warm and sunny weeks.  So we saw a lot of wedding parties out taking photos during the tour. 

The video includes every bridal party we encountered and an unusual wedding in Stockholm.   Russian wedding parties like to have photos taken at many of the same locations that tourists go. 

Quiz of the Day
Can you find the bridal party that we saw twice, in two different locations?
(Answer below)

The video is roughly set in the form of a Greek tragedy, with wedding scenes, “the dialog,” interspersed with our chorale, “the chorus,” singing at the Lutheran Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in St. Petersburg.  It is the same church mentioned on July 3rd, the one that was transformed into a swimming pool during the Soviet period.

In his own words, Kevin describes writing “Sister Gone:”
“Having grown up with two younger sisters and marrying into a family of three daughters, I have seen my share of wedding ceremonies. Needless to say, I always wanted a brother! But growing up with girls was not such a bad thing. One by one, I watched them enter into marriage and a beautiful new life. The greatest burden fell upon the last unwed sister, Julia, who had not yet found ‘a life to match her own’ as William Barnes states. It seemed like the empty years passed on for her as we gathered with family during the holidays. However, I am happy to tell you that Julia is now married and is enjoying her time with her husband and new daughter.

“How I came across the poem, “Sister Gone” is a shadowy memory. The text had been in my possession for a few years, but it took the personal experiences of my sister to revive my interest and emotional commitment to the piece. William Barnes eloquently reminds us of the intimate subtleties shared between sisters. His masterful touch brings us alongside Jane’s bittersweet feelings of both happiness and solitude, and leaves us there to ponder.”

When Mary on her wedding day,
At last a bride, had gone away
From all her friends that there had spent
The happy day in merriment,
And ringers rang, at evenfall,
Their peals of bells, from great to small,
Within the tower’s mossy wall
So high against the evening sky,

Then Jane, that there throughout the day
Had been the gayest of the gay,
At last began to hang her head
And ponder on her sister fled,
And days that seem’d too quickly flown,
To leave her now at home alone,
With no one’s life to match her own,
So sad, though hitherto so glad.

It saddened me that moonpaled night
To see her by the wall, in white,
While friends departed mate with mate
Beyond the often-swinging gate,
As there beside the lilac shade,
Where golden-chained laburnum sway’d,
Around her face her hairlocks play’d,
All black with light behind her back.

Answer:  It is a little difficult to tell which wedding party was seen twice, if you were not on the tour.  The video presents the photos out of order, next to each other.  It happens near the end, after the Stockholm wedding, about four minutes in.  Look for the bride with a purple sash around her waist. 

She is first photographed from the bus window standing in front of a wall with graffiti.  This is a giveaway that we are not in a tourist area, because St. Petersburg was very aggressive about removing graffiti in these places.  Then you will see two photos of the same wedding party walking along in a park.  These were taken over an hour later in another part of town.

Did you also notice that the Russian wedding parties appear to include only the bride, groom, and their attendants?  We did not see any parents or other family members with them during the photography trips.