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Add one of these Cicada love poems to your outdoor wedding ceremony

Published Thursday, May. 20th, 2021

Illustration of cicadas flying against a pink background.
Illustration by Jessica Levey

Cicadas show up in countless stories and works of art, with descriptions of their shrill mating song going as far back through time as our written records will take us. In ancient Japanese texts they symbolize life and rebirth, and in Greek mythology, unending love. And they’ve chirped and chattered throughout centuries of idyllic pastoral poetry, with references resurfacing era after era --  much like cicadas themselves. 


But as Brood X emerges across the north-eastern U.S., with plans to stay through the end of June, brides and grooms with outdoor wedding plans are feeling less than enthusiastic about their noisy, uninvited guests. 


Short of moving a wedding indoors or postponing for another day, however, there’s not much anyone in Brood X’s path can do to escape their frenetic siren song.


Instead of lamenting this unique circumstance, why not embrace it? There’s plenty of symbolism to enjoy in the cicada’s long journey, perseverance, and tireless pursuit of love and purpose. 



In honor of cicada season, add a line or two from one of these poems to your wedding ceremony, or recite one together as a special reading:




Haiku from The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Oku no hosomichi)
by Matsuo Bashō, translated from Japanese by Donald Keene


Shizukasa ya
Such stillness-


iwa ni shimi-iru
The cries of the cicadas


semi no koe
Sink into the rocks.





An ode to the cicada
From “Anacreontea,” Greece circa 5 A. D., translated by Rory B. Egan


We know that you are royally blest
Cicada when, among the tree-tops,
You sip some dew and sing your song;
For every single thing is yours
That you survey among the fields
And all the things the woods produce,
The farmers' constant company,
You damage nothing that is theirs;
Esteemed you are by every human
As the summer's sweet-voiced prophet,
The Muses love you, and Apollo too,
Who's gifted you with high-pitched song.
Old age does nothing that can wear you,
Earth's sage and song-enamored son;
You suffer not, being flesh-and-blood-less
A god-like creature, virtually.





love poem in a burning year 
by Danielle (Dani) Montgomery


i want to show you my love
like a handful of cicada shells
glimmering green under august sun.


i want to show you
my love
like bits of blue glass
ocean smoothed.


polished by sand and sweaty fingers:
my love,
the beauty that comes from all this
breaking and dying.





Cicadas, from Joyful Noise 
by Paul Fleischman
(intended to be read aloud by two voices)


Afternoon, mid-August
Two cicadas singing                 Two cicadas singing
Air kiln-hot, lead heavy
Five cicadas humming             Five cicadas humming
Thunderheads northwestward
Twelve cicadas buzzing             Twelve cicadas buzzing
Up and down the street
the mighty choir’s                 the mighty choir’s
assembling                     assembling
Shrill cica-
das                         Ci-
droning                    cadas 


                                               in the elms
Three years                     Three years
spent underground
                                                       among the roots
in darkness                     in darkness
Now they’re breaking ground
                                                                 and climbing up
                                                                 the tree trunks
splitting skins
and singing                     and singing
rejoicing                     cicadas
                                        pouring out their
fervent praise                     fervent praise
                                               for heat and light
their hymn                     their hymn
sung to the sun
Cicadas                     Cicadas
ing                         ci
ring                         ci
chanting from the tree tops             chanting from the tree tops
forth their                     sending
booming                     forth their
boisterous                     booming
joyful noise!                     joyful noise!



Watch Cicadas from Joyful Noise performed by children in Tacoma, Washington,

and consider having several guests participate in your ceremony. 




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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