Ceremony Reading :: Passage from The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Groom Brendan explained, “Our reading was a passage from The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin. I read this book for the first time before we’d even gotten engaged. The relationship between the two main characters struck me deeply and certain passages captured the connection Eva and I share. I knew I wanted to incorporate one of these passages into the wedding ceremony.

The scene: Basically a group of friends are on a hike. The group splits up and two people go out walking alone and then bump into each other in the woods. They start talking about what they want from a partner. Remember this all takes place on a fictional planet. This passage seems to capture some essential element of my relationship with Eva. It’s hard for me to articulate, and so that’s why this book, and these sections in particular have such a deep meaning for me. Not to mention it’s just so damn beautifully written!

reading-urusula-le-guin

Passage from The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

He found her on the steep slope, sitting among the delicate bushes of moonthorn that grew like knots of lace over the mountainsides, its stiff, fragile branches silvery in the twilight. In a gap between eastern peaks a colorless luminosity of the sky heralded moonrise. The stream was noisy in the silence of the high, bare hills. There was no wind, no cloud. The air above the mountains was like amethyst, hard, clear, profound.

They had been sitting there some while without speaking.

“What is it you need?” Shevek asked.

Takver looked down at the ground, scratching the surface of a rock outcrop with her fingernail. She said nothing. She leaned forward to pick a spring of moonthorn, but did not take it, merely touched it, felt the furred stem and fragile leaf. Shevek saw in the tension of her movements that she was trying with all her strength to contain or restrain a storm of emotion, so that she could speak. When she did, it was in a low voice and a little roughly.

“I need the bond,” she said. “The real one. Body and mind and all the years of life. Nothing else. Nothing less.”

She glanced up at him with defiance, it might have been hatred.

Joy was rising mysteriously in him, like the sound and smell of the running water rising through the darkness. He had a feeling of unlimitedness, of clarity, total clarity, as if he had been set free. Behind Takver’s head the sky was brightening with moonrise; the far peaks floated clear and silver. “Yes, that’s it, ” he said, without self-consciousness, without any sense of talking to someone else; he said what came into his head, meditatively. “I never saw it.”

“It doesn’t really matter, you know, Shevek.”

It was the first time he had heard her say his name. He turned to her and said stammering, almost choking, “Doesn’t matter? First you show me – you show me what matters, what really matters, what I’ve needed all my life – and then you say it doesn’t matter!”

There were face to face now, but they had not touched.

“Is it what you need, then?”

“Yes. The bond. The chance.”

“Now – for life?”

“Now and for life.”

Life, said the stream of quick water down on the rocks in the cold dark.

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