“Marriage” is a lengthy comic meditation in free verse on the topic announced by the poem’s title. More specifically, the opening line poses two questions: “Should I get married? Should I be good?” The male speaker considers these questions, though he has no intended companion in mind. Rather, the meditation considers the various social archetypes of married life and whether they suit the speaker, who seems to see himself as a subversive of sorts. The poem is divided into seven verse paragraphs of varying length, and it is organized by a variety of scenarios the speaker imagines.
The longest of these scenarios imagines a conventional marriage to “the girl next door.” This fantasy envisions a courtship that mixes the odd (“Don’t take her to movies but to cemeteries”) with the romantically orthodox (“she going just so far and I understanding why”). A familiarly comic scene of meeting the fiancée’s parents follows, as does a description of the wedding and the honeymoon. At the imagined Niagara Falls honeymoon, the speaker is so horrified by the corny lasciviousness of the honeymoon ritual that he chooses not to consummate the marriage. He will, he imagines, stay up all night staring at the hotel clerk and “Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!” Eventually, he will abandon his marriage and live beneath Niagara Falls itself as “a saint of divorce,” a crazed spirit bent on disrupting the marriage consummations in the...
(The entire section is 577 words.)