Readings & Poems Regarding Marriage & Love

“Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you”.

~ Walter Winchell

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
~ Mignon McLaughlin

“Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die
~ (Ruth 1:16–17)

Back in the 12th Century, a nobleman poured out his feelings about love with this poem:

True Love is a sacred flame that burns eternally.
And none can dim its special glow or change its destiny.
True Love speaks in tender tones and hears with gentle ear.
True Love gives with open heart and True Love conquers fear.
True Love makes no harsh demands. It neither rules nor binds.
True Love holds with gentle hands the hearts that it entwines.

You don’t marry the person you can live with,
you marry the person you can’t live without .
~Anonymous

Definitions of Love

Clergy: When you really care about someone, you will be loyal to them. You will always believe in them, always see the best in them and always stand your ground to defend them.

Clergy: Back in the 12th Century, a nobleman poured out his feelings about love with this poem:

True Love is a sacred flame that burns eternally.
And none can dim its special glow or change its destiny.
True Love speaks in tender tones and hears with gentle ear.
True Love gives with open heart and True Love conquers fear.
True Love makes no harsh demands. It neither rules nor binds.
True Love holds with gentle hands the hearts that it entwines.

Clergy: SOONER OR LATER

Sooner or later, we begin to understand that love is not a few words of a Valentine’s Day Card or the romance we see in the movies. We begin to know that love is real and true, here and now. Love is the creator of our favorite memories, and the foundation of our fondest dreams. Love is a promise that is always kept, a fortune that is never spent, a seed that can flourish in even the most barren of places. This mysterious and magical power is the greatest treasure that one can have, and it is only known by those who love.

Clergy: BIBLE DEFINITION OF LOVE

The Bible says that love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud, it is not rude. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but love rejoices in Truth. And love can stand to know the Truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

Clergy: The Bible says that Love never fails, so your love will never fail you. Just let your marriage be a time of waking up each morning and falling in love all over again with one another.

Poems (choose one or more)

Sample Wedding Readings and Poems. Generally I open the service by reading a poem of your choice:

Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

A Love Like This, Dan Fogleberg

And now the lonely days are done
And with each rising of the sun, love begins anew
And if you ever ask me why
I know that my love will never die I’ll say these words to you

Of all the souls I’ve ever known
Mine sings to yours and yours alone and yours sings just to me
In all this world I’ll never find
A heart that could beat as close to mine and this time I can see

A love like this is so hard to find
And so many never do
And loves like this, when they even exist
Are precious and few, you know they’re precious and few

Down the miles, through the years
Yours is the star by which I steer, the brightest star I’ve known
And when I feel all hope is gone, yours is the love that leads me on
The light that guides me home
The light that guides me home
Your light will guide me home

The Key to Love, Author Unknown

The key to love is understanding …
as it is the little things that say so much by themselves.
The key to love is forgiveness ….
to accept each others faults and pardon mistakes,
The key to love is sharing …
Sharing and acing your good fortunes as well as the bad, together;
both conquering problems, forever searching for ways
to intensify your happiness.
The key to love is giving …
Giving without thought of return,
but with the hope of just a simple smile,
and by giving in but never giving up.
The key to love is respect …
Respect realizing that you are two separate people, with different ideas;
that you don’t belong to each other,
that you belong with each other, and share a mutual bond.
The key to love is inside us all …
It takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients
that will take you to its threshold;
it is the continual learning process that demands a lot of work …
but the rewards are more than worth the effort …
and that is the key to love.

Carl Sandburg

I love you. I love you for what you are,
but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.
I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals.
I pray for your desires, that they may be great,
rather than for your satisfactions,
which may be so hazardously little.
A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall.
But the most beautiful rose is one,
hardly more than a bud,
wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for larger and finer growth.
Not always shall you be what you are now.
You are going forward toward something great.
I am on the way with you and . . I love you.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I’ve married one of Shakespeare’s dreams.

The Color of My Love, David Foster and Arthur Janov

I’ll paint a sun to warm your heart
Knowing that we’ll never part.
I’ll draw the years all passing by
So much to learn, so much to try.

I’ll paint my mood in a shadow blue,
Paint my soul to be with you.
I’ll sketch your lips in shaded tones,
Draw your mouth to my own.

I’ll trace a hand to wipe your tears
And trace a look to calm your fears.
A silhouette of dark and light
To hold each other oh so tight.

I’ll paint the stars in the evening sky,
Draw the light into your eyes,
A touch of love, a touch of grace,
To softly fall on your moonlit face.

And with this ring our lives will start,
Let nothing keep our love apart.
I’ll take your hand to hold in mine,
And be together through all time.

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fix’d mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle’s compass come;
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

Fidelity by D.H. Lawrence

Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man’s heart and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

Judy Bielicki, Melbourne, Australia

It is often said that it is love that makes the world go round. However, without doubt, it is friendship which keeps our spinning existence on an even keel. True friendship provides so many of the essentials for a happy life — it is the foundation on which to build an enduring relationship, it is the mortar which bonds us together in harmony, and it is the calm, warm protection we sometimes need when the world outside seems cold and chaotic. True friendship holds a mirror to our foibles and failings, without destroying our sense of worthiness. True friendship nurtures our hopes, supports us in our disappointments, and encourages us to grow to our best potential. {Bride’s Name} and {Groom’s Name} came together as friends. Today, they pledge to each other not only their love, but also the strength, warmth and, most importantly, the fun of true friendship.

Touch the Air Softly by William Jay Smith

Now touch the air softly, step gently, one, two …
I’ll love you ’til roses are robin’s egg blue;
I’ll love you ’til gravel is eaten for bread,
And lemons are orange, and lavender’s red.

Now touch the air softly, swing gently the broom.
I’ll love you ’til windows are all of a room;
And the table is laid, And the table is bare,
And the ceiling reposes on bottomless air.

I’ll love you ’til heaven rips the stars from his coat,
And the moon rows away in a glass-bottomed boat;
And Orion steps down like a river below,
And earth is ablaze, and oceans aglow.

So touch the air softly, and swing the broom high.
We will dust the grey mountains, and sweep the blue sky:
And I’ll love you as long as the furrow the plough,
As however is ever, and ever is now.

Love’s Coming by John Shaw Neilson

Quietly as rosebuds
Talk to the thin air,
Love came so lightly,
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as lovers
Creep at the middle moon,
Softly as players tremble
in the tears of a tune;

Quietly as lilies
Their faint vows declare
Came the shy pilgrim:
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as tears fall
On a warm sin,
Softly as griefs call
In a violin;

Without hail or tempest,
Blue sword of flame.
Love came so lightly
I knew not that he came.

Oath of Friendship — Anon., China, 1st Century B.C.

I want to be your friend
For ever and ever without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry,
When it lightens and thunders in winter,
When it rains and snows in summer,
When Heaven and Earth mingle
Not ’til then will I part from you.

What is Love? by Walter Rinder

Love is just not looking at each other and saying “You’re wonderful”.
There are times when we are anything but wonderful.
Love is looking out in the same direction.
It is linking our strength to pull a common load.
It is pushing together towards the far horizons, hand in hand.
Love is knowing that when our strength falters, we can borrow the strength of someone who cares.
Love is a strange awareness that our sorrows will be shared and made lighter by sharing;
that joys will be enriched and multiplied by the joy of another.
Love is knowing someone else cares that we are not alone in life.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

How do I love thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being an Ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old grief’s, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Love’s Philosophy by Percy Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever,
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle:-
Why not I with thine?
See! the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
Now sister flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:-
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

The Art of a Good Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In marriage the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner; it is being the right partner.

Traditional Shoshone Indian Love Poem

Fair is the white star of twilight, and the sky clearer
at the day’s end, but she is fairer, and she is dearer
She, my heart’s friend.
Fair is the white star of twilight, and the moon roving
to the sky’s end; but she is fairer, better worth loving
She, my heart’s friend.”

Aztec Indian Wedding Poem

I know not whether thou has been absent:
I lie down with thee, I rise up with thee,
In my dreams thou art with me.
If my eardrops tremble in my ears,
I know it is thou moving within my heart.

Cherokee Blessing

God in heaven above,
Please protect the ones we love.
We honor all that you created
As we pledge our hearts and lives together.
We honor Mother Earth —
And ask for our marriage to be abundant,
And to grow stronger through the seasons
We honor fire —
And ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts.
We honor wind —
And ask that we sail through life safely and calm as in our father’s arms.
We honor water —
To clean and soothe our relationship that it may never thirst for love.
With all the forces of the universe you created,
We pray for harmony and true happiness
As we forever grow young together.

Eskimo Wedding Vow

You are my husband/wife
My feet shall run because of you.
My feet dance because of you.
My eyes see because of you.
My mind thinks because of you.
And I shall love because of you.

Excerpt from Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.

From The Prophet by Kahil Gibran

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.

I Ching

When two people are at one
in their inmost hearts,
they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze.
And when two people understand each other
in their inmost hearts,
their words are sweet and strong,
like the fragrance of orchids.

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