If you’d like to underline the spiritual element of your marriage, then you might like to include a reading from this selection.
Extract from The Divine Comedy
The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way light rushes into a transparent object. The more love we receive, the more love we shine forth; so that, as we grow clear and open, the more complete the joy of loving is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love for, mirror‐like, each soul reflects the other.
Kahlil Gibran (1883‐1931)
Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the ‘nay’ in your own mind, nor do you withhold the ‘aye’. And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; for without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed.
When you are part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth; and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Kahlil Gibran (1883‐1931)
Then Almitra spoke again and said, ‘And what of Marriage, master?’ And he answered saying: You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together : For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
To my dear and loving husband
Anne Bradstreet (c. 1612‐1672)
If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee, If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me, ye women, if you can. I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold Or all the riches that the East doth hold. My love is such that Rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence. Thy love is such I can no way repay. The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. Then while we live, in love let’s so preserver That when we live no more, we may live ever.
Sir Edwin Arnold (1832‐1904)
Somewhere there waiteth in this world of ours For one lone soul another lovely soul, Each choosing each through all the weary hours And meeting strangely at one sudden goal. Then blend they, like green leaves with golden flowers, Into one beautiful and perfect whole; And life’s long night is ended, and the way Lies open onward to eternal day.
Ben Jonson (1572‐1637)
Drink to me, only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kisse but in the cup, And I’ll not look for wine. The thirst that from the soul doth rise, Doth ask a drink divine; But might I of Jove’s Nectar sup, I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a roise wreath, Not so much honouring thee, As giving it hope, that there It could not withered bee. But thou thereon didst only breathe, And sent’st it back to me; Since when it grows, and smells. I swear, Not of itself, but thee.
The Good Morrow
John Donne (1572‐1631)
I wonder by my troth, what thou, and I Did, till we lov’d? were we not wean’d till then? But suck’d on countrey pleasures, childishly? Or snorted we in seven sleepers den? T’was so; but this, all pleasures fancies bee, If ever any beauty I did see, Which I desir’d, and got, t’was but a dreame of thee.
And now good morrow to our walking soules, Which watch not one another out of feare; For love, all love of other sights controules, And makes one little roome, an every where. Let sea‐discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let Maps to other, worlds on worlds have showne, Let us possesse one world, each hath one, and is one
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, And true plaine hearts doe in the faces rest, Where can we finde two better hemispheres Without sharpe North, without declining West? What ever dyes, was not mixt equally; If our two loves be one, or, thou and I Love so alike that none doe slacken, none can die.
Winthrop Mackworth Praed (1802‐1839)
Now the rite is duly done; Now the word is spoken; And the spell has made us one Which may ne’er be broken: Rest we, dearest, in our home, ‐ Roam we o’er the heather, ‐ We shall rest, and we shall roam, Shall we not? together.
From this hour the summer rose Sweeter breathes to charm us; From this hour the winter snows Lighter fall to harm us: Fair or foul – on land or sea – Come the wind or weather, Best and worst, whate’er they be, We shall share together
Death, who friend from friend can part, Brother rend from brother, Shall but link us, heart and heart, Closer to each other: We will call his anger play, Deem his dart a feather, When we meet him on our way Hand in hand together.
George Herbert (1593‐1633)
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back, Guilty of dust and sin. But quick‐ey’d Love, observing me grow slack Form my first entrance in, Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lack’d any thing.
A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here: Love said, You shall be he. I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear, I cannot look on thee. Love took my hand and smiling did reply, Who made the eyes but I?
Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame Go where it doth deserve. And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame? My dear, then I will serve. You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat: So I did sit and eat.
SONNET NO. 18
William Shakespeare (1564‐1616)
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, Not lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest; So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long as lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Extract from Fidelity
D.H. Lawrence (1885‐1930)
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.
Extract from Sonnets from the Portuguese
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806‐1861)
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 and 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 griefs, and 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 love thee better after death.
Extract from IMITATIO CHRISTI
Thomas a Kempis (1379‐1471)
Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good. Love alon lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth. It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders all bitternss sweet and acceptable.
Nothing is sweeter than love, Nothing stronger, Nothing higher, Nothing wider, Nothing more pleasant, Nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God.
Love flies, runs and leaps for joy, It is free and unrestrained. Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds. Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil, Attempts things beyond its strength.
Love sees nothing as impossible, for it feels able to achieve all things. It is strange and effective, while those who lack love faint and fail.
Love is not fickle and sentimental. nor is it intent on vanities. Like a living flame and a burning torch, it surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850‐1894)
Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank you for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded us this day, for the hope with which we expect the morrow, for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; for our friends in all parts of the earth.
Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hated, let us sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is discord, union; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, Grant that we may not so much seek To be consoled as to console, To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May God be with you and bless you; May you see you children’s children. May you be poor in misfortune, Rich is blessings, May you know nothing but happiness From this day forward.
May the road rise to meet you May the wind be always at your back May the warm rays of dun fall upon your home And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on, May blue be the skies above you, May pure be the joys that surround you, May true be the hearts that love you.
Here all seeking is over. the lost has been found, a mate has been found to share the chills of winter – now Love asks that you be united. Here is a place to rest, a place to sleep, a place in heaven. Now two are becoming one, the black might is shattered, the eastern sky grows bright. At last the great day has come!
True love is a sacred flame That burns eternally, And non 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, And true love holds with gentle hands The heart that it entwines.
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