My gorgeous friend Jess recently asked if I knew of any good love poems.
First I pointed her to these two blog entries that I think are just brilliant: A Practical Wedding (of course) and Offbeat Bride.
Then, I went through my giant file of quotes that I love and created a document of the love and marriage ones. I figured I'd share them with you all while I've got them all in one place.
Because we had friends and family read the Seven Blessing in both English and Hebrew plus folks reading Hebrew scripture and Christian scripture, we felt it wasn't really necessary to have additional readings. However, that doesn't mean I can't love them.
Bride and bridegroom performed the Dance of Isaiah. Hip to hip, arms interwoven to hold hands, Desdemona and Lefty circumnabulated the captain once, twice and then again, spinning the cocoon of their life together. No patriarchal linearity here. We Greeks get married in circles, to impress upon ourselves the essential matrimonial facts: that to be happy, you have to find variety in repetition; that to go forward you have to come back to where you began. (Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex)
I stepped into the room late last night
Because late is the time I keep
You were sleeping warm as coal
In a pocket of comfort and white sheets
But you don't startle anymore when I step into the room
Though the hour is later than midnight
And neither window can place a moon.
"I missed you," you say
And it sounds like a promise
When whispered half asleep
Your skin still damp with sweat
From thoughts your dreams refused to keep
I follow my memory to a switch on a light
"Shut your eyes," my voice cut short
When darkness turns bright
"Do you love me?" you say
But love is too familiar a word
For in this bed 10,000 times a phrase already heard
But, "I love you" speaks my reply
Though I know I failed myself and you for not
Matching how I feel with words of higher wealth
I know it's lonely in the world tonight
Because here is more than what's deserved
And the imbalance can't be summed in black and white
Cause "love's" too familiar a word. (Ellis Paul)
A marriage made in Heaven is one where a man and a woman become more richly themselves together than the chances either of them could have managed to become alone. (From "Marriage" by Frederick Buechner from Whistling in the Dark)
Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as the beating of my heart,
suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of the thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed,
again what I chose before. (Wendell Berry, "The Wild Rose)
On the one side is your happiness, and on the other is your past - the self you were used to, going through life alone, heir to your own experience. Once you commit yourself, everything changes and the rest of your life seems to you like a dark forest on the property you have recently acquired. It is yours, but still you are afraid to enter it, wondering what you might find: a little chapel, a stand of birches, wolves, snakes, the worst you can imagine or the best. You take one timid step forward, but then you realize you are not alone. You take someone's hand . . . and strain through the darkness to see ahead. (Laurie Colwin, "The Lone Pilgrim")
‘If a woman is stronger than her husband, she comes to despise him. She has the choice of either tyrannizing him or else making herself less in order not to make him less. If the husband is strong enough, though. . .' she poked him again, even harder, 'she can be as strong as she is, as strong as she can grow to be.' (Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos)
He closed the door carefully behind him, and at that Daily Alice awoke, not because of any noise he’d made but because the whole peace of her sleep had been subtly broken and invaded by his absence. (John Crowley, Little, Big)
A glimpse, through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, around the stove, late of a winter night – And I unremark’d seated in a corner;
Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently approaching, and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand;
A long while, amid the noises of coming and going – of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word. (Walt Whitman)
Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy. (Wendell Berry, “The Country of Marriage”)
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two. (Louis de Bernieres)
Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two young people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, - a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky. (from Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, translated by Stephen Mitchell)
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth. ("Late Fragment," by Raymond Carver)
Sometimes we push against love to see if it is fragile. (Nanette Sawyer, 28 September 2008)
We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. It isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems – the ones that make you truly who you are – that you’re ready to find a life-long mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person – someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.” (from Andrew Boyd's Daily Afflictions, Loving the Wrong Person)
While exclusionary interest in one other human being, which is what we call courtship, is all very exciting in the stages of discovery, there is not enough substance in it for a lifetime, no matter how fascinating the people or passionate the romance.
The world, on the other hand, is chock full of interesting and curious things. The point of the courtship -- marriage -- is to secure someone with whom you wish to go hand in hand through this source of entertainment, each making discoveries, and then sharing some and merely reporting others. Anyone who tries to compete with the entire world, demanding to be someone's sole source of interest and attention, is asking to be classified as a bore. "Why don't you ever want to talk to me?" will probably never start a satisfactory marital conversation. "Guess what?" will probably never fail. (Miss Manners)
In raising the status of wife to one of presumed equality, lesbian marriages have the potential to improve the status of women in straight union as well. Freed from being a term inextricably linked to “husband,” “wife” can take on new meanings. Once we accept the possibility of “wife an wife,” the whole system of opposite-and-unequal terms gets thrown out of whack. Instead of falling into preordained roles of husband as king of his castle and wife as “trouble and strife,” individuals can explore innovative ways to express relatedness. (Audrey Bilger, “Wife Support,” Bitch Magazine, Winter 2009)
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