Brides are always asking us for recommendations on great wedding readings, so we couldn’t believe our luck when this beautiful new book landed on our desks. Penguin’s Poems for Weddings, selected by Laura Barber, is an inspiring anthology of verses with a pitch-perfect sentiment to suit every couple and mood – from romantic to emotional to sweet and funny. Here are six that we love:
Poems for Weddings
BEST FOR … a dramatic ending:
“If I were loved, as I desire to be” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
If I were loved, as I desire to be,
What is there in the great sphere of the earth,
And range of evil between death and birth,
That I should fear, – if I were loved by thee?
All the inner, all the outer world of pain
Clear love would pierce and cleave, if thou wert mine,
As I have heard that, somewhere in the main,
Fresh-water springs come up through bitter brine.
‘Twere joy, not fear, clasped hand-in-hand with thee,
To wait for death – mute – careless of all ills,
Apart upon a mountain, though the surge
Of some new deluge from a thousand hills
Flung leagues of roaring foam into the gorge
Below us, as far on as eye could see.
BEST FOR … expressing unconditional love:
To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If every man were loved 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 aught but love from thee give recompense.
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 perséver,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
BEST FOR … capturing the feeling of finding The One:
To a Friend by Amy Lowell
I ask but one thing of you, only one.
That you will always be my dream of you;
That never shall I wake to fine untrue
All this I have believed and rested on,
Forever vanished, like a vision gone
Out into the night. Alas, how few
There are who strike in us a chord we knew
Existed, but so seldom heard its tone
We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.
The world is full of rude awakenings
And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,
Yet still our human longing vainly clings
To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.
O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!
BEST FOR … becoming the ultimate team:
Of Man and Wife by Richard Edes
No love to love of man and wife;
No hope to hope of constant heart;
No joy to joy in wedded life;
No faith to faith in either part:
Flesh is of flesh, and bone of bone
When deeds and words and thoughts are one.
Thy friend an other friend may be,
But other self is not the same;
Thy spouse the self-same is with thee,
In body, mind, in goods and name:
No thine, no mine, may other call,
For all is one, and one is all.
BEST FOR … couples who’ve been together forever already:
“Oh no – not even when first we loved” by Thomas Moore
Oh, no – not even when first we loved
Wert thou as dear as now thou art;
Thy beauty then my senses moved,
But now thy virtues bind my heart.
What was but passion’s sigh before,
Has since been turned to reason’s vow;
And, though I then might love thee more
Trust me, I love thee better now.
Although my heart in earlier youth
Might kindle with more wild desire,
Believe me, it has gained in truth
Much more than it has lost in fire.
The flame now warms my inmost core,
That then but sparkled over my brow,
And, though I seemed to love thee more,
Yet, oh, I love thee better now.
BEST FOR … a sweet snippet to quote on stationery or tables:
To love you without stint and all I can
Today, tomorrow, world without an end.
Penguin’s Poems for Weddings, selected by Laura Barber, is published by Penguin Classics and is on sale now (RRP £14.99)