SAMPLE POEMS AND READINGS
(by Rainer Maria Rilke, tr. By Stephen Mitchell)
How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn’t touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn’t resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin’s bow,
which draws one voice out of two seperate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song
Love One Another
(by Kahil Griban)
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 of 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.
Love is Patient, Love is Kind…
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
To My Bride
(by Steven Reiser)
To my bride, I give you my heart
Sharing love each day, from the very start
To my bride, I give you my kiss
Filling each day with joy and bliss
To my bride, I give you my being
To love, to play, to work and to sing
To my bride, I give you my mind
Learning each day to be more kind
To my bride, I give you my soul
Growing together to be more whole
To my bride, I give you my life
Rejoicing each day that you are my wife
Little Clown My Heart
(by Sandra Cisneros)
Little clown, my heart
Spangled again and lopsided,
Handstands and Peking pirouettes,
Backflips snapping open like
A carpenter’s hinged ruler,
Little gimp-footed hurray,
Paper parasol of pleasures,
Fleshy undertongue of sorrows,
Sweet potato plant of my addictions,
Acapulco cliff-diver corazón,
Fine as an obsidian dagger,
Alley-oop and here we go
into the froth, my life,
Into the flames!
The Forms of Love
(by George Oppen)
Parked in the fields
So many years ago,
A lake beside us
When the moon rose.
Leaving that ancient car
Together. I remember
Standing in the white grass
Beside it. We groped
Our way together
Downhill in the bright
Beginning to wonder
Whether it could be lake
We saw, our heads
Ringing under the stars we walked
To where it would have wet our feet
Had it been water
A Blessing for Wedding
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.
I Do Not Love You
(by Pablo Neruda)
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
(adaptation by Louis de Bernieres)
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathless, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. . . . That is just ‘being in love’ which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
May your roots grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms fall from your branches, you find out that you are one tree, and not two.
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You
(Traditional Irish Blessing)
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft on your fields.
May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
May the roof above you never fall in,
And the friends gathered below never fall out.
May you never be in want,
And always have a soft pillow for your head,
May you be forty years in heaven
Before the devil knows you’re dead.
May you be poor in misfortunes, rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies and quick to make friends,
But be you rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing but happiness from this day on.
The New Life
(by Juan Ramón Jiménez)
I have a feeling that my boat
has struck, down there in the depths,
against a great thing.
And nothing happens!
Nothing… Silence… Waves.
Nothing happens? Or has everything happened
and we are standing now, quietly, in the new life?
Ancient Egyptian Ode
This love is as good
as oil and honey to the throat,
as linen to the body,
as fine garments to the gods,
as incense to worshipers
when they enter in,
as the little seal-ring
to my finger.
It is like a ripe pear
in a man’s hand,
it is like the dates
we mix with wine,
it is like the seed
the baker adds to bread.
We will be together
even when old age comes.
And the days in between
will be food set before us,
dates and honey, bread and wine.
(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:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed 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.
The Apache Wedding Prayer
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each will be warmth for the other
Now you will feel no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there are three lives before you:
his life, her life, and your life together.
May beauty surround you both
on the journey ahead and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion
to the place where the river meets the sun.
Go now to your dwelling
to enter into the days of your life together.
And may your days be good
And long upon the earth.
(by e.e. cummings)
love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger that the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is more sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher that the sky
May these nuptials be blessed for us, may this marriage be blessed for us,
May it be ever like milk and sugar, this marriage like wine and halvah.
May this marriage be blessed with leaves and fruits like the date tree;
May this marriage be laughing forever, today, tomorrow, like the hours of paradise.
May this marriage be the sign of compassion and the approval of happiness here and hereafter;
May this marriage be fair of fame, fair of face and fair of omen as the moon in the azure sky.
I have fallen silent for words cannot describe how the spirit has mingled with this marriage.
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.
The Third Body
(by Robert Bly)
A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do not long
at this moment to be older, or younger, nor born
in any other nation, or time, or place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking.
Their breaths together feed someone whom we do not know.
The man sees the way his fingers move;
he sees her hands close around a book she hands to him.
They obey a third body that they share in common.
They have made a promise to love that body.
Age may come, parting may come, death will come.
A man and a woman sit near each other;
as they breathe they feed someone we do not know,
someone we know of, whom we have never seen.
To My Dear and Loving Husband
(by Anne Bradstreet)
Fever 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 persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
A Blessing for Wedding
(by Jane Hirshfield)