69 Greatest Poems About Wedded Love

Getting married is quite a challenge. But when you already found the one, it would be a lot easier. Everything seemed magical before getting married until the honeymoon period. But it would be the other side of the story when you and your spouse got too comfortable with each other. There are different kinds of how wedded love would change or remain throughout the year, and some poets wrote poems about it.

These are sixty-nine (69) greatest poems about wedded love. If you’ve gotten married or are interested in how poets described marriage through their poems, these poems are for you.

Keep reading…

“Till death us part”


“Till death us part,”
Thus speaks the heart
When each to each repeats the words of doom;
For better and for worse,
Through blessing and through curse,
We shall be one, till life’s last hour shall come.


Life with its myriad grasp
Our yearning souls shall clasp
By ceaseless love and still expectant wonder;
In bonds that shall endure
Indissolubly sure
Till God in death shall part our paths asunder.


Till death us join!
Oh, word yet more divine,
Which to the breaking heart breathes hope sublime!
Through wasted hours,
And shattered powers,
We still are one, despite the change and time.


Death with his healing hand
Shall knit once more the band,
Which needs but that one link that none may sever;
Till, through the only Good,
Seen, felt, and understood,
The life in God shall make us one forever.

Arthur Penrhyn Stanley

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds”

Sonnet CXVI.


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-fixèd mark, 5
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; 10
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 proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

William Shakespeare

Sonnets from the Portuguese
VI. Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand


Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforward in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore,…
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, he hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wedded.


A solemn thing it was, I said,
A woman white to be,
And wear, if God should count me fit,
Her hallowed mystery.


A timid thing to drop a life
Into the purple well,
Too plummetless that it come back
Eternity until.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XIV. If thou must love me, let it be for naught


If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
“I love her for her smile … her look … her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day.”
For these things in themselves, belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby.
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XVIII. I never gave a lock of hair away


I never gave a lock of hair away
To a man, Dearest, except this to thee,
Which now upon my fingers thoughtfully
I ring out to the full brown length and say
“Take it.” My day of youth went yesterday;
My hair no longer bounds to my foot’s glee.
Nor plant I it from rose or myrtle tree,
As girls do, any more. It only may
Now shade on two pale cheeks, the mark of tears,
Taught drooping from the head that hangs aside
Through sorrow’s trick. I thought the funeral shears
Would take this first, but Love is justified,—
Take it thou,… finding pure, from all those years,
The kiss my mother left here when she died.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Wedding.


A Feast was in a village spread,
It was a wedding-day, they said.
The parlour of the inn I found,
And saw the couples whirling round,
Each lass attended by her lad,
And all seem’d loving, blithe, and glad;
But on my asking for the bride,
A fellow with a stare, replied:
“‘Tis not the place that point to raise!


We’re only dancing in her honour;
We now have danced three nights and days,


And not bestowed one thought upon her.”
* * * *


Whoe’er in life employs his eyes
Such cases oft will recognise.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XXI. Say over again, and yet once over again


Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated
Should seem a “cuckoo-song,” as thou dost treat it,
Remember never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain,
Comes the fresh spring in all her green completed.
Beloved, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt’s pain
Cry: “Speak once more—thou lovest!” Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,—
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me,—toll
The silver iterance!—only minding, dear,
To love me also in silence, with thy soul.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XXVIII. My letters! all dead paper,… mute and white!


My letters! all dead paper,… mute and white!—
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee to-night.
This said,… he wished to have me in his sight
Once, as a friend: this fixed a day in spring
To come and touch my hand … a simple thing,
Yet I wept for it! this,… the paper’s light …
Said, Dear, I love thee; and I sank and quailed
As if God’s future thundered on my past.
This said, I am thine,—and so its ink has paled
With lying at my heart that beat too fast.
And this … O Love, thy words have ill availed,
If what this said, I dared repeat at last!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XXXV. If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange


If I leave all for thee, wilt thou exchange
And be all to me? Shall I never miss
Home-talk and blessing and the common kiss
That comes to each in turn, nor count it strange,
When I look up, to drop on a new range
Of walls and floors, another home than this?
Nay, wilt thou fill that place by me which is
Filled by dead eyes too tender to know change
That ’s hardest? If to conquer love, has tried,
To conquer grief, tries more, as all things prove,
For grief indeed is love and grief beside.
Alas, I have grieved so I am hard to love.
Yet love me—wilt thou? Open thine heart wide,
And fold within the wet wings of thy dove.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Wedding.


O marriage-bells, your clamor tells
Two weddings in one breath.
SHE marries whom her love compels:
– And I wed Goodman Death!
My brain is blank, my tears are red;
Listen, O God: – “I will,” he said: –
And I would that I were dead.
Come groomsman Grief and bridesmaid Pain
Come and stand with a ghastly twain.
My Bridegroom Death is come o’er the meres
To wed a bride with bloody tears.
Ring, ring, O bells, full merrily:
Life-bells to her, death-bells to me:
O Death, I am true wife to thee!


Macon, Georgia, 1865.

Sidney Lanier

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XXXVIII. First time he kissed me, he but only kissed


First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write;
And, ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its “O list!”
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O, beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love’s own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud, and said, “My love, my own!”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XXXIX. Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace


Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me,
(Against which, years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains,) and behold my soul’s true face,
The dim and weary witness of life’s race,—
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul’s distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,—because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God’s infliction, nor death’s neighborhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,—
Nothing repels thee,… Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The Wedding Bells.


The Wedding Bells were ringing,
And Monday was the day,
And all the little ladies
Were there so fresh and gay.


And up up up the steps they went,
The wedding fine to see;
And the Roses were all for the Bride,
So pretty so pretty was she.

Kate Greenaway

Sonnets from the Portuguese
XLIII. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways


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 5
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 with my childhood’s faith. 10
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.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“My Love, I have no fear that thou shouldst die”


My Love, I have no fear that thou shouldst die;
Albeit I ask no fairer life than this,
Whose numbering-clock is still thy gentle kiss,
While Time and Peace with hands unlockèd fly,—
Yet care I not where in Eternity
We live and love, well knowing that there is
No backward step for those who feel the bliss
Of Faith as their most lofty yearnings high:
Love hath so purified my being’s core,
Meseems I scarcely should be startled, even,
To find, some morn, that thou hadst gone before;
Since, with thy love, this knowledge too was given,
Which each calm day doth strengthen more and more,
That they who love are but one step from Heaven.

James Russell Lowell

The Wedding Gown


She put her wedding-gown away
As tenderly as one might close,
With kissing lips and finger-tips,
The petals of a rose
Still held for the Beloved’s sake–
The loveliest that blows.


She put her wedding-gown away–
The quiet place was all astir
With vague perfume that filled the room,
Cedar and lavender,
Yet sweeter still about it clung
The fragrant thoughts of her.


She put her wedding-gown away–
Yet lingered where its whiteness gleamed
As one above a sleeping Love,
Oh, thus it was she seemed,
Reluctant still to turn and go
And leave him as he dreamed.

Theodosia Garrison

“Our love is not a fading, earthly flower”


Our love is not a fading, earthly flower:
Its wingèd seed dropped down from Paradise,
And, nursed by day and night, by sun and shower,
Doth momently to fresher beauty rise:
To us the leafless autumn is not bare,
Nor winter’s rattling boughs lack lusty green,
Our summer hearts make summer’s fulness, where
No leaf, or bud, or blossom may be seen:
For nature’s life in love’s deep life doth lie,
Love,—whose forgetfulness is beauty’s death,
Whose mystic key these cells of Thou and I
Into the infinite freedom openeth,
And makes the body’s dark and narrow grate
The wind-flung leaves of Heaven’s palace-gate.

James Russell Lowell

“I thought our love at full, but I did err”


I thought our love at full, but I did err;
Joy’s wreath drooped o’er mine eyes; I could not see
That sorrow in our happy world must be
Love’s deepest spokesman and interpreter.
But, as a mother feels her child first stir
Under her heart, so felt I instantly
Deep in my soul another bond to thee
Thrill with that life we saw depart from her;
O mother of our angel child! twice dear!
Death knits as well as parts, and still, I wis,
Her tender radiance shall infold us here,
Even as the light, borne up by inward bliss,
Threads the void glooms of space without a fear,
To print on farthest stars her pitying kiss.

James Russell Lowell

My Love


Not as all other women are
Is she that to my soul is dear;
Her glorious fancies come from far,
Beneath the silver evening-star,
And yet her heart is ever near.


Great feelings hath she of her own,
Which lesser souls may never know;
God giveth them to her alone,
And sweet they are as any tone
Wherewith the wind may choose to blow.


Yet in herself she dwelleth not,
Although no home were half so fair;
No simplest duty is forgot;
Life hath no dim and lowly spot
That doth not in her sunshine share.


She doeth little kindnesses,
Which most leave undone, or despise;
For naught that sets one heart at ease,
And giveth happiness or peace,
Is low-esteemed in her eyes.

She hath no scorn of common things;
And, though she seem of other birth,
Round us her heart entwines and clings,
And patiently she folds her wings
To tread the humble paths of earth.


Her glorious fancies come from far,
And deeds of week-day holiness
Fall from her noiseless as the snow;
Nor hath she ever chanced to know
That aught were easier than to bless.

She is most fair, and thereunto
Her life doth rightly harmonize;
Feeling or thought that was not true
Ne’er made less beautiful the blue
Unclouded heaven of her eyes.


She is a woman—one in whom
The spring-time of her childish years
Hath never lost its fresh perfume,
Though knowing well that life hath room
For many blights and many tears.


I love her with a love as still
As a broad river’s peaceful might,
Which, by high tower and lowly mill,
Goes wandering at its own will,
And yet doth ever flow aright.


And, on its full, deep breast serene,
Like quiet isles my duties lie;
It flows around them and between,
And makes them fresh and fair and green—
Sweet homes wherein to live and die.

James Russell Lowell

Wedding-Hymn.


Thou God, whose high, eternal Love
Is the only blue sky of our life,
Clear all the Heaven that bends above
The life-road of this man and wife.


May these two lives be but one note
In the world’s strange-sounding harmony,
Whose sacred music e’er shall float
Through every discord up to Thee.


As when from separate stars two beams
Unite to form one tender ray:
As when two sweet but shadowy dreams
Explain each other in the day:


So may these two dear hearts one light
Emit, and each interpret each.
Let an angel come and dwell to-night
In this dear double-heart, and teach!


Macon, Georgia, September, 1865.

Sidney Lanier

Adam Describing Eve


From “Paradise Lost,” Book VIII.


Mine eyes he closed, but open left the cell
Of fancy, my internal sight, by which
Abstract, as in a trance, methought I saw,
Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape
Still glorious before whom awake I stood;
Who, stooping, opened my left side, and took
From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm,
And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound,
But suddenly with flesh filled up and healed:
The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands;
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Manlike, but different sex, so lovely fair,
That what seemed fair in all the world seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained,
And in her looks, which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspired
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
She disappeared, and left me dark; I waked
To find her, or forever to deplore
Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure:
When out of hope, behold her, not far off,
Such as I saw her in my dream, adorned
With what all earth or Heaven could bestow
To make her amiable. On she came,
Led by her heavenly Maker, though unseen,
And guided by his voice, nor uninformed
Of nuptial sanctity and marriage rites:
Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud:
“This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled
Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,
Giver of all things fair, but fairest this
Of all thy gifts, nor enviest. I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself
Before me; Woman is her name, of man
Extracted: for this cause he shall forego
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere;
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul.”
She heard me thus, and though divinely brought,
Yet innocence and virgin modesty,
Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
That would be wooed, and not unsought be won,
Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired,
The more desirable; or, to say all,
Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought,
Wrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned;
I followed her; she what was honor knew,
And with obsequious majesty approved
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
I led her blushing like the morn: all Heaven,
And happy constellations on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the earth
Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill;
Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose, flung odors from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening star
On his hill-top, to light the bridal lamp.

* * * *
When I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best;
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows;
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind and nobleness their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed,

* * * *
Neither her outside formed so fair, nor aught

* * * *
So much delights me, as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies that daily flow
From all her words and actions, mixed with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeigned
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;
Harmony to behold in wedded pair
More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.

John Milton

Adam to Eve


From “Paradise Lost,” Book IX.


O fairest of creation, last and best
Of all God’s works, creature in whom excelled
Whatever can to sight or thought be formed,
Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost,
Defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote!
Rather, how hast thou yielded to transgress
The strict forbiddance, how to violate
The sacred fruit forbidden! Some cursèd fraud
Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown,
And me with thee hath ruined, for with thee
Certain my resolution is to die.
How can I live without thee, how forego
Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly joined,
To live again in these wild woods forlorn?
Should God create another Eve, and I
Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart; no, no, I feel
The link of nature draw me: flesh of flesh,
Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.

* * * *

However, I with thee have fixed my lot,
Certain to undergo like doom; if death
Consort with thee, death is to me as life;
So forcible within my heart I feel
The bond of nature draw me to my own,
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;
Our state cannot be severed, we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.

John Milton

Brutus and Portia


From “Julius Cæsar,” Act II. Sc. 1.
Enter PORTIA.
PORTIA.— Brutus, my lord!
BRUTUS.—Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?
It is not for your health thus to commit
Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
PORTIA.—Nor for yours neither. You ’ve ungently, Brutus, 5
Stole from my bed; and yesternight, at supper,
You suddenly arose and walked about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across;
And, when I asked you what the matter was,
You stared upon me with ungentle looks.
I urged you further; then you scratched your head,
And too impatiently stamped with your foot.
Yet I insisted, yet you answered not,
But with an angry wafture of your hand
Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did;
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seemed too much enkindled, and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humor,
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep,
And, could it work so much upon your shape
As it hath much prevailed on your condition,
I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord,
Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
BRUTUS.—I am not well in health, and that is all.
PORTIA.—Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health,
He would embrace the means to come by it.
BRUTUS.—Why, so I do.—Good Portia, go to bed.
PORTIA.—Is Brutus sick? and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humors
Of the dank morning? What! is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed,
To dare the vile contagion of the night,
And tempt the rheumy and unpurgèd air
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus;
You have some sick offence within your mind,
Which by the right and virtue of my place
I ought to know of: and, upon my knees,
I charm you, by my once commended beauty,
By all your vows of love and that great vow
Which did incorporate and make us one,
That you unfold to me, yourself, your half,
Why you are heavy, and what men to-night
Have had resort to you; for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
BRUTUS.— Kneel not, gentle Portia.
PORTIA.—I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But, as it were, in sort of limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.
BRUTUS.—You are my true and honorable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart.
PORTIA.—If this were true, then should I know this secret.
I grant I am a woman, but withal
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife;
I grant I am a woman, but withal
A woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so fathered and so husbanded?
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose ’em:
I have made strong proof of my constancy,
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here in the thigh; can I bear that with patience,
And not my husband’s secrets?
BRUTUS.— O, ye gods,
Render me worthy of this noble wife!—
(Knocking within.)
Hark, hark! one knocks. Portia, go in a while;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will cónstrue to thee,
All the charáctery of my sad brows.
Leave me with haste.— (Exit PORTIA.)

William Shakespeare

The Wedding Morning


Tabitha dressed for her wedding:-
“Tabby, why look so sad?”
” O I feel a great gloominess spreading, spreading,
Instead of supremely glad! . . .


“I called on Carry last night,
And he came whilst I was there,
Not knowing I’d called. So I kept out of sight,
And I heard what he said to her:


“‘ Ah, I’d far liefer marry
YOU, Dear, to-morrow!’ he said,
‘But that cannot be.’ O I’d give him to Carry,
And willingly see them wed,


“But how can I do it when
His baby will soon be born?
After that I hope I may die. And then
She can have him. I shall not mourn!’

Thomas Hardy

Lord Walter’s Wife


“But why do you go?” said the lady, while both sate under the yew,
And her eyes were alive in their depth, as the kraken beneath the sea-blue.


“Because I fear you,” he answered;—“because you are far too fair,
And able to strangle my soul in a mesh of your gold-colored hair.”


“Oh, that,” she said, “is no reason! Such knots are quickly undone,
And too much beauty, I reckon, is nothing but too much sun.”


“Yet farewell so,” he answered;—“the sunstroke ’s fatal at times.
I value your husband, Lord Walter, whose gallop rings still from the limes.”


“O, that,” she said, “is no reason. You smell a rose through a fence:
If two should smell it, what matter? who grumbles, and where ’s the pretence?”


“But I,” he replied, “have promised another, when love was free,
To love her alone, alone, who alone and afar loves me.”

“Why, that,” she said. “is no reason. Love ’s always free, I am told.
Will you vow to be safe from the headache on Tuesday, and think it will hold?”


“But you,” he replied, “have a daughter, a young little child, who was laid
In your lap to be pure; so I leave you: the angels would make me afraid.”


“O, that,” she said, “is no reason. The angels keep out of the way;
And Dora, the child, observes nothing, although you should please me and stay.”

At which he rose up in his anger,—“Why, now, you no longer are fair!
Why, now, you no longer are fatal, but ugly and hateful, I swear.”


At which she laughed out in her scorn,—“These men! O, these men overnice,
Who are shocked if a color not virtuous is frankly put on by a vice.”


Her eyes blazed upon him—“And you! You bring us your vices so near
That we smell them! you think in our presence a thought ’t would defame us to hear!

“What reason had you, and what right,—I appeal to your soul from my life,—
To find me too fair as a woman? Why, sir, I am pure, and a wife.


“Is the day-star too fair up above you? It burns you not. Dare you imply
I brushed you more close than the star does, when Walter had set me as high?


“If a man finds a woman too fair, he means simply adapted too much
To uses unlawful and fatal. The praise!—shall I thank you for such?


“Too fair?—not unless you misuse us! and surely if, once in a while,
You attain to it, straightway you call us no longer too fair, but too vile.


“A moment,—I pray your attention!—I have a poor word in my head
I must utter, though womanly custom would set it down better unsaid.

“You grew, sir, pale to impertinence, once when I showed you a ring.
You kissed my fan when I dropped it. No matter! I ’ve broken the thing.


“You did me the honor, perhaps, to be moved at my side now and then
In the senses,—a vice, I have heard, which is common to beasts and some men.

“Love ’s a virtue for heroes!—as white as the snow on high hills,
And immortal as every great soul is that struggles, endures, and fulfils.


“I love my Walter profoundly,—you, Maude, though you faltered a week,
For the sake of … what was it? an eyebrow? or, less still, a mole on a cheek?


“And since, when all ’s said, you ’re too noble to stoop to the frivolous cant
About crimes irresistible, virtues that swindle, betray, and supplant,


“I determined to prove to yourself that, whate’er you might dream or avow
By illusion, you wanted precisely no more of me than you have now.

“There! Look me full in the face!—in the face. Understand, if you can,
That the eyes of such women as I am are clean as the palm of a man.


“Drop his hand, you insult him. Avoid us for fear we should cost you a scar,—
You take us for harlots, I tell you, and not for the women we are.


“You wrong me: but then I consider … there ’s Walter! And so at the end,
I vowed that he should not be mulcted, by me, in the hand of a friend.


“Have I hurt you indeed? We are quits then. Nay, friend of my Walter, be mine!
Come, Dora, my darling, my angel, and help me to ask him to dine.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Paulina’s Appeal


From the French of W. F. Nokes


From “Polyeucte”


SEVERUS— I stand agaze,
Rooted, confounded, in sheer wonderment.
Such blind resolve is so unparalleled,
I scarce may trust the witness of mine ears.
A heart that loves you—and what heart so poor
That knowing, loves you not?—one loved of you,
To leave regretless so much bliss just won!
Nay, more—as though it were a fatal prize—
To his corrival straight to yield it up!
Truly, or wondrous manias Christians have,
Or their self-happiness must be sans bourn,
Since to attain it they will cast away
What others at an empire’s cost would win.
For me, had fate, a little sooner kind,
Blessed my true service with your hand’s reward,
The glory of your eyes had been my worship;
My twin kings had they reigned—kings? nay, my gods!
To dust, to powder, had I grinded been
E’er I had—
PAULINA—Hold! let me not hear too much;
Let not the smoldering embers of old time
Relume to speech unworthy of us both.
Severus, know Paulina utterly:
His latest hour my Polyeuctus nears;
Nay, scarce a minute has he yet to live.
You all unwittingly have been the cause
Of this his death. I know not if your thoughts,
Their portals opening to your wish’s knock,
Have dared to some wild hope give harboring,
Based upon his undoing; but know well,
No death so cruel I would not boldly front,
Hell hath no tortures I would not endure,
Or e’er my stainless honor I would spot,
My hand bestowing upon any man
Who any wise were his death’s instrument.
And could you for such madness deem me apt,
Hate would replace my erstwhile tender love.
You ’re generous—still be so, to the end:
My father fears you; is in mood to grant
All you might ask; ay, I e’en dare aver
That if my husband he do sacrifice,
’Twill be to you. Save then your hapless victim;
Bestir yourself; stretch him your helping hand!
That this is much to claim of you, I know,
But more the effort ’s great, the more the glory!
To save a rival ’spite of rivalry
Were greatness all particular to you.
And—be that not enough for your renown—
’T were much to let a woman erst so loved,
And haply who may yet be somewhat dear,
Her greatest treasure owe to your great heart.
In fine, remember that you are Severus!
Adieu! alone determine of your course;
For if you be not all I think you are,
I ’d still, not knowing it, believe you such.

Pierre Corneille

The Wife of Loki


Cursed by the gods and crowned with shame,
Fell father of a direful brood,
Whose crimes have filled the heaven with flame
And drenched the earth with blood;
Loki, the guileful Loki, stands
Within a rocky mountain-gorge;
Chains gird his body, feet, and hands,
Wrought in no mortal forge.
Coiled on the rock, a mighty snake
Above him, day and night, is hung,
With dull malignant eyes awake,
And poison-dropping tongue.
Drop follows drop in ceasless flow,
Each falling where the other fell,
To lay upon his blistered brow
The liquid fire of hell.
But lo, beside the howling wretch
A woman stands, devoid of dread,
And one pale arm is seen to stretch
Above his tortured head!
All through the day is lifted up,
And all the weary night-time through,
One patient hand that holds a cup
To catch the poison-dew.
Sometimes the venom overfills
The cup, and she must pour it forth;
With Loki’s curses then the hills
Are rent from south to north.
But she in answer only sighs,
And lays her lips upon his face,
And, with love’s anguish in her eyes,
Resumes her constant place.

Lady Charlotte Elliot

Wedding-Night. (Moods Of Love.)


At night, with shaded eyes, the summer moon
In tender meditation downward glances
At the dark earth, far-set in dim expanses,
And, welcomer than blazoned gold of noon,
Down through the air her steady lights are strewn.
The breezy forests sigh in moonlit trances,
And the full-hearted poet, waking, fancies
The smiling hills will break in laughter soon.


Oh thus, thou gentle Nature, dost thou shine
On me to-night. My very limbs would melt,
Like rugged earth beneath yon ray divine,
Into faint semblance of what they have felt:
Thine eye doth color me, O wife, O mine,
With peace that in thy spirit long hath dwelt!

George Parsons Lathrop

“Like a laverock in the lift”


It ’s we two, it ’s we two for aye,
All the world, and we two, and Heaven be our stay!
Like a laverock 1 in the lift, 2 sing, O bonny bride!
All the world was Adam once, with Eve by his side.


What ’s the world, my lass, my love!—what can it do?
I am thine, and thou art mine; life is sweet and new.
If the world have missed the mark, let it stand by;
For we two have gotten leave, and once more will try.


Like a laverock in the lift, sing, O bonny bride!
It ’s we two, it ’s we two, happy side by side.
Take a kiss from me, thy man; now the song begins:
“All is made afresh for us, and the brave heart wins.”

When the darker days come, and no sun will shine,
Thou shalt dry my tears, lass, and I ’ll dry thine.
It ’s we two, it ’s we two, while the world ’s away,
Sitting by the golden sheaves on our wedding day.

Jean Ingelow

“Were I but his own wife”


Were I but his own wife, to guard and to guide him,
’T is little of sorrow should fall on my dear;
I ’d chant my low love-verses, stealing beside him,
So faint and so tender his heart would but hear;
I ’d pull the wild blossoms from valley and highland;
And there at his feet I would lay them all down;
I ’d sing him the songs of our poor stricken island,
Till his heart was on fire with a love like my own.

There ’s a rose by his dwelling—I ’d tend the lone treasure,
That he might have flowers when the summer would come; 10
There ’s a harp in his hall—I would wake its sweet measure,
For he must have music to brighten his home.
Were I but his own wife, to guide and to guard him,
’T is little of sorrow should fall on my dear;
For every kind glance my whole life would award him—
In sickness I ’d soothe and in sadness I ’d cheer.


My heart is a fount welling upward for ever,
When I think of my true-love, by night or by day;
That heart keeps its faith like a fast-flowing river
Which gushes for ever and sings on its way.
I have thoughts full of peace for his soul to repose in,
Were I but his own wife, to win and to woo—
Oh, sweet, if the night of misfortune were closing,
To rise like the morning star, darling for you!

Ellen Mary Downing

Two Lovers


Two lovers by a moss-grown spring:
They leaned soft cheeks together there,
Mingled the dark and sunny hair,
And heard the wooing thrushes sing.
O budding time!
O love’s blest prime!


Two wedded from the portal stept:
The bells made happy carolings,
The air was soft as fanning wings,
White petals on the pathway slept.
O pure-eyed bride!
O tender pride!

Two faces o’er a cradle bent:
Two hands above the head were locked;
These pressed each other while they rocked,
Those watched a life that love had sent.
O solemn hour!
O hidden power!


Two parents by the evening fire:
The red light fell about their knees
On heads that rose by slow degrees
Like buds upon the lily spire.
O patient life!
O tender strife!


The two still sat together there,
The red light shone about their knees;
But all the heads by slow degrees
Had gone and left that lonely pair.
O voyage fast!
O vanished past!


The red light shone upon the floor
And made the space between them wide;
They drew their chairs up side by side,
Their pale cheeks joined, and said,
“Once more!”
O memories!
O past that is!

George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross)

The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotos


The wide Pacific waters
And the Atlantic meet.
With cries of joy they mingle,
In tides of love they greet.
Above the drowned ages
A wind of wooing blows: –
The red rose woos the lotos,
The lotos woos the rose . . .


The lotos conquered Egypt.
The rose was loved in Rome.
Great India crowned the lotos:
(Britain the rose’s home).
Old China crowned the lotos,
They crowned it in Japan.
But Christendom adored the rose
Ere Christendom began . . .


The lotos speaks of slumber:
The rose is as a dart.
The lotos is Nirvana:
The rose is Mary’s heart.
The rose is deathless, restless,
The splendor of our pain:
The flush and fire of labor
That builds, not all in vain. . . .


The genius of the lotos
Shall heal earth’s too-much fret.
The rose, in blinding glory,
Shall waken Asia yet.
Hail to their loves, ye peoples!
Behold, a world-wind blows,
That aids the ivory lotos
To wed the red red rose!

Vachel Lindsay

In Twos


Somewhere in the world there hide
Garden-gates that no one sees
Save they come in happy twos,—
Not in one, nor yet in threes.


But from every maiden’s door
Leads a pathway straight and true;
Map and survey know it not,—
He who finds, finds room for two!


Then they see the garden-gates!
Never skies so blue as theirs,
Never flowers so many-sweet,
As for those who come in pairs.


Round and round the alleys wind:
Now a cradle bars the way,
Now a little mound, behind,—
So the two go through the day.


When no nook in all the lanes
But has heard a song or sigh,
Lo! another garden-gate
Opens as the two go by.


In they wander, knowing not;
“Five and twenty!” fills the air
With a silvery echo low,
All about the startled pair.


Happier yet these garden-walks:
Closer, heart to heart, they lean;
Stiller, softer, falls the light;
Few the twos, and far between.

Till, at last, as on they pass
Down the paths so well they know,
Once again at hidden gates
Stand the two: they enter slow.


Golden Gates of “Fifty Years,”
May our two your latchet press!
Garden of the Sunset Land,
Hold their dearest happiness!

Then a quiet walk again:
Then a wicket in the wall:
Then one, stepping on alone,—
Then two at the Heart of All!

William Channing Gannett

Hebrew Wedding


From “The Fall of Jerusalem”
TO the sound of timbrels sweet
Moving slow our solemn feet,
We have borne thee on the road
To the virgin’s blest abode;
With thy yellow torches gleaming,
And thy scarlet mantle streaming,
And the canopy above
Swaying as we slowly move.
Thou hast left the joyous feast,
And the mirth and wine has ceased;
And now we set thee down before
The jealously unclosing door,
That the favored youth admits
Where the veilèd virgin sits
In the bliss of maiden fear,
Waiting our soft tread to hear,
And the music’s brisker din
At the bridegroom’s entering in,
Entering in, a welcome guest,
To the chamber of his rest.


CHORUS OF MAIDENS
Now the jocund song is thine,
Bride of David’s kingly line;
How thy dove-like bosom trembleth,
And thy shrouded eye resembleth
Violets, when the dews of eve
A moist and tremulous glitter leave
On the bashful sealèd lid!
Close within the bride-veil hid,
Motionless thou sitt’st and mute;
Save that at the soft salute
Of each entering maiden friend,
Thou dost rise and softly bend.


Hark! a brisker, merrier glee!
The door unfolds,—’t is he! ’t is he!
Thus we lift our lamps to meet him,
Thus we touch our lutes to greet him.
Thou shalt give a fonder meeting,
Thou shalt give a tenderer greeting.

Henry Hart Milman

The Wedding-Day


From “Epithalamion”

* * * *
Now is my love all ready forth to come:
Let all the virgins therefore well awayt:
And ye fresh boyes, that tend upon her groome,
Prepare yourselves; for he is coming strayt.
Set all your things in seemely good array,
Fit for so joyfull day:
The joyfulst day that ever sunne did see,
Faire Sun! shew forth thy favourable ray,
And let thy lifull heat not fervent be,
For feare of burning her sunshyny face,
Her beauty to disgrace.
O fayrest Phœbus! father of the Muse!
If ever I did honour thee aright,
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight,
Doe not thy servant’s simple boone refuse;
But let this day, let this one day, be myne;
Let all the rest be thine.
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud will sing,
That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring.

* * * *
Loe! where she comes along with portly pace,
Lyke Phœbe, from her chamber of the East.
Arysing forth to run her mighty race,
Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best.
So well it her beseemes that ye would weene
Some angell she had beene.
Her long, loose, yellow locks lyke golden wyre,
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres atweene,
Doe like a golden mantle her attyre;
And, being crownèd with a garland greene,
Seeme lyke some mayden Queene.
Her modest eyes abashèd to behold
So many gazers as on her do stare,
Upon the lowly ground affixèd are;
Ne dare lift up her countenance too bold,
But blush to heare her prayses sung so loud,
So farre from being proud.
Nathlesse doe ye still loud her prayses sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.


Tell me, ye merchants’ daughters, did ye see
So fayre a creature in your towne before?
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she,
Adorned with beauty’s grace and vertue’s store?
Her goodly eyes lyke saphyres shining bright;
Her forehead ivory white;
Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded;
Her lips lyke cherries charming men to byte;
Her brest lyke to a bowl of cream uncrudded;
Her paps lyke lyllies budded;
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre;
And all her body like a pallace fayre,
Ascending up with many a stately stayre,
To honour’s seat and chastity’s sweet bowre.
Why stand ye still, ye virgins, in amaze
Upon her so to gaze,
Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing,
To which the woods did answer, and your echo ring?
But if ye saw that which no eyes can see,
The inward beauty of her lively spright,
Garnisht with heavenly gifts of high degree,
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight,
And stand astonisht, lyke to those which red
Meduses mazeful hed.
There dwels sweet love, and constant chastity,
Unspotted fayth, and comely womanhood,
Regard of honour, and mild modesty;
There vertue raynes as Queene in royal throne,
And giveth lawes alone,
The which the base affections doe obay,
And yeeld theyr services unto her will;
Ne thought of thing uncomely ever may
Thereto approch to tempt her mind to ill.
Had ye once seene these her celestial threasures,
And unrevealèd pleasures,
Then would ye wonder, and her prayses sing,
That al the woods should answer, and your eccho ring.
Behold, whiles she before the altar stands,
Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes,
And blesseth her with his two happy hands,
How the red roses flush up in her cheekes,
And the pure snow, with goodly vermill stayne,
Like crimson dyde in grayne:
That even the Angels, which continually
About the sacred Altare do remaine,
Forget their service and about her fly,
Ofte peeping in her face, that seemes more fayre
The more they on it stare.
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
Are governèd with goodly modesty,
That suffers not one looke to glaunce awry
Which may let in a little thought unsownd,
Why blush ye, love, to give to me your hand.
The pledge of all our band!
Sing, ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing,
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring.
Now al is done: bring home the bride againe—
Bring home the triumph of our victory;
Bring home with you the glory of her gaine—
With joyance bring her and with jollity.
Never had man more joyful day than this,
Whom heaven would heape with blis,
Make feast therefore now all this live-long day;
This day for ever to me holy is.

Edmund Spenser

The Bride


From “A Ballad upon a Wedding”

* * * *
The maid, and thereby hangs a tale,
For such a maid no Whitsun-ale
Could ever yet produce:
No grape that ’s kindly ripe could be
So round, so plump, so soft as she,
Nor half so full of juice.


Her finger was so small, the ring
Would not stay on which they did bring,—
It was too wide a peck;
And, to say truth,—for out it must,—
It looked like the great collar—just—
About our young colt’s neck.


Her feet beneath her petticoat,
Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they feared the light;
But O, she dances such a way!
No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight.

* * * *
Her cheeks so rare a white was on,
No daisy makes comparison;
Who sees them is undone;
For streaks of red were mingled there,
Such as are on a Kath’rine pear,
The side that ’s next the sun.


Her lips were red; and one was thin,
Compared to that was next her chin.
Some bee had stung it newly;
But, Dick, her eyes so guard her face,
I durst no more upon them gaze,
Than on the sun in July.


Her mouth so small, when she does speak,
Thou ’dst swear her teeth her words did break,
That they might passage get;
But she so handled still the matter,
They came as good as ours, or better,
And are not spent a whit.

* * * *

Sir John Suckling

Song: “The bride she is winsome and bonny”


From an Old Song, “Woo’d and Married and a’”


The bride she is winsome and bonny,
Her hair it is snooded sae sleek,
And faithfu’ and kind is her Johnny,
Yet fast fa’ the tears on her cheek.
New pearlins are cause of her sorrow,
New pearlins and plenishing too;
The bride that has a’ to borrow
Has e’en right mickle ado.
Woo’d and married and a’!
Woo’d and married and a’!
Is na’ she very weel aff
To be woo’d and married at a’?


Her mither then hastily spak,
“The lassie is glaikit wi’ pride;
In my pouch I had never a plack
On the day when I was a bride.
E’en tak to your wheel and be clever,
And draw out your thread in the sun;
The gear that is gifted it never
Will last like the gear that is won.
Woo’ed and married and a’!
Wi’ havins and tocher sae sma’!
I think ye are very weel aff
To be woo’d and married at a’.”


“Toot, toot,” quo’ her grey-headed faither,
“She ’s less o’ a bride than a bairn,
She ’s ta’en like a cout frae the heather,
Wi’ sense and discretion to learn.
Half husband, I trow, and half daddy,
As humour inconstantly leans,
The chiel maun be patient and steady
That yokes wi’ a mate in her teens.
A kerchief sae douce and sae neat
O’er her locks that the wind used to blaw!
I ’m baith like to laugh and to greet
When I think of her married at a’!”


Then out spak the wily bridegroom,
Weel waled were his wordies, I ween,
“I ’m rich, though my coffer be toom,
Wi’ the blinks o’ your bonny blue een.
I ’m prouder o’ thee by my side
Though thy ruffles or ribbons be few,
Than if Kate o’ the Croft were my bride
Wi’ purfles and pearlins enow.
Dear and dearest of ony!
Ye ’re woo’d and buikit and a’!
And do ye think scorn o’ your Johnny,
And grieve to be married at a’?”


She turned, and she blushed, and she smiled,
And she looked sae bashfully down;
The pride o’ her heart was beguiled,
And she played wi’ the sleeves o’ her gown.
She twirled the tag o’ her lace,
And she nipped her boddice sae blue,
Syne blinket sae sweet in his face,
And aff like a maukin she flew.
Woo’d and married and a’!
Wi’ Johnny to roose her and a’!
She thinks hersel very weel aff
To be woo’d and married at a’!

Joanna Baillie

The Newly-Wedded


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.

Winthrop Mackworth Praed

The Poet’s Bridal-Day Song


O, my love ’s like the steadfast sun,
Or streams that deepen as they run;
Nor hoary hairs, nor forty years,
Nor moments between sighs and tears,
Nor nights of thought, nor days of pain,
Nor dreams of glory dreamed in vain,
Nor mirth, nor sweetest song that flows
To sober joys and soften woes,
Can make my heart or fancy flee,
One moment, my sweet wife, from thee.


Even while I muse, I see thee sit
In maiden bloom and matron wit;
Fair, gentle as when first I sued,
Ye seem, but of sedater mood;
Yet my heart leaps as fond for thee
As when, beneath Arbigland tree,
We stayed and wooed, and thought the moon
Set on the sea an hour too soon;
Or lingered mid the falling dew,
When looks were fond and words were few.


Though I see smiling at thy feet
Five sons and ae fair daughter sweet,
And time, and care, and birthtime woes
Have dimmed thine eye and touched thy rose,
To thee, and thoughts of thee, belong
Whate’er charms me in tale or song.
When words descend like dews, unsought,
With gleams of deep, enthusiast thought,
And Fancy in her heaven flies free,
They come, my love, they come from thee.


O, when more thought we gave, of old,
To silver than some give to gold,
’T was sweet to sit and ponder o’er
How we should deck our humble bower;
’T was sweet to pull, in hope, with thee,
The golden fruit of fortune’s tree;
And sweeter still to choose and twine
A garland for that brow of thine,—
A song-wreath which may grace my Jean,
While rivers flow, and woods grow green.


At times there come, as come there ought,
Grave moments of sedater thought,
When Fortune frowns, nor lends our night
One gleam of her inconstant light;
And Hope, that decks the peasant’s bower,
Shines like a rainbow through the shower;
O, then I see, while seated nigh,
A mother’s heart shine in thine eye,
And proud resolve and purpose meek,
Speak of thee more than words can speak.
I think this wedded wife of mine
The best of all that ’s not divine.

Allan Cunningham

“Thou hast sworn by thy God, my Jeanie”


Thou hast sworn by thy God, my Jeanie,
By that pretty white hand o’ thine,
And by a’ the lowing stars in heaven,
That thou wad aye be mine!
And I hae sworn by my God, my Jeanie,
And by that kind heart o’ thine,
By a’ the stars sown thick owre heaven,
That thou shalt aye be mine!


Then foul fa’ the hands that wad loose sic bands,
And the heart that wad part sic luve!
But there ’s nae hand can loose the band,
But the finger o’ God abuve.
Though the wee, wee cot maun be my bield,
An’ my claithing ne’er sae mean.
I wad lap me up rich i’ the faulds o’ luve,—
Heaven’s armfu’ o’ my Jean!


Her white arm wad be a pillow to me,
Fu’ safter than the down;
An’ Luve wad winnow owre us his kind, kind wings
An’ sweetly I ’d sleep, an’ soun’.
Come here to me, thou lass o’ my luve!
Come here and kneel wi’ me!
The morn is fu’ o’ the presence o’ God,
An’ I canna pray without thee.


The morn-wind is sweet ’mang the beds o’ new flowers,
The wee birds sing kindlie an’ hie;
Our gudeman leans owre his kail-yard dike,
And a blythe auld bodie is he.
The Book maun be ta’en whan the carle comes hame,
Wi’ the holie psalmodie;
And thou maun speak o’ me to thy God,
And I will speak o’ thee.

Allan Cunningham

Possession


“It was our wedding-day
A month ago,” dear heart, I hear you say.
If months, or years, or ages since have passed,
I know not: I have ceased to question Time.
I only know that once there pealed a chime
Of joyous bells, and then I held you fast,
And all stood back, and none my right denied,
And forth we walked: the world was free and wide
Before us. Since that day
I count my life: the Past is washed away.


It was no dream, that vow:
It was a voice that woke me from a dream;—
A happy dream, I think; but I am waking now,
And drink the splendor of a sun supreme
That turns the mist of former tears to gold.
With these arms I hold
The fleeting promise, chased so long in vain:
Ah, weary bird! thou wilt not fly again:
Thy wings are clipped, thou canst no more depart—
Thy nest is builded in my heart!


I was the crescent; thou
The silver phantom of the perfect sphere,
Held in its bosom: in one glory now
Our lives united shine, and many a year—
Not the sweet moon of bridal only—we
One lustre, ever at the full, shall be:
One pure and rounded light, one planet whole,
One life developed, one completed soul!
For I in thee, and thou in me,
Unite our cloven halves of destiny.


God knew his chosen time.
He bade me slowly ripen to my prime,
And from my boughs withheld the promised fruit,
Till storm and sun gave vigor to the root.
Secure, O Love! secure 35
Thy blessing is: I have thee day and night:
Thou art become my blood, my life, my light:
God’s mercy thou, and therefore shalt endure.

Bayard Taylor

My Ain Wife


I wadna gi’e my ain wife
For ony wife I see;
I wadna gi’e my ain wife
For ony wife I see;
A bonnier yet I ’ve never seen,
A better canna be—
I wadna gi’e my ain wife
For ony wife I see!


O couthie is my ingle-cheek,
An’ cheerie is my Jean;
I never see her angry look,
Nor hear her word on ane.
She ’s gude wi’ a’ the neebours roun’
An’ aye gude wi’ me—
I wadna gi’e my ain wife
For ony wife I see.


An’ O her looks sae kindlie,
They melt my heart outright,
When o’er the baby at her breast
She hangs wi’ fond delight;
She looks intil its bonnie face,
An’ syne looks to me—
I wadna gi’e my ain wife
For ony wife I see.

Alexander Laing

My Wife ’s a Winsome Wee Thing


She is a winsome wee thing,
She is a handsome wee thing,
She is a bonnie wee thing,
This sweet wee wife o’ mine.


I never saw a fairer,
I never lo’ed a dearer,
And neist my heart I ’ll wear her,
For fear my jewel tine.

She is a winsome wee thing,
She is a handsome wee thing,
She is a bonnie wee thing,
This sweet wife o’ mine.


The warld’s wrack we share o’t,
The wrastle and the care o’t:
Wi’ her I ’ll blythely bear it,
And think my lot divine.

Robert Burns

The Poet’s Song to His Wife


How many summers, love,
Have I been thine?
How many days, thou dove,
Hast thou been mine?
Time, like the wingèd wind
When ’t bends the flowers,
Hath left no mark behind,
To count the hours!


Some weight of thought, though loath,
On thee he leaves;
Some lines of care round both
Perhaps he weaves;
Some fears,—a soft regret
For joys scarce known;
Sweet looks we half forget;—
All else is flown!


Ah!—With what thankless heart
I mourn and sing!
Look, where our children start,
Like sudden spring!
With tongues all sweet and low
Like a pleasant rhyme,
They tell how much I owe
To thee and time!

Bryan Waller Procter (Barry Cornwall)

“The day returns, my bosom burns”


The day returns, my bosom burns;
The blissful day we twa did meet;
Though winter wild in tempest toiled,
Ne’er summer sun was half sae sweet.
Than a’ the pride that loads the tide,
And crosses o’er the sultry line,—
Than kingly robes, and crowns and globes,
Heaven gave me more; it made thee mine.


While day and night can bring delight,
Or nature aught of pleasure give,—
While joys above my mind can move,
For thee and thee alone I live;
When that grim foe of life below
Comes in between to make us part,
The iron hand that breaks our band,
It breaks my bliss,—it breaks my heart.

Robert Burns

“She was a phantom of delight”


She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment’s ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like Twilight’s, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.


I saw her upon nearer view,
A spirit, yet a woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin-liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature’s daily food,
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.


And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller between life and death:
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect woman, nobly planned
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel-light.

William Wordsworth

Possession


A poetloved a Star,
And to it whispered nightly,
“Being so fair, why art thou, love, so far?
Or why so coldly shine, who shin’st so brightly?
O Beauty wooed and unpossest!
O, might I to this beating breast
But clasp thee once and then die blest!”
That Star her Poet’s love,
So wildly warm, made human;
And leaving, for his sake, her heaven above,
His Star stooped earthward, and became a Woman.
“Thou who hast wooed and hast possest,
My lover, answer: Which was best,
The Star’s beam or the Woman’s breast?”
“I miss from heaven,” the man replied,
“A light that drew my spirit to it.”
And to the man the woman sighed,
“I miss from earth a poet.”

E. Robert Bulwer, Lord Lytton (Owen Meredith)

My Heart is a Lute


Alas, that my heart is a lute,
Whereon you have learned to play!
For a many years it was mute,
Until one summer’s day
You took it, and touched it, and made it thrill,
And it thrills and throbs, and quivers still!


I had known you, dear, so long!
Yet my heart did not tell me why
It should burst one morn into song,
And wake to new life with a cry,
Like a babe that sees the light of the sun,
And for whom this great world has just begun.


Your lute is enshrined, cased in,
Kept close with love’s magic key,
So no hand but yours can win
And wake it to minstrelsy;
Yet leave it not silent too long, nor alone,
Lest the strings should break, and the music be done.

Lady Blanche Elizabeth Fitzroy Lindsay

Connubial Life


From “The Seasons: Spring”


But happy they! the happiest of their kind!
Whom gentler stars unite, and in one fate
Their hearts, their fortunes, and their beings blend.
’T is not the coarser tie of human laws,
Unnatural oft, and foreign to the mind,
That binds their peace, but harmony itself,
Attuning all their passions into love;
Where friendship full-exerts her softest power,
Perfect esteem enlivened by desire
Ineffable, and sympathy of soul;
Thought meeting thought, and will preventing will,
With boundless confidence: for naught but love
Can answer love, and render bliss secure.
Meantime a smiling offspring rises round,
And mingles both their graces. By degrees,
The human blossom blows; and every day,
Soft as it rolls along, shows some new charm,
The father’s lustre and the mother’s bloom.
Then infant reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind hand of an assiduous care.
Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh instruction o’er the mind,
To breathe the enlivening spirit, and to fix
The generous purpose in the glowing breast.
O, speak the joy! ye whom the sudden fear
Surprises often, while you look around,
And nothing strikes your eye but sights of bliss,
All various nature pressing on the heart;
An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendships, books,
Ease and alternate labor, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven.
These are the matchless joys of virtuous love;
And thus their moments fly. The Seasons thus,
As ceaseless round a jarring world they roll,
Still find them happy; and consenting Spring
Sheds her own rosy garlands on their heads:
Till evening comes at last, serene and mild;
When after the long vernal day of life,
Enamored more, as more remembrance swells
With many a proof of recollected love,
Together down they sink in social sleep;
Together freed, their gentle spirits fly
To scenes where love and bliss immortal reign.

James Thomson

The Retort


Old birch, who taught the village school,
Wedded a maid of homespun habit;
He was as stubborn as a mule,
And she as playful as a rabbit.
Poor Kate had scarce become a wife
Before her husband sought to make her
The pink of country polished life,
And prim and formal as a Quaker.


One day the tutor went abroad,
And simple Katie sadly missed him,
When he returned, behind her lord
She shyly stole, and fondly kissed him.
The husband’s anger rose, and red
And white his face alternate grew:
“Less freedom, ma’am!” Kate sighed and said,
“O, dear! I didn’t know ’t was you!”

George Pope Morris

Reunited Love


“I dreamed that we were lovers still,
As tender as we used to be
When I brought you the daffodil,
And you looked up and smiled at me.”


“True sweethearts were we then, indeed,
When youth was budding into bloom;
And now the flowers are gone to seed,
And breezes have left no perfume.”


“Because you ever, ever will
Take such a crooked view of things,
Distorting this and that, until
Confusion ends in cavillings.”


“Because you never, never will
Perceive the force of what I say;
As if I always reasoned ill—
Enough to take one’s breath away!”


“But what if riper love replace
The vision that enchanted me,
When all you did was perfect grace,
And all you said was melody?”


“And what if loyal heart renew
The image never quite foregone,
Combining, as of yore, in you
A Samson and a Solomon?”


“Then to the breezes will I toss
The straws we split with temper’s loss;
Then seal upon your lips anew
The peace that gentle hearts ensue.”


“Oh, welcome then, ye playful ways,
And sunshine of the early days;
And banish to the clouds above
Dull reason, that bedarkens love!”

Richard Doddridge Blackmore

A Woman’s Complaint


I know that deep within your heart of hearts
You hold me shrined apart from common things,
And that my step, my voice, can bring to you
A gladness that no other presence brings.


And yet, dear love, through all the weary days
You never speak one word of tenderness,
Nor stroke my hair, nor softly clasp my hand
Within your own in loving, mute caress.


You think, perhaps, I should be all content
To know so well the loving place I hold
Within your life, and so you do not dream
How much I long to hear the story told.


You cannot know, when we two sit alone,
And tranquil thoughts within your mind are stirred,
My heart is crying like a tired child
For one fond look, one gentle, loving word.


It may be when your eyes look into mine
You only say, “How dear she is to me!”
Oh, could I read it in your softened glance,
How radiant this plain old world would be!


Perhaps, sometimes, you breathe a secret prayer
That choicest blessings unto me be given;
But if you said aloud, “God bless thee, dear!”
I should not ask a greater boon from Heaven.


I weary sometimes of the rugged way;
But should you say, “Through thee my life is sweet,”
The dreariest desert that our path could cross
Would suddenly grow green beneath my feet.


’T is not the boundless waters ocean holds
That give refreshment to the thirsty flowers,
But just the drops that, rising to the skies,
From thence descend in softly falling showers.


What matter that our granaries are filled
With all the richest harvest’s golden stores,
If we who own them cannot enter in,
But famished stand before the close-barred doors?


And so ’t is sad that those who should be rich
In that true love that crowns our earthly lot,
Go praying with white lips from day to day
For love’s sweet tokens, and receive them not.

Anonymous

Love Lightens Labor


A good wife rose from her bed one morn,
And thought, with a nervous dread,
Of the piles of clothes to be washed, and more
Than a dozen mouths to be fed.
“There ’s the meals to get for the men in the field,
And the children to fix away
To school, and the milk to be skimmed and churned;
And all to be done this day.”


It had rained in the night, and all the wood
Was wet as it could be;
There were puddings and pies to bake, besides a loaf of cake for tea.
And the day was hot, and her aching head
Throbbed wearily as she said,
“If maidens but knew what good wives know,
They would not be in haste to wed!”


“Jennie, what do you think I told Ben Brown?”
Called the farmer from the well;
And a flush crept up to his bronzèd brow,
And his eyes half-bashfully fell.
“It was this,” he said, and coming near
He smiled, and stooping down,
Kissed her cheek,—“’t was this, that you were the best
And the dearest wife in town!”


The farmer went back to the field, and the wife,
In a smiling, absent way,
Sang snatches of tender little songs
She ’d not sung for many a day.
And the pain in her head was gone, and the clothes
Were white as the foam of the sea;
Her bread was light, and her butter was sweet,
And as golden as it could be.


“Just think,” the children all called in a breath,
“Tom Wood has run off to sea!
He wouldn’t, I know, if he ’d only had 35
The night came down, and the good wife smiled
To herself, as she softly said:
“’T is so sweet to labor for those we love,—
It ’s not strange that maids will wed!”

Anonymous

The Eggs and the Horses


A Matrimonial Epic


John Dobbins was so captivated
By Mary Trueman’s fortune, face, and cap,
(With near two thousand pounds the hook was baited,)
That in he popped to matrimony’s trap.


One small ingredient towards happiness,
It seems, ne’er occupied a single thought;
For his accomplished bride
Appearing well supplied
With the three charms of riches, beauty, dress,
He did not, as he ought,
Think of aught else; so no inquiry made he
As to the temper of the lady.


And here was certainly a great omission;
None should accept of Hymen’s gentle fetter,
“For worse or better,”
Whatever be their prospect or condition,
Without acquaintance with each other’s nature;
For many a mild and quiet creature
Of charming disposition,
Alas! by thoughtless marriage has destroyed it.
So take advice; let girls dress e’er so tastily,
Don’t enter into wedlock hastily
Unless you can’t avoid it.


Week followed week, and, it must be confest,
The bridegroom and the bride had both been blest;
Month after month had languidly transpired,
Both parties became tired:
Year after year dragged on;
Their happiness was gone.


Ah! foolish pair!
“Bear and forbear”
Should be the rule for married folks to take.
But blind mankind (poor discontented elves!)
Too often make
The misery of themselves.


At length the husband said, “This will not do!
Mary, I never will be ruled by you;
So, wife, d’ ye see?
To live together as we can’t agree.
Suppose we part!”
With woman’s pride,
Mary replied,
“With all my heart!”


John Dobbins then to Mary’s father goes,
And gives the list of his imagined woes.


“Dear son-in-law!” the father said, “I see
All is quite true that you ’ve been telling me;
Yet there in marriage is such strange fatality,
That when as much of life
You shall have seen
As it has been
My lot to see, I think you ’ll own your wife
As good or better than the generality.


“An interest in your case I really take,
And therefore gladly this agreement make:
An hundred eggs within this basket lie,
With which your luck, to-morrow, you shall try;
Also my five best horses, with my cart;
And from the farm at dawn you shall depart.
All round the country go,
And be particular, I beg;
Where husbands rule, a horse bestow,
But where the wives an egg.
And if the horses go before the eggs,
I ’ll ease you of your wife,—I will,—I’ fegs!”


Away the married man departed,
Brisk and light-hearted:
Not doubting that, of course,
The first five houses each would take a horse.
At the first house he knocked,
He felt a little shocked,
To hear a female voice, with angry roar,
Scream out,—“Hullo!
Who ’s there below?
Why, husband, are you deaf? go to the door,
See who it is, I beg.”
Our poor friend John
Trudged quickly on,
But first laid at the door an egg.


I will not all this journey through
The discontented traveller pursue;
Suffice it here to say
That when his first day’s task was nearly done,
He ’d seen an hundred husbands, minus one,
And eggs just ninety-nine had given away.
“Ha! there ’s a house where he I seek must dwell,”
At length cried John; “I ’ll go and ring the bell.”


The servant came,—John asked him, “Pray,
Friend, is your master in the way?”
“No,” said the man, with smiling phiz,
“My master is not, but my mistress is;
Walk in that parlor, sir, my lady ’s in it:
Master will be himself there—in a minute.”
The lady said her husband then was dressing,
And, if his business was not very pressing,
She would prefer that he should wait until
His toilet was completed;
Adding, “Pray, sir, be seated.”
“Madam, I will,”
Said John, with great politeness; “but I own
That you alone
Can tell me all I wish to know;
Will you do so?
Pardon my rudeness,
And just have the goodness
(A wager to decide) to tell me—do—
Who governs in this house,—your spouse or you?”


“Sir,” said the lady, with a doubting nod,
“Your question is very odd;
But as I think none ought to be
Ashamed to do their duty (do you see?)
On that account I scruple not to say
It always is my pleasure to obey.
But here ’s my husband (always sad without me);
Take not my word, but ask him, if you doubt me.”


“Sir,” said the husband, “’t is most true;
I promise you,
A more obedient, kind, and gentle woman
Does not exist.”
“Give us your fist,”
Said John, “and, as the case is something more than common,
Allow me to present you with a beast
Worth fifty guineas at the very least.


“There ’s Smiler, sir, a beauty, you must own,
There ’s Prince, that handsome black,
Ball the gray mare, and Saladin the roan,
Besides old Dunn;
Come, sir, choose one;
But take advice from me,
Let Prince be he;
Why, sir, you ’ll look the hero on his back.”


I ’ll take the black, and thank you too.”
“Nay, husband, that will never do;
You know, you ’ve often heard me say
How much I long to have a gray;
And this one will exactly do for me.”
“No, no,” said he;
“Friend, take the four others back,
And only leave the black.”
“Nay, husband, I declare
I must have the gray mare;”
Adding (with gentle force),
“The gray mare is, I ’m sure, the better horse.”


“Well, if it must be so,—good sir,
The gray mare we prefer;
So we accept your gift.” John made a leg:
“Allow me to present you with an egg;
’T is my last egg remaining,
The cause of my regaining,
I trust, the fond affection of my wife,
Whom I will love the better all my life.
“Home to content has her kind father brought me;
I thank him for the lesson he has taught me.”

Anonymous

Woman’s Will


An Epigram


Men, dying, make their wills, but wives
Escape a work so sad;
Why should they make what all their lives
The gentle dames have had?

John Godfrey Saxe

The Worn Wedding-Ring


Your wedding-ring wears thin, dear wife; ah, summers not a few,
Since I put it on your finger first, have passed o’er me and you;
And, love, what changes we have seen,—what cares and pleasures, too,—
Since you became my own dear wife, when this old ring was new!


O, blessings on that happy day, the happiest of my life,
When, thanks to God, your low, sweet “Yes” made you my loving wife!
Your heart will say the same, I know; that day ’s as dear to you,—
That day that made me yours, dear wife, when this old ring was new.


How well do I remember now your young sweet face that day!
How fair you were, how dear you were, my tongue could hardly say;
Nor how I doated on you; O, how proud I was of you!
But did I love you more than now, when this old ring was new?


No—no! no fairer were you then than at this hour to me;
And, dear as life to me this day, how could you dearer be?
As sweet your face might be that day as now it is, ’t is true;
But did I know your heart as well when this old ring was new?


O partner of my gladness, wife, what care, what grief is there
For me you would not bravely face, with me you would not share?
O, what a weary want had every day, if wanting you,
Wanting the love that God made mine when this old ring was new!


Years bring fresh links to bind us, wife,—young voices that are here;
Young faces round our fire that make their mother’s yet more dear;
Young loving hearts your care each day makes yet more like to you,
More like the loving heart made mine when this old ring was new.


And blessed be God! all he has given are with us yet; around
Our table every precious life lent to us still is found.
Though cares we ’ve known, with hopeful hearts the worst we ’ve struggled through;
Blessed be his name for all his love since this old ring was new!


The past is dear, its sweetness still our memories treasure yet;
The griefs we ’ve borne, together borne, we would not now forget.
Whatever, wife, the future brings, heart unto heart still true,
We ’ll share as we have shared all else since this old ring was new.


And if God spare us ’mongst our sons and daughters to grow old,
We know his goodness will not let your heart or mine grow cold.
Your aged eyes will see in mine all they ’ve still shown to you,
And mine and yours all they have seen since this old ring was new!


And O, when death shall come at last to bid me to my rest,
May I die looking in those eyes, and resting on that breast;
O, may my parting gaze be blessed with the dear sight of you,
Of those fond eyes,—fond as they were when this old ring was new!

William Cox Bennett

“If thou wert by my side, my love”


Lines Written to His Wife, While on a Visit to Upper India


If thou wert by my side, my love!
How fast would evening fail
In green Bengala’s palmy grove,
Listening the nightingale!


If thou, my love, wert by my side,
My babies at my knee,
How gayly would our pinnace glide
O’er Gunga’s mimic sea!


I miss thee at the dawning gray,
When, on our deck reclined,
In careless ease my limbs I lay
And woo the cooler wind.


I miss thee when by Gunga’s stream
My twilight steps I guide,
But most beneath the lamp’s pale beam
I miss thee from my side.


I spread my books, my pencil try,
The lingering noon to cheer,
But miss thy kind, approving eye,
Thy meek, attentive ear.


But when at morn and eve the star
Beholds me on my knee,
I feel, though thou art distant far,
Thy prayers ascend for me.


Then on! then on! where duty leads,
My course be onward still,
O’er broad Hindostan’s sultry meads,
O’er bleak Almorah’s hill.


That course nor Delhi’s kingly gates,
Nor mild Malwah detain;
For sweet the bliss us both awaits
By yonder western main.


Thy towers, Bombay, gleam bright, they say,
Across the dark blue sea;
But never were hearts so light and gay
As then shall meet in thee!

Reginald Heber

“There’s nae luck about the house”


And are ye sure the news is true?
And are ye sure he ’s weel?
Is this a time to think of wark?
Ye jauds, fling by your wheel.
Is this a time to think of wark,
When Colin ’s at the door?
Gie me my cloak! I ’ll to the quay
And see him come ashore.


For there ’s nae luck about the house,
There ’s nae luck ava;
There ’s little pleasure in the house,
When our gudeman’s awa’.


Rise up and mak’ a clean fireside;
Put on the muckle pot;
Gi’e little Kate her cotton gown,
And Jock his Sunday coat:
And mak’ their shoon as black as slaes,
Their hose as white as snaw;
It ’s a’ to please my ain gudeman,
For he ’s been long awa’.


There ’s twa fat hens upo’ the bank,
Been fed this month and mair;
Mak’ haste and thraw their necks about,
That Colin weel may fare;
And mak’ the table neat and clean,
Gar ilka thing look braw;
It ’s a’ for love of my gudeman,
For he ’s been long awa’.


O gi’e me down my bigonet,
My bishop satin gown,
For I maun tell the bailie’s wife
That Colin ’s come to town.
My Sunday’s shoon they maun gae on,
My hose o’ pearly blue;
’T is a’ to please my ain gudeman,
For he ’s baith leal and true.


Sae true his words, sae smooth his speech,
His breath ’s like caller air!
His very foot has music in ’t,
As he comes up the stair.
And will I see his face again?
And will I hear him speak?
I ’m downright dizzy wi’ the thought,—
In troth, I ’m like to greet.


The cauld blasts o’ the winter wind,
That thrillèd through my heart,
They ’re a’ blown by; I ha’e him safe,
Till death we ’ll never part:
But what puts parting in my head?
It may be far awa’
The present moment is our ain,
The neist we never saw.


Since Colin’s weel, I ’m weel content,
I ha’e nae more to crave,
Could I but live to mak’ him blest,
I ’m blest above the lave:
And will I see his face again?
And will I hear him speak?
I ’m downright dizzy wi’ the thought,—
In troth, I ’m like to greet.


For there ’s nae luck about the house,
There ’s nae luck ava;
There ’s little pleasure in the house,
When our gudeman ’s awa’.

Jean Adam

Dolcino to Margaret


The world goes up and the world goes down,
And the sunshine follows the rain;
And yesterday’s sneer, and yesterday’s frown,
Can never come over again,
Sweet wife,
No, never come over again.


For woman is warm, though man be cold,
And the night will hallow the day;
Till the heart which at even was weary and old
Can rise in the morning gay,
Sweet wife,
To its work in the morning gay.

Charles Kingsley

“O, lay thy hand in mine, dear!”


O, lay thy hand in mine, dear!
We ’re growing old;
But Time hath brought no sign, dear,
That hearts grow cold.
’T is long, long since our new love
Made life divine;
But age enricheth true love,
Like noble wine.


And lay thy cheek to mine, dear,
And take thy rest;
Mine arms around thee twine, dear,
And make thy nest.
A many cares are pressing
On this dear head;
But Sorrow’s hands in blessing
Are surely laid.


O, lean thy life on mine, dear!
’T will shelter thee.
Thou wert a winsome vine, dear,
On my young tree:
And so, till boughs are leafless,
And songbirds flown,
We ’ll twine, then lay us, griefless,
Together down.

Gerald Massey

Faith and Hope


O, don’t be sorrowful, darling!
Now, don’t be sorrowful, pray;
For, taking the year together, my dear,
There isn’t more night than day.
It ’s rainy weather, my loved one;
Time’s wheels they heavily run;
But taking the year together, my dear,
There isn’t more cloud than sun.


We ’re old folks now, companion,—
Our heads they are growing gray;
But taking the year all round, my dear,
You always will find the May.
We ’ve had our May, my darling,
And our roses, long ago;
And the time of the year is come, my dear,
For the long dark nights, and the snow.


But God is God, my faithful,
Of night as well as of day;
And we feel and know that we can go
Wherever he leads the way.
Ay, God of night, my darling!
Of the night of death so grim;
And the gate that from life leads out, good wife,
Is the gate that leads to Him.

Rembrandt Peale

Darby and Joan


Darby, dear, we are old and gray,
Fifty years since our wedding day,
Shadow and sun for every one
As the years roll on;
Darby, dear, when the world went wry,
Hard and sorrowful then was I—
Ah! lad, how you cheered me then,
Things will be better, sweet wife again!
Always the same, Darby, my own,
Always the same to your old wife Joan.


Darby, dear, but my heart was wild
When we buried our baby child,
Until you whispered “Heav’n knows best!”
And my heart found rest;
Darby, dear, ’t was your loving hand
Showed the way to the better land—
Ah! lad, as you kissed each tear,
Life grew better, and Heaven more near.
Always the same, Darby, my own,
Always the same to your old wife Joan.


Hand in hand when our life was May,
Hand in hand when our hair is gray,
Shadow and sun for every one,
As the years roll on;
Hand in hand when the long night-tide
Gently covers us side by side—
Ah! lad, though we know not when,
Love will be with us forever then:
Always the same, Darby, my own,
Always the same to your old wife Joan.

Frederic Edward Weatherly

The Golden Wedding


O love, whose patient pilgrim feet
Life’s longest path have trod,
Whose ministry hath symbolled sweet
The dearer love of God,—
The sacred myrtle wreathes again
Thine altar, as of old;
And what was green with summer then,
Is mellowed, now, to gold.


Not now, as then, the Future’s face
Is flushed with fancy’s light;
But Memory, with a milder grace,
Shall rule the feast to-night.
Blest was the sun of joy that shone,
Nor less the blinding shower—
The bud of fifty years agone
Is Love’s perfected flower.

O Memory, ope thy mystic door!
O dream of youth, return!
And let the lights that gleamed of yore
Beside this altar burn!
The past is plain; ’t was Love designed
E’en Sorrow’s iron chain,
And Mercy’s shining thread has twined
With the dark warp of Pain.


So be it still. O thou who hast
That younger bridal blest,
Till the May-morn of love has passed
To evening’s golden west,
Come to this later Cana, Lord,
And, at thy touch divine,
The water of that earlier board
To-night shall turn to wine.

David Gray

The Fire of Love


From the “Examen Miscellaneum,” 1708
The fire of love in youthful blood,
Like what is kindled in brushwood,
But for a moment burns;
Yet in that moment makes a mighty noise;
It crackles, and to vapor turns,
And soon itself destroys.


But when crept into agèd veins
It slowly burns, and then long remains,
And with a silent heat,
Like fire in logs, it glows and warms ’em long,
And though the name be not so great,
Yet is the heat as strong.

Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset

“Not ours the vows”


Not ours the vows of such as plight
Their troth in sunny weather,
While leaves are green and skies are bright,
To walk on flowers together.


But we have loved as those who tread
The thorny path of sorrow,
With clouds above, and cause to dread
Yet deeper gloom to-morrow.


That thorny path, those stormy skies,
Have drawn our spirits nearer;
And rendered us, by sorrow’s ties,
Each to the other dearer.


Love, born in hours of joy and mirth,
With mirth and joy may perish;
That to which darker hours gave birth
Still more and more we cherish.


It looks beyond the clouds of time,
And through death’s shadowy portal;
Made by adversity sublime,
By faith and hope immortal.

Bernard Barton

Laodamia


“With sacrifice, before the rising morn,
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
And from th’ infernal gods, ’mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered lord have I required;
Celestial pity I again implore;
Restore him to my sight—great Jove, restore!”


So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands;
While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her countenance brightens and her eye expands;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
And she expects the issue in repose.


Oh terror! what hath she perceived?—oh joy!
What doth she look on?—whom doth she behold?
Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence? his corporeal mould?
It is—if sense deceive her not—’t is he!
And a god leads him—wingèd Mercury!


Mild Hermes spake—and touched her with his wand
That calms all fear: “Such grace hath crowned thy prayer, 20
Laodamia! that at Jove’s command
Thy husband walks the paths of upper air;
He comes to tarry with thee three hours’ space;
Accept the gift, behold him face to face!”


Forth sprang the impassioned queen her lord to clasp;
Again that consummation she essayed;
But unsubstantial form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
The phantom parts—but parts to reunite,
And reässume his place before her sight.


“Protesilaus, lo! thy guide is gone!
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice:
This is our palace,—yonder is thy throne!
Speak! and the floor thou tread’st on will rejoice.
Not to appal me have the gods bestowed
This precious boon, and blest a sad abode.”


“Great Jove, Laodamia, doth not leave
His gifts imperfect: spectre though I be,
I am not sent to scare thee or deceive;
But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain;
For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.


“Thou know’st, the Delphic oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand
Should die; but me the threat could not withhold—
A generous cause a victim did demand;
And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain;
A self-devoted chief, by Hector slain.”


“Supreme of heroes! bravest, noblest, best!
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
Thou found’st—and I forgive thee—here thou art—
A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.


“But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
And he whose power restores thee hath decreed
Thou shouldst elude the malice of the grave;
Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
As when their breath enriched Thessalian air.


“No spectre greets me,—no vain shadow this;
Come, blooming hero, place thee by my side!
Give, on this well-known couch, one nuptial kiss
To me, this day a second time thy bride!”
Jove frowned in heaven; the conscious Parcæ threw
Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.


“This visage tells thee that my doom is past;
Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys
Of sense were able to return as fast
And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys
Those raptures duly—Erebus disdains;
Calm pleasures there abide—majestic pains.
“Be taught, O faithful consort, to control


Rebellious passion: for the gods approve
The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul;
A fervent, not ungovernable, love.
Thy transports moderate; and meekly mourn
When I depart, for brief is my sojourn—”


“Ah, wherefore? Did not Hercules by force
Wrest from the guardian monster of the tomb
Alcestis, a reanimated corse,
Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?
Medea’s spells dispersed the weight of years,
And Æson stood a youth ’mid youthful peers.


“The gods to us are merciful; and they
Yet further may relent; for mightier far
Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway
Of magic potent over sun and star,
Is love, though oft to agony distrest,
And though its favorite seat be feeble woman’s breast.


“But if thou goest, I follow—” “Peace!” he said;
She looked upon him and was calmed and cheered;
The ghastly color from his lips had fled;
In his deportment, shape, and mien appeared
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
Brought from a pensive, though a happy place.


He spake of love, such love as spirits feel
In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
No fears to beat away—no strife to heal—
The past unsighed for, and the future sure;
Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
Revived, with finer harmony pursued;


Of all that is most beauteous, imaged there
In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
An ampler ether, a diviner air,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams;
Climes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day
Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.


Yet there the soul shall enter which hath earned
That privilege by virtue—“Ill,” said he,
“The end of man’s existence I discerned,
Who from ignoble games and revelry
Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight,
While tears were thy best pastime, day and night;


“And while my youthful peers before my eyes
(Each hero following his peculiar bent)
Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports,—or, seated in the tent,
Chieftains and kings in council were detained,
What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained.


“The wished-for wind was given; I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;
And, if no worthier led the way, resolved
That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand—
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.


“Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter, was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, belovèd wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
And on the joys we shared in mortal life—
The paths which we had trod—these fountains, flowers—
My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers.


“But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
‘Behold they tremble!—haughty their array,
Yet of their number no one dares to die’?
In soul I swept th’ indignity away,
Old frailties then recurred; but lofty thought,
In acts embodied, my deliverance wrought.


“And thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
In reason, in self-government too slow;
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
Our blest reunion in the shades below.
The invisible world with thee hath sympathized;
Be thy affections raised and solemnized.


“Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascend,
Seeking a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end;
For this the passion to excess was driven,
That self might be annulled—her bondage prove
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love.”


Aloud she shrieked! for Hermes reappears!
Round the dear shade she would have clung,—’t is vain;
The hours are past,—too brief had they been years;
And him no mortal effort can detain.
Swift, toward the realms that know not earthly day,
He through the portal takes his silent way,
And on the palace floor a lifeless corse she lay.


Thus, all in vain exhorted and reproved,
She perished; and, as for a wilful crime,
By the just gods, whom no weak pity moved,
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time,
Apart from happy ghosts, that gather flowers
Of blissful quiet ’mid unfading bowers.


—Yet tears to human suffering are due;
And mortal hopes defeated and o’erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone,
As fondly he believes.—Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever, when such stature they have gained
That Ilium’s walls were subject to their view,
The trees’ tall summits withered at the sight,
A constant interchange of growth and blight!

William Wordsworth

The Old Man Dreams


O for one hour of youthful joy!
Give back my twentieth spring!
I ’d rather laugh a bright-haired boy
Than reign a gray-beard king!


Off with the spoils of wrinkled age!
Away with learning’s crown!
Tear out life’s wisdom-written page,
And dash its trophies down!


One moment let my life-blood stream
From boyhood’s fount of flame!
Give me one giddy, reeling dream
Of life all love and fame!


My listening angel heard the prayer,
And, calmly smiling, said,
“If I but touch thy silvery hair,
Thy hasty wish has sped.


“But is there nothing in thy track
To bid thee fondly stay,
While the swift seasons hurry back
To find the wished-for day?”


Ah! truest soul of womankind!
Without thee what were life?
One bliss I cannot leave behind:
I ’ll take—my—precious—wife!


The angel took a sapphire pen
And wrote in rainbow dew,
“The man would be a boy again,
And be a husband, too!”


“And is there nothing yet unsaid
Before the change appears?
Remember, all their gifts have fled
With those dissolving years!”


“Why, yes; for memory would recall
My fond paternal joys;
I could not bear to leave them all:
I ’ll take—my—girl—and—boys!”


The smiling angel dropped his pen—
“Why, this will never do;
The man would be a boy again,
And be a father, too!”


And so I laughed—my laughter woke
The household with its noise—
And wrote my dream, when morning broke,
To please the gray-haired boys.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

“John Anderson, my jo”


John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.


John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And monie a canty day, John,
We ’ve had wi’ ane anither.
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we ’ll go:
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

Robert Burns

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about wedded love.

Let me know which one is your favorite! ;).

Advertisements

One thought on “69 Greatest Poems About Wedded Love

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: