Non-traditional readings and quotes
- Last updated on August 29, 2010 at 12:26 pm
- 14 comments
I'm an English teacher, so I guess it was inevitable that I would have a slew of favorite passages, poems, and quotations from some obscure sources. We are planning to incorporate a lot of these in our ceremony and even in our decor (they'll be another entry about this, I'm sure).
Although it may change, here are our three readings as of now:
Pablo Neruda's "Sonnet XVII"
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.
Excerpt from Plato's Symposium
Our original nature was by no means the same as it is now. There was a kind composed of both sexes and sharing equally in male and female. The form of each person was round all over; each had four arms, and legs to match these, and two faces perfectly alike. The creature walked upright, and whenever it started running fast, it went like our acrobats, whirling over and over with legs stuck out straight, swiftly round and round.
Now they were so lofty in their notions that they even conspired against the gods. Thereat Zeus and the other gods were perplexed; for they felt they could not slay them, nor could they endure such sinful rioting. Then Zeus said "Methinks I can contrive that men shall give over their iniquity through a lessening of their strength." So saying, he sliced each human being in two. Now when our first form had been cut in two, each half in longing for his fellow would come to it again; and then would they fling their arms about each other and in mutual embraces yearn to be grafted together. Thus anciently is mutual love ingrained in mankind.
Well, when one happens on his own particular half, the two of them are wondrously thrilled with affection and intimacy and love, and are hardly to be induced to leave each others side for a single moment. These are they who continue together throughout life. No one could imagine this to be the mere amorous connection: obviously the soul of each is wishing for something else that it cannot express. Suppose that Hephaestus should ask "Do you desire to be joined in the closest possible union, that so long as you live, the pair of you, being as one, may share a single life?" Each would unreservedly deem that he had been offered just what he was yearning for all the time.
e.e. cummings' "i carry your heart with me"
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Now this next passage I LOVE, but FI thinks it's depressing! I asked my parents to back me up, and my father said it's more appropriate for a 35th anniversary - not the day we marry. So I guess it won't be our reading, although it's still lovely.
Excerpt from Captain Corelli's Mandolin
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 that's 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. Those who truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find out that they are one tree and not two.
Other ones that we liked.may incoporate:
Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters"
Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two young people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, - a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.
The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side by side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
That is why this too must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else's solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths, which he learns of only through what steps forth, in holiday clothing, out of the great darkness.
Life is self-transformation, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, they rise and fall from minute to minute, and lovers are those for whom no moment is like any another. People between whom nothing habitual ever takes place, nothing that has already existed, but just what is new, unexpected, unprecedented. There are such connections, which must be a very great, an almost unbearable happiness, but they can occur only between very rich beings, between those who have become, each for his own sake, rich, calm, and concentrated; only if two worlds are wide and deep and individual can they be combined....
...For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is. And those who want to have a deep love in their lives must collect and save for it, and gather honey.
Excerpt from Khalil Gibran's "What of Marriage? from The Prophet
THEN Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage master?
And he answered saying: You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another 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.
Excerpt from Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Gift From the Sea
When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, mot in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.
Excerpt from Madeleine L'Engle's The Irrational Season
In my sky at twilight you are like a cloud
and your form and colour are the way I love them.
You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips
and in your life my infinite dreams live.
The lamp of my soul dyes your feet,
the sour wine is sweeter on your lips,
oh reaper of my evening song,
how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!
Excerpt from Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road" from Leaves of Grass
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself. will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
Dorothy Colgan's "Fidelity"
Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man's heart and a woman's,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
(Another) Excerpt from Plato's Symposium
"There is none so base but that Love may breathe into him the spirit of a hero. Love alone makes men ready to die for another's sake; and not men only, but women. And to prove this we need but to look at Alectis, the daughter of Pelias, who, for her husband's sake was willing to die, so greatly her love exceeded that of his father and mother. Which deed the gods themselves did so approve that they suffered her soul to be released from Hades, a thing granted most rarely. Therefore I say that, of all the gods, Love is the eldest and the most to be honoured, and he that in life and in death helps men most to the possession of virtue and happiness."
Excerpt from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"
Shoulder your duds, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me;
For after we start we never lie by again.
Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it.
I have great hope that we shall love each other all of our lives as much as if we had never married at all.
If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus one day, so I never have to live without you.
To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.
For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.
I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.
There are millions of people in the this world, and the spirits will see that most of them, you never have to meet. But there are one or two that you are tied to, and the spirits will cross you back and forth, threading so many knots until they catch and you finally get it right.
Paraphrase of Plato's Symposium excerpt
According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.
...Look at you
Truer than the body you inhabit
Fixed at the center of my mind...
...And that evening,
I looked at my love, and who he is
touched me in the core of my heart...
Excerpt from Sharon Olds' "Fish Oil"
I had not known that one
could approve of someone entirely -- one could
wake to the pungent day, one could awake
from the dream of judgment
(If you couldn't tell, I was reading a book of Sharon Olds' poetry when I began my research. She has a particularly sexy poem entitled "The Shyness" in her collection The Unswept Room which, I must admit, isn't necessarily appropriate for a public wedding but is certainly romantically beautiful. The same could be said for "The Wedding Vow" and "Psalm.")
So that's it for right now. However, I'll be adding more periodically, so if you're looking for something, come back and check! Also, if you have any suggestions, please leave them! I love reading new things!