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More Readings relating to Marriage

Poetical Readings

Selection of readings of a kind suitable to include in the wedding as a reflection/meditation after the Communion, if desired; but not as replacing the Bible readings.

Khalil Gibran: on Marriage, on Children, on Giving, on Friendship


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.


AND a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
YOU may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


THEN said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving.
And he answered:
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard
for fear you may need them to morrow?
And to-morrow, what shall to-morrow bring to the over-prudent dog
burying bones in the trackless sand
as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full,
the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have -
and they give it for recognition
and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,
And their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving,
nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks,
And from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

IT is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked,
through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive
is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now,
that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.
And you receivers - and you are all receivers -
assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself
and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt is to doubt his generosity
who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.


AND a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

WHEN your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind,
nor do you with hold the "aye."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires,
all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence,
as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery
is not love but a net cast forth:
and only the unprofitable is caught.
AND let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, And sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Poetry for weddings

You might select something from an Irish poet like Seamus Heaney or Patrick Kavanagh, or from any poetry of your choice, to be read after Holy Communion, with quiet musical accompaniment.

Anne Gregory

"NEVER shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.'

"But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.'

"I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair."

(on Eva Gore-Booth & Constance Markiewicz)

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

But a raving autumn shears
Blossom from the summer's wreath;
The older is condemned to death,
Pardoned, drags out lonely years
Conspiring among the ignorant.

I know not what the younger dreams –
Some vague Utopia – and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.

Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion,
Mix pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

Love's Secret

NEVER seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.

Like a Red, Red Rose

O MY Luve 's like a red, red rose
That 's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve 's like the melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune!
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:

And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile.

Three Thoughts on Marriage

1. God is your Father-in-Law

God is Father to each of you.
That means He really cares about you both, and He really loves you both.
He listens to you both your heart’s cry as well.
I imagine that one day, I’m going to stand before God,
and He’s going to gently talk to me about other half.

He’ll say, “what did you do to care for my child, your other half?
How well did you love my daughter, my son?”
I so desperately hope that God will be pleased
with the way I treated His child, in my other half.

2. I can’t change my partner; I can only change me.

Has this thought ever entered your head:
“I’d be happy if only s/he’d…” or “I’ll be happy as soon as s/he….”
If you can fill in the blank, you may have a problem.
What you’re really saying is, “I won’t be happy until s/he….”
You’re placing your happiness and your sense of peace
outside of yourself and into someone else’s hands.

You think that, in order to change your marriage, s/he has to be the one to change first.
The problem with that is that you can’t make anybody else change.
Magazine covers don’t believe this; they’re filled with articles like,
“7 Ways to Make Your Lover More Romantic/Cooperative”.
They’re focusing on you making the other into the kind of person you want them to be.
What if you’re really unhappy with the way things are?
I can understand that. But withholding affection
cannot bring about positive change in a marriage.
Here’s what can: changing yourself.
When you change, you also change the dynamic in the marriage,
and that, of itself, may change in how he other reacts to you, too.

3. You will never drift together; you will only ever drift apart.

Someone did an experiment off of the coast of Brazil.
They dropped two bottles into the ocean off of a boat at exactly the same time. The bottles had messages in them–contact this phone number for a reward. One bottle washed up on the coast of Ecuador 100 days later (drifting north west). The other bottle went across the Atlantic Ocean, around Africa, and washed up on Tanzania a year later. They started in the same place; they ended up half a world way.

We work the same way. Unless we consciously try to stay close together, we will drift apart. Drifting is natural; but if you want to stop the drift in your relationship, you have to be intentional.
Many couples stop doing things together as soon as they’re married, or do them much less. Don’t. Now’s the time to be intentional about staying close. Do things together–anything–everyday. Make sure you laugh. Talk. Just be together, or you will find yourselves half a world apart without realizing just how it happened.