These readings may be used as vows, intentions, blessings, family readings or meditations for any parts of the ceremony. Also consider song lyrics, writings, or other inspirations


Old German poem
I am yours. You are mine.
Of this we are certain.
You are lodged in my heart, the small key is lost.
You must stay there forever.

from the I Ching
When two people are at one in their inmost hearts
They shatter even the strength of iron, of bronze
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts
Their words are sweet and strong
like the fragrance of orchids.
from  First Poems, by Rainer Maria Rilke (b 1875, Prague)
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
Away from the noisy crowd
When I see the pale
Stars rising, blooming over the oaks
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
Through the pale twilit meadows,
With only this one dream:
You come too.

I love you, by Carl Sandburg
I love you. I love you for what you are,
but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.
I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals.
I pray for your desires, that they may be great,
rather than for your satisfactions,
which may be so hazardously little.
A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall.
But the most beautiful rose is one,
hardly more than a bud,
wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire
are working for larger and finer growth.
Not always shall you be what you are now.
You are going forward toward something great.
I am on the way with you and I love you    

SONNET XVII, Pablo Neruda (b. Chile, 1904)
I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
therefore, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
Hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know another way of loving.
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest in my hand:
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

SONNET 116, William Shakespeare (b 1564)
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,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved

Modern Declaration  by Edna St. Vincent Millay (b 1923)
I, having loved ever since I was a child a few things, never
        having wavered
In these affections; never through shyness in the houses of the
        rich or in the presence of clergymen having denied these
Never when worked upon by cynics like chiropractors having
        grunted or clicked a vertebra to the discredit of these
Never when anxious to land a job having diminished them by
        a conniving smile; or when befuddled by drink
Jeered at them through heartache or lazily fondled the fingers
        of their alert enemies; declare
That I shall love you always.
No matter what party is in power;
No matter what temporarily expedient combination of allied
        interest wins the war;
Shall love you always.

El amor nace, Jose Marti (b 1853, Havana)
El amor nace
con el placer de contemplarse,
se alimenta
con la necesidad de verse,
y concluye
con la imposibilidad de separarse.

Love is born
with the pleasure of looking at each other,
it is fed
with the necessity
of seeing each other,
it is concluded with the impossibility
of ever being apart.

(He wishes for the cloths of heaven) by William Butler Yeats (b 1865)
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.

Rent, by Jane Cooper. 
If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let's have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.
If the rocking chair's arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.
I don't want your rent, I want
a radiance of attention
like the candle's flame when we eat,
I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us---
Not a roof but a field of stars.

Marriage,  by Carl Sandburg (b 1878)
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere --
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

Love’s Tranquility, by Sir Philip Sidney (b. 1554)
My true love hath my heart, and I have his
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven:
My true love hath my heart, and I have his.
His heart in me keeps him and me in one,
My heart in him his thought and senses guides:
He loves my heart, for once it was his own,
I cherish his, because in me it bides

Poem XIII from Chamber Music by James Joyce (b 1882)
Go seek her out all courteously,
And say I come,
Wind of spices whose song is ever
O hurry over the dark lands
And run upon the sea
For seas and land shall not divide us
My love and me.
Now, wind, of your good courtesy
I pray you go,
And come into the garden
And sit at her window;
Singing: The bridal wind is blowing
For Love is at his noon;
And soon will your love be with you,
Soon, O soon.

Dance Me To The End Of Love by Leonard Cohen
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love

Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney (b 1939)
Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints,
And yet all this comes down when the job's done,
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall

somewhere I have never traveled, ee cummings (b 1894)
somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
 (i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) ee cummings
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)
                                    i fear
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

love is more thicker than forget, ee cummings
love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is more sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky 

Your eyes are like street lamps to me,. By Marianne Williamson
Your eyes are like street lamps to me.
They tell me I am home. This is where I live.
I am safe here, I have made it.
There is someone waiting here
to talk to me and hold me...
I want to know everything,
and I am rushing now across the grass,
 to throw open the door, to say "I'm home"...
to see your eyes,
to know that this is the right address,
 the right address at last.-

From Adam Bede by George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life,
to strengthen each other in all labor,
to rest on each other in all sorrow,
to minister to each other in all pain
to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories
at the moment of the last parting?

Adapted from Erasmus On Marriage (b 1466)
What more sweet than to live with one
with whom you are united in body and mind,
who talks with you in secret affection,
to whom you have committed
all your faith and your fortune?
What in all nature is lovelier?
You are bound to friends in affection.
How much more to a husband or wife
in the highest love,
with union of the body,
the bond of mutual vows
and the sharing of your goods!
Nothing is more safe, tranquil,
pleasant and lovable than marriage.

(To My Wife 1959) - T.S.Eliot
To whom I owe the leaping delight

That quickens my senses in our waking time
And the rhythm that governs the repose of sleeping time,
The breathing in unison
Of lives whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech
And babble the same speech without the need of meaning
No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only.
But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.
Love Song, by Williams Carlos Williams (b 1874)
Sweep the house clean,
hang fresh curtains
in the windows
put on a new dress
and come with me!
The elm is scattering
its little loaves
of sweet smells
from a white sky!
Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches

Double Love Song, by Thomas Whitebread
Open your heart, as if you could,
Let me come into it like fire,
And let me know it as dry wood,
Pretend your being is desire.
Then turn to sandstone, as you can
And let me flow like water through
Your pores toward air, where I began
As if your earth were all of you

Wedding   by Alice Oswald (b 1966)
From time to time our love is like a sail
and when the sail begins to alternate
from tack to tack, it's like a swallowtail
and when the swallow flies it's like a coat;
and if the coat is yours, it has a tear
like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins
to draw the wind, it's like a trumpeter
and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions...
and this, my love, when millions come and go
beyond the need of us, is like a trick;
and when the trick begins, it's like a toe
tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck;
and when the luck begins, it's like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.

Superbly Situated  By Robert Hershon
you politely ask me not to die and i promise not to  
right from the beginning—a relationship based on  
good sense and thoughtfulness in little things

i would like to be loved for such simple attainments  
as breathing regularly and not falling down too often  
or because my eyes are brown or my father left-handed

and to be on the safe side i wouldn’t mind if somehow
i became entangled in your perception of admirable objects  
so you might say to yourself: i have recently noticed

how superbly situated the empire state building is
how it looms up suddenly behind cemeteries and rivers  
so far away you could touch it—therefore i love you

part of me fears that some moron is already plotting  
to tear down the empire state building and replace it  
with a block of staten island mother/daughter houses
just as part of me fears that if you love me for my cleanliness  
i will grow filthy if you admire my elegant clothes  
i’ll start wearing shirts with sailboats on them

but i have decided to become a public beach an opera house  
a regularly scheduled flight—something that can’t help being  
in the right place at the right time—come take your seat

we’ll raise the curtain fill the house start the engines  
fly off into the sunrise, the spire of the empire state
the last sight on the horizon as the earth begins to curve

Habitation, by Margaret Atwood
Marriage is not
a house or even a tent.
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back where we squat
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even this far
we are learning to make fire.

Ecco il segno, Eugenio Montale
Ecco il segno; s'innerva
sul muro che s'indora:
un frastaglio di palma
bruciato dai barbagli dell'aurora.
Il passo che proviene
dalla serra sì lieve,
non è felpato dalla neve, è ancora
tua vita, sangue tuo nelle mie vene.

Here is the sign: it shivers
over a wall long gone
golden: fretwork of a palm
burnt by the blinding dawn.
A stepping sound descends
the greenhouse and remains
unmuffled by the snow, and still
your life, your blood within my veins

Feeding the Fire by Nita Penfold
Funny how it can start so simply:
a pile of broken sticks,
a few crushed newspapers filled with old stories,
ancient passions;  branches from the two of you
parallel-placed with ample breathing spaces between;  then the spark.
Suddenly there is fire leaping against the soot-dark bricks and you are pulled into the clear eye of the flames roaring, yellow-orange tongues licking the logs,
crackling into a red center, coals created warming you both. 
The secret:  never leave this fire unattended, thinking it will endure on its own.
Pay attention:  it must be fed
as the spirit is fed, vigilantly,
turning a stout branch so the flames will catch the far side,
adding a log as the rest turn to coals; 
the paradox that both of you must become a part of
the consuming
yet be part of the nurturing; love as process,
keeping the flames burning
steadfastly between you

From A House of Stone - by Carmen Bugan
In the village where I was born, we wish
A house of stone to shelter the heart of the marriage
So here too, I wish you
Obstinate, strong love, unyielding and unending.
May you be in reach of each other when all seems lost,
May your tears and your smiles happen always face to face.
When you imagine that you have shared everything
May you know that you still have the rest of your lives
To do all of it again and again.
But now listen to the hurry of bells and
Look how petals of roses about the vineyard
Bring you the words husband and wife:
First words in your house of stone.

Ana Castillo, ‘I Ask the Impossible’
I ask the impossible: love me forever.
Love me when all desire is gone.
Love me with the single mindedness of a monk.
When the world in its entirety,
and all that you hold sacred advise you
against it: love me still more.
When rage fills you and has no name: love me.
When each step from your door to your job tires you –
love me; and from job to home again, love me, love me.

Love me when you're bored –
when every woman you see is more beautiful than the last,
or more pathetic, love me as you always have:
not as admirer or judge, but with
the compassion you save for yourself
in your solitude.
Love me as you relish your loneliness,
the anticipation of your death,
mysteries of the flesh, as it tears and mends.
Love me as your most treasured childhood memory –
and if there is none to recall –
imagine one, place me there with you.
Love me withered as you loved me new.
Love me as if I were forever –
and I, will make the impossible
a simple act,
by loving you, loving you as I do.

Love  By Roy Croft
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;
I love you For putting your hand into my heaped-up heart
And passing over all the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked quite far enough to find
I love you because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern, but a temple.
Out of the works of my every day
Not a reproach, But a song.
I love you Because you have done more than any creed could have done To make me good.
And more than any fate could have done To make me happy.
You have done it without a touch,
Without a word, Without a sign.
You have done it, By being yourself.

To Love is Not to Possess   By James Kavanaugh
To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another--and to one's inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moons own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are-- and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being


from Captain Corelli’s mandolin, Louis de Bernieres.
Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation 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 that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Books do furnish a room - by Anthony Powell Davies
When two individuals meet, so do two private worlds.  None of our private worlds is big enough for us to live a wholesome life in.  We need the wider world of joy and wonder, of purpose and venture, of toil and tears.  What are we, any of us, but strangers and sojourners, wandering through the nighttime until we draw together and find the meaning of our lives in one another, dissolving our fears in each other’s courage, making music together and lighting torches to guide us through the dark?  

Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke (b 1875, Prague)
For one human being to love another human being
that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been
entrusted to us, the ultimate, the final test and proof,
The work for which all other work is but preparation…
Love is a high inducement for the individual to ripen ..
to become world in himself for the sake of another person
 ….human love… consists in this:  that two solitudes
protect and border and greet each other.
…even between the closest human beings infinite distances
continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up,
if they succeed in loving the distance between them
which makes it possible for each to see the other against a wide sky! 

George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans, b 1819)
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.

From Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo (b 1802)
You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. & great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. and even loved in spite of ourselves.”

On Love, Anatole France (b 1844)
It is not enough to love passionately; you must also love well. A passionate love is good doubtless, but a beautiful love is better.
May you have as much strength as gentleness; may it lack nothing, not even forbearance, and let even a little compassion be mingled with it … you are human and, because of this, capable of much suffering. If then something of compassion does not enter into the feelings you have one for the other, these feelings will not always befit all the circumstances of your life together; they will be like festive robes that will not shield you from wind and rain.
We love truly only those we love even in their weakness and their poverty. To forbear, to forgive, to console – that alone is the science of love.

On the Subjugation of Women, part 4, by John Stuart Mill  (b 1806)
What marriage may be in the case of two persons of cultivated faculties, identical in opinions and purposes, between whom there exists that best kind of equality, similarity of powers and reciprocal superiority in them — so that each can enjoy the luxury of looking up to the other, and can have alternately the pleasure of leading and of being led in the path of development — I will not attempt to describe. To those who can conceive it, there is no need; to those who cannot, it would appear the dream of an enthusiast. But I maintain, with the profoundest conviction, that this, and this only, is the ideal of marriage.

From The Book and the Brotherhood by Iris Murdoch
I hereby give myself. I love you. You are the only being whom I can love absolutely with my complete self, with all my flesh and mind and heart. You are my mate, my perfect partner, and I am yours. You must feel this now, as I do. It was a marvel that we ever met. It is some kind of divine luck that we are together now. We must never, never part again. We are, here in this, necessary beings, like gods. As we look at each other we verify, we know, the perfection of our love, we recognize each other Here is my life, here if need be, is my death. 

Excerpt from The Republic of Love, Carol Shields
Work is important. Living arrangements are important. Wars and good sex and race relations and the environment are important, and so are health and illness. Even minor shifts of faith or political intention are given a weight that is not accorded love.
We turn our heads and pretend it’s not there, the thunderous passions that enter a life and alter its course. Love belongs in an amateur operetta, on the inside of a jokey greeting card, or in the annals of an old-fashioned poetry society. Just a love story, people say about a book they happen to be reading, to be caught reading. They smirk or roll their eyes at the mention of love. They think of it as something childish and temporary, and its furniture—its language, its kisses, its fevers and transports—are evidence of a profound frivolity.
It’s possible to speak ironically about romance, but no adult with any sense talks about love’s richness and transcendence, that it actually happens, that it’s happening right now. Even here it’s happening, in this mid-continental city with its traffic and weather and asphalt parking lots and languishing flower borders and yellow-leafed tree s— right here, the miracle of it.

Excerpt from Goodridge v. Dept. Of Public Health, introduction by Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, the landmark case that legalized same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. … marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. "It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects."
Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.

From A Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman
Love. What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love's spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable.
Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots stretching deep into dark and mysterious days. The heart is a living museum. In each of its galleries, no matter how narrow or dimly lit, preserved forever like wondrous diatoms, are our moments of loving and being liked.

From Cosmos, by Carl Sagan – (modified by couple)
The size and age of our Universe is beyond the scope of ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and infinity floats our tiny planetary home. On the earth, the breadth of human history is a recent occurrence; our species is young, curious and shows much promise.
Our little planet hangs like a mote of dust in the morning sky. Everything that we can see, all the matter and energy in us and around us, exploded from stars billions of years ago. Those particles slowly arranged themselves into living things, including all of us. We are all made of stars. This is the common history we share with all things.
We humans have the special fortune of being one of the means by which the universe can comprehend itself. Our awareness is a rare gift and we should remain grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
The sum of all our evolution, our thinking and our accomplishments is love. Marriage is a human ritual, symbolizing the unification of two lives. The result of which is a new whole, a unified vantage, greater than the sum of its composing parts.
It gives two questioning natures a renewed reason for living. It is the dawn of a new life – and in that new life, a new warmth to the sunshine, a new beauty to the earth, a new appreciation for life itself.

from  A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway (b 1899)
At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (b 1906)
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance, and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay, and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back - it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.
The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation; it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined

taken from a novel by Alexander McCall Smith
She went out into the garden. The sun had set, but there was still a faint glow in the west, enough to provide that half-light that makes everything seem so rounded, so perfect. She stood in her garden and looked about her. Against the gradually darkening sky, the branches of the trees traced a pattern of twigs and leaves – a pattern of such intricacy and delicacy that those standing below might look up and wonder why the world can be so beautiful and yet break the heart.
She stood for a while, thinking about marriage. A wedding was a strange ceremony, she thought, with all those formal words, those solemn vows made by one to another; whereas the real question that should be put to the two people involved was a very simple one. Are you happy with each other? was the only question that should be asked; to which they both should reply, preferably in unison, Yes. Simple questions – and simple answers – were what we needed in life. 

A bit of humour

from – The Princess Bride
“I will let you walk down not behind me, and not in front of me, but right next to me, on the same step, stride for stride, and you put an arm around my shoulder, because that will probably make you feel better, and I, so as not to make you feel foolish, will put an arm around your shoulder, and thus, safe and protected, we will descend.”
“Will you draw your sword with your free hand?”
“I already have.
 Will you make a fist with yours?”
“It’s clenched.”
“Then let’s look on the bright side: we’re having an adventure… and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are.”

From So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, by Douglas Adams
"They looked at each other for a moment.
The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.
For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss Cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation.
He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who awakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savannah stretching grey and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.
He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.
He hadn't realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones till it now said something it had never said to him before, -- which was "Yes"."

I like you and I know why,  by Sandol Stoddard Warburg (Children’s book)
I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it's special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember
When I think something is important
you think it's important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I'm funny and you think I'm funny too

If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don't just say Well see you around sometime, bye
I like you a lot because of that
And I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me
And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don't always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can't stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
then you are really sorry
You don't just pretend you are busy looking at the birds and all that
You say, maybe it was something you ate
You say, the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did
If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don't
I like you because I don't know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can't remember when I didn't like you
It must have been lonesome then

If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That's how it would happen every time

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh, A.A. Milne
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
‘Where are you going today?’ says Pooh:
‘Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,’ says Pooh, says he.
‘Let’s go together,’ says Pooh…

‘Let’s look for dragons,’ I said to Pooh.
‘Yes, let’s,’ said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
‘Yes, those are dragons all right,’ said Pooh.
‘As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That’s what they are,’ said Pooh, said he.
‘That’s what they are,’ said Pooh.
‘Let’s frighten the dragons,’ I said to Pooh.
‘That’s right,’ said Pooh to Me.
‘I’m not afraid,’ I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted ‘Shoo!
Silly old dragons!’ - and off they flew.
‘I wasn’t afraid,’ said Pooh, said he,
‘I’m never afraid with you.’

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
‘What would I do?’ I said to Pooh,
‘If it wasn’t for you,’ and Pooh said: ‘True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together,’ says Pooh, says he. ‘
That’s how it is,’ says Pooh.” 

Astronomy Tutorial, - gwyneth lewis
You tell me that darkness is just light
that hasn't happened yet; that stars
are quantum jitters written very large
and gravity can act as sight.
You teach me the physics of energy.
It leaves me weak. The skies
are whispering maths. I hadn't realised:
we're learning fluent Galaxy

The Square Root of Three, by Dave Feinberg
I’m sure that I will always be
A lonely number like root three
The three is all that’s good and right,
Why must my three keep out of sight
Beneath the vicious square root sign,
I wish instead I were a nine
For nine could thwart this evil trick,
with just some quick arithmetic
I know I’ll never see the sun, as 1.7321
Such is my reality, a sad irrationality
When hark! What is this I see,
Another square root of a three
As quietly co-waltzing by,
Together now we multiply
To form a number we prefer,
Rejoicing as an integer
We break free from our mortal bonds
With the wave of magic wands
Our square root signs become unglued
Your love for me has been renewed

The Conjugation of the Paramecium by Murial Rukeyser
This has nothing/to do with/propagating
The species/is continued/as so many are
(among the smaller creatures)/by fission 
(and this species/is very small/next in order
to the amoeba,/the beginning one) 
The paramecium achieves,/then,/immortality/by dividing 
But when/the paramecium/desires renewal/strength another joy
this is what /the paramecium does: 
The paramecium/lies down beside/another paramecium 
Slowly inexplicably/the exchange/takes place
in which/some bits/of the nucleus/of each are exchanged 
for some bits /of the nucleus/of the other 
This is called/the conjugation of the paramecium.

Falling in love is like owning a dog,  by Taylor Mali
First of all, it's a big responsibility,
especially in a city like Winnipeg.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you're walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain't no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn't like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know
Don't you ever do that again!

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Recipe for a Wedding
4lb of love
1/2lb of sweet temper
1lb of butter of youth
1lb of blindness of faults
1lb of pounded wit
1lb of good humour
2lbs of sweet argument
1 pint of rippling laughter
1 wine glass of common sense
A dash of modesty
Put the love, good looks and a sweet temper into a well-furnished house. Beat the butter of youth into a cream and mix well together with the blindness of faults. Stir the pounded wit and good humour into the sweet argument, then add the rippling laughter and common sense. Work the whole together until everything is well mixed and bake gently forever.

How do we fall in Love?  Jeannette Winterson
You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signaled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit - and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home.
And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.). And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

A Lovely Love Story By Edward Monkton
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.

Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.

I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.

But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
He is also overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?

But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?

I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.

I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.

Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.Look at them.
Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm.
And the world is a beautiful place.

All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten:
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in Kindergarten. 
These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry if you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we. And then remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The golden rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:
"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 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."


This is a time set apart -
apart from the ordinary and the routine,
apart from the ongoing rush of life;
This is a time set apart in the lives of these two people -
a time for reflection and commitment,
a time for beginnings and promises,
a time of celebration,
a time which they have invited us to share.
This is a place set apart -
apart from the familiar and commonplace,
apart from the swirling currents of humanity;
This is a place set apart for the gathering
of this unique community of persons –
a place for welcomes and remembrances,
a place for witnessing and sharing, a place of celebration,
a place which we, together but once,
 can call our own for these few moments.

A Blessing for Wedding BY JANE HIRSHFIELD
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days

A prayer for a wedding11/29/63  by Joel Oppenheimer
because everyone knows exactly what’s good for another
because very few see
because a man and a woman may just possibly look at each other
because in the insanity of human relationships there still may come a time we say: yes, yes
because a man or a woman can do anything he or she pleases
because you can reach any point in your life saying: now, I want this
because eventually it occurs we want each other, we want to know watch other, even stupidly, even uglily
because there is at best a simple need in two people to try and reach some simple ground
because that simple ground is not so simple
because we are human beings gathered together whether we like it or not
because we are human beings reaching out to touch
because sometimes we grow….
We ask a blessing on this marriage
We ask that some simplicity be allowed
We ask happiness
We ask that this couple be known for what it is…
And that the light shine upon it
We ask a blessing for this marriage.”

Take Joy by Fra Giovanni, 1513,
There is nothing I can give to you which you do not already have
but there is much, very much more, that while I cannot give, you can take…
No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today — Take Heaven.
No Peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant — Take Peace.
The sorrow of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is Joy. — Take Joy.
There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see,
and to see, we have only to look — I beseech you to look.
Life is so generously given, but we,
judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor,
woven of Love by Wisdom with Power.

Traditional Sikh Wedding Hymn
They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together,
They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies.

A Wedding Reading from The Buddhist Scriptures
The Buddha's sermon at Rajagaha; verses 19-22
19 "Do not deceive, do not despise each other anywhere. Do not be angry nor bear secret resentments; for as a mother will risk her life and watches over her child, so boundless be your love to all, so tender, kind and mild.
20 Cherish good will right and left, early and late, and without hindrance, without stint, be free of hate and envy, while standing and walking and sitting down, what ever you have in mind, the rule of life that is always best is to be loving-kind.
21 Gifts are great, founding temples is meritorious, meditations and religious exercises pacify the heart, comprehension of the truth leads to Nirvana, but greater than all is lovingkindness.
22 As the light of the moon is 16 times stronger than the light of all the stars, so lovingkindness is 16 times more efficacious in liberating the heart than all other religious accomplishments taken together."
Traditional Inuit Wedding Vow
You are my husband/wife
My feet shall run because of you.
My feet dance because of you.
My eyes see because of you.
My mind thinks because of you.
And I shall love because of you.

This Marriage, by Rumi
May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage
Hindu Marriage Poem
You have become mine forever.
Yes, we have become partners.
I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, unite.
You are thought and I am sound.
May the nights be honey-sweet for us.
May the mornings be honey-sweet for us.
May the plants be honey-sweet for us.
May the earth be honey-sweet for us.

Song of the Open Road, Walt Whitman
Listen, I will be honest with you ...
I do not offer the old smooth prizes
But offer rough new prizes
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand
all that you earn or achieve.
However sweet the laid up stores,
However convenient the dwelling,
   you shall not remain there.
However sheltered the port,
However calm the waters,
   you shall not anchor there.
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you,
   you are permitted to receive it but a little while.
Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road
Healthy, free, the world before you
The long brown path before you,
Leading wherever you choose.
Say only to one another:
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money;
I give you myself before preaching and law:
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?"

Irish Blessing:
You are the star of each night,
You are the brightness of every morning,
You are the story of each guest,
You are the report of every land.
No evil shall befall you, on hill nor bank,
In field or valley, on mountain or in glen.
Neither above, nor below, neither in sea,
Nor on shore,
In skies above, nor in the depths.
You are the kernel of my heart,
You are the face of my sun,
You are the harp of my music,
You are the crown of my company.

From an old Irish poem
My love is no short year's sentence.
It is grief lodged under the skin,
Strength pushed beyond its bounds;
The four quarters of the world,
The highest point of heaven.
It is a heart breaking or
Battle with a ghost,
Outrunning the sky or
Courting an echo.
So is my love, my passion & my devotion
To him (her) to whom I give them.

Celtic Traditional Vow 1
I honour your gods
I drink at your well
I bring an undefended heart to our meeting place
I have no cherished outcome
I will not negotiate by withholding
I am not subject to disappointment.

Celtic Traditional Vow 2
You cannot possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it,
I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night.
and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite from my meat.
And the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living, and my dying, equally in your care.
And tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is a marriage of equals.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you

Celtic Blessing 2
Happy is the bride that rain falls on
May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.
May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.
May the saddest day of your future
Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May your hands be forever clasped in friendship
And your hearts joined forever in love. (may repeat last line)

Celtic Benediction
The peace of the running water to you,
The peace of the flowing air to you,
The peace of the quiet earth to you,
The peace of the shining star to you,
And the love and the care of all of us to you.

May the love which has brought you together
continue to grow and enrich your lives. 
May you look for what is good in each other.
May you respect each others differences.
May you touch tenderly, speak kindly, and listen with attention.
May you be quick to say “I am sorry” as well as “I forgive.”
May you meet with courage the problems which arise to challenge you
and may your marriage always be one of respect and love.
Again and again, may you renew your dreams.
And may you share your love with the world.

May the sun bring you new energies by day;
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away any worries you may have
And the breeze blow new strength into your being.
And all the days of your life,
May you walk gently through the world  And know its beauty.
Now you will feel not the rain, for each will shelter the other.
Now you will feel not cold, for each will warm the other.
Now you will feel not solitude, for each will company the other.
Now you are two persons, but both will lead one life.
When you go to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life,
May your days be good and long upon the earth.

BLESSING, by Gertrude Nelsen
May every blessing and grace be yours
May your love grow stronger and deeper with each passing year.
May joy and delight fill your home
May daily problems not vex you unduly
nor the desire for earthly possessions dominate you
May you have true friends to stay by you in joy and sorrow
And if children bless you, may they return your love
many times over.
With wise and generous hearts
May you help all to come to you in need of comfort
and may you reach a ripe age together
content for having lived a life of goodness and worth

First Nations commandments
Honour all your relations to the world and to the earth.
Know that all forms of life are sacred, and treat all beings with respect.
Take from this life what is needed and nothing more.
Do only what needs to be done for the good of all.
Speak truthfully for the good in others.
Enjoy life’s journey and leave tracks with integrity.

The Buddha
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.