Three classic love poems for a wedding vow renewal ceremony

Many classic romantic poems, such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘How Do I Love Thee’ and ‘Love’s Philosophy’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley, feature religious references and may, therefore, not be first choice for humanists for their vow renewal poetry reading. However, fear not because our celebrants have a selection of non-religious classic and modern love poems for you to peruse. Here are a few classics for you to consider…

Love is Giving

Love is giving, not taking,
mending, not breaking,
trusting, believing,
never deceiving,
patiently bearing
and faithfully sharing
each joy, each sorrow,
today and tomorrow.
Love is kind, understanding,
but never demanding.
Love is constant, prevailing,
its strength never failing.
A promise once spoken
For all time unbroken,
Love’s time is forever.
Anon

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 well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.
Robert Burns

Fidelity

Fidelity and love are two different things, like a flower
   and a gem.
And love, like a flower, will fade, will change into
   something else
or it would not be flowery.

O flowers they fade because they are moving swiftly; a
   little torrent of life
leaps up to the summit of the stem, gleams, turns over
   round the bend
of the parabola of curved flight,
sinks, and is gone, like a cornet curving into the invisible.

O flowers they are all the time travelling
like cornets, and they come into our ken
for a day, for two days, and withdraw, slowly vanish again.

And we, we must take them on the wing, and let them go.
Embalmed flowers are not flowers, immortelles are not
   flowers;
flowers are just a motion, a swift motion, a coloured
   gesture;
that is their loveliness. And that is love.

But a gem is different. It lasts so much longer than we do
so much much much longer
that it seems to last forever.
Yet we know it is flowing away
as flowers are, and we are, only slower.
The wonderful slow flowing of the sapphire!

All flows, and every flow is related to every other flow.
Flowers and sapphires and us, diversely streaming.
In the old days, when sapphires were breathed upon and
   brought forth
during the wild orgasms of chaos
time was much slower, when the rocks came forth.
It took aeons to make a sapphire, aeons for it to pass away.

And a flower it takes a summer.
And 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 of a man
   underneath.

And when, throughout all the wild orgasms 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.
DH Lawrence


 

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