Perfect Wedding Poems to suit any couple

18 April 2017

Struggling to find the right poem for someone's big day? Here's our pick of the most beautiful, moving and original verses ever written about love and marriage, from the incredibly romantic to the more unusual and the traditional to the contemporary, there's something for every couple.

 

Contemporary wedding readings

 

Have You Got a Biro I Can Borrow?
By Clive James

Have you got a biro I can borrow?
I’d like to write your name
On the palm of my hand, on the walls of the hall
The roof of the house, right across the land
So when the sun comes up tomorrow
It’ll look to this side of the hard-bitten planet
Like a big yellow button with your name written on it

Have you got a biro I can borrow?
I’d like to write some lines
In praise of your knee, and the back of your neck
And the double-decker bus that brings you to me
So when the sun comes up tomorrow
It’ll shine on a world made richer by a sonnet
And a half-dozen epics as long as the Aeneid

Oh give me a pen and some paper
Give me a chisel or a camera
A piano and a box of rubber bands
I need room for choreography
And a darkroom for photography
Tie the brush into my hands

Have you got a biro I can borrow?
I’d like to write your name
From the belt of Orion to the share of the Plough
The snout of the Bear to the belly of the Lion
So when the sun goes down tomorrow
There’ll never be a minute
Not a moment of the night that hasn’t got you in it

From Clive James’ Collected Poems 1958-2015

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Available now in Hardback and Ebook.

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Bridled Vows
By Ian Duhig

I will be faithful to you, I do vow
but not until the seas have all run dry
etcetera: although I mean it now,
I'm not a prophet and I will not lie.
To be your perfect wife, I could not swear;
I'll love, yes; honour (maybe); won't obey,
but will co-operate if you will care
as much as you are seeming to today.
I'll do my best to be your better half,
but I don't have the patience of a saint;
not with you, at you I may sometimes laugh,
and snap too, though I'll try to learn restraint.
We might work out: no blame if we do not.
With all my heart, I think it's worth a shot.

From Ian Duhig’s The Blind Roadmaker

The Blind Roadmaker

The Blind Roadmaker

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The Present
Michael Donaghy

For the present there is just one moon,
though every level pond gives back another.

But the bright disc shining in the black lagoon,
perceived by astrophysicist and lover,

is milliseconds old. And even that light's
seven minutes older than its source.

And the stars we think we see on moonless nights
are long extinguished. And, of course,

this very moment, as you read this line,
is literally gone before you know it.

Forget the here-and-now. We have no time
but this device of wantonness and wit.

Make me this present then: your hand in mine,
and we'll live out our lives in it.

From Michael Donaghy’s Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Available in Paperback and as an Ebook. 

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Patagonia
By Kate Clanchy

I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought

of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait

till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush, had
paddled off in tiny coracles, till

those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant

skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.

From Kate Clanchy’s Selected Poems

Selected Poems

Selected Poems

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Traditional wedding readings

 

Sonnet 116 
By William Shakespeare

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:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fixed mark.
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;
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.

From The Picador Book of Love Poems


Fidelity
By D. H. Lawrence

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.

From The Picador Book of Wedding Poems


The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses,
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy-buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs,
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning,
If these delights thy mind may move;
Then live with me, and be my love.

From The Picador Book of Wedding Poems

 

Unashamedly romantic wedding readings

 

‘i carry your heart with me
(i carry it in my heart)’

By E. E. 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)

From The Picador Book of Wedding Poems


Love’s Philosophy
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the rivers
And the rivers with the oceans,
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother,
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

From The Picador Book of Love Poems


Sonnet XVII
By Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,  
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:  
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,  
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries  
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,  
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose  
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,  
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,  
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,  
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.


The Sun Rising
By John Donne
      
               Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.

               She's all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world's contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.

From The Picador Book of Love Poems

 

 

Unusual and unique wedding readings

 

Ode
By Gillian Allnutt

To depict a (bicycle), you must first come to love (it).
Alexander Blok

I swear by every rule in the bicycle
owner’s manual

that I love you, I, who have repeatedly,
painstakingly,

with accompanying declaration of despair,
tried to repair

you, to patch things up,
to maintain a workable relationship.

I have spent sleepless nights
in pondering your parts – those private

and those that all who walk the street
may look at –

wondering what makes you tick
over smoothly, or squeak.

my trusty steed,
my rusty three-speed,

I would feed you the best oats
if oats

were applicable.
Only linseed oil

will do
to nourish you.

I want
so much to paint

you,
midnight blue

mudgutter black
and standing as you do, ironic

at the rail
provided by the Council –

beautiful
the sun caught in your back wheel –

or at home in the hall, remarkable
among other bicycles,

your handlebars erect.
Allow me to depict

you thus. And though I can’t do justice
to your true opinion of the surface

of the road –
put into words

the nice distinctions that you make
among the different sorts of tarmac –

still I’d like to set the record of our travels straight.
I’d have you know that

not with three-in-one
but with my own

heart’s
spittle I anoint your moving parts.

From The Picador Book of Wedding Poems


Husband to Wife: Party-Going
By Brian Jones

Turn where the stairs bend
In this house; statued in other light,
Allow the host to ease you from your coat.
Stand where the stairs bend,
A formal distance from me, then descend
With delicacy conscious but not false
And take my arm, as if I were someone else.

Tonight, in a strange room
We will be strangers: let our eyes be blind
To all our customary stances –
Remark how well I’m groomed,
I will explore your subtly-voiced nuances
Where delicacy is conscious but not false,
And take your hand, as if you were someone else.

Home forgotten, rediscover
Among chirruping of voices, chink of glass,
Those simple needs that turned us into lovers,
How solitary was the wilderness
Until we met, took leave of hosts and guests,
And with delicate consciousness of what was false
Walked off together, as if there were no one else.

From The Picador Book of Wedding Poems


Litany
By Billy Collins

‘You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine . . .’

Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine- scented air.
There is no way you are the pine- scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley,
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I am not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and – somehow – the wine.

From Billy Collins’ Aimless Love

Aimless Love

Aimless Love

Available in Paperback and as an Ebook.

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The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
    In a beautiful pea-green boat.
They took some honey, and plenty of money
    Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
    And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
    You are,
    You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

Pussy said to Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
    How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
    But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
     To the land where the Bong-Tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
    His nose,
    His nose!
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
    Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
     By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dinèd on mince, and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand
  They danced by the light of the moon,
    The moon,
    The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

From The Picador Book of Wedding Poems

 

We'd love to hear your suggestions too, get in touch on Twitter @picadorbooks

 

In need of more inspiration? Why not check out our list of beautiful wedding readings for every kind of couple, or try one of our beautiful poetry collections below: 

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