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Readings and poems

A selection of readings and poems that you could use in your wedding or civil partnership ceremony.

You are welcome to include any reading of your choice but they must be non-religious and must be checked with the registrar beforehand.

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.

Foxtrot from a Play (WH Auden) 

The soldier loves his rifle 
The scholar loves his books 
The farmer loves his horses 
The filmstar loves her looks 
There's love the whole world over 
Wherever you may be 
Some lose their rest for gay Mae West
But you're my cup of tea.

Some talk of Alexander
And some of Fred Astaire 
Some like their heroes hairy
Some like them debonair
Some prefer a curate
And some an ADC
Some like 'em tough and treat 'em rough
But you're my cup of tea.

Some are mad on Airedales
And some on Pekinese
On tabby cats or parrots
Or guinea pigs or geese
There are patients in asylums
Who think that they're a tree
I had an aunt who loved a plant
But you're my cup of tea.

Some have sagging waistlines
And some a bulbous nose
Some a floating kidney
And some have hammertoes
Some have tennis elbow
And some have housemaid's knee
And some I know have got BO
But you're my cup of tea.

The blackbird loves the earthworm
The adder loves the sun
The polar bear an iceberg
The elephant a bun
The trout enjoys the river
The whale enjoys the sea
And dogs love most an old lamppost
But you're my cup of tea.

From a Native American Indian ceremony

May the sun bring you new energy by day; 
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away your worries 
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 no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. 
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. 
Now there will be no more loneliness, 
Now you are two persons, but there is one life before you. 
Go now to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life together, 
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Knights and Ladies (AA Milne)

There was in my old picture book
A page at which I liked to look,
Where knights and squires came riding down
The cobbles of some steep old town,
And ladies from beneath the eaves
Fluttered their bravest handkerchiefs
Or, smiling proudly, tossed down gages...

But that was in the Middle Ages
It doesn't happen now; but still
Whenever I looked up the hill
Where, dark against the green and blue
The firs came marching, two by two,
I wondered if perhaps I might
See suddenly a shining knight.

Winding his way from blue to green -
Exactly as it would have been
Those many, many years ago...
Perhaps I might.
And now I know!

Love is Giving (Anon)

Love is giving, not taking,
mending, not breaking,
trusting, believing,
never deceiving,
patiently bearing,
and faithfully sharing
each joy, every sorrow,
today and tomorrow.

Love is king, 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.

My Promise (Anon)

There are a thousand things
I would like to be for you
but one of the most important
is just being the someone
you can talk to.

There are so many things
I would like
to do for you
and so many things I would like
to say and give and share.

But for today
I just want you to know
that I promise
I'll always be there
and I'll always care.

My True Love (Sir Philip Sidney)

My true love hath my heart, and I have his, 
By just exchange one for another 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 thoughts and senses guides; 
He loves my heart, for once it was his own; 
I cherish his, because in me it bides. 
My true love hath my heart and I have his.

Native American Love Poem (The Ahwahneechee tribe who lived in Yosemite National Park)

When evening falls, I will look up and there you will be. 
I will take your hand and you'll take mine 
And we'll turn together to look at the road 
We travelled to reach 
This, the hour of our happiness. 
It stretches behind us as the future lies 
Ahead, a long and winding road 
Whose every turning means discovery. 
Old hopes, new laughter and shared tears. 
The adventure has just begun.

Romance (Robert Louis Stevenson)

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me.
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright flows the broom.
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.

Sonnet 75 (William Shakespeare)

So are you to my thoughts as food to life, 
Or as sweet-season'd showers are to the ground; 
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found:
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then better'd that the world may see my pleasure 
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starved for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save that is had or must from you be took,
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.