What is a good wedding poem?
November 1, 2005 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Need help finding a suitable wedding poem...

My best friend of many years is getting married this weekend and I want to give a toast at a dinner the night before. Ideally, this would be a short poem on a wedding theme that is easily understandable when read out loud. I am especially trying to avoid anything that is cheesy or sappy, like most wedding related poems.
posted by Falconetti to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.

Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

All day and night, music,
a quiet, bright
reedsong. If it
fades, we fade.

--Jelaluddin Rumi, Spring Giddiness
posted by hamster at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you want a big laugh, you could go with good old Shel Silverstein. A woman I know married a man with a young daughter, and the daughter read this one at the wedding.

My Rules

If you want to marry me, here's what you'll have to do:
You must learn how to make a perfect chicken-dumpling stew.
And you must sew my holey socks,
And soothe my troubled mind,
And develop the knack for scratching my back,
And keep my shoes spotlessly shined.
And while I rest you must rake up the leaves,
And when it is hailing and snowing
You must shovel the walk...and be still when I talk,
And--hey--where are you going?

-Shel Silverstein
posted by GaelFC at 2:55 PM on November 1, 2005 [4 favorites]

My wife and I read this to each other at our wedding last Saturday. It did have very specific meaning for us though.

" the Forerunner" by Khalil Ghibran\

You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have builded are but the foundation of your giant-self. And that self too shall be a foundation.
And I too am my own forerunner, for the long shadow stretching before me at sunrise shall gather under my feet at the noon hour. Yet another sunrise shall lay another shadow before me, and that also shall be gathered at another noon.
Always have we been our own forerunners, and always shall we be. And all that we have gathered and shall gather shall be but seeds for fields yet unploughed. We are the fields and the ploughmen, the gatherers and the gathered.
When you were a wandering desire in the mist, I too was there, a wandering desire. Then we sought one another, and out of our eagerness dreams were born. And dreams were time limitless, and dreams were space without measure.
And when you were a silent word upon life's quivering lips, I too was there, another silent word. Then life uttered us and we came down the years throbbing with memories of yesterday and with longing for tomorrow, for yesterday was death conquered and tomorrow was birth pursued.
And now we are in God's hands. You are a sun in His right hand and I an earth in His left hand. Yet you are not more, shining, than I, shone upon.
And we, sun and earth, are but the beginning of a greater sun and a greater earth. And always shall we be the beginning.

You are your own forerunner, you the stranger passing by the gate of my garden.
And I too am my own forerunner, though I sit in the shadows of my trees and seem motionless.
posted by snsranch at 2:59 PM on November 1, 2005

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:26 PM on November 1, 2005 [5 favorites]

Here's the Pablo Neruda sonnet a friend read at our wedding.
posted by killy willy at 3:35 PM on November 1, 2005

I went with e.e. cummings' i carry your heart with me.
posted by slogger at 3:39 PM on November 1, 2005

O Tell Me The Truth About Love
by W. H Auden

Some say that love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round,
And some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pajamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does it's odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway-guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
it wasn't ever there:
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all it's time at the races,
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of it's own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my shoes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.
posted by rongorongo at 4:32 PM on November 1, 2005

Potentially useful answers here: http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/8921
posted by willpie at 4:41 PM on November 1, 2005

I rely on you
like a Skoda needs suspension
like the aged need a pension
like a trampoline needs tension
like a bungee jump needs apprehension

I rely on you
like a camera needs a shutter
like a gambler needs a flutter
like a golfer needs a putter
like a buttered scone involves some butter

I rely on you
like an acrobat needs ice cool nerve
like a hairpin needs a drastic curve
like an HGV needs endless derv
like an outside left needs a body swerve

I rely on you
like a handyman needs pliers
like an auctioneer needs buyers
like a laundromat needs driers
like The Good Life needed Richard Briers

I rely on you
like a water vole needs water
like a brick outhouse needs mortar
like a lemming to the slaughter
Ryan’s just Ryan without his daughter
I rely on you

-- "I rely on you", Hovis Presley 1994
posted by scruss at 6:14 PM on November 1, 2005

hamster. Wow. Hit me with a few more of those. That was awesome.

I like Hopkins' Wedding March.
posted by weston at 8:35 PM on November 1, 2005

I don't anything useful to add, but it's so sweet to read these and think of all the mefites out there married and loving it up! Congrats all around, and many happy returns.
posted by slimslowslider at 9:32 PM on November 1, 2005

I've said it before, but it bears repeating.

Alice Oswald.

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.
posted by seanyboy at 12:17 AM on November 2, 2005 [4 favorites]

The Owl and the Pussycat might be fun to perform. Go on I dare you.
posted by rongorongo at 9:02 AM on November 2, 2005

See Robert Hass's fine anthology, Into The Garden: A Wedding Anthology : Poetry and Prose on Love and Marriage. We used to find stuff for our wedding, and it's a goldmine.

posted by lustra at 9:59 AM on November 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

The Owl and the Pussycat

Our minister sprung that on us. Unannounced, I might add. Kind of worked though.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2005

I'd second lustra's recommendation; I have that anthology and it's lovely.

We're Wendell Berry fans, so our short and sweet wedding ceremony started with a prose passage from his essay "Poetry and Marriage" and ended with this excerpt from his long poem "The Country of Marriage":

Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep going in.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:36 AM on November 4, 2005 [3 favorites]

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