Do you know an Irish love poem? One condition - no religion
June 16, 2008 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend an Irish - or even Northern Irish - poem or extract, on the topic of love or romance, that would be suitable to be read out at a civil wedding (ie, no references to God or religion allowed)

I'm getting married this summer and I've tried very hard to find something, but it's proved very difficult. Any advice appreciated!
posted by ascullion to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is always Yeats, though many of his poems talk about both the sorrow and joy of love. Here's one that focuses on the joy. Especially good if you're not terribly rich.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams...

William Butler Yeats
posted by onlyconnect at 1:35 PM on June 16, 2008

(It does mention "the heavens," though I think in this context it's not a nod to religion, but a reference to the sky.) Anyway, btw, congratulations! And good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 1:37 PM on June 16, 2008

Yearn On by Katie Donovan

I want you to feel
the unbearable lack of me.
I want your skin
to yearn for the soft lure of mine;
I want those hints of red
on your canvas
to deepen in passion for me:
carmine, burgundy.
I want you to keep
stubbing your toe
on the memory of me;
I want your head to be dizzy
and your stomach in a spin;
I want you to hear my voice
in your ear, to touch your face
imagining it is my hand.
I want your body to shiver and quiver
at the mere idea of mine.
I want you to feel as though
life after me is dull, and pointless,
and very, very aggravating;
that with me you were lifted
on a current you waited all your life to find,
as though you were wading
through a soggy swill of inanity and ugliness
every minute we are apart.
I want you to drive yourself crazy
with the fantasy of me,
and how we will meet again, against all odds,
and there will be tears and flowers,
and the vast relief of not I,
but us.
I am haunting your dreams,
conducting these fevers
from a distance,
a distance that leaves me weeping,
and storming,
and bereft.

posted by veedubya at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

This is more Valentines Day than wedding day, but here goes:

A Drinking Song
By William Butler Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
and love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
posted by kimota at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's not exactly all-purpose, but I've always really liked Seamus Heaney's Twice Shy:

Twice Shy

Her scarf a la Bardot,
In suede flats for the walk,
She came with me one evening
For air and friendly talk.
We crossed the quiet river,
Took the embankment walk.

Traffic holding its breath,
Sky a tense diaphragm:
Dusk hung like a backcloth
That shook where a swan swam,
Tremulous as a hawk
Hanging deadly, calm.

A vacuum of need
Collapsed each hunting heart
But tremulously we held
As hawk and prey apart,
Preserved classic decorum,
Deployed our talk with art.

Our juvenilia
Had taught us both to wait,
Not to publish feeling
And regret it all too late -
Mushroom loves already
Had puffed and burst in hate.

So, chary and excited,
As a thrush linked on a hawk,
We thrilled to the March twilight
With nervous childish talk:
Still waters running deep
Along the embankment walk.
posted by carbide at 5:05 PM on June 16, 2008

You might try Eavan Boland, she writes a lot on the subject of love and marriage. I would quote you some poems but all my books are packed for a move.
posted by fshgrl at 6:42 PM on June 16, 2008

Have you tried Louis MacNeice? (Northern Irish -- he was born in Belfast.) His best known love poem is Meeting Point ('Time was away and somewhere else'), which Clive James describes as 'the poem that every young man should learn to recite by heart if he wants to pull classy girls'. But you might prefer 'A Toast', in which the poet uses all his poetic skill to summon up everything he possesses, and presents it all to his beloved. (He finally gets to fuck her in the last stanza.)

The slurred and drawled and crooning sounds,
The blurred and suave and sidling smells,
The webs of dew, the bells of buds,
The sun going down in crimson suds --
This is on me and this is yours.

The bland and sculped and urgent beasts,
The here and there and nowhere birds,
The tongues of fire, the words of foam,
The curdling stars in the night's dome --
This is on me and this is yours.

The face and grace and muscle of man,
The balance of his body and mind,
Who keeps a trump behind his brain
Till instinct flicks it out again --
This is on me and this is yours.

The courage of eyes, the craft of hands,
The gay feet, the pulse of hope,
The will that flings a rope -- though hard --
To catch the future off its guard --
This is on me and this is yours.

The luck and pluck and plunge of blood,
The wealth and spilth and sport of breath,
And sleep come down like death above
The fever and the peace of love --
This is on me and this is yours.

posted by verstegan at 6:47 AM on June 19, 2008

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