Monday, February 14

A Little Shakespeare for your Valentine

I was an English major in college, and I can vividly remember my thoughts upon reading Sonnet 116 for the first time. Thought #1 was that it reminded me of my parents. Thought #2 was that it reminded me of Yeats' "When You are Old." Thought #3 was that I wanted to incorporate it into my wedding day, whenever that day came. It definitely will be, either as a reading during the ceremony, on the program, or on one of our table numbers.

Sonnet 116

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:
O 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.

One of my favorite love-related Shakespeare lines is Benedick's "I do love nothing in the world so well as you" in Much Ado About Nothing, so Act 4, Scene 1 will probably make an appearance in our table numbers. Here's another great line, from my favorite Shakespeare play, The Tempest: "Hear my soul speak. Of the very instant that I saw you, Did my heart fly at your service" (3.1). A love at first sign quote!

For more poetry about everlasting love (though in this case, it was mostly unrequited love), here's the other poem I mentioned above. Yeats wrote it about the actress and revolutionary activist Maud Gonne:

When You Are Old - William Butler Yeats

When you are old and gray and full of sleep

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true;

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead,

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

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