My husband and I didn't exchange vows when we were married. Instead, I chose one of my favorite sonnets from my very favorite poet, Elizabeth Barett Browning, for us to recite to each other. Part of it was probably my desire to do something "different"--an urge that has plagued me my entire life, and most certainly extended to my nuptials. But mostly it was because these words are so powerful to me, and they are steeped with the devotion and unity that marriage entails.
by Elizabeth Barett Browning
Go from me. Yet I feel that I shall stand
Henceforth in thy shadow. Nevermore
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life, I shall command
The uses of my soul, nor lift my hand
Serenely in the sunshine as before,
Without the sense of that which I forbore--
Thy touch upon the palm. The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
And what I dream include thee, as the wine
Must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue
God for myself, He hears that name of thine,
And sees within my eyes the tears of two.
It's similar to wedding vows, in a way. It is a pledge of unity, and a description of the way a marriage unites two souls. At first, it seems melancholy, but after the thousands of times I've probably read this, it is simply beautiful. So succinctly it portrays lifelong, deep love. And it reminds me of all those same vows that many speak on their wedding day, but in a deeper, more provocative way.
I'm glad we used these words on our wedding day. I was thinking of them today; we have had a long, tough week in terms of our marriage, snapping at each other more often than normal. But we still have this commitment--this vow--that we know neither of us will ever break. My heart will forever have pulses that beat double.