Wedding Vows, Remembered

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.

Sonnet VI

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.


Julia Cates said...

It's really nice that you and your husband didn't exchange vows when you were married, because so many couple changes wedding vows Great vow by Elizabeth Barett Browning. thanks for share

MidnightCafe said...

I think it's beautiful that you used this poem for your wedding and that it captures something deeper than what most of us can even imagine on our wedding day. I know that my husband and I thought we knew each other and loved each other as much as we possibly could when we got married. And, perhaps, that was true at the time. But, looking back, we see that we've learned so much more and become so much more, and what we have now is deeper, more poignant, more varied and beautiful. I'm glad you can see that in your own marriage, too, especially when the going gets tough.