Readings/Quotes from Poetry & Literature
Updated: Jun 1
Extract from Les Misérables – Victor Hugo
You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.
Sonnet by Pablo Neruda
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
On Marriage ~ by Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.
A Marriage - by Mark Twain
A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole;
It gives two purposeless lives a work,
And doubles the strength of each to perform it.
It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living
And something to live for.
It will give new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers,
a new beauty to the earth
And a new mystery to life.
Two Days We Should Not Worry
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry,
two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is Yesterday with all its mistakes and cares,
its faults and blunders, its aches and pains.
Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday.
We cannot undo a single act we performed;
we cannot erase a single word we said.
Yesterday is gone forever.
The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow
with all its possible adversities, its burdens,
its large promise and its poor performance;
Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow's sun will rise,
either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise.
Until it does, we have no stake in Tomorrow,
for it is yet to be born.
This leaves only one day, Today.
Any person can fight the battle of just one day.
It is when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities
Yesterday and Tomorrow that we break down.
It is not the experience of Today that drives a person mad,
it is the remorse or bitterness of something which happened Yesterday
and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.
Let us, therefore, Live but one day at a time.”
Love Is a Great Thing – Thomas à Kempis
Love is a great thing, yea, a great and thorough good. By itself it makes that is heavy light; and it bears evenly all that is uneven.
It carries a burden which is no burden; it will not be kept back by anything low and mean; it desires to be free from all wordly affections, and not to be entangled by any outward prosperity, or by any adversity subdued.
Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility. It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, and warrants them to take effect, where he who does not love would faint and lie down.
Though weary, it is not tired; though pressed it is not straitened; though alarmed, it is not confounded; but as a living flame it forces itself upwards and securely passes through all.
Love is active and sincere, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent and manly.
Excerpt from The Irrational Season, by Madeleine L’Engle
Ultimately there comes a moment
when a decision must be made.
Ultimately two people who love each other
must ask themselves how much they hope
for as their love grows and deepens,
and how much risk they are willing to take.
It is indeed a fearful gamble.
Because it is the nature of love to create,
a marriage itself is something which has to be created,
so that, together
we become a new creature.
To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take.
If we commit ourselves to one person for life
this is not, as many people think,
a rejection of freedom;
rather it demands the courage
to move into all the risks of freedom,
and the risk of love which is permanent;
into that love which is not possession,
It takes a lifetime to learn another person.
When love is not possession,
then it is part of that co-creation
which is our human calling.
Maybe...We are supposed to meet the wrong people before meeting the right one so that, when we finally meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.
Maybe...it is true that we don't know what we have got until we lose it, but it is also true that we don't know what we have been missing until it arrives.
Maybe...the happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.
Maybe...the best kind of love is the kind you can sit on a sofa together and never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.
Maybe...you shouldn't go for looks; they can deceive. Don't go for wealth; even that fades away. Go for someone who makes you smile, because it takes only a smile to make a dark day seem bright.
Maybe...you should hope for enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, and enough hope to make you happy.
Maybe... Love is not about finding the perfect person, it's about learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.'
A History of Love - by Diane Ackerman
What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful.
It has altered the flow of history,
kindled works of art,
cheered the forlorn,
turned tough guys to mush,
consoled the enslaved,
driven strong women mad,
glorified the humble,
fueled national scandals,
bankrupted robber barons,
and made mincemeat of kings.
How can love’s spaciousness
be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable?
Love is an ancient delirium,
a desire older than civilization,
with taproots spreading into deep and mysterious days.
The heart is a living museum.
In each of its galleries,
no matter how narrow or dimly lit,
preserved forever like wondrous diatoms,
are our moments of loving, and being loved
Extract from Still Life With Woodpecker – Tom Robbins
Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.
Stardust ~ by Neil Gaiman
"You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn't true. I know a lot about love. I've seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars — pain, lies, hate… It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves… you could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable, and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… what I'm trying to say, Tristran is… I think I love you. Is this love, Tristran? I never imagined I'd know it for myself. My heart… it feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it's trying to escape because it doesn't belong to me any more. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I'd wish for nothing in exchange: no gifts, no goods, no demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you loved me too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine."
A reflection on marriage – by Neil Gaiman:
This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I've learned about marriage: nothing.
Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze,
and not to be alone.
It's not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it's what they mean.
Somebody's got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn't want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.
It's not two broken halves becoming one.
It's the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.
So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.
Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else's love, nobody else's marriage, is like yours,
and it's a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.
And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet,
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.
And that's all I know about love.
Excerpt from The Kindly Ones, by Neil Gaiman
Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest
and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You
build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you,
then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid
life … You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day,
like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It
gets inside you.
How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog
On cold winter nights, love is warm. It lies between you and lives and breathes and makes funny noises. Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs. It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long. But come home and love is always happy to see you. It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life, but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No! Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes. Love leaves you little surprises here and there. Love needs lots of cleaning up after. Sometimes you just want to get love fixed. Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper and swat love on the nose, not so much to cause pain, just to let love know, “Don’t you ever do that again!”
Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk. Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions at once, or wind itself around and around you until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go. People who have nothing in common but love stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back, again, and again, and again. But most of all, love needs love, lots of it. And in return, love loves you and never stops.
A Lovely Love Story ~ by Edward Monkton
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice.
Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage.
Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny.
He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.
I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur.
She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice.
She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
He is also overly fond of things.
Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?
But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur.
She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.
Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?
I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.
I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur.
For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides,
I am not unkeen on shopping either.
Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
Look at them.
Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together.
For the sun is warm.
And the world is a beautiful place.
Extract from Plato’s Symposium – Plato
Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.
To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original human nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. There were three sexes then: one comprised of two men called the children of the Sun, one made of two women called the children of the Earth, and a third made of a man and a woman, called the children of the Moon. Due to the power and might of these original humans, the Gods began to fear that their reign might be threatened. They sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them.
It was at this point that Zeus divided the humans in half. After the division the two parts of each desiring their other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind.
Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. Those whose original nature lies with the children of the Sun are men who are drawn to other men, those from the children of the Earth are women who love other women, and those from the children of the Moon are men and women drawn to one another. And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.
Extract from Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.
They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the ‘blaze of passion’ often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin ~ by Louis de Bernières
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are.
Love itself - is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Love has roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches…
you find that you are one tree and not two.
Love is important and you should love each other the most.
The Velveteen Rabbit ~ by Margery Williams
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Graffiti Moon ~ by Cath Crowley
If my like for you was a football crowd, you’d be deaf ‘cause of the roar. And if my like for you was a boxer, there’d be a dead guy lying on the floor. And if my like for you was sugar, you’d lose your teeth before you were twenty. And if my like for you was money, let’s just say you’d be spending plenty.
An Epithalamion, by Tony Kushner
Conjunction, assemblage, congress, union:
Life isn’t meant to be lived alone.
A life apart is a desperate fiction.
Life is an intermediate business:
a field of light bordered by love
a sea of desire stretched between shores.
Marriage is the strength of union.
Marriage is the harmonic blend.
Marriage is the elegant dialectic of counterpoint.
Marriage is the faultless, fragile logic of ecology:
A reasonable process of give and take
unfolding through cyclical and linear time.
A wedding is the conjoining of systems in which
Neither loses its single splendor and both are completely
transformed. As, for example,
The dawn is the wedding of the Night and the Day,
and is neither, and both,
and is, in itself, the most beautiful time,
abundant artless beauty,
free and careless magnificence.
This Lullaby ~ by Sarah Dessen
No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to
give something up in order to gain something greater … The love we have for each other is bigger
than these small differences. And that’s the key. It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship
has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.
Weird Love ~ by Dr Seuss
We are all a little weird,
and life's a little weird,
and when we find someone
whose weirdness is compatible
with ours, we join up with them
and fall in mutual weirdness,
and call it love.
“Love Is Friendship Caught Fire” ~ by Laura Hendricks
Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.
Excerpt from Letters to a Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke
For one human being to love another:
that is perhaps the most difficult of all tasks,
the ultimate task,
the final test and proof,
the work for which all other work is merely preparation.
Love is at first not anything that means merging,
surrendering, and uniting with another,
for what purpose would a union of something unclarified serve?
rather it is high inducement to the individual to ripen,
to become something in ourselves,
to become a world in ourselves
for the sake of another person.
Love is a great,
demanding claim on us,
something that chooses us
and calls us to vast distances.
“Roads” ~ Unknown Author
the shortest road
is the one that you know
the longest road
is the one that you love
Our Marriage is a Garden - by Ryan Lee Morris
Our marriage is our garden.
I want our garden to be beautiful.
With lush green grass,
With fragrant and colourful flowers.
A place of solace.
A place of peace.
A place of love.
Our garden must be watered.
Not watered too much.
As that would saturate the ground.
Not watered too little.
As that would leave the plants wilted.
And our grass barren.
So the flowers can stand tall
It must be weeded.
It must be maintained.
It must be loved.
We will plant seeds in our garden.
For new life makes any garden more beautiful and diverse.
We can harvest the fruit trees, but our harvest is limited
If we eat all the fruit too quick,
Then we must wait until the next harvest to eat again.
If we don't pick the fruit when it is right, it will spoil.
Our harvest is for our family.
If I eat all the fruit myself, then they will starve.
If we eat too much we will get sick.
If we eat what we are supposed to, then we will be healthy.
If we do not monitor the fruit,
Then someone might eat more than their share.
If we do not stand guard in our garden,
A thief might come into the garden to steal our fruit.
The fruit for our family.
For their garden must be barren and their crops have spoiled.
Our garden will stand the test of all seasons.
As all gardens do.
Another garden will also experience the same seasons.
Just at different times.
All gardens face rain.
All gardens get sun.
It is the rain that nourishes the garden and helps it's life to grow.
But our garden must be maintained regularly.
Only artificial things require no maintenance.
The artificial has no life.
It is fake, it is plastic.
Our garden needs to be real.
So life may grow and continue to grow.
So one day our children can enjoy a garden of their own.
For them and their children.
May their garden be overflowing with life and love.
And be the most beautiful garden in the world.