The Celebrant Speaks!
Today is the anniversary of the birth of romantic poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Her poetry is much quoted, and is used often at wedding ceremonies as the words speak of love, which is unchanged through the centuries.
Sonnet 43 is probably the most well-known and thus the most popular. You know – the one that goes, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….”
But my favourite is this one, called “If Thou Must Love Me”. In it, Barrett Browning entreats her man to love her for love’s sake, and not for any superficial reason such as looks, and nor just to make her happy…. as that sort of love doesn’t last.
Here are the words to the poem, and you can listen also on AudioBoo : http://audioboo.fm/boos/1970714-if-thou-must-love-me
If thou must love me – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love’s sake only.
Do not say, ‘I love her for her smile … her look … her way
Of speaking gently, … for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
a sense of pleasant ease on such a day’
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee,–and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou may’st love on, through love’s eternity.