May I in All Respects Thy Lover Be

If you could pray one prayer for your marriage, what would it be?

I did some thinking about that question, and came up with two prayers, penned in the form of sonnets and wedding vows. Here’s a suggestion: Read these poems aloud to the one you love, and see what happens.

May I in all respects thy lover be:
Mine the warmest heart, the gentlest hand.
May I be a fount of thy serenity:
A spring of joy in desert’s driest sands.
And may I listen better than I speak;
And may my praise be quicker than my blame.
May I be strong when all about are weak;
May I be meek when all around seek fame.
May we sow seeds of kindness. May we stand
Tall in the forest; may our roots run deep,
Our branches spread out wide, to fan
The air that all may feel its gentle breeze.
As long as earth, sea, fire, and air remain,
May these words be my solemn prayer. Amen.


May I awake to smell this fresh-cut rose
Whose blushing fragrance, innocent and pure,
Has stirred my heart this day. And, as time goes by,
May we proclaim that love’s sweet scent endures.
Who knows how long our lives, like roses, last.
Who knows which day or year we’ll face our death.
So savor that which makes our spirit glow.
Ev’ry smile. Ev’ry tear. Ev’ry kiss. Ev’ry breath.
And when this life’s sweet breath shall cease to be,
And when our tide goes out to rise no more,
I believe that only means we’ve crossed the sea
To meet again upon that distant shore.
For now, may we this cresting tide enjoy.
Thou my true love, my hero, my best friend.

Note: These sonnets are from my play, “All’s Swell That End’s Swell.” They serve as the wedding vows for a seemingly hapless couple that stumbles and bumbles their way to the altar. I like the contrast between the couple’s clumsy courtship and the sublime, magnificent tone of the vows. There’s something about the institution of marriage that sobers them up and brings out their best words and best intentions.

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