The readings

We wanted to have a range of readings that reflected what we think about love - not the love of valentine's cards, but the reality of lasting love with all its trials and tribulations as well as its great joy. We needed to have a biblical reading, hence the section from the first letter to the Corinthians, but this also appealed to both us and to David's father who read it in church. Tove Ditlevsen is a favourite (if difficult) poet of Jane's, and Thomas Hood is a favourite poet of David's (he usually writes much more flippantly 'though), and we chose Robert Graves because he used to live in Islip at one point.

I Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Så tag mit hjerte i dine hænder

by Tove Ditlevsen

Så tag mit hjerte i dine hænder,

men tag det varsomt og tag det blidt,

det røde hjerte – nu er det dit.

Det slår så roligt, det slår så dæmpet,

for det har elsket, og det har lidt,

nu er det stille – nu er det dit.

Og det kan såres og det kan segne

og det kan glemme og glemme tit,

men glemmer aldrig, at det er dit.

Det var så stærkt og så stolt, mit hjerte,

det sov og drømte i lyst og leg,

nu kan det knuses – men kun af dig.

So take my heart in your hands,
but take it with care and take it kindly,
the red heart – now it is yours.

It beats so calmly, it beats so quietly,
for it has loved, and it has suffered,
now it is calm – now it is yours.

And it can be hurt and it can fail
and it can forget again and again,
but it never forgets that it is yours.

It was so strong and proud, my heart,
it slept and dreamt in lust and play,
now it can be crushed – but only by you.

English translation by Jane & David

The Snapped Thread

By Robert Graves

Desire, first, by a natural miracle
United bodies, united hearts, blazed beauty;
Transcended bodies, transcended hearts.

Two souls, now unalterably one
In whole love always and for ever,
Soar out of twilight, through upper air,
Let fall their sensous burden.

Is it kind, though, is it honest even,
To consort with none but spirits-
Leaving true-wedded hearts like ours
In enforced night-long separation,
Each to its random bodily inclination,
The thread of miracle snapped?

Love, Dearest Lady, Such As I Would Speak

By Thomas Hood

Love, dearest Lady, such as I would speak,
Lives not within the humor of the eye;-
Not being but an outward phantasy,
That skims the surface of a tinted cheek,
Else it would wane with beauty, and grow weak,
As if the rose made summer,-and so lie
Amongst the perishable things that die,
Unlike the love which I would give and seek:
Whose health is of no hue-to feel decay
With cheeks' decay, that have a rosy prime.
Love is its own great loveliness alway,
And takes new lustre from the touch of time;
Its bough owns no December and no May,
But bears its blossom into Winter's clime.

Last updated: Monday, September 29, 2008