Roger Housden is the author of 20 books, including the best-selling Ten Poems series, three travel books, and the novella Chasing Rumi. He is also a writing coach and leads occasional literary and art appreciation journeys. You can find out more at www.rogerhousden.com.
We turn to poetry in order to probe, reflect upon, and celebrate marriage. It is the perfect medium for this extraordinary relationship "because it manages to convey the essence of a universal human experience in a personal way. It conveys deep feeling, which is what these events all ask for, in a way that people can appreciate and understand. Good poetry is an authentic delivery of the human heart."
The 20 poems are by Rumi, Jane Hirshfield, Conrad Aiken, D. H. Lawrence, David Whyte, Hafiz, Robert Bly, Wendell Berry, and others. They are organized around five themes which take us from the exhilarations of love awakening through a long-lived marriage: the Joy, the Journey, the Work, the Love, and the Union. The author adds imaginative and thought-provoking essays on the moods, stages, and surprises of this human union of two souls becoming one yet carrying on in their own special ways. This is described in a few lines from Roy Croft's poem "The Recognition":
"I love you
Not only for what you are
But for what I am
When I am with you."
Another perspective is expressed in these familiar lines from "On Marriage" by Kahlil Gibran:
"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."