by Robert Herrick
Julia, I bring To thee this ring, Made for thy finger fit; To show by this That love is Or should be, like to it.
Loose though it be, The joint is free; So, when love’s yoke is on, It must not gall, Nor fret at all, With hard oppression.
But it must play, Still either way, And be, too, such a yoke As not too wide To overslide, Or be so straight to choke.
So we who bear This beam, must rear Ourselves to such a height As that the stay Of either may Create the burthen light.
And as this round Is nowhere found To flaw, or else to sever, So let our love As endless prove, And pure as gold forever.
Writing your own wedding ceremony? Take a look at “Wedding Readings: Centuries of Writing and Rituals for Love and Marriage” (Viking: $17.95; 262 pp.), selected and with an introduction by Eleanor Munro. Robert Herrick (1591-1674), an Anglican priest, was the author of both religious and secular love lyrics. Swinburne called him “the greatest song-writer ever born of English race.”