All My Love

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … ‘Love Among The Ruins’  1894  …   Wightwick Manor, West Midlands, National Trust, UK.

ALL MY LOVE

I cannot promise ‘All my Love’;
It’s not that I don’t care,
But love is not an empty word;
What love I have I share.

A love for family and friends 
That cannot be gainsaid;
That still will be a part of me 
When other loves do fade.

There is a love of all mankind
Which brings a certitude 
That life’s not just for you and me,
But nature’s plenitude.

There is a love that touches me,
A love of all creation,
Recalls for me such longing and
Sustains my inspiration.

There is a love that teaches me 
To think of others first;
To curb those venial thoughts I have 
My nature at its worst.

There is a love beseeches me 
To face up to my errors;
To open up my damaged heart 
Confront my hidden terrors.

There is a love which reaches me 
Across the mighty ocean; 
That gives to me a lasting hope, 
A clutching at emotion.

There is a love of life itself,
A love I hold and cherish,
And pray for strength to face its end
When at last I perish.

There is love which distresses me,
Seeks more than I can give;
Demands I offer up my soul,
Smothers the life I live.

That selfish love, demanding all,
I still cannot allow; 
For love’s an abstruse concept and
Mine is prescribed now.

All these are loves I’m asked to give, 
Demanding that I care,
But I have only so much and 
I have no love to spare.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones … ‘Love Song’  1868-1877  …  Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York, USA.

‘A Vow’. . . by Wendy Cope

[  # 96 of My Favourite Short Poems  ]

Vows

A poem by Wendy Cope, who, in her own down-to-earth and honest style presents a non-traditional version of the marriage vows, one with greater honesty than any more conventional approach to the promises and commitments of marriage.

It may be remembered that Wendy Cope once rebuked our poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, for agreeing to write a poem to celebrate Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton.  This poem confirms her views on such matters by taking a common-sense view of the marriage vows.

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I cannot promise never to be angry;
I cannot promise always to be kind.
You know what you are taking on, my darling –
It’s only at the start that love is blind.

And yet I’m still the one you want to be with
And you’re the one for me – of that I’m sure. 
You are my closest friend, my favourite person,
The lover and the home I’ve waited for.

I cannot promise that I will deserve you
From this day on. I hope to pass that test.
I love you and I want to make you happy.
I promise I will do my very best.

By Wendy Cope 

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