I am often asked to suggest suitable quotations for wedding inscriptions etc. Here are a few - spellings as in the originals. I use all manner of other quotations which I jot down at the time of reading. I like aphoristic, pithy statements which are applicable in wider contexts. Thus when James Fenton says (in Redmond O'Hanlon's excellent ‘Into the Heart of Borneo’) that “the hunt for ornithological rarities is essentially frivolous” it has, I feel, a resonance and meaning beyond the immediately obvious. The shorter and pithier the better; from about 20 to 60 letters is optimum. Although I have used several verses from the Rubâ’iyât of Omar Khayyâm/Fitzgerald they are bordering on impossibly long.
Above all other prayse must I
And love my pretty pygsnye.
Sir Francis BACON
What is it then to have or have no wife,
But single thraldom, or a double strife?
The ‘Great’ BIBLE (Matthews 1535)
Better is a mess of pottage with love
than a fat ox with ill will.
How glibbery a thing is this virginity when some say
it may be lickt off with a kisse.
You may do in the dark
What the day doth forbid;
Fear not the dogs that bark,
Night will have all hid.
Nuptiae carnales a laetitia incipiunt et in luctu terminantur.
[Carnal marriages begin with happiness and end in strife.
Written of Dudley's marriage to Amy Robsart - so beware!]
The God of love a benedicite!
How myghty and how great a lord is he!
Women are born to thraldom and penance
And to been under mannes governance.
Lemman love me all atones
Or I wol dyen, also God me save!
Jhesu Crist us sende
Housbondes meeke, yonge, and fressh abedde.
Noon oother lyf is worth a bene;
For wedlok is so esy and so clene
That in this world it is a paradys.
Boweth youre nekke under that blisful yok
Of soveraynetee, noght of servyse
Which that men clepe spousaille or wedlok.
Tell me also, to what conclusion
Were membres maad of generacion
And of so parfit wys a wright ywroght?
Trusteth right wel, they were nat maad for noght.
Be ay of chiere as light as leef on lynde.
Amor vincit omnia.
(This seems the better known version and is how Chaucer quotes it in The Canterbury Tales. For the ‘correct’ version see below under Virgil.)
That's lawful which doth please.
Men know best about everything - except what women know better.
Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew.
It is better to love two too many than one too few.
Love's a hawk and stoops apace;
We all hurry
For the quarry
Though the sport ends with the chase.
You gotta have a swine to show where the truffles are.
I love you until Death do us part and then we shall be together for ever and ever.
Oh, isn't life a terrible thing, thank God?
There's only one kind of person causes more trouble than men, and that's women.
A.C. SWINBURNE (?)
Hide me inside you where the sweetest things are hidden
Between the roots of roses and spices.
I used to think this was by Swinburne but was disabused by someone ‘in the know.’ I read it quoted somewhere but cannot even remember where that was now! So if anyone knows who, what or where this is from I would be very interested to know.
I love somebody, I love nobody,
Somebody, nobody dearly.
Ama et fac quod vis. (Love and do what you will)
Why buy the cow when you can steal milk
through the fence?
Omnia vincit Amor; et nos cedamus Amori.
(Love conquers all; yield we, too, to love.)
Let us possesse one world, each hath one, and is one.
I had rather owner bee
Of thee one short houre, than all else ever.
Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, moneths which are the rags of time.
Some of the above may not be considered very suitable for weddings! And of course there are many, many more suitable.
© 2018 Duncan Linklater