Below, readers can explore a few of the best contemporary and classic poems that were written about marriage. The poets on this list take different approaches to the topic. Some express admiration for true love and their partner, while others express their desire (or a poetic persona’s desire) to turn away from the traditional institution and love their partner in a different way.
Best Marriage Poems
- 1 The Difficulty that is Marriage by Paul Durcan
- 2 A Marriage by R. S. Thomas
- 3 To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage by Anne Hunter
- 4 A Married State by Katherine Philips
- 5 Betrothal by Carol Ann Duffy
- 6 The Beauty of Union by George the Poet
- 7 The Shadow Doll by Eavan Boland
- 8 A Word to Husbands by Ogden Nash
- 9 To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet
- 10 Wife by Ada Limón
- 11 FAQs
The Difficulty that is Marriage by Paul Durcan
‘The Difficulty that is Marriage’ uses straightforward and clear language to convey the poet’s optimistic mood about marriage. It takes the form of a sonnet that is dedicated to the speaker’s partner and their long-lasting marriage. He professes his love for this person and how he believes that he could live forever if he was with this person. Here are a few lines:
How was it I was so lucky to have ever met you?
I am no brave pagan proud of my mortality
Yet gladly on this changeling earth I should live for ever
If it were with you, my sleeping friend.
Read more Paul Durcan poems.
A Marriage by R. S. Thomas
Thomas’ ‘A Marriage’ explores a fifty-year relationship and how a lifetime never seems like enough for real love. Death always comes, the speaker notes, and ends all human connections. He depicts Death as a device that ends all relationships, even the strongest ones. Here are a few lines:
under a shower
Fifty years passed,
in a world in
servitude to time.
Explore more R.S. Thomas poems.
To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage by Anne Hunter
‘To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage’ is a slightly unusual poem on this list in that it’s written from the perspective of a mother considering missing her daughter’s marriage. She conveys her hopes for her daughter’s future and suggests that she may never see her again. Here are a few lines:
Dear to my heart as life’s warm stream
Which animates this mortal clay,
For thee I court the waking dream,
And deck with smiles the future day;
And thus beguile the present pain
With hopes that we shall meet again.
Discover more Anne Hunter poems.
A Married State by Katherine Philips
Philips’ ‘A Married State’ is an interesting poem that was ahead of its time when it was written. The speaker takes a negative view of marriage (Philips herself was married young), noting that being married “affords but little ease” as even the kindest of men are “so hard to please.” The poet continues with these lines:
This in wives’ careful faces you may spell
Though they dissemble their misfortunes well.
A virgin state is crowned with much content;
It’s always happy as it’s innocent.
No blustering husbands to create your fears;
No pangs of childbirth to extort your tears;
Read more Katherine Philips poems.
Betrothal by Carol Ann Duffy
This contemporary poem is filled with examples of irony and an interesting poetic persona who is prepared to go to extremes for her partner. She tells him (with some clear irony in her voice) that she’d happily lead her life according to his wishes. The poem suggests that the desire to fit in, find happiness, and live with love is capable of driving people to extremes. Here are a few lines of the poem:
I will be yours, be yours.
I’ll walk on the moors,
with my spade.
Make me your bride.
Explore more Carol Ann Duffy poems.
The Beauty of Union by George the Poet
‘The Beauty of Union’ is a contemporary poem that was inspired by Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s marriage. It’s short, to the point, and spends its lines declaring what it takes to make a marriage successful. The poet wrote:
There’s an indescribable beauty in union
In two beings forming one new being
Entering each other’s world
Surrendering each other’s selves
Discover more poems by George the Poet.
The Shadow Doll by Eavan Boland
This less-than-optimistic poem describes marriage from the perspective of a Victorian woman. An unequal partnership was the reality of most Victorian marriages, including the main subject of this poem, who is transformed into a “shadow doll” through societal pressures. Here are a few lines:
Now, in summary and neatly sewn –
a porcelain bride in an airless glamour –
the shadow doll survives its occasion.
Read more Eavan Boland poems.
A Word to Husbands by Ogden Nash
A humorous, classically Ogden Nash poem that speaks on themes of love, honesty, and humility in marriage. It is directed at men who want to continue their relationships with love and honesty. Nash wrote:
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
Explore more Ogden Nash poems.
To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet
‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ is a well-known poem that begins with the lines:
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
The poet dedicated this piece to her husband and spent the lines declaring that the two are unified as one person. There are no such materialistic things that can be compared with their feelings for one another.
Discover more Anne Bradstreet poems.
Wife by Ada Limón
This interesting poem challenges patriarchal assumptions of a woman’s role in a marriage. The poet specifically focuses on the connotations of the word “wife.” The speaker wants to love her husband and not fall into the trap of traditionalism. Here are a few lines:
I’m not yet comfortable with the word,
its short clean woosh that sounds like
life. At dinner last night my single girls
said in admonition, “It’s not wife-approved”
about a friend’s upcoming trip.
Read more Ada Limón poems.
Some of the best poems about marriage are ‘The Difficulty that is Marriage‘ by Paul Durcan, ‘To My Dear and Loving Husband‘ by Anne Bradstreet, and ‘A Marriage‘ by R. S. Thomas.
To write a poem about marriage or for a wedding, the writer should consider who the subject of the poem is. If it is your own partner, it is important to make the poem specific to your experience with this person. If the subject is another couple, consider what you know about them, what’s meaningful to them, and perhaps even the circumstances of how they met.
A marriage poem is a poem that delves into the complexities of married couples and the married state. Some marriage poems are uplifting and optimistic, while others are pessimistic and are intentionally written with the desire to question traditional relationships between men and women.
Yes, it is very common for guests, specifically those asked to make speeches, to read a poem at a wedding. Some brides or grooms may also choose to compose their wedding vowels in the form of a poem.