One of the things we did last month was to go to the wedding of a daughter of some old friends. It was a beautiful wedding done in white and blues and twinkling lights. One of the things they had displayed as you entered was a little table with two poems. One poems was something the parents of the bride had copied and given to the groom after he had asked to court their daughter. The young man had written his own poem back in answer. They both were beautiful and touching. I recognized the poem the parents had copied but of course, I don't have a copy of the groom's reply. Here's the poem, Letter to a Suitor by Miss Procter:
Before I trust my fate to thee,
Or place my hand in thine;
Before I let thy future give
Color and form to mine;
Before I peril all for thee,
Question thy soul tonight for me.
I break all slighter bonds, nor feel
A shadow of regret;
Is there one link within the past
That holds thy spirit yet?
Or is thy faith as clear and free
As that which I can pledge to thee?
Does there within thy dimmest dreams
A possible future shine,
Wherein thy life could henceforth breathe,
Untouched, unshared by mine?
If so, at any pain or cost,
Oh, tell me before all is lost.
Look deeper still. If thou canst feel
Within thy inmost soul
That thou hast kept a portion back,
While I have staked the whole,
Let no false pity spare the blow,
But in true mercy tell me so.
If there within thy heart a need
That mine cannot fulfill?
One chord that any other hand
Could beter wake or still?
Speak now - lest at some future day
My whole life wither and decay.
Lives there within thy nature bid
The demon-spirit Change,
Shedding a passing glory still
On all things new and strange?
It may not be thy fault alone -
But shield my heart against thine own.
Couldst thou withdraw thy hand one day
And answer to my claim
That Fate, and that to-day's mistake-
Not thou-had been to blame?
Some soother their conscience thus; but thou
Wilt surely warn and save me now.
Also during the slide show there was another reference to the letter that the groom had written requesting permission to court the daughter. It was very beautiful and full of respect for their position in her life - a concept that most people laugh at these days. It was obvious it was more than just an old tradition and formality of asking for her hand, but a true process of seeking permission and a blessing before proceeding to try to woo the girl's heart. Very beautiful!