To me, thoughtful things are romantic. Not flowers or candy, both of which are okay, but don’t really wow me. The most romantic “gift” my husband ever gave me was a poem, a Shakespearian sonnet that he wrote inside of a card. And not just any sonnet, but one that actually had meaning at that point in our lives.
15 years ago, my husband (who was then my high school boyfriend) left to go to college. I’m two years younger, and was still only a junior in high school. Right before he left, he gave me that card, with the poem written inside. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
My husband (then, my 18-year-old boyfriend) was not much of a reader. I knew he had to really think outside of his normal comfort realm to find any poems, much less Shakespeare, and then he had to actually sit down and read until he found one that meant something. This was his way of saying that he wanted us to stay together, even though he was moving 200 miles away. And what could be more romantic than that?
We did stay together (not just because of this poem, of course!) But I never forgot this one sonnet. Years later, we even put it in our wedding program.
And then I sat down to write The September Sisters, which is, in many ways a love story. The main character, Abby, meets her neighbor’s grandson, Tommy, and as the two of them try to reconcile the disappearance of Abby’s sister, their love blossoms. I don’t want to give away anything here, so I’ll just say I got to a point in writing the book where I needed a love poem, and I immediately thought of this one.
So as you read The September Sisters, you’ll see the meaning this poem has for Abby, but now you’ll also know the meaning this poem has for me.