When it comes to evocative voices, the Windy City has no shortage. That abundance of authors, artists and other storytellers from the Windy City means brides and grooms looking for unexpected wedding readings through a Chicago lens are in luck. Whether it's an affectionate Gwendolyn Brooks poem or a whimsical verse from Shel Silverstein, the work of local wordsmiths is ripe for sentimental sharing. And we've gathered some romantic readings penned by Chicago writers to get you started in the quest to find the perfect vows.
From To Be in Love
To be in love is to touch things with a lighter hand. In yourself you stretch, you are well.
―Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize, grew up in Chicago and published poems in the Chicago Defender as a teen
Where the Sidewalk Ends
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
―Chicago native Shel Silverstein was known for his children's poems, songs and illustrations
A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
A street house, a neat house,
Be sure to wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all—
Let's go live in a tree house.
Tell me I'm clever,
Tell me I'm kind.
Tell me I'm talented,
Tell me I'm cute.
Tell me I'm sensitive,
Graceful and wise,
Tell me I'm perfect—
But tell me the truth.
Come clean with a child heart
Laugh as peaches in the summer wind
Let rain on a house roof be a song
Let the writing on your face
be a smell of apple orchards on late June.
―Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sandburg was once called the "voice of America" by President Lyndon Johnson
From A Farewell to Arms
At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away, all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.
—Ernest Hemingway, perhaps the area's most famous author, grew up in suburban Oak Park
From Paper Lantern
I had this sudden awareness, she continues, of how the moments of our lives go out of existence before we're conscious of having lived them. It's only a relatively few moments that we get to keep and carry with us for the rest of our lives. Those moments are our lives. Or maybe it's more like those moments are the dots in what we call our lives, or the lines we draw between them, connecting them into imaginary pictures of ourselves.
You know, like those mythical pictures of constellations traced between stars. I remember how when I was a kid, I actually expected to be able to look up and see Pagasus spread out against the night. And when I couldn't, it seemed like a trick had been played on me, like a fraud. I thought, hey, if this is all there is to it, then I could reconnect the stars in any shape I wanted. I could create the Ken and Barbie constellations...
I realize we can never predict when those few special moments will occur, she says. How... there are certain people, not that many, who enter one's life with the power to make those moments happen. Maybe that's what falling in love means...the power to create for each other the moments by which we define ourselves.
―Contemporary fiction writer and poet Stuart Dybek was raised in Chicago's Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods