Celebates

They must not wed the Doctor said,
For they were far from strong,
And children of their marriage bed
Might not live overlong.
And yet each eve I saw them pass
With rapt and eager air,
As fit a seeming lad and lass
As ought to pair.

For twenty years I went away
And scoured the China Sea,
Then homing came and found that they
Were still sweet company.
The Doctor and the Priest had banned
Three times their wedding ties,
Yet they were walking hand in hand,
Love in their eyes.

And then I went away again
For years another score,
And sailored all the Spanish Main
Ere I returned once more;
And now I see them pass my gate,
So slow and stooped and grey,
And when I asked them: "Why not mate?"
"We do," they say.

"No priest and village bells we need,
No Doctor to approve;
The Lord has wedded us indeed
With everlasting love.
How wonderful to understand
The working of His will!
Lo! We are walking hand in hand,
And sweethearts still."

by Robert William Service

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