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Poesie Rings - Posey Rings

Poesie rings date as early as classical times, when they were considered magical, having the power when worn to enforce the poesy engraved on them.  

In the 16th and 17th century England and France, a wedding ring would be inscribed with a sentiment of love, faith and hope. A silver betrothal ring would often be replaced with the same poesy ring in gold on marriage.

poesie rings quotes rings

The rings reached their greatest popularity during the Renaissance when they were not only given as wedding rings, but used as a lover’s token or simply as a means of showing fond regard or giving a gift. 

Many of Shakespeare’s plays mention them such as Hamlet Act III, scene 2, “Is this a prologue or the poesy of a ring.”

The poesie rings repesent deep intimate feelings of people. Such rings were given on various occasions, but as one can clearly see, mostly as tokens of engagement or as wedding rings. 

Not many of the verses can be considered true gems of literature, but the power of these short love poems is in their romantic sincerity and old time charm. Their brevity is naturally dictated by the limitations of space – only one or two phrases used to fit on a ring. 

Modern day Valentines are influenced by this genre, but some of these rhymed lines have apparently gone unnoticed for centuries.

Popular during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries in England and France as lovers gifts. 

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England has an outstanding collection. Recently jewellery designers have led a resurgence of interest in the tradition. The Victoria and Albert museum in London also has a good collection.that compiled a list of more than 3000 posies for the book ‘English Posies and Posy Rings’ (oxford Press 1931, out of print).

The language used in many early posy rings was Norman French, with French, Latin and English used in later times. The posies were originally written on the outside, moving to the hidden inside of the ring in later (mid 16th Century onwards) times.

Here is a list of poesy phrases used in past centuries and the museums where the original rings can be found. These are accurate to the original spellings.

“never to change” British Museum 16th or 17th century

“love is enough” Victoria & Albert Museum 19th century

“hope is the life of love” British Museum 16th or 17th century

“yours onli” British Museum 16th or 17th century

“all I refuse and thee I chuse” Fitzwilliam Museum -University of Cambridge 16th Century

More verses that we found:

A FRIEND INDEED IN TYME OF NEED

A FRIEND TO THEE I’LL EVER BE

A HAPPY BREST WHERE LOVE DOTH REST

A KIS FOR THIS

A LOVEING WIFE A HAPPY LIFE

A LOVING WIFE PROLONGETH LIFE

A TOKEN SENT WITH TRUE INTENT

A VIRTUOUS WIFE A HAPPY LIFE

A WOMAN KIND ALL JOY OF MIND

ACCEPT OF THIS MY HEART WITHALL

MY LOVE IS GREAT THOUGH THIS BE SMALL 

Follows a list of Hebrew love verses and prayer rings poesies:

1. I am My Beloved and My Beloved is Mine - Ani le Dodoi ve Dodi Li

2. I have found the One whome my Soul Loves - Matzhati et ma she ahava nafshi

3. A woman of Valour who shall Find - Eshet Hail mi Imtza

4. May G-d Bless you and guard You - Yevarecheha Adonai ve Ishmereha

5. If I forget my Jerusalem May my Right Hand forget its Strength - Im Eshkaheh Ierushalaim tishkah Yemini

6. Multitude of Waters cannot extinguish Love. Maim rabim lo iuhlu lechabot et haahava

7. Jacob Blessing to Joseph Ben Porat (a protection against evil eye) - Ben Porat Yosef Ben Porat alei Ain

8. In the Name of G-D we shall do and we shall succeed - Be shem adonai naase ve natzliah

9. May you Leave in Peace and Return in Peace - Tzetha u Boaha le shalom

10. Hear Oh israel G-D is Our G-D is One - Shma Israel Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ehad

11. Ahavat Olam Ahavtich.... I have loved thee with an everlasting love

12. Ki Malahaih Yetzave lah Lishmor - The angels order to keep you safe

13. Ana be Koah Degulat Ieminha - Ana be Koach prayer

14. Ve Erastih li le Olam - I compromise to you forever

15. El na Rafe Na La. God will bring to you health

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