Don’t let modern love fool you. There is still much whimsy and joy to be found by falling in love. In this day and age, when you can’t find the perfect song lyrics that capture how you feel, read a poem. For years poets have encapsulated the essence of love in words that send visceral feelings down our spines. Give this gift to your partner by finding the best love poem for him or her in our list below.
Best Love Poems
1. I cannot live with You –
It would be Life –
And Life is over there –
Behind the Shelf
The Sexton keeps the Key to –
Our Life – His Porcelain –
Like a Cup –
Discarded of the Housewife –
Quaint – or Broke –
A newer Sevres pleases –
Old Ones crack –
I could not die – with You –
For One must wait
To shut the Other’s Gaze down –
You – could not –
And I – could I stand by
And see You – freeze –
Without my Right of Frost –
Nor could I rise – with You –
Because Your Face
Would put out Jesus’ –
That New Grace
Glow plain – and foreign
On my homesick Eye –
Except that You than He
Shone closer by –
They’d judge Us – How –
For You – served Heaven – You know,
Or sought to –
I could not –
Because You saturated Sight –
And I had no more Eyes
For sordid excellence
And were You lost, I would be –
Though My Name
On the Heavenly fame –
And were You – saved –
And I – condemned to be
Where You were not –
That self – were Hell to Me –
So We must meet apart –
You there – I – here –
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are – and Prayer –
And that White Sustenance –
– Emily Dickinson
2. Love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
– E.E. Cummings
3. Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
– W. H. Auden
4. All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed his sacred flame.
Oft in my waking dreams do I
Live o’er again that happy hour,
When midway on the mount I lay,
Beside the ruin’d tower.
The moonshine, stealing o’er the scene,
Had blended with the lights of eve;
And she was there, my hope, my joy,
My own dear Genevieve!
She lean’d against the armèd man,
The statue of the armèd Knight;
She stood and listen’d to my lay,
Amid the lingering light.
Few sorrows hath she of her own,
My hope! my joy! my Genevieve!
She loves me best whene’er I sing
The songs that make her grieve.
I play’d a soft and doleful air;
I sang an old and moving story—
An old rude song, that suited well
That ruin wild and hoary.
She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes and modest grace;
For well she knew I could not choose
But gaze upon her face.
I told her of the Knight that wore
Upon his shield a burning brand;
And that for ten long years he woo’d
The Lady of the Land.
I told her how he pined: and ah!
The deep, the low, the pleading tone
With which I sang another’s love,
Interpreted my own.
She listen’d with a flitting blush,
With downcast eyes, and modest grace;
And she forgave me, that I gazed
Too fondly on her face!
But when I told the cruel scorn
That crazed that bold and lovely Knight,
And that he cross’d the mountain-woods,
Nor rested day nor night;
That sometimes from the savage den,
And sometimes from the darksome shade,
And sometimes starting up at once
In green and sunny glade—
There came and look’d him in the face
An angel beautiful and bright;
And that he knew it was a Fiend,
This miserable Knight!
And that, unknowing what he did,
He leap’d amid a murderous band,
And saved from outrage worse than death
The Lady of the Land;—
And how she wept and clasp’d his knees;
And how she tended him in vain—
And ever strove to expiate
The scorn that crazed his brain;—
And that she nursed him in a cave;
And how his madness went away,
When on the yellow forest leaves
A dying man he lay;—
His dying words—but when I reach’d
That tenderest strain of all the ditty,
My faltering voice and pausing harp
Disturb’d her soul with pity!
All impulses of soul and sense
Had thrill’d my guileless Genevieve;
The music and the doleful tale,
The rich and balmy eve;
And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng,
And gentle wishes long subdued,
Subdued and cherish’d long!
She wept with pity and delight,
She blush’d with love and virgin shame;
And like the murmur of a dream,
I heard her breathe my name.
Her bosom heaved—she stepp’d aside,
As conscious of my look she stept—
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept.
She half enclosed me with her arms,
She press’d me with a meek embrace;
And bending back her head, look’d up,
And gazed upon my face.
‘Twas partly love, and partly fear,
And partly ’twas a bashful art,
That I might rather feel, than see,
The swelling of her heart.
I calm’d her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous Bride.
– Samual Taylor Coleridge
5. My Love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high:
It was begotten by despair
Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne’r have flown
But vainly flapt its Tinsel Wing.
And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended Soul is fixt,
But Fate does Iron wedges drive,
And alwaies crowds it self betwixt.
For Fate with jealous Eye does see
Two perfect Loves; nor lets them close:
Their union would her ruine be,
And her Tyrannick pow’er depose.
And therefore her Decrees of Steel
Us as the distant Poles have plac’d,
(Though Love’s whole World on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embrac’d.
Unless the giddy Heaven fall,
And Earth some new Convulsion tear;
And, us to joyn, the World should all
Be cramp’d into a Planisphere.
As Lines so Loves oblique may well
Themselves in every Angle greet:
But ours so truly Parallel,
Though infinite can never meet.
Therefore the Love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debarrs,
Is the Conjunction of the Mind,
And Opposition of the Stars.
6. What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.
What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was
whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever
was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them
so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is
being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.
The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,
in love with the one to whom every that belongs!
– Jalal al-Din Rumi
7. We cannot live, except thus mutually
We alternate, aware or unaware,
The reflex act of life: and when we bear
Our virtue onward most impulsively,
Most full of invocation, and to be
Most instantly compellant, certes, there
We live most life, whoever breathes most air
And counts his dying years by sun and sea.
But when a soul, by choice and conscience, doth
Throw out her full force on another soul,
The conscience and the concentration both make
mere life, Love. For Life in perfect whole
And aim consummated, is Love in sooth,
As nature’s magnet-heat rounds pole with pole.
-Elizabeth Barret Browning
8. Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.
You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.
Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.
9. I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.
I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall a night.
And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.
-Robert Louis Stevenson
10. Things happen when you drink too much mescal.
One night, with not enough food in my belly,
he kept on buying. I’m a girl who’ll fall
damn near in love with gratitude and, well, he
was hot and generous and so the least
that I could do was let him kiss me, hard
and soft and any way you want it, beast
and beauty, lime and salt—sweet Bacchus’ pards—
and when his friend showed up I felt so warm
and generous I let him kiss me too.
His buddy asked me if it was the worm
inside that makes me do the things I do.
I wasn’t sure which worm he meant, the one
I ate? The one that eats at me alone?
– Moira Egan
11. Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—a most familiar bird—
Taught me my alphabet to say—
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.
Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings—
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.
-Edgar Allen Poe
12. Oh! for the welcome breath of country air,
With Summer skies and flowers,
To shout and feel once more the halcyon
Of gayer boyhood hours.
I think the sight of fields and shady lanes
Would ease my heart of pains.
To cool once more my thirst, where bubbled up
The waters of a spring,
Where I have seen the golden daffodils
And lillies flourishing,
My fevered heart would more than half forget
Its sighs, and vain regret.
Far, far away, from early scenes am I;
And, too, my youth has fled;
For me a stranger’s land, a stranger’s sky,
That arches overhead.
For scenes and joys that now have passed me by,
I can but give a sigh.
– George Marion Mclellan
13. Easy light storms in through the window, soft
edges of the world, smudged by mist, a squirrel’s
nest rigged high in the maple. I’ve got a bone
to pick with whomever is in charge. All year,
I’ve said, You know what’s funny? and then,
Nothing, nothing is funny. Which makes me laugh
in an oblivion-is-coming sort of way. A friend
writes the word lover in a note and I am strangely
excited for the word lover to come back. Come back
lover, come back to the five and dime. I could
squeal with the idea of blissful release, oh lover,
what a word, what a world, this gray waiting. In me,
a need to nestle deep into the safe-keeping of sky.
I am too used to nostalgia now, a sweet escape
of age. Centuries of pleasure before us and after
us, still right now, a softness like the worn fabric of a nightshirt
and what I do not say is, I trust the world to come back.
Return like a word, long forgotten and maligned
for all its gross tenderness, a joke told in a sun beam,
the world walking in, ready to be ravaged, open for business.
– Ada Limon
14. One night a guy & a girl were
driving home from the movies. The
boy sensed there was
something wrong because of the painful
silence they shared between them
that night. The girl then asked the boy to pull over
because she wanted to talk. She told him that her
feelings had changed & that it was time to move on.
A silent tear slid down his cheek as he
slowly reached into his pocket & passed her a folded note.
At that moment, a drunk driver was speeding down
that very same street. He swerved
right into the drivers seat, killing the boy.
Miraculously, the girl survived. Remembering the note, she
pulled it out & read it.
“Without your love, I would die.”
– Le-Rita Clark
15. Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.
– Mary Oliver
16. Guy calls the doctor, says the wife’s
contractions are five minutes apart.
Doctor says, Is this her first child?
guy says, No, it’s her husband.
I promise to try to remember who
I am. Wife gets up on one elbow,
says, I wanted to get married.
It seemed a fulfillment of some
several things, a thing to be done.
Even the diamond ring was some
thing like a quest, a thing they
set you out to get and how insane
the quest is; how you have to turn
it every way before you can even
think to seek it; this metaphysical
refraining is in fact the quest. Who’d
have guessed? She sighs, I like
the predictability of two, I like
my pleasures fully expected,
when the expectation of them
grows patterned in its steady
surprise. I’ve got my sweet
and tumble pat. Here on earth,
I like to count upon a thing
like that. Thus explained
the woman in contractions
to her lover holding on
the telephone for the doctor
to recover from this strange
conversational turn. You say
you’re whom? It is a pleasure
to meet you. She rolls her
eyes, but he’d once asked her
Am I your first lover? and she’d
said, Could be. Your face looks
familiar. It’s the same type of
generative error. The grammar
of the spoken word will flip, let alone
the written, until something new is
in us, and in our conversation.
-Jennifer Michael Hecht
17. My love,
you are water upon water
upon water until it turns
The horizon fills like sand
between glass marbles. So much
has passed between us—
last night you told me
to press your hand
harder and harder as I pained.
The sunset was at its last
embers. The dark was stealing
the blue light from our room.
I was falling into you.
-Adeeba Shahid Talukder
18. I lie here thinking of you:—
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—
you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!
– William Carol Williams
19. There is a Smile of Love
And there is a Smile of Deceit
And there is a Smile of Smiles
In which these two Smiles meet
And there is a Frown of Hate
And there is a Frown of disdain
And there is a Frown of Frowns
Which you strive to forget in vain
For it sticks in the Hearts deep Core
And it sticks in the deep Back bone
And no Smile that ever was smild
But only one Smile alone
That betwixt the Cradle & Grave
It only once Smild can be
But when it once is Smild
Theres an end to all Misery
– William Blake
20. You’re doing a crossword.
I’m working on a puzzle.
Do you love me enough?
What’s the missing word?
Do I love you enough?
Where’s the missing piece?
Yesterday I was cross with you.
You weren’t paying enough attention.
You were cross with me.
I wasn’t paying enough attention.
Our words crossed.
Where are the missing pieces?
What are the missing words?
Yet last night we fit together like words in a crossword.
Pieces of a puzzle.
21. The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
Warm breath, light whisper, tender semi-tone,
Bright eyes, accomplish’d shape, and lang’rous waist!
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms,
Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise –
Vanish’d unseasonably at shut of eve,
When the dusk holiday – or holinight
Of fragrant-curtain’d love begins to weave
The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight,
But, as I’ve read love’s missal through to-day,
He’ll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.
– John Keats
22. is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together for the first time and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it
23. I shall never have any fear of love,
Not of its depth nor its uttermost height,
Its exquisite pain and its terrible delight.
I shall never have any fear of love.
I shall never hesitate to go down
Into the fastness of its abyss
Nor shrink from the cruelty of its awful kiss.
I shall never have any fear of love.
Never shall I dread love’s strength
Nor any pain it might give.
Through all the years I may live
I shall never have any fear of love.
I shall never draw back from love
Through fear of its vast pain
But build joy of it and count it again.
I shall never have any fear of love.
I shall never tremble nor flinch
From love’s moulding touch:
I have loved too terribly and too much
Ever to have any fear of love.
24. When buffeted and beaten by life’s storms,
When by the bitter cares of life oppressed,
I want no surer haven than your arms,
I want no sweeter heaven than your breast.
When over my life’s way there falls the blight
Of sunless days, and nights of starless skies;
Enough for me, the calm and steadfast light
That softly shines within your loving eyes.
The world, for me, and all the world can hold
Is circled by your arms; for me there lies,
Within the lights and shadows of your eyes,
The only beauty that is never old.
-James Wheldon Johnson
25. The light retreats and is generous again.
No you to speak of, anywhere—neither in vicinity nor distance,
so I look at the blue water, the snowy egret, the lace of its feathers
shaking in the wind, the lake—no, I am lying.
There are no egrets here, no water. Most of the time,
my mind gnaws on such ridiculous fictions.
My phone notes littered with lines like Beauty will not save you.
Or: mouthwash, yogurt, cilantro.
A hummingbird zips past me, its luminescent plumage
disturbing my vision like a tiny dorsal fin.
But what I want does not appear. Instead, I find the redwoods and pines,
figs that have fallen and burst open on the pavement,
announcing that sickly sweet smell,
the sweetness of grief, my prayer for what is gone.
You are so dramatic, I say to the reflection on my phone,
then order the collected novels of Jean Rhys.
She, too, was humiliated by her body, that it wanted
such stupid, simple things: food and cherry wine, to touch someone.
On my daily walk, I steal Meyer lemons from my neighbors’ yard,
a small pomegranate. Instead of eating them,
I observe their casual rot on the kitchen counter,
this theatre of good things turning into something else.
Love Poems for Her
26. It’s love we’ll make
over and again,
in sprawling dreams,
wishes, in nights spent
I’ll caress you in sentences,
in simple poetry,
in song. I’ll raise your
breath to a frenzy,
with promises, with
It’s love we’ll make,
until these hands
– Tyler Knott Gregson
27. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
28. I am yours as the summer air at evening is
Possessed by the scent of linden blossoms,
As the snowcap gleams with light
Lent it by the brimming moon.
Without you I’d be an unleafed tree
Blasted in a bleakness with no Spring.
Your love is the weather of my being.
What is an island without the sea?
29. that’s it
that I walked into the cafe
and in the noise and crowd
and that I saw
what it was I’d been
in what it was
that in our skin
in the decade of our skin
is what began
before we knew
and that time before
with this time now
waiting to start again
– Edwin Torres
30. There’s too little time left to measure
the space between us for that was
long ago—that time—so just lie
under the dark blue quilt and put
the fat pillows with the blue slips
on the great windowsill so we can
look over them and down to the
small figures hurrying by
in total silence and think of the heat
up here and the cold down there
while I turn the light off with the right
hand and gather you in close with the wrong.
31. You’re one in a million, my most special one;
Your radiant smile is as bright as the sun;
You’re smart and caring and have many great charms,
And my heart really sings when you’re wrapped in my arms.
I’m happy you chose me from all of the rest,
And I’m proud ’cause I know that I got the best.
You’re so cute and sweet, and you glow like a pearl;
I just love you so much, my most wonderful girl!
– Karl Fuchs
32. somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
– E. E. Cummings
33. This much the gods vouchsafe today:
That we two lie in the clover,
Watching the heavens dip and sway,
With galleons sailing over.
This much is granted for an hour:
That we are young and tender,
That I am bee and you are flower,
Honey-mouthed and swaying slender.
This sweet of sweets is ours now:
To wander through the land,
Plucking an apple from its bough
To toss from hand to hand.
No thing is certain, joy nor sorrow,
Except the hour we know it;
Oh, wear my heart today; tomorrow
Who knows where the winds will blow it?
– Countee Cullen
34. Ask me why I love you, dear,
And I will ask the rose
Why it loves the dews of Spring
At the Winter’s close;
Why the blossoms’ nectared sweets
Loved by questing bee,—
I will gladly answer you,
If they answer me.
Ask me why I love you, dear,
And I will ask the flower
Why it loves the Summer sun,
Or the Summer shower;
I will ask the lover’s heart
Why it loves the moon,
Or the star-besprinkled skies
In a night in June.
Ask me why I love you, dear,
I will ask the vine
Why its tendrils trustingly
Round the oak entwine;
Why you love the mignonette
Better than the rue,—
If you will but answer me,
I will answer you.
Ask me why I love you, dear,
Let the lark reply,
Why his heart is full of song
When the twilight’s nigh;
Why the lover heaves a sigh
When her heart is true;
If you will but answer me,
I will answer you.
-Walter Everette Hawkins
35. You looked inside
For what the perishable flesh might hide;
And now you say that inner part
Will represent her in my heart.
I tell you no.
Philosopher, I say I loved her so
I did not dig within—content
When seasons came, when seasons went.
When she would frown,
You think I set the meaning of it down?
The meaning goes; but something stays
I shall have with me all my days—
Her forehead bare
One instant, then blown over by her hair;
A sudden turn; her hand at rest
Upon a window toward the west. .
-Mark Van Doren
36. My bed may not be as large
As California or have a blanket
As deep as the ocean.
But it’s comfy and shares
The same view as if we were there.
When I am asleep with you,
Everything becomes ideal.
One of the best feelings the universe
To discover a slice of heaven beside you.
A spoon finding it’s way
To the big dipper, in the same
Lineage of how I see you.
We stargaze with our eyes closed,
Watching the stars bloom like flowers
In complete comfort.
The urge to explore further,
A simple look, a simple smirk
Head nestled deep in a pillow.
The aspirations of becoming an astronaut
Become that much clearer.
I blast off & everything becomes dark
My reflection staring at yours beneath mine,
Until I see your face spread wide
Across the moon.
Happy and safe,
My voyage is now complete
– Kawayne Wadley
37. Who thankless flees me, I with love pursue,
Who loving follows me, I thankless flee;
To him who spurns my love I bend the knee,
His love who seeks me, cold I bid him rue;
I find as diamond him I yearning woo,
Myself a diamond when he yearns for me;
Who slays my love I would victorious see,
While slaying him who wills me blisses true.
To favor this one is to lose desire,
To crave that one, my virgin pride to tame;
On either hand I face a prospect dire,
Whatever path I tread, the goal the same:
To be adored by him of whom I tire,
Or else by him who scorns me brought to shame.
-Sor Juana Ines de la cruz
38. I climbed a mountain and the air constricted breathing—
the terrain of the free spirit, that creature
so dedicated to surmounting that the mountain,
its hanging glacier, its granite slabs cut through
by the trail, its heaps of rocks blocking reasonable
access to the turquoise lake beneath, its wildflowers
with their fraying lackadaisical paintbrushes,
went by in my eyes so quickly I never truly left
the not-yet-turning aspens, carved by local lovers
who loved themselves so much they stayed right
there with their knives until they finished their names.
39. To find a kiss of yours
what would I give
A kiss that strayed from your lips
dead to love
My lips taste
the dirt of shadows
To gaze at your dark eyes
what would I give
Dawns of rainbow garnet
fanning open before God—
The stars blinded them
one morning in May
And to kiss your pure thighs
what would I give
Raw rose crystal
sediment of the sun
-Fredrico Garcia Lorca
40. When you turned into a hundred rooms,
I returned each month as a door
that opened only one.
When you turned into a hundred rooms
the wind flung through
each of them wailing
and left a hundred songs
in hopes you would return for it
and me and
once, finding a doe locked up,
the trees blued up
the mountain pass, I understood
you had transformed into your multiple,
as the rain is different
each step from the moon. Sleeping
in a hundred rooms, a hundred dreams
of you appear—though by day
your voice has frozen into standing stones.
When you turned into a hundred rooms,
I met with a mirror in each eye
your growing absence.
When I moved, the shadows without you
followed me. In the hundred rooms,
I cannot pick one,
for each combines into the other
where I piece-by-piece the shadows
you have ceased
to remember. As the rain
is different each day of the year,
when I turned for you
and hoped you’d return to me,
was it I who left
and you who remained the same?
For when you changed,
the furniture in the rooms.
A hundred birds flew over a hundred fields.
A mountain flowed into a hundred rivers
In a hundred rooms,
I turned and turned,
hoping to return to you.
O, the chrysanthemums grew
in the hundred rooms!
Far in the past and far in the future
were those numinous and echoing stars.
41. Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it,—so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present,—condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense—
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me—
Me—sure that despite of time future, time past,—
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet—
The moment eternal—just that and no more—
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!
42. whisper of yellow globes
gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog
and let your breath be moist against me
like bright beads on yellow globes
telephone the power-house
that the main wires are insulate
(her words play softly up and down
dewy corridors of billboards)
then with your tongue remove the tape
and press your lips to mine
till they are incandescent
– Jean Toomer
43. Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!
-Rainer Maria Rilke
44. Out of the depths of a heart of love,
Out of the birth-place of sighs,
Freighted with hope and freighted with fear,
My all in a valentine, hies.
Oh, frail little missive
Of delicate texture,
Speed thee, on thy journey,
And give her a lecture!
Fathom her heart, that seems to me, cold,
Trouble her bosom, as mine,
Let it be mutual, this that I crave,
Her ‘yes’ for a valentine.
Oh, frail little missive,
In coy Cupid’s keeping,
Oh! speed back a message,
To set my pulse leaping.
-Priscilla Jane Thompson
45. The sky tonight, so without aliens. The woods, very lacking
in witches. But the people, as usual, replete
with people. & so you, with your headset, sit
in the home office across the hall, stuck in a hell
of strangers crying, computers dying, the new
father’s dropped-in-toilet baby
photos, the old Canadian, her grandson Gregory,
all-grown-up-now Greg, who gave her this phone
but won’t call her. You call her
wonderful. You encourage her to tell you what’s wrong
with her device. You with your good-at-your-job
good-looking-ness, I bet even over the phone
it’s visible. I bet all the Canadian grandmas
want you, but hey, you’re with me. Hey, take off
that headset. Steal away from your post. Cross
the hall, you sings-the-chorus-too-soon, you
played-tennis-in-college-build, you Jeffrey, you
Jeff-ship full of stars, cauldron full of you,
come teach me a little bit
of nothing, in the dark
46. The eye chews the apple,
sends the brain
an image of the un-apple. Which is similar
to the way I throw my voice
like a Frisbee, like salt
over a shoulder, a birthday party
where someone’s brother
is grilling hot dogs, a little speed
in his blood,
some red balloons. The eye
is the most deceptive
organ in the body.
Followed closely by the hand,
which refuses to accept
that touch comes down
to the repulsion of electrons,
so that when I hold
the hand of the person I love,
mostly I am pushing
him away. Which has something to do
with the striking resemblance
between a bag
of individually wrapped candies
and the human heart.
The sticky glass
of their shattering. How love
can crack like a tooth
kissing a sidewalk,
the way right now someone’s car leapfrogs
a sidewalk, her body
making love to the windshield
the windshield. And still the fireflies glow
with their particular sorrow.
The police tape
separating the mind from everything
that is not the mind
proves imaginary. My eyes
find the face
of the person I love
and pull out their fork and knife.
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
Not loving is a letting go.
The terrain around here
48. My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
49. Or sometimes watched drifting with the leaves,
some last confetti of yellow or brown. Or it existed
the way the juncos huddled beneath the thistle
feeder in winter, in the way the clouds spilled water
in May to soak the ground. Once we found it
in the attic in a steamer trunk, and another time
we closed it in a suitcase and drove it across
the countryside to Ohio. And often we imagined that
the years were a locked door against which
we kept knocking to be admitted. And on the dresser
of the new house, I spilled the change of the marriage
into a heap, and later we sat on the back porch and watched
the nuptial clouds on their conveyor belts. And we slept
at night with the breaths of the marriage around us.
50. Somewhere someone rises
far earlier than you before
the faintest glimmer blues
the darkest dark wakens
without alarm without body
roused by the nightingales
neighbor friend or stranger
who hasn’t seen his sunlit
children faces a cold sink
oh caffeinated sleepwalker
march daily industry with
necessity down one flight
then up two is heaven in
someone warm beside you
-Joseph O. Legaspi
Love Poems for Him
51. I ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens rewards thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so preserver,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
52. Today we are obliged to be romantic
And think of yet another valentine.
We know the rules and we are both pedantic:
Today’s the day we have to be romantic.
Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.
You know I’m yours and I know you are mine.
And saying that has made me feel romantic,
My dearest love, my darling valentine.
53. My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a bargain better driven.
His heart in me keeps me and him in one …
– Sir Phillip Sydney
54. I’ve been visiting again
with a sunken southern corner.
Fish smaller than first teeth, birthed from the soil,
maneuver in the glaze
where rain pools, covering the lowest stones.
Behind him, in a cracked white tub,
my knees to his sides,
left ear pressed to
the stack of bones in his neck,
I was once so terrified of my own contentment
I bit my shoulder
and drew blood there
to the surface—past it—
What I have wanted most
is many lives. One for each longing,
round and separate.
Sometimes I bring figs here, asphyxiating
in plastic, for their distant echo
of your humid, ghost-flesh air
shouldering the leaves—that almost-a-human
I was born in autumn
as it fled underground
to be fed to a body
of water that only swallows.
– Gabrielle Bates
55. I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May …
56. Yes, I move, I live, I wander astray—
Water running, intermingling, over the sands.
I know the passionate pleasure of motion;
I taste the forests; I touch strange lands.
Yes, I move—perhaps I am seeking
Storms, suns, dawns, a place to hide.
What are you doing here, pale and polished—
You, the stone in the path of the tide?
– Alfonsina Storni
57. What shall meadow hold to please me,
Spreading wide its scented waving,
How shall quiet mosses ease me,
Or the night-wind cool my craving?
Hill and hedgerow, cloud-sweet sky,
Echo our good-by.
Bud unplucked and leaf a-quiver,
Bird that lifts a tuneless trilling,
Restless dream of brook and river,
All June’s cup a wasted spilling—
You and I so thirsty-hearted!—
Summer knows us parted.
– Leonora Speyer
58. I grew
Only for you.
Cut the acacia boughs that demand
Only destruction at your hand!
My blossom blew
Only for you.
Uproot me—in its natal hour
My lily doubted were it candle or flower.
My waters blue
Flow for you.
Drink me—never crystal knows
So pure a tide as in this channel flows.
Wings I knew
Only for you.
Pursue me! (Quivering firefly,
Veil your flame from every eye!)
I shall suffer for you.
Blessed be the evil that your love will do!
Blessed be the blade, the net I shall feel!
Blessed be thirst and steel!
My heart’s blood will flow
That my love you may know.
What fairer gem, what rarer jewel could be found
Than this offering of a scarlet wound?
Instead of diadems in my hair,
Seven long thorns I shall wear.
Instead of ear-rings I shall don
Two burning coals of vermilion.
When you see me suffering
You will hear my laughter ring.
And you will weep and pity me:
Then more than ever mine you will be.
-Juana de Ibarbourou
59. When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
-William Butler Yeats
60. If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
I love her for her smile … her look … her way
Of speaking gently, … for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou may’st love on, through love’s eternity.
-Elizabeth Barret Browning
61. They must have been different once,
fire and water, miles apart,
robbing and giving in desire,
that assault on one another’s otherness.
Embracing, they appropriated and expropriated each other
for so long
that only air was left within their arms,
transparent as if after lightning.
One day the answer came before the question.
Another night they guessed their eyes’ expression
by the type of silence in the dark.
Gender fades, mysteries molder,
distinctions meet in all-resemblance
just as all colors coincide in white.
Which of them is doubled and which missing?
Which one is smiling with two smiles?
Whose voice forms a two-part canon?
When both heads nod, which one agrees?
Whose gesture lifts the teaspoon to their lips?
Who’s flayed the other one alive?
Which one lives and which has died
entangled in the lines of whose palm?
They gazed into each other’s eyes and slowly twins emerged.
Familiarity breeds the most perfect of mothers—
it favors neither of the little darlings,
it scarcely can recall which one is which.
On this festive day, their golden anniversary,
a dove, seen identically, perched on the windowsill.
– Wislawa Szymborska
62. I’ve always underestimated myself,
Always tried to humble myself,
But when it came to true affection,
Settling was out of the question.
I used to settle for the ones in my league,
Continually thinking that my game was weak.
So what if she’s just alright?
It’s just a girl, am I not right?
But this is love we’re talking about,
A force larger than all doubts.
This girl could be my wife.
She could reflect my entire life.
And so when I saw the perfect one,
I thought, it’s her or none.
Might as well give it a shot.
For once I’ll be the man I’m not.
I chose her because she was the best.
I fell in love with her; God knows the rest.
Convincing myself I’m more than a mess,
God gave me perfection and nothing less.
63. When I thought it was right to name my desires,
what I wanted of life, they seemed to turn
like bleating sheep, not to me, who could have been
a caring, if unskilled, shepherd, but to the boxed-in hills
beyond which the blue mountains sloped down
with poppies orange as crayfish all the way to the Pacific seas
in which the hulls of whales steered them
in search of a mate for whom they bellowed
in a new, highly particular song
we might call the most ardent articulation of love,
the pin at the tip of evolution,
In the middle of my life
it was right to say my desires
but they went away. I couldn’t even make them out,
not even as dots
now in the distance.
Yet I see the small lights
of winter campfires in the hills—
teenagers in love often go there
for their first nights—and each yellow-white glow
tells me what I can know and admit to knowing,
that all I ever wanted
was to sit by a fire with someone
who wanted me in measure the same to my wanting.
To want to make a fire with someone,
– Katie Ford
64. Tonight I lingered over your name,
the delicate assembly of vowels
a voice inside my head.
You were sleeping when I arrived.
I stood by your bed
and watched the sheets rise gently.
I knew what slant of light
would make you turn over.
It was then I felt
the highways slide out of my hands.
I remembered the old men
in the west side cafe,
dealing dominoes like magical charms.
It was then I knew,
like a woman looking backward,
I could not leave you,
or find anyone I loved more.
– Naomi Shihab Nye
65. Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root,
Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,
And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,
Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,
Set in the window, bringing memories
Of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies
In benediction over nun-like hills.
My eyes grew dim, and I could no more gaze;
A wave of longing through my body swept,
And, hungry for the old, familiar ways,
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.
– Claude McKay
66. You source
of harmonious eternalities.
Frenzied chords of your soul =
Out of the depths: where minds are born.
Where words stammer =
You must enflame them: –
To the tumult
of the ecstatic spirit!!
67. What sound was that?
I turn away, into the shaking room.
What was that sound that came on in the dark?
What is this maze of light it leaves us in?
What is this stance we take,
To turn away and then turn back?
What did we hear?
It was the breath we took when we first met.
Listen. It is here.
68. Sun makes the day new.
Tiny green plants emerge from earth.
Birds are singing the sky into place.
There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us.
We gallop into a warm, southern wind.
I link my legs to yours and we ride together,
Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives.
Where have you been? They ask.
And what has taken you so long?
That night after eating, singing, and dancing
We lay together under the stars.
We know ourselves to be part of mystery.
It is unspeakable.
It is everlasting.
It is for keeps.
69. When e’er I read these words, Dear Heart, of your sweet valentine,
I’m sure no heart can ever feel a sweeter joy than mine.
“Faithful!” no word can e’er express a truer, greater love—
No truer constancy than this have angels up above!
“Ever!” ah, then eternally you pledge that you’ll be true!
For love’s sweet sake, alone, I choose a happy life with you.
Through every sorrow, joy or pain that we in life may meet,
In sweet companionship we’ll share—the bitter with the sweet.
We’ll live with these words of faithfulness, what e’er our lot may be.
And live that we may after death from earthly stains be free.
-Lucian B. Watkins
70. We were dancing—it must have
been a foxtrot or a waltz,
something romantic but
rise and fall, precise
execution as we moved
into the next song without
stopping, two chests heaving
above a seven-league
stride—such perfect agony
one learns to smile through,
being the sine qua non
of American Smooth.
And because I was distracted
by the effort of
keeping my frame
(the leftward lean, head turned
just enough to gaze out
past your ear and always
I didn’t notice
how still you’d become until
we had done it
(for two measures?
that swift and serene
before the earth
remembered who we were
and brought us down.
71. To have been told “I love you” by you could well be, for me,
the highlight of my life, the best feeling, the best peak
on my feeling graph, in the way that the Chrysler building
might not be the tallest building in the NY sky but is
the best, the most exquisitely spired, or the way that
Hank Aaron’s career home-run total is not the highest
but the best, the one that signifies the purest greatness.
So improbable! To have met you at all and then
to have been told in your soft young voice so soon
after meeting you: “I love you.” And I felt the mystery
of being that you, of being a you and being
loved, and what I was, instantly, was someone
who could be told “I love you” by someone like you.
I was, in that moment, new; you were 19; I was 22;
you were impulsive; I was there in front of you, with a future
that hadn’t yet been burned for fuel; I had energy;
you had beauty; and your eyes were a pale blue,
and they backed what you said with all they hadn’t seen,
and they were the least ambitious eyes I’d known,
the least calculating, and when you spoke and when
they shone, perhaps you saw the feeling you caused.
Perhaps you saw too that the feeling would stay.
72. I came to you one rainless August night.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach — then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.
– Benjamin Alire Saenz
73. When, at the end, the children wanted
to add glitter to their valentines, I said no.
I said nope, no, no glitter, and then,
when they started to fuss, I found myself
saying something my brother’s football coach
used to bark from the sidelines when one
of his players showed signs of being
human: oh come on now, suck it up.
That’s what I said to my children.
Suck what up? my daughter asked,
and, because she is so young, I told her
I didn’t know and never mind, and she took
that for an answer. My children are so young
when I turn off the radio as the news turns
to counting the dead or naming the act,
they aren’t even suspicious. My children
are so young they cannot imagine a world
like the one they live in. Their God is still
a real God, a whole God, a God made wholly
of actions. And I think they think I work
for that God. And I know they will someday soon
see everything and they will know about
everything and they will no longer take
never mind for an answer. The valentines
would’ve been better with glitter, and my son
hurt himself on an envelope, and then, much
later, when we were eating dinner, my daughter
realized she’d forgotten one of the three
Henrys in her class. How can there be three Henrys
in one class? I said, and she said, Because there are.
And so, before bed we took everything out
again—paper and pens and stamps and scissors—
and she sat at the table with her freshly washed hair
parted smartly down the middle and wrote
WILL YOU BE MINE, HENRY T.? and she did it
so carefully, I could hardly stand to watch.
74. Why I love thee?
Ask why the seawind wanders,
Why the shore is aflush with the tide,
Why the moon through heaven meanders;
Like seafaring ships that ride
On a sullen, motionless deep;
Why the seabirds are fluttering the strand
Where the waves sing themselves to sleep
And starshine lives in the curves of the sand!
75. It flares up at sunrise, a blush in a bramble
Tumbling out of its bed by the city pavement—a single
Rose, coral heat, at the end of the season.
And you are drawn to it, to its scent, its silky
Layers, to its core. It gathers you into its
Body until you lose your balance, all you can see
Is a petaled grid, an endless repetition
Of roses. You sink swirling into the rose,
Deep into the rose, into the rose.
I hold you to me. Love, I am forty-four,
And you, love, you, my love,
You have planted me.
Short Love Poems
76. A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremark’d seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
77. When my soul touches yours a great chord sings!
How shall I tune it then to other things?
O! That some spot in darkness could be found
That does not vibrate when’er your depth sound.
But everything that touches you and me
Welds us as played strings sound one melody.
Where is the instrument whence the sounds flow?
And whose the master-hand that holds the bow?
O! Sweet song—
-Rainer Maria Rilke
78. Take my heart; I’ll give it with ease.
Take my hand and walk this journey with me.
Take these scars and heal them all up.
Take these fears and make them vanish when things get tough.
Take this smile and make it stretch so wide.
Take these arms and hold me oh so tight.
Take these feelings and make them real.
At the end, show me how to feel.
79. The course of true love
never did run smooth.
80. You brought me sunshine
when I only saw rain.
You brought me laughter
when I only felt pain.
– Donna Donathan
81. I want to build
a new world for you
and tuck it
inside your heart.
82. Sitting next
is like taking
a sip of eternity,
the sun, the stars,
– Christy Ann Martine
83. with you
84. you wrap your fingers
around my hair
is how you make music
out of me
have an apple
as I need
shall I move?
do you dream?
– Tom Pickard
86. When I saw
I fell in love,
and you smiled
87. Finding you
88. I didn’t see her love
I felt it
as plainly as the sun.
89. You don’t love someone
because they are perfect,
you love them in spite
of the fact they’re not.
– Jodie Picoult.
90. “What if I fall?”
Oh, my darling
What if you fly?
91. Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eyes;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I life the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
-William Butler Yates
92. I love her and that’s
the beginning and end
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
93. Look looks not with
the eyes, but with
the mind; and
therefore is a winged
Cupid painted blind.
94. You asked me what you mean to me.
My darling, you are my poetry.
95. It was only a sunny smile,
and little it cost in the giving,
but like morning light
it scattered the night
and made the day
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
96. I want to be your for
longer than this moment.
97. I don’t ask
for the sights in front
of me to change,
only the depths
of my seeing.
– Mary Oliver
98. Give me your hand
Make room for me
to lead and follow
beyond this rage of poetry.
Let others have
the privacy of
and love of loss
Give me your hand.
99. L is for ‘laughter’ we had along the way.
O is for ‘optimism’ you gave me every day.
V is for ‘value’ of being my best friend.
E is for ‘eternity,’ a love that has no end.
-John P. Read
100. I wake up every day with your smile on my mind.
It’s a beautiful sight to behold, so soft and so kind.
My dreams are filled with the thought of me and you.
I awake and smile, for my dreams have come true.
I have you to guide me through my troubles and fears.
I’ll always be here for you through your struggles and tears.
I love you more than my words could ever show.
You mean everything to me; I just want you to know.
I’ll be here for you no matter the dilemma.
You will always be first on my agenda.
-Luke O. Meyers