Love poems have been used for centuries to inspire and engender amorous feelings between the poet and his or her beloved. Poetry is all about using beautiful language, using metaphor, simile, and other techniques to express deeper truths. Reading poetry allows us not only to enjoy the beauty of language, but also to have our deeper feelings elucidated, gaining new insights and understandings into our very humanity. If you are looking for romantic poetry — whether to write your wedding vows or to woo someone special–take a look at some of these lyrical gems that are a genuine masterpieces.
Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare
You can’t go wrong with the bard. He has a number of wonderfully romantic sonnets to choose from (take a look at Sonnets 18 and 116 as well), but Sonnet 29 is arguably his best. Written in iambic pentameter in traditional sonnet structure, the poet begins by complaining about his lot in life. But then the poem takes a turn, and ends this way:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate; For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) by E. E. Cummings
Cummings is known for his experimental syntax, often citing the visual layout of a poem as equal in importance to the words of the poem. And it is the layout of this poem that makes it so powerful: When he says, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)” the parentheses become a visual representation of the heart itself.
The poem ends:
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
How Do I Love Thee? By Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This one might feel a little obvious, but bear with me: This beautiful poem is more than “let me count the ways.” This poem was written for the purpose of wooing. The poet wrote it between 1845-1846 while she and her future husband were still courting.
Take a look at the sheer beauty and romance and heartfelt devotion in this stanza from the poem:
I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
A Glimpse by Walt Whitman
This poem is less about the sweeping grandeur of love as it is about love in the every day, the tedium, the routine. But its brevity is part of its undeniable charm. Take a look at the poem, in full:
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.
Flirtation by Rita Dove
Rita Dove is a living, working poet, born in 1952. Her work is known for its lyricism and its sociopolitical scope. But in this beautiful, simple poem about new love, she lets the words do all the work. Take a look at the full poem:
After all, there’s no need to say anything
at first. An orange, peeled and quartered, flares
like a tulip on a wedgewood plate Anything can happen.
Outside the sun has rolled up her rugs
and night strewn salt across the sky. My heart
is humming a tune I haven’t heard in years!
Quiet’s cool flesh— let’s sniff and eat it.
There are ways to make of the moment
a topiary so the pleasure’s in