Poetry is so often intertwined with romance, the two are practically synonymous. While poetry can speak to every kind of emotion, the lines that tackle the subject of love—whether the ecstasy of first love, the pain of unrequited love, or the heartbreak of lost love—make for some of the most memorable and well-known poems of all time. Lines from these poems make for excellent quotes in vows, love notes, and other declarations of feelings.
“I carry your heart with me”
Twentieth century American poet E.E. Cummings wrote many romantic poems, but one in particular appears at many weddings and other romantic celebrations: “I Carry Your Heart with Me.” This poem, which begins with its most famous line, is about lasting love, a love so great he compares it to the impetus of all life. It goes on to say that the speaker can face any fate with his love at his side.
“My river runs to thee”
Although the meaning of nineteenth century American poet Emily Dickinson’s short poem “My River Runs to Thee” is up for debate, many scholars think it has to do with love. It describes how the speaker’s “river” runs to the blue sea and how she hopes the sea will welcome her with open arms. The speaker tells the sea how she’ll bring it “brooks,” and ends with the plea that the sea “take me.” In just a few short lines, this poem hits the theme of a desperate, not-yet-reciprocated love.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
Shakespeare wasn’t just the most famous playwright of all time, responsible for a number of romantic (and tragic) love stories, he was also an accomplished poet. His sonnets cover a variety of topics, but none so frequently as romance. His Sonnet 18, also known by its first line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” is one of the most famous Renaissance era poems. The poem does compare the speaker’s love interest to a lovely summer’s day but goes on to demonstrate how much lovelier the object of his affection is, as this person’s beauty and allure has none of the drawbacks of summer (such as rough winds and too bright a sun) and will go on to last longer than a single day.
“Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup”
Early twentieth century Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran wrote the famous poem known by the titles “On Marriage” and “Love One Another.” One memorable line about filling each other’s cups instead of drinking from the same cup encapsulates the theme of the poem, which is about a less idealized love than some other romantic poems. It talks about how the two people vowing to love for life should support each other as individuals and not become one entity. This poem provides a perfect quote if you want to emphasize how you both will retain your own dreams and ambitions, how you’ll help each other, and how you won’t let one partner in the relationship overshadow the other.
“What are all these kissings worth / If thou kiss not me?”
Early nineteenth century English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, perhaps most famous for his marriage to Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, was known for his romantic poetry during his relatively short life. His elopement with Mary (the second young wife he’d run off with) was a bit of a scandal in English society, as was their “free love,” creativity-focused lifestyle. One of Shelley’s most romantic poems, “Love’s Philosophy,” discusses pairings that occur naturally throughout the world and opines that the object of the speaker’s affection should then be naturally paired with the speaker. It then goes on to describe natural “kisses” that occur, such as waves “clasping” one another, and the moonbeams “kissing” the sea. But it finishes by saying that all of these wondrous kisses are meaningless if the object of his affection does not kiss him.
Romantic love is a subject that has inspired countless creative people throughout history and around the globe. It’s a universal subject that transcends cultural barriers. Poetry is one of the most beautiful expressions of love. Let yourself be inspired by some of the most famous poems on the subject of love, romance, and commitment, and write a romantic poem of your own just for the person you love.