Since the dawn of time, poetry has existed. Granted, not always in the form we think of now, with rhyming words and iambic pentameter. But as long as people have walked the earth, writers have been using artfully crafted words to describe life’s experiences. And perhaps the most universal experiences of all have been those of the heart — romance and heartbreak and longing. Love poems, no matter how old, stir something inside of you. Have you read the picture Pablo Neruda paints of true love in “Sonnet XVII”? Or the young, ill-fated romance of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Annabel Lee”? What about the aching, unrealized love described so meticulously by T.S. Eliot in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”? By their very nature, love poems are timeless because they describe the most timeless of emotions.
Of course, poetry exists to capture the full spectrum of the human experience. There are funny poems and, on the other end, breakup poems. There are even sexy poems if you’re looking for something decidedly more sultry. But the following love poems will make your heart skip a beat.
Best Short Love Poems
1. “When You Come” by Maya Angelou
When you come to me, unbidden,
Beckoning me To long-ago rooms, Where memories lie.
Offering me, as to a child, an attic,
Gatherings of days too few. Trinkets of borrowed loves. Trunks of secret words,
2. “Untitled” by Christopher Poindexter
Whenever I am away from you, the distance between us,
A burdensome thing, I always think of you in colors, the smell of coffee as you so proudly make it for me, the perfect sunlight spilling in through the window. I miss you even when you are beside me. I dream of your body even when you are sleeping in my arms. The words I love you could never be enough.
I suppose we’ll have to invent new ones.
3. “It Is Here” by Harold Pinter
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.
4. “Untitled” by Pavana
don’t feel like wounds in your hands. they feel like beginnings, like a chance to make things right again.
5. “To the Desert” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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.
6. “Witch Wife” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
She is neither pink nor pale,
And she will never be all mine; She learned her hands in a fairy-tale, And her mouth on a valentine.
She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun ‘tis a woe to me! And her voice is a string of colored beads, Or steps leading into the sea.
She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign; But she was not made for any man, And she will never be all mine.
7. “For Him” by Rupi Kaur
it won’t be love at first sight when we meet it’ll be love at first remembrance ‘cause i’ve recognized you in my mother’s eyes when she tells me, marry the type of man you’d want to raise your son to be like.
8. “Sonnet XLIII” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
9. “Stardust” by Lang Leav
If you came to me with a face I have not seen, with a voice I have never heard, I would still know you. Even if centuries separated us, I would still feel you. Somewhere between the sand and the stardust, through every collapse and creation, there is a pulse that echoes of you and I.
When we leave this world, we give up all our possessions and our memories. Love is the only thing we take with us. It is all we carry from one life to the next.
10. “[i carry your heart with me (i carry it in]” by e.e. cummings
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
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 sould 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)
11. “Untitled” by Aman Batra
all things worth keeping
begin with your hands please, don’t take me for granted
when I say “stay”
what I mean is “without you there is no gravity”
I was never
taught to float, my ascent, anything but graceful
you are the
uncaged earth soil so rich, I sink and become new
12. “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats
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.
13. “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda
I don’t love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul. I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love, a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this
Where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
14. “I Wish I Could Remember That First Day” by Christina Rosetti
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. If only I could recollect it, such A day of days! I let it come and go As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow; It seemed to mean so little, meant so much; If only now I could recall that touch, First touch of hand in hand — Did one but know!
15. “Amoretti LXXV: One Day I Wrote Her Name” by Edmund Spenser
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away: Again I wrote it with a second hand, But came the tide, and made my pains his prey. “Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay, A mortal thing so to immortalize; For I myself shall like to this decay, And eke my name be wiped out likewise.” “Not so,” (quod I) “let baser things devise To die in dust, but you shall live by fame: My verse your virtues rare shall eternize, And in the heavens write your glorious name: Where whenas death shall all the world subdue, Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
16. “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee. If ever wife was happy in a 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 the give recompense. Thy love is such I can no way repay; The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere, That when we live no more, we may live ever.
17. “[Again and again, even though we know love’s landscape]” by Rainer Maria Rilke
Again and again, even though we know love’s landscape
and the little churchyard with its lamenting names and the terrible reticent gorge in which the others end: again and again the two of us walk out together under the ancient trees, lay ourselves down again and again among the flowers, and look up into the sky.
18. “Romantics” by Lisel Mueller
Johannes Brahms and
The modern biographers worry
“how far it went,” their tender friendship. They wonder just what it means when he writes he thinks of her constantly, his guardian angel, beloved friend. The modern biographers ask the rude, irrelevant question of our age, as if the event of two bodies meshing together establishes the degree of love, forgetting how softly Eros walked in the nineteenth-century, how a hand held overlong or a gaze anchored in someone’s eyes could unseat a heart, and nuances of address not known in our egalitarian language could make the redolent air tremble and shimmer with the heat of possibility. Each time I hear the Intermezzi, sad and lavish in their tenderness, I imagine the two of them sitting in a garden among late-blooming roses and dark cascades of leaves, letting the landscape speak for them, leaving us nothing to overhear.
19. “Proximity” by Michael Faudet
We joined the dots
from A to B, the line we drew from you to me, traced empty shores across the sea, over mountain top, past forest tree, along the roads and walking tracks, all bridges burned, no looking back, for the love we have, no gate can stop, no barking dog or bolted lock, for what is real is meant to be, when two hearts beat — in proximity.
20. “Knots” by atticus
She was the most beautiful,
complicated thing I’d ever seen, a tangled mess of silky string — and all I wanted of life, was to sit down cross-legged and untie her knots.
21. “Love Poem” by Audre Lorde
Speak earth and bless me with what is richest
make sky flow honey out of my hips
rigid as mountains spread over a valley carved out by the mouth of rain.
And I knew when I entered her I was
high wind in her forests hollow fingers whispering sound honey flowed from the split cup impaled on a lance of tongues on the tips of her breasts on her navel and my breath howling into her entrances through lungs of pain.
Greedy as herring-gulls
or a child I swing out over the earth over and over again.
22. “I Love You” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I love your lips when they’re wet with wine
And red with a wild desire; I love your eyes when the lovelight lies Lit with a passionate fire. I love your arms when the warm white flesh Touches mine in a fond embrace; I love your hair when the strands enmesh Your kisses against my face.
Not for me the cold, calm kiss
Of a virgin’s bloodless love; Not for me the saint’s white bliss, Nor the heart of a spotless dove. But give me the love that so freely gives And laughs at the whole world’s blame, With your body so young and warm in my arms, It sets my poor heart aflame.
So kiss me sweet with your warm wet mouth,
Still fragrant with ruby wine, And say with a fervor born of the South That your body and soul are mine. Clasp me close in your warm young arms, While the pale stars shine above, And we’ll live our whole young lives away In the joys of a living love.
23. “Since There’s No Help,” by Michael Drayton
Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part;
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me, And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart That thus so cleanly I myself can free; Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows, And when we meet at any time again, Be it not seen in either of our brows That we one jot of former love retain. Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath, When his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies, When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, And Innocence is closing up his eyes, Now if thou wouldst when all have given him over, From death to life, thou mightst him yet recover.
More Epic Romantic Love Poems
- “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
- “Variations on the Word Love” by Margaret Atwood
- “[love is more thicker than forget]” by e.e. cummings
- “Lines Depicting Simple Happiness” by Peter Gizzi
- “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron
- “Mad Girl’s Love Song” by Sylvia Plath
- “Before You Came” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
- “For Keeps” by Joy Harjo
- “Poem I Wrote Sitting Across the Table From You” by Kevin Varrone
- “Yours” by Daniel Hoffman
- “Poem to First Love” by Matthew Yeager
- “Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy
- “Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore
- “Mythology” by Caitlyn Siehl
- “The Sun and the Moon” by Nikita Gill
- “Dear Future Lover” by K.Y. Robinson
- “Shoulder, Shoulder, Slow, Slow” by Iain S. Thomas
- “A Glimpse” by Walt Whitman
- “To Lose Thee, Sweeter Than to Gain” by Emily Dickinson
- “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
- “Song: To Celia” by Ben Jonson
- “At Last” by Elizabeth Akers Allen
- “To the Girl Who Works at Starbucks” by Rudy Francisco
- “When a Boy Tells You He Loves You” by Edwin Bodney
- “When Love Arrives” by Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye
- “I Love You” by Carl Sandburg
- “The Good-Morrow” by John Donne
- “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
- “Any Lit” by Harryette Mullen
- “Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” by William Shakespeare
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