When you want to get in the mood, maybe you listen to your favorite sexy song or pop on your favorite porn video. But what if we told you there was a way of getting turned on using… poetry? Yup, that’s totally a thing, and we’ve curated sex poems from literary legends like William Blake and Emily Dickinson you’ll turn to again and again. Their quotes about kisses are enough to get you in the mood, let alone the rest of their poems.
And if you think classical poetry isn’t sexy enough or won’t quite get you hot and bothered, then you clearly haven’t read “Love Sonnet XI” by Pablo Neruda yet. Prepare to be amazed. Switch up the Valentine’s Day and anniversary expectations and slip one of these poems into your lover’s card. They will be pleasantly surprised. You’re not alone in your love of erotic poetry, either. In fact, according to the latest search data available, poems about sex are searched for over 27,000 times per month.
1. “A Question Answered” by William Blake
What is it men in women do require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire. What is it women do in men require? The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
2. “Desire” by Langston Hughes
Desire to us
Was like a double death, Swift dying Of our mingled breath, Evaporation Of an unknown strange perfume Between us quickly In a naked Room.
3. “If You Were Coming in the Fall” by Emily Dickinson
If you were coming in the Fall,
I’d brush the Summer by With half a smile, and half a spurn, As Housewives do, a Fly. If I could see you in a year, I’d wind the months in balls — And put them each in separate Drawers, For fear the numbers fuse — If only Centuries, delayed, I’d count them on my Hand, Subtracting, till my fingers dropped Into Van Dieman’s Land. If certain, when this life was out — That yours and mine, should be — I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind, And take Eternity — But now, uncertain of the length Of this, that is between, It goads me, like the Goblin Bee — That will not state — its sting.
4. “The Encounter” by Louise Glück
You came to the side of the bed
and sat staring at me. Then you kissed me — I felt hot wax on my forehead. I wanted it to leave a mark: that’s how I knew I loved you. Because I wanted to be burned, stamped, to have something in the end- I drew the gown over my head; a red flush covered my face and shoulders. It will run its course, the course of fire, setting a cold coin on the forehead, between the eyes. You lay beside me; your hand moved over my face as though you had felt it also- you must have known, then, how I wanted you. We will always know that, you and I. The proof will be my body.
5. “The Vine” by Robert Herrick
I dream’d this mortal part of mine
Was Metamorphoz’d to a Vine; Which crawling one and every way Enthralled my dainty Lucia. Methought, her long small legs & thighs I with my Tendrils did surprise; Her Belly, Buttocks, and her Waste By my soft Nerv’lits were embraced. About her head I writhing hung, And with rich clusters (hid among The leaves) her temples I behung: So that my Lucia seem’d to me Young Bacchus ravisht by his tree. My curles about her neck did crawl, And arms and hands they did enthrall: So that she could not freely stir, (All parts there made one prisoner.) But when I crept with leaves to hide Those parts, which maids keep unespied, Such fleeting pleasures there I took, That with the fancy I awoke; And found (Ah me!) this flesh of mine More like a Stock, than like a Vine.
6. “Delight in Disorder” by Robert Herrick
A sweet disorder in the dressKindles in clothes a wantonness;A lawn about the shoulders thrownInto a fine distraction;An erring lace, which here and thereEnthrals the crimson stomacher;A cuff neglectful, and therebyRibands to flow confusedly;A winning wave, deserving note,In the tempestuous petticoat;A careless shoe-string, in whose tieI see a wild civility:Do more bewitch me, than when artIs too precise in every part.
7. “Love Sonnet XI” by Pablo Neruda
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets. Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest, hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails, I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face, I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart, like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
8. “xvii” by e.e. cummings
Lady, i will touch you with my mind.
Touch you and touch and touch until you give me suddenly a smile, shyly obscene
(lady i will
touch you with my mind.)Touch you,that is all,
lightly and you utterly will become
with infinite care
the poem which i do not write.
9. “After Making Love In Winter” by Sharon Olds
At first I cannot have even a sheet on me,
anything at all is painful, a plate of iron laid down on my nerves, I lie there in the air as if flying rapidly without moving, and slowly I cool off—hot, warm, cool, cold, icy, till the skin all over my body is ice except at those points our bodies touch like blooms of fire. Around the door loose in its frame, and around the transom, the light from the hall burns in straight lines and casts up narrow beams on the ceiling, a figure throwing up its arms for joy. In the mirror, the angles of the room are calm, it is the hour when you can see that the angle itself is blessed, and the dark globes of the chandelier, suspended in the mirror, are motionless—I can feel my ovaries deep in my body, I gaze at the silvery bulbs, maybe I am looking at my ovaries, it is clear everything I look at is real and good. We have come to the end of questions, you run your palm, warm, large, dry, back along my face over and over, over and over, like God putting the finishing touches on, before sending me down to be born.
10. “Dancing in Odessa” by Ilya Kaminsky
In a city made of seaweed we danced on a rooftop, my hands under her breasts. Subtracting day from day, I add this woman’s ankles to my days of atonement, her lower lip, the formal bones of her face. We were making love all evening —I told her stories, their rituals of rain: happiness is money, yet, but only the smallest coins.
11.”Come Slowly, Eden!” by Emily Dickenson
Come slowly Eden
Lips unused to thee — Bashful sip thy jasmines — As the fainting bee.
12. “Erotica” by S.T.P.
I made love to her on paper.
and spilled ink like passion across the sheets. I caressed her curves in every love letter. I kissed up and down her thighs in short sentences and prose. I tasted all her innocence, without a spoken word. I bit her lip and pulled her hair, in between the lines. I made her arch her back and scream, it only took a pen.
13. “Sex Has a Way” by Wendy Lee
Sex has a way of softening limbs,
oiling joints and melding hearts.
We burrow in closer
wrapping arms and legs over and under each other.
Earthy blanket of sleep covers us
two bodies releasing one breath.
coiled and tucked in each other’s sweat.
14. “Untitled” by Mason Fowler
We lay in bed in a heap of sweaty love until the curtains stop holding the sun and light shines on two naked bodies that were strangers the night before, but young lust runs deeper than expected and sometimes a sinner meets another, and a secret is hatched that only a look into the eyes can tell.
15. “Wild Nights” by Emily Dickinson
Wild nights — Wild nights!Were I with theeWild nights should beOur luxury!Futile — the windsTo a Heart in port —Done with the Compass —Done with the Chart!Rowing in Eden —Ah — the Sea!Might I but moor — tonight —In thee!
16. “At The Touch Of You” by Witter Bynner
At the touch of you,
As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow, The arrows of delight shot through my body.
You were spring,
And I the edge of a cliff, And a shining waterfall rushed over me.
17. “Basket Of Figs” by Ellen Bass
Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes, warm eggs, cinnamon and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me
the detail, the intricate embroidery
on the collar, tiny shell buttons, the hemstitched the way you were taught, pricking just a thread, almost invisible.
Unclasp it like jewels, the gold
still hot from your body. Empty your basket of figs. Spill your wine.
That hard nugget of pain, I would suck it,
cradling it on my tongue like the slick seed of pomegranate. I would lift it
tenderly, as a great animal might
carry a small one in the private cave of the mouth.
18. “To His Mistress Going To Bed” by John Donne
Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,Until I labour, I in labour lie.The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,Is tir’d with standing though he never fight.Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering,But a far fairer world encompassing.Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime,Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.Off with that happy busk, which I envy,That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,As when from flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals.Off with that wiry Coronet and shewThe hairy Diadem which on you doth grow:Now off with those shoes, and then safely treadIn this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed.In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to beReceived by men; Thou Angel bringst with theeA heaven like Mahomet’s Paradise; and thoughIll spirits walk in white, we easily know,By this these Angels from an evil sprite,Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright. Licence my roving hands, and let them go,Before, behind, between, above, below.O my America! my new-found-land,My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d,My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie,How blest am I in this discovering thee!To enter in these bonds, is to be free;Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be. Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be,To taste whole joys. Gems which you women useAre like Atlanta’s balls, cast in men’s views,That when a fool’s eye lighteth on a Gem,His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.Like pictures, or like books’ gay coverings madeFor lay-men, are all women thus array’d;Themselves are mystic books, which only we(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know;As liberally, as to a Midwife, shewThy self: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,There is no penance due to innocence.To teach thee, I am naked first; why thenWhat needst thou have more covering than a man.
19. “Importune Me No More” (or “When I Was Fair and Young”) by Queen Elizabeth I
When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore:Go, go, go, seek some other where; importune me no more.How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe,How many sighing hearts I have not skill to show,But I the prouder grew and still this spake therefore:Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.Then spake fair Venus’ son, that proud victorious boy,Saying: You dainty dame, for that you be so coy,I will so pluck your plumes as you shall say no more:Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.As soon as he had said, such change grew in my breastThat neither night nor day I could take any rest.Wherefore I did repent that I had said before:Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
20. “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell
Had we but world enough and time,This coyness, lady, were no crime.We would sit down, and think which wayTo walk, and pass our long love’s day.Thou by the Indian Ganges’ sideShouldst rubies find; I by the tideOf Humber would complain. I wouldLove you ten years before the flood,And you should, if you please, refuseTill the conversion of the Jews.My vegetable love should growVaster than empires and more slow;An hundred years should go to praiseThine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;Two hundred to adore each breast,But thirty thousand to the rest;An age at least to every part,And the last age should show your heart.For, lady, you deserve this state,Nor would I love at lower rate.But at my back I always hearTime’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;And yonder all before us lieDeserts of vast eternity.Thy beauty shall no more be found;Nor, in thy marble vault, shall soundMy echoing song; then worms shall tryThat long-preserved virginity,And your quaint honour turn to dust,And into ashes all my lust;The grave’s a fine and private place,But none, I think, do there embrace.Now therefore, while the youthful hueSits on thy skin like morning dew,And while thy willing soul transpiresAt every pore with instant fires,Now let us sport us while we may,And now, like amorous birds of prey,Rather at once our time devourThan languish in his slow-chapped power.Let us roll all our strength and allOur sweetness up into one ball,And tear our pleasures with rough strifeThrough the iron gates of life:Thus, though we cannot make our sunStand still, yet we will make him run.
21. “Terminus” by Edith Wharton
Wonderful were the long secret nights you gave me, my Lover,
Palm to palm breast to breast in the gloom. The faint red lamp, Flushing with magical shadows the common-place room of the inn With its dull impersonal furniture, kindled a mystic flame In the heart of the swinging mirror, the glass that has seen Faces innumerous & vague of the endless travelling automata, Whirled down the ways of the world like dust-eddies swept through a street, Faces indifferent or weary, frowns of impatience or pain, Smiles (if such there were ever) like your smile ad mine when they met Here, in this self-same glass, while you helped me to loosen my dress, And the shadow-mouths melted to one, like sea-birds that meet in a wave — Continue reading
22. “I Too Beneath Your Moon” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I too beneath your moon, almighty Sex,
Go forth at nightfall crying like a cat, Leaving the lofty tower I laboured at For birds to foul and boys and girls to vex With tittering chalk; and you, and the long necks Of neighbours sitting where their mothers sat Are well aware of shadowy this and that In me, that’s neither noble nor complex. Such as I am, however, I have brought To what it is, this tower; it is my own; Though it was reared To Beauty, it was wrought From what I had to build with: honest bone Is there, and anguish; pride; and burning thought; And lust is there, and nights not spent alone.
23. “Love and Sleep” by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Lying asleep between the strokes of night
I saw my love lean over my sad bed, Pale as the duskiest lily’s leaf or head, Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite, Too wan for blushing and too warm for white, But perfect-coloured without white or red. And her lips opened amorously, and said – I wist not what, saving one word – Delight.
And all her face was honey to my mouth,
And all her body pasture to mine eyes; The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire, The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south, The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs And glittering eyelids of my soul’s desire.
24. “The Floating Poem, Unnumbered” by Adrienne Rich
Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine — tender, delicate your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond of the fiddlehead fern in forests just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs between which my whole face has come and come — the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there — the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth — your touch on me, firm, protective, searching me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers reaching where I had been waiting years for you in my rose-wet cave — whatever happens, this is.
25. “Recreation” by Audre Lorde
it is easier to work after our bodies meet paper and pen neither care nor profit whether we write or not but as your body moves under my hands charged and waiting we cut the leash you create me against your thighs hilly with images moving through our word countries my body writes into your flesh the poem you make of me.
Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat I love you flesh into blossom I made you and take you made into me.
26. “The Atheist” by Megan Falley
The first time we made love I realized why
I never prayed. One human can only say Oh God so many times.
27. “Aubade” by Amy Lowell
As I would free the white almond from the green husk
So I would strip your trappings off, Beloved. And fingering the smooth and polished kernel I should see that in my hands glittered a gem beyond counting.
28. “Remembrance” by Maya Angelou
Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees hived in my hair, your smile at the slope of my cheek. On the occasion, you press above me, glowing, spouting readiness, and mystery rapes my reason When you have withdrawn yourself and the magic, when only the smell of your love lingers between my breasts, then, only then, can I greedily consume your presence.
29. “Sea Poppies” by H.D.
fluted with gold, fruit on the sand marked with a rich grain,
spilled near the shrub-pines to bleach on the boulders:
your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea and grated shells and split conch-shells.
fire upon leaf, what meadow yields so fragrant a leaf as your bright leaf?
30. “Assurance” by Emma Lazarus
Last night I slept, and when I woke her kiss
Still floated on my lips. For we had strayed Together in my dream, through some dim glade, Where the shy moonbeams scarce dared light our bliss. The air was dank with dew, between the trees, The hidden glow-worms kindled and were spent. Cheek pressed to cheek, the cool, the hot night-breeze Mingled our hair, our breath, and came and went, As sporting with our passion. Low and deep Spake in mine ear her voice: “And didst thou dream, This could be buried? This could be sleep? And love be thrall to death! Nay, whatso seem, Have faith, dear heart; this is the thing that is!” Thereon I woke, and on my lips her kiss.
31. “The Platonic Blow” by W. H. Auden
I glanced as I advanced. The clean white T-shirt outlined
A forceful torso, the light-blue denims divulged Much. I observed the snug curves where they hugged the behind, I watched the crotch where the cloth intriguingly bulged.
Our eyes met, I felt sick. My knees turned weak.
I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to say. In a blur I heard words myself like a stranger speak. “Will you come to my room?” Then a husky voice, “O.K.”
32. “Fresh Cheese and Cream” by Robert Herrick
WOULD ye have fresh cheese and cream?
Julia’s breast can give you them. And, if more, each nipple cries To your cream, here’s strawberries.
33. “Sarah Manguso” by Reverence
Love not the rider but the old rider, the ghost in the saddle: Obey that ghost. A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip. But we are not good horses. We bolt. We stand still in bad weather. We rely on things we know are unreliable, it feels so good just to rely. We are relied on. But I do not know who knows that bad secret. I do not see who sits astride my back, who cuts my flank so lovingly on our way to the dark mountain.
34. “Body, Remember” by Constantine Cavafy
Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
Not only the beds on which you lay, But also those desires for you That glowed plainly in the eyes, And trembled in the voice—and some Chance obstacle made futile. Now that all of them belong to the past, It almost seems as if you had yielded To those desires—how they glowed, Remember, in the eyes gazing at you; How they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.
35. “To A Dark Moses” by Lucille Clifton
You are the one
I am lit for.
Come with your rod
that twists and is a serpent.
I am the bush.
I am burning I am not consumed.
36. “What Do Women Want?” by Kim Addonizio
I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap, I want it too tight; I want to wear it until someone tears it off me. I want it sleeveless and backless, this dress, so no one has to guess what’s underneath. I want to walk down the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store with all those keys glittering in the window, past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly, hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders. I want to walk like I’m the only woman on earth, and I can have my pick. I want that red dress bad. I want it to confirm your worst fears about me, or anything except what I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment from its hanger like I’m choosing a body to carry me into this world, through the birth-cries and the love-cries too, and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin, it’ll be the goddamned dress they bury me in.
37. “Please Master” by Allen Gingsberg Please master can I touch your cheeck
Please master can I kneel at your feet Please master can I loosen your blue pants Please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly Please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes Please master can I take off my clothes below your chair Please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul Please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh Please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach — Continue reading
38. “Peanut Butter” by Eileen Myles
I am always hungry & wanting to have sex. This is a fact. If you get right down to it the new unprocessed peanut butter is no damn good & you should buy it in a jar as always in the largest supermarket you know. And I am an enemy of change, as you know — Continue reading
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