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,
Of our mingled breath,
Of an unknown strange perfume
Between us quickly
In a naked
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
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
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
19. “Importune Me No More” (or “When I Was Fair and Young”) by Queen Elizabeth I
20. “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell
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
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
writes into your flesh
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
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,
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
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
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
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
and is a serpent.
I am the bush.
I am burning
I am not consumed.