Do you read enough love poetry? I certainly don’t make it a part of my usual routine of alternating between the internet and whatever’s on TV, but occasionally I’ll come across a poem and be completely shocked at how relevant it is to my love life. It’s like, the poets really know what they’re talking about, you know?
There’s basically a poem for every stage of romantic love. As a dating blogger, I can write and muse about love and relationships til my fingers come off. But sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and let a guy who lived 400 years ago do it for me, using only a few, well-chosen words.
From long-distance relationships to one night stands, here are some love poems to help you get by.
If You’re Single And Waiting For Love
You’re single, and fairly happily so, but you can’t help but wonder what (or who’s) around the corner waiting for you. You’ve been alone a loooong time, and aren’t even sure what to expect from love anymore. Will you recognize it when it comes?
O Tell Me The Truth About Love, by WH Auden, 1939
Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It’s quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I’ve found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.
When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I’m picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.
If You’ve Just Realized You’re In Love, Or Remember What That’s Like
That first wave of love, that first moment of infatuation and adoration, is the best feeling in the world.
LOVE, Billy Collins
She looked like an angel with a high forehead
and somber eyes and her hair
was tied up behind her neck with a black bow.
And because of all that,
he seemed a little awkward
in his happiness to see her
I saw him looking up at her
and what she was doing
the way the eyes of saints are painted
when they are looking up at God
when he is doing something remarkable,
something that identifies him as God.
If You Just Had The Best One Night Stand Ever
Emily Dickinson was a spinster and a shut-in, so it’s pretty weird that she got sexual rapture so right. “I might moor tonight-in thee”? Damnnnn, Emily!
Wild Nights! by Emily Dickinson, 1861
Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Futile – the Winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor – Tonight –
If You’re Totally, Completely, Over The Moon
This is the poem for ecstatic and lazy afternoons in bed, in those first six months of a relationship.
i love you much(most beautiful darling), E.E. Cummings
i love you much(most beautiful darling)
more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky
-sunlight and singing welcome your coming
although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess
(except my life)the true time of year-
If You’re Very Happily, Comfortably Settled
Your relationship isn’t new anymore: it’s evolved into a simple extension of who you are.
My True Love Hath My Heart And I Have His, Sir Philip Sidney, 1580
My true love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for another given;
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true love has my heart and I have his.
If Suddenly, You Aren’t Afraid Of Commitment Anymore
You can be completely immersed in the throes of young love, but still blanche at the prospect of a lifetime with just one person, cause, well, forever is really scary.
But! If you’re very very lucky, and find absolutely the right person, forever might start to not look so bad, as sweetly and perfectly expressed in Robert Browning’s Grow Old Along With Me, 1812.
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
If You’re In A Long-Distance Relationship
When I was in a long-distance relationship I read this poem over and over. Only shallow couples need to actually be in each other’s presence! REAL love stretches and grows greater to cover the distance between the two lovers! (Not strictly true, but very comforting when suffering through a LDR.)
A Valediction Forbidding Mourning, John Dunne, 1611
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, ’cause it doth remove
The thing which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.
If You’re In The Bitter Stage, Post Break-Up
For when you just want to say “Fuck love!” But, you know. Eloquently.
Mock Orange, by Louise Gluck, 1968
It is these flowers
lighting the yard.
I hate them.
I hate them as I hate sex,
the man’s mouth
sealing my mouth, the man’s
and the cry that always escapes,
the low, humiliating
premise of union—
In my mind tonight
I hear the question and pursuing answer
fused in one sound
that mounts and mounts and then
is split into the old selves,
the tired antagonisms. Do you see?
We were made fools of.
If You’re Ready To Finally Break Up With Your Ex
There’s a long period of mourning after a breakup: the relationship is over, but you still miss the other person, you still love the other person, and you’re definitely not ready to move on.
And then, finally, one day, you’re just tired of being sad. And when you’re finally ready to completely let go, this poem is perfect:
Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines, Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.
Do you have a favorite we missed? Tell us in the comments!