46 Romantic Love Poems That’ll Make Her Fall Deeper in Love with You
It's not easy expressing your adoration for the woman in your life. Select some love poems for her, and tell her how you really feel.
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Heartfelt love poems for her
We can’t all be Ryan Gosling à la The Notebook, but we can sure try. Reciting love poems can be a beautiful, thoughtful way to express care and affection for the woman in your life—even if you’re no poet yourself. It’s not about whether you wrote the poem on your own but the fact that the love poem reminded you of her. When scouring poetry books for love poems for her, you need to first know what makes a good love poem.
First off, a heartfelt romantic gesture isn’t exactly the place for funny poems (you know the sort—humorous roses-are-red poems and the like). Sure, they’re cutesy and all, but do you want to come off cheeky while expressing your love? If that’s not the vibe you’re going for, you’ll want to stick to the romantic stuff. A good love poem—and this goes for love poems for him too—is a deep expression of passion (something Whitney Hanson poetry does quite well).
A good love poem has no bounds, it’s true, but when writing your own or reading the love poetry of others, look for specificity. It’s not about the “I love you” as much as it is the specifics of what makes you love your partner. In the most resonant love poems for her, the poet muses on the details: a woman’s throaty laugh or her dimpled cheeks. Pick one that reminds you of the special lady in your life to level up your love-poetry game.
And don’t forget that Shakespeare was perhaps the most notable love poet of all. If you want to take a page out of his book, look for a sonnet. Perhaps the most romantic structure of all, the sonnet is generally known as the official language of love, thanks to its multilayered meanings that allow for a variety of interpretations. If you want to sweep the woman in your life off her feet and into your arms, recite one of these love poems for her.
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1. “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
One of the most famous love poems for her was, of course, written by William Shakespeare. While he may not have conceived the sonnet form, he certainly personalized and popularized it. Shakespeare does some heavy lifting throughout this 14-line poem, comparing a woman to a summer’s day and concluding that she’s far lovelier. That sentiment makes this one of the best short poems of all time.
2. “[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)
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 soul 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)
Quoting E.E. Cummings is always a safe bet if it’s a romantic poem you’re after. In this classic poem, the speaker can’t imagine a life without his lover, asserting that they are together all the time through their hearts. Suckers for love will also appreciate these love messages.
3. “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)” 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.
Perhaps even more intimate than your favorite romance novels, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” struggles to put into words how impossible it is to measure love. If you love your partner more than words can say, this is one of the best love poems for her.
4. “Her Lips Are Copper Wire” by Jean Toomer
whisper of yellow globes
gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog
and let your breath be moist against me
like bright beads on yellow globes
telephone the power-house
that the main wires are insulate
(her words play softly up and down
dewy corridors of billboards)
then with your tongue remove the tape
and press your lips to mine
till they are incandescent
This five-stanza poem by Jean Toomer is a classic description of the speaker’s indelible attraction to a woman. Through compelling imagery and the likening of a kiss to electric energy, “Her Lips Are Copper Wire” is one of the best love poems for her—ever. It’s such a passionate, sexy poem, it’s right up there with some of our favorite relationship quotes.
5. “[To find a kiss of yours]” by Frederico García Lorca
To find a kiss of yours
what would I give
A kiss that strayed from your lips
dead to love
My lips taste
the dirt of shadows
To gaze at your dark eyes
what would I give
Dawns of rainbow garnet
fanning open before God—
The stars blinded them
one morning in May
And to kiss your pure thighs
what would I give
Raw rose crystal
sediment of the sun
When it comes to love poems for her, this one by Frederico García Lorca is sensual beyond belief. In this poem, the speaker is determined to find and collect every kiss that has ever slipped from his lover’s lips. It’s quite a compelling sentiment. In fact, if you’re celebrating a momentous occasion with your partner, this poem makes for one of the most thoughtful happy anniversary messages. And if you or your partner speak Spanish, be sure to include the full version—this excerpt is followed by lines in Spanish.
6. “I Am Not Yours” by Sara Teasdale
I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.
You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.
Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
The picturesque imagery in “I Am Not Yours” is what will have your loved one on the edge of her seat. A love poem worthy of the best romantic movies, it uses nature similes (“lost as a snowflake in the sea”) and metaphors (“a taper in the rushing wind”) that will leave her reeling. It’s a breathtaking way to say you love her and yet want to fall even deeper in love with her.
7. “The More Loving One” by W.H. Auden
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
Not all love poems celebrate a love that’s returned in full. The speaker in “The More Loving One” laments his unrequited love, and if you’re looking for a way to tell a woman “I love you, I understand it’s not going to happen and I’ll get over it,” there’s no better choice than this. Yes, the world may seem empty without love returned, but as W.H. Auden writes, you “should learn to look at an empty sky/ And feel its total dark sublime,/ Though this might take [you] a little time.”
Lucky enough to have the object of your affection return your feelings? Don’t wait to express how you feel! Try these “thinking of you” messages.
8. “[I wish I could remember]” by Christina Rossetti
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!
Not every couple has a meet-cute that screams “We’re destined to be together!” Let your love know that what once seemed like an insignificant day now looks, in hindsight, like an earth-shattering event. That’s precisely what the poem is getting at here—if only the speaker knew how monumental this meeting would be. If you love this poem, you’ll probably adore these Amanda Gorman poems too.
9. “Love Song” by William Carlos Williams
I lie here thinking of you:—
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—
you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!
What’s one of the sweetest things your partner has said? Reading this poem aloud will definitely rank as one of the sweetest things you’ve ever said.
10. “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.
If you want a love poem that might evoke some sensual feelings, “Love Sonnet XI” by Pablo Neruda is surely it. Romantic and filled with true passion, the speaker in this poem is so hungry for his lover that he likens that hunger to that of a hunting jungle cat.
11. “Love is a place” by E.E. Cummings
Love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
Life and love are two entities E.E. Cummings explores in this poem: “Love is a place” and “yes is a world.” It’s such a beautiful arrangement of words, you (and your partner) will want to read this love poem over and over and over.
12. “Bright star” by John Keats
Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No—yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
If she is the bright light in your life, this John Keats poem is a meaningful choice. The speaker positively swoons thinking of his desire for a woman who shines as brightly as a star. The rise and fall of her breath and the feeling of being close to her are enough to make the speaker want to spend eternity together. For more sweet words, check out these love quotes.
13. “Ever Faithful to You” by Lucian B. Watkins
When e’er I read these words, Dear Heart, of your sweet valentine,
I’m sure no heart can ever feel a sweeter joy than mine.
“Faithful!” no word can e’er express a truer, greater love—
No truer constancy than this have angels up above!
“Ever!” ah, then eternally you pledge that you’ll be true!
For love’s sweet sake, alone, I choose a happy life with you.
Through every sorrow, joy or pain that we in life may meet,
In sweet companionship we’ll share—the bitter with the sweet.
We’ll live with these words of faithfulness, what e’er our lot may be.
And live that we may after death from earthly stains be free.
Want to assure your significant other that you’ll be faithful to the end? Send her these words from poet Lucian B. Watkins. In “Ever Faithful to You,” the speaker ensures his love that he’ll remain faithful for all time and that, come what may, they’ll tackle life together.
14. “What Was Told, That” by Jalal al-Din Rumi
What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.
What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was
whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever
was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them
so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is
being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.
The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,
in love with the one to whom every that belongs!
What poetry readers tend to love most about this work is Rumi’s affinity for storytelling. Gorgeous imagery and lyrical words abound, yes, but this poem also reads like a story—a love story. For more poems that tell stories (albeit in a completely different tone), browse these limerick examples.
15. “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
O my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.
So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
O I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
In his “A Red, Red Rose,” Scottish poet Robert Burns compares his love to a fresh flower but makes clear his feelings will last far longer—until the ocean dries up and the sun melts the rocks. Not even distance will dim his love or keep him from the object of his affection. Feel similarly about the woman in your life? You don’t have to recite love poems for her (a note or handwritten card will do), but you may want to read this lyrical poem aloud. It practically sounds like a song; no wonder Bob Dylan called it the most influential poem in his life.
16. “Love” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
We cannot live, except thus mutually
We alternate, aware or unaware,
The reflex act of life: and when we bear
Our virtue onward most impulsively,
Most full of invocation, and to be
Most instantly compellant, certes, there
We live most life, whoever breathes most air
And counts his dying years by sun and sea.
But when a soul, by choice and conscience, doth
Throw out her full force on another soul,
The conscience and the concentration both make
mere life, Love. For Life in perfect whole
And aim consummated, is Love in sooth,
As nature’s magnet-heat rounds pole with pole.
What is true love, anyway? In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Love,” the speaker ponders everything true love may mean by examining the intensity of feelings between two people. Send this one to the woman you consider your soul mate—the woman to whom you’ve thrown your whole soul, as Browning might say.
17. “Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning
The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low:
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
A meeting at night—as the title suggests—is an urgent, powerful aching. Meet me, the speaker nearly begs of his lover by waxing poetic about the relationship of nature, love and life. This is a nice poem to pair with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Love.” After all, Robert Browning was her husband.
18. “A Glimpse” by Walt Whitman
A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I
unremark’d seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he
may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
“A Glimpse” by Walt Whitman is a whirlwind of a romance we can all probably relate to. Two lovers sit at the bar, engrossed in each other and seemingly unaware of the usual barroom antics: drinking, cheering and dancing. Though this poem speaks of a male lover, don’t overlook it when hunting for poetry for the woman you adore. “A Glimpse” makes a great love poem for her too—especially if you regularly find yourself getting swept up in her presence.
For something different—but no less enjoyable—look to limericks. Poems in this format are short and sweet—and riotously funny.
19. “On Love” by Kahlil Gibran
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
“On Love” by Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran encapsulates all the poet’s feelings on the topic of love and its anchoring power. But if the full version is too long for your purpose, the final stanza (excerpted above) can stand as a moving testament to the love you have for the woman in your life. In it, the speaker says that if his lover must have desires, they should be for an overabundance of love and joy and gratitude.
20. “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond” by E.E. Cummings
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skillfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
Swoon. Nobody does it like E.E. Cummings! With a signature poetic style unlike any other, he spins a story about a speaker who is going where he’s never gone before: love. Falling in love, the speaker realizes there are no words for it, that the best he can do is compare his love to a budding rose who opens him up and compels him unlike anyone else.
21. “Wind and Window Flower” by Robert Frost
Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.
When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the caged yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,
He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.
He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.
But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.
Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.
But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.
Robert Frost was famous for his poems about nature, and here he does again what he does best: uses nature to personify love. Forget your favorite love story—it can’t possibly be as moving as the one the speaker tells of the flower and the wind that loved her. It’s a lovely poem to share with your significant other and to underscore the delicacy and beauty of love.
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.
Full of passion and wanting, Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem “I Love You” eschews prim, proper love and longs for a romance full of heat. In the second stanza, the speaker details the types of love she does not want; in the final stanza, she describes what she thinks a relationship should be. Those final two lines—”And we’ll live our whole young lives away/ In the joys of a living love”—say it all.
Looking for a different sort of poem for a woman … say, the woman who raised you? We’ve got you covered with these moving Mother’s Day poems.
23. “Vivien’s Song” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
‘In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne’er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.
‘It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
‘The little rift within the lover’s lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.
‘It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all.’
Perhaps a controversial choice for a love poem, “Vivien’s Song” examines infidelity in a relationship. And while the prospect of unfaithfulness may have you saying, as the speaker does, “It is not worth the keeping: let it go,” the poet ends on a hopeful and romantic note: “And trust me not at all or all in all.” It’s a plea for the speaker’s lover to trust completely.
24. “Experience” by Elsa Gidlow
Now you are gone I kiss your dented pillow
And wonder if it hungers like my breast
For the dear head we both have held in rest.
I said once: Love alone cannot assuage
My thirst, my hunger, love has no reply
For that wild questioning, for this fierce cry.
I said: there is no kiss can feed me now.
Perhaps love is life’s flower: I seek the root.
Yea, I have loved and love is dead sea fruit.
Yet, I lie here and kiss your dented pillow,
A trembling girl who loves you overmuch—
A harp in anguish for the player’s touch.
Elsa Gidlow’s “Experience” appeared in her 1923 poetry collection On a Grey Thread, which historians believe is the first openly lesbian book of poetry. In it, the speaker admits that she once denied love would ever affect her. But now, as she kisses her lover’s pillow, she admits she was wrong.
25. “A Woman’s Answer” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
You call me an angel of love and of light,
A being of goodness and heavenly fire,
Sent out from God’s kingdom to guide you aright,
In paths where your spirit may mount and aspire,
You say that I glow like a star on its course,
Like a ray from the altar, a spark from the source.
Now list to my answer—let all the world hear it,
I speak unafraid what I know to be true—
A pure, faithful love is the creative spirit
Which make women angels! I live but in you.
We are bound soul to soul by life’s holiest laws;
If I am an angel—why, you are the cause.
Yes, this love poem would be appropriate for a guy, but hear us out! It’s telling the recipient—aka the woman you love—that while she might think you’re as bright as a star and as lovely as an angel, you’re only so wonderful because of her love. The exact line that will make her swoon? “If I am an angel—why, you are the cause.” As far as love poems for her go, Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s might just be the most beautiful, complex ode to love yet. If you want to wow her even more, go beyond this excerpt and send her the full poem.
26. “The Look” by Sara Teasdale
Strephon kissed me in the spring,
Robin in the fall,
But Colin only looked at me
And never kissed at all.
Strephon’s kiss was lost in jest,
Robin’s lost in play,
But the kiss in Colin’s eyes
Haunts me night and day.
Anyone who’s held eyes with a crush knows the passionate power of a lingering look. Sara Teasdale, who often wrote poems about love and beauty, waxes poetic not about the kisses she’s received but about the one she did not. If one look from the woman in your life is more memorable than any kisses in your past, this is one of the most romantic love poems for her.
27. “Love” by James Russell Lowell
True Love is but a humble, low-born thing,
And hath its food served up in earthen ware;
It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand,
Through the every-dayness of this work-day world,
Baring its tender feet to every roughness,
Yet letting not one heart-beat go astray
From Beauty’s law of plainness and content;
A simple, fire-side thing, whose quiet smile
Can warm earth’s poorest hovel to a home;
Which, when our autumn cometh, as it must,
And life in the chill wind shivers bare and leafless,
Shall still be blest with Indian-summer youth
In bleak November, and, with thankful heart,
Smile on its ample stores of garnered fruit,
As full of sunshine to our aged eyes
As when it nursed the blossoms of our spring.
James Russell Lowell uses beautiful metaphors to write a love letter to simple love. As the speaker reveals in this excerpt, love doesn’t have to be complex or fancy. In fact, this plain, ordinary love can transform even the most humble circumstances, turning “the poorest hovel to a home” and giving aging lovers the feeling of being in the summer of their youth. The full poem is worth a read, especially if you’re looking for a longer work of poetry to include in a love letter or “thinking of you” message.
28. “The White Rose” by John Boyle O’Reilly
The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.
For centuries, people have used flowers to express their emotions. Interpreting the language of flowers—that is, the meaning of different flower types and colors—was particularly common in the Victorian era, when Irish poet John Boyle O’Reilly lived and wrote. In “The White Rose,” he uses the common Victorian etiquette to reveal the love he desires, not the pure red of passion or stark white of purity but a cream rose with flushed tips. This love, the speaker says, is sweetness tinged with underlying desire.
29. “Endymion” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The rising moon has hid the stars;
Her level rays, like golden bars,
Lie on the landscape green,
With shadows brown between.
And silver white the river gleams,
As if Diana, in her dreams,
Had dropt her silver bow
Upon the meadows low.
On such a tranquil night as this,
She woke Endymion with a kiss,
When, sleeping in the grove,
He dreamed not of her love.
Like Dian’s kiss, unasked, unsought,
Love gives itself, but is not bought;
Her voice, nor sound betrays
Its deep, impassioned gaze.
It comes,—the beautiful, the free,
The crown of all humanity,—
In silence and alone
To seek the elected one.
It lifts the boughs, whose shadows deep,
Are Life’s oblivion, the soul’s sleep,
And kisses the closed eyes
Of him, who slumbering lies.
O, weary hearts! O, slumbering eyes!
O, drooping souls, whose destinies
Are fraught with fear and pain,
Ye shall be loved again!
No one is so accursed by fate,
No one so utterly desolate,
But some heart, though unknown,
Responds unto his own.
Responds,—as if with unseen wings,
A breath from heaven had touched its strings
And whispers, in its song,
“Where hast thou stayed so long!”
The last two stanzas pretty much sum up Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s feelings on love. The poet himself outlived his wife and took to his poems to express both grief and love. He wraps up the sentiment in mythology here, painting a scene of the goddess Diana stumbling upon a sleeping Endymion and finding herself called to him. When soulmates meet, they know, wondering, Where have you been my whole life?
30. “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.
If you’re looking to send the woman in your life something sexy, go with these words by Witter Bynner. For such a short poem, “At the Touch of You” packs a whole lot of sensuality. Trust us: This beats a flirty text.
31. “A Woman’s Love” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
There is no limit to my love’s full measure,
It’s spirit-gold is shaped by earth’s alloy;
I would be friend and mother, mate and toy,
I’d have thee look to me for every pleasure,
And in me find all memories of joy.
Yet though I love thee in such selfish fashion,
I would wait on thee, sitting at thy feet,
And serving thee, if thou didst deem it meet.
And couldst thou give me one fond hour of passion,
I’d take that hour and call my life complete.
Though Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s “A Woman’s Love” is six stanzas longer than the excerpt above (and worth a read in full), the final two stanzas are a beautiful testament to the expansiveness of the speaker’s love. Though written from a feminine point of view, it’s nonetheless a lovely poem to send the woman in your life if you want to tell her your love for her is limitless.
32. “Song: to Celia [Drink to me only with thine eyes]” by Ben Jonson
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.
Anyone who considers him- or herself a romantic must have—at least at one point—dreamed of a love so deep and so magical that it’s otherworldly. And this, the speaker says, is a love that doesn’t need anything but eye contact to express everything they’re feeling and thinking. For more great poetry, check out these inspirational poems.
33. “Love Poem” by George Moses Horton
Whilst tracing thy visage I sink in emotion,
For no other damsel so wond’rous I see;
Thy looks are so pleasing, thy charms so amazing,
I think of no other, my true-love, but thee.
With heart-burning rapture I gaze on thy beauty,
And fly like a bird to the boughs of a tree;
Thy looks are so pleasing, thy charms so amazing,
I fancy no other, my true-love, but thee.
Thus oft in the valley I think, and I wonder
Why cannot a maid with her lover agree?
Thy looks are so pleasing, thy charms so amazing,
I pine for no other, my true-love, but thee.
I’d fly from thy frowns with a heart full of sorrow—
Return, pretty damsel, and smile thou on me;
By every endeavor, I’ll try thee forever,
And languish until I am fancied by thee.
George Moses Horton was born a slave in North Carolina and taught himself to read. When he published his first poetry collection, The Hope of Liberty, in 1829, he became the first Black man to publish a book in the South. In his aptly named “Love Poem,” he describes a potent infatuation. The speaker can’t fathom that there may be anyone more exquisitely made than his lover, and he’ll go to great lengths—”I’ll try thee forever”—to make sure his love is requited.
34. “Ode to Psyche” by John Keats
O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
The winged Psyche with awaken’d eyes?
I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied:
Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
In some untrodden region of my mind,
Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
Far, far around shall those dark-cluster’d trees
Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull’d to sleep;
And in the midst of this wide quietness
A rosy sanctuary will I dress
With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,
With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign,
Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
And there shall be for thee all soft delight
That shadowy thought can win,
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
To let the warm Love in!
You may be familiar with “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” what many consider one of the greatest English poems ever written. But John Keats wrote another ode inspired by Greek mythology that’s worth reading (and sending to your beloved): “Ode to Psyche.” This excerpt opens with the speaker stumbling upon two lovers, whom he identifies in the full poem as Psyche and Cupid. The poem goes on to paint the picture of an idealized love—perfect but ultimately unattainable. But you’ll find hope at the end of the poem, in which the speaker can find ideal love in his imagination—in his psyche—and maybe that’s enough.
Ready for more? Browse Thanksgiving poems that’ll have you eloquently expressing your gratitude in no time.
35. “Of Love: A Sonnet” by Robert Herrick
How love came in I do not know,
Whether by the eye, or ear, or no;
Or whether with the soul it came
(At first) infused with the same;
Whether in part ’tis here or there,
Or, like the soul, whole everywhere,
This troubles me: but I as well
As any other this can tell:
That when from hence she does depart
The outlet then is from the heart.
There’s a reason “falling in love” is a cliche: Finding yourself in love truly feels like you’ve fallen. It happens quickly, and by the time you’re in deep, you’re unsure of how you even got there. The speaker in “Of Love: A Sonnet” also can’t recall how love happened. Still, his heart is invested, and love is here to stay.
36. “She Walks in Beauty” by George Gordon Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Famed Romantic poet Lord Byron is known for his passionate poetry, and “She Walks in Beauty” is no exception. At first glance, the poem centers on a woman’s beauty. But beauty is not just one simple thing, the speaker posits. External beauty is no more important than internal, and behind her lovely smile lies a virtuous mind and heart.
37. “The Ebon Venus” by Lewis Howard Latimer
Let others boast of maidens fair,
Of eyes of blue and golden hair;
My heart like a needle ever true
Turns to the maid of ebon hue.
I love her form of matchless grace,
The dark brown beauty of her face,
Her lips that speak of love’s delight,
Her eyes that gleam as stars at night.
O’er marble Venus let them rage
Who set the fashions of the age;
Each to his taste; but as for me,
My Venus shall be ebony.
Written in 1890, only a couple of decades after the Civil War, “The Ebon Venus” challenges the accepted idea of beauty. Contending that Black is beautiful, Lewis Howard Latimer—the son of former slaves and a Renaissance man who was not only a notable Black poet but also an inventor in Thomas Edison’s lab—writes about what beauty means to him. In the speaker’s eyes, the prized blond hair and blue eyes of the day can’t hold a candle to the beauty of a Black woman.
38. “The Awakening” by James Weldon Johnson
I dreamed that I was a rose
That grew beside a lonely way,
Close by a path none ever chose,
And there I lingered day by day.
Beneath the sunshine and the show’r
I grew and waited there apart,
Gathering perfume hour by hour,
And storing it within my heart,
Yet, never knew,
Just why I waited there and grew.
I dreamed that you were a bee
That one day gaily flew along,
You came across the hedge to me,
And sang a soft, love-burdened song.
You brushed my petals with a kiss,
I woke to gladness with a start,
And yielded up to you in bliss
The treasured fragrance of my heart;
And then I knew
That I had waited there for you.
Love is always a personal awakening of sorts, isn’t it? In this poem by James Weldon Johnson, a rose patiently waits for a bee. But there’s a larger metaphor of love at play: The speaker is the rose and the lover, the bee, suggesting the two were made for each other.
39. “Love and Friendship” by Emily Brontë
Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree—
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?
The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He still may leave thy garland green.
If the most important woman in your life is a best friend, has Emily Brontë got the poem for you. In “Love and Friendship,” she wonders which is stronger: love or friendship. Though she admits love is wonderful, she concludes that friendship is steady and true. When love dies, friendship will be around. Add this one to a card for your BFF alongside a touching or funny friendship quote.
40. “The City is Peopled” by H.D.
The city is peopled
with spirits, not ghosts, O my love:
Though they crowded between
and usurped the kiss of my mouth
their breath was your gift,
their beauty, your life.
A leader of the Imagist movement in poetry in the early 20th century, Hilda Doolittle (who wrote as H.D.) is known for her breathtaking images and economy of words. Both are on display in “The City is Peopled.” There are plenty of interpretations of this poem, but here’s a fun idea: Spend time with your loved one discussing what you think the poem is about.
41. “Amores (I)” by E.E. Cummings
your little voice
Over the wires came leaping
and i felt suddenly
With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers
wee skipping high-heeled flames
courtesied before my eyes
or twinkling over to my side
with impertinently exquisite faces
floating hands were laid upon me
I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing
with the pale important
stars and the Humorous
How i was crazy how i cried when i heard
and tide and death
In this poem, E.E. Cummings continues to experiment with the signature form he’s now known for. The speaker becomes mesmerized and transported by the mere voice of his lover. That voice is sweet and whirls and tosses the speaker into a lovestruck dance.
42. “Wild Nights — Wild Nights! (249)” by Emily Dickinson
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 moor – Tonight –
It’s a wild night in this Emily Dickinson poem. The titular phrase can mean anything from sexual intimacy to imaginative, childlike wildness, but this isn’t a poem for kids. Dickinson opens by expressing a desire to spend the night with a lover and then continues into an erotic metaphor—”Might I moor – Tonight – / In thee!” There are hints of regret here, though, as she laments what cannot be. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise; scholars believe the poet wrote about her sister-in-law.
43. “Serenade” by Djuna Barnes
Three paces down the shore, low sounds the lute,
The better that my longing you may know;
I’m not asking you to come,
But—can’t you go?
Three words, ‘I love you,’ and the whole is said—
The greatness of it throbs from sun to sun;
I’m not asking you to walk,
But—can’t you run?
Three paces in the moonlight’s glow I stand,
And here within the twilight beats my heart.
I’m not asking you to finish,
Love is tricky, especially the kind of love that’s small and quiet and unsure. The speaker doesn’t want to demand love, but by not asking, she kind of is. Can’t you try?, she asks. Can’t you try to love me? Djuna Barnes had love affairs with both women and men during her lifetime, and it’s unclear who the speaker addresses in this poem, making this a moving piece of art to send to anyone you love.
44. “Love’s Philosophy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—
See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
Plenty of poems use nature to define and illustrate love in its many forms. That’s the case in this poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. (Does his name sound familiar? He’s the husband of Mary Shelley, author of one of the all-time best horror novels: Frankenstein.) In “Love’s Philosophy,” Shelley notes that much of nature is connected: Rivers connect to the ocean, and sun touches the earth. So, the speaker asks, why shouldn’t he and his love be joined as well?
45. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
The final poem ever composed by Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee” contains as much love as it does death. This excerpt opens with the speaker saying that he loves and has always loved Annabel Lee. In the full version of this long poem, he speaks of her untimely death. And yet, as you can see from the excerpt above, the final two stanzas offer hope. Not even death can separate the speaker from his love, Annabel Lee.
46. “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.
There’s both love and death in this William Butler Yeats poem, as to grieve death is to have loved someone. The mere thought of or confrontation of death inherently means thinking over all the moments in which you were loved and felt love. This piece works just as well as a funeral poem as it does a heartfelt love poem.