Although Valentine’s Day has long gone, as a self-proclaimed lover of love, I still thought it’d be fitting to collate some of my favourite love poems which you can share with the special people in your life. Because showing love is not just confined to one day!
But first, what is love?
Many shout “love is love” but what exactly does that mean? Putting relationships aside... How do we recognise love and what is the standard we should reach for when trying to love others around us?
To me, the standard is clear...
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
This beautiful definition of love is taken from the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13 and it adequately demonstrates what love should look like. Though not easy to achieve, we should always endeavour to grow in the love we actively show other people.
Finding someone who cherishes and loves you for you (the real you) is a beautiful thing. And loving someone takes real effort and commitment, it’s not easy but it’s worth it. Through the highs and lows of any friendship and relationship, it’s important to let people know just how special they are to you.
If you’re a writer in any capacity, writing and sharing love poems with your loved ones is a sure way to brighten their day and make them smile. Who wouldn’t want to receive expressive words elaborating on how great they are? Especially if words of affirmation is their primary love language!
As I mentioned before I’m a big lover of love, so I believe genuine connections should always be nurtured and celebrated. One great way to celebrate is through heartfelt love poems and songs. If you’re not much of a writer, but still want to express your heart through love poetry, I’ve put together some great love poems below.
Best Love Poetry
The first few love poems are written by The Bard himself, William Shakespeare (1564-1616).
When it comes to love poetry, Shakespeare’s sonnets are almost unrivalled in popularity and quantity. He is, without a doubt, a poetic mastermind when it comes to expressing love.
Aside from the sonnets, Shakespeare expresses the many ups and downs of love through a number of his plays. Think Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and my personal favourite – Love's Labour’s Lost.
Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me prov'd, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
This beautiful love poem reminds us of the commitment and persistence that love truly takes. Our love should not fade away with time, but instead it should stand and increase even in the face of trials. It inspires the reader to love another despite the ‘tempests’ of life that will come, a virtue that requires real strength and devotion.
Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day 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.
The first line of this charming love poem is a sweet comparison sure to make your heart smile. The beloved in this love poem is compared to summer’s day – and much more. Lovey and temperate, with an eternal summer that shall never fade. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that!
Sonnet 104: To me, fair friend, you never can be old by William Shakespeare
To me, fair friend, you never can be old, For as you were when first your eye I eyed, Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride, Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned In process of the seasons have I seen, Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned, Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green. Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand, Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived; So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand, Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived: For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred: Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.
The romantic in me gushes and adores this love poem as I believe it perfectly encapsulates the sweetness of love. Though a relationship should progress, we should always aim to perceive and enjoy it with fresh eyes. We should admire beauty as though it was the first time our eyes beheld such beauty. We should love, fearlessly, as though it was the first time we ever did so.
These next two love poems are by John Donne (1572-1631) and express the heart-warming experience of spending time with someone you love.
The Good-Morrow by John Donne
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then? But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den? ’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be. If ever any beauty I did see, Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls, Which watch not one another out of fear; For love, all love of other sights controls, And makes one little room an everywhere. Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.
My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; Where can we find two better hemispheres, Without sharp north, without declining west? Whatever dies, was not mixed equally; If our two loves be one, or, thou and I Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.
I admire this love poem because it gives depth to the writer’s experience of love. His love, expressed in this poem, has a beauty that outshines any other that came before. This emphasises the intensity of his love as Donne boldly claims that any love that dies was never truly ‘mixed equally’.
The Sun Rising by John Donne
Busy old fool, unruly sun, Why dost thou thus, Through windows, and through curtains call on us? Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run? Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide Late school boys and sour prentices, Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride, Call country ants to harvest offices, Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams, so reverend and strong Why shouldst thou think? I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, But that I would not lose her sight so long; If her eyes have not blinded thine, Look, and tomorrow late, tell me, Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me. Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday, And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
She's all states, and all princes, I, Nothing else is. Princes do but play us; compared to this, All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy. Thou, sun, art half as happy as we, In that the world's contracted thus. Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be To warm the world, that's done in warming us. Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.
In this love poem, Donne’s presents the world that his love cultivates for him. A world of royalty and abundance. A world where the ‘rags of time’ time stand still. A world in which the sun shines on and warms them alone. Utopia – where nothing else matters but love. Though not always the reality of everyday life, it’s nice to imagine these things...
This final poem is by Ruth Bell Graham (1920-2007) and emphasises the need to love without clinging. If you know much about the lives of Ruth and Billy Graham, you’ll understand the strength of these words.
As much as we should enjoy the love we receive from others, we should also aim to love selflessly and without possession. Give, without demanding it all in return. Love, knowing that the other is not ours to own.
Love, without clinging by Ruth Bell Graham
Love without clinging; cry if you must— but privately cry; the heart will adjust to the newness of loving in practical ways: cleaning and cooking and sorting out clothes, all say, “I love you,” when lovingly done.
So— love without clinging; cry— if you must— but privately cry; the heart will adjust to the length of his stride, the song he is singing, the trail he must ride, the tensions that make him the man that he is, the world he must face, the life that is his.
So love without clinging; cry— if you must— but privately cry; the heart will adjust to being the heart, not the forefront of life; a part of himself, not the object— his wife.
For the love of poetry...
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these love fuelled poems and have been inspired to do a lot more loving! Share the love and pass some poetic words along to someone you care about. Until the next time...
- Faithful xoxox
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