Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Best Love Poems

In honor of Valentine's Day, I compiled a list of the best love poems, tailored to various situations. I hope you enjoy them!

For the light and playful love which is built nonetheless on a sturdy foundation... Sonnet 18 from 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 owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

For the lovers whose souls are intimately, inextricably intertwined... Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda.

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

For the lovers who must be apart from each other, because of distance or time... 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)
i fear
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)

For the high-minded and noble love... How Do I Love Thee? 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 everyday'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 a 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.

For the one who foresees suffering and troubles ahead, but is confident that Love will last... Sonnet 116 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 wandering 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 proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

For the fanciful, fairy-tale-like, and rather excessively dramatic love... Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe

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 the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

For the lovers who have been married to each other for many years... John Anderson, My Jo' by Robert Burns (see here if the words don't make sense to you).

John Anderson, my Jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John, 
Your locks are like the snow;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!

John Anderson, my jo, John,

We clamb the hill thegither; 
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot, 
John Anderson, my jo.

For the lover who is fighting for a greater cause... To Lucasta, on going to the Wars by Richard Lovelace

Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase, 

The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such

As you too shall adore; 
I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
Loved I not Honour more.

For the lover who keenly senses that time is fleeting... 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.

For the wife who feels well-satisfied in her choice of husband... To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

For the man who has a tendency to idolize the woman he loves... She Walks in Beauty by Lord 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 mellow'd to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd 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!

And finally, I will close with a quote from my very favorite play of all time, Cyrano de Bergerac, discussing "What is a kiss?"

After all, what is a kiss? A vow made at closer range, a more precise promise, a confession that contains its own proof, a seal placed on a pact that has already been signed; it’s a secret told to the mouth rather than to the ear, a fleeting moment filled with the hush of eternity, a communion that has the fragrance of a flower, a way of living by the beat of another heart, and tasting another soul on one's lips!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these, Tess. Although I wasn't familiar with the quote from Cyrano de Bergerac and the poems by cummings and Neruda, the others are among my favorite poems. I loved teaching them and found that my students came to like them also. They are also poems I have used for prayer as well!