Sometimes a poem can put into words that which we can’t say. Here we’ve curated our edit of the best romantic poetry for every occasion, a selection of beautiful, moving, sad and funny love poems.
Short and to the point
Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
For traditional romantics
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.
From She Is Fierce: Brave, bold and beautiful poems by women
She Walks in Beauty
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!
From Poems for Love
My own dear love, he is strong and bold
And he cares not what comes after.
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,
And his eyes are lit with laughter.
He is jubilant as a flag unfurled—
Oh, a girl, she’d not forget him.
My own dear love, he is all my world,—
And I wish I’d never met him.
My love, he’s mad, and my love, he’s fleet,
And a wild young wood-thing bore him!
The ways are fair to his roaming feet,
And the skies are sunlit for him.
As sharply sweet to my heart he seems
As the fragrance of acacia.
My own dear love, he is all my dreams,—
And I wish he were in Asia.
My love runs by like a day in June,
And he makes no friends of sorrows.
He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon
In the pathway of the morrows.
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start,
Nor could storm or wind uproot him.
My own dear love, he is all my heart,—
And I wish somebody’d shoot him.
From Dorothy Parker’s Complete Poems
From a true Romantic
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art
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.
From The Picador Book of Love Poems
For long distance lovers
Moon Over Madrid
There’s a moon over Madrid tonight,
A bright, inquisitive moon
That’s about as full as it gets.
For me, it’s something familiar
In an unfamiliar city,
A reference point on these Spanish streets.
It keeps me company, sometimes slipping
Out of sight, dodging behind buildings
Then reappearing, while I’m thinking
How the moon holds a thread
That ties us together.
‘Look up at the moon,’ I tell you.
‘Look at the moon and imagine that thread
As a line linking you
To the mountains of the moon
And then down to the streets of Madrid.
That same moon touching your life,
Now touches mine too.’
From Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses
For new love
The way you hold your cup in a closed fist
Your wrists that get rheumatic in the rain
Your long feet, long legs and bony shoulders
Your smile a crash of teeth from nose to chin.
Your eyes drop three octaves when you want me
Your body is transposed into the key
Of sand dunes, raw quartz, heat from a low sun.
Suddenly as graceful as when you dance
No longer smashing your limbs into
Unmoving table-tops or burning your hands
On every available hot surface
Or head-butting the car door when you dive in
You know, it used to keep me up at night,
The lack of you
From Running Upon the Wires
Love and loss
Etching of a Line of Trees
I carved out the careful absence of a hill and a hill grew.
I cut away the fabric of the trees
and the trees stood shivering in the darkness.
When I had burned off the last syllables of wind,
a fresh wind rose and lingered.
But because I could not bring myself
to remove you from that hill,
you are no longer there. How wonderful it is
that neither of us managed to survive
when it was love that surely pulled the burr
and love that gnawed its own shape from the burnished air
and love that shaped that absent wind against a tree.
Some shadow’s hands moved with my hands
and everything I touched was turned to darkness
and everything I could not touch was light.
From John Glenday’s Grain
For the present there is just one moon,
though every level pond gives back another.
But the bright disc shining in the black lagoon,
perceived by astrophysicist and lover,
is milliseconds old. And even that light's
seven minutes older than its source.
And the stars we think we see on moonless nights
are long extinguished. And, of course,
this very moment, as you read this line,
is literally gone before you know it.
Forget the here-and-now. We have no time
but this device of wantonness and wit.
Make me this present then: your hand in mine,
and we'll live out our lives in it.
From Michael Donaghy’s Collected Poems
For the broken-hearted
They flee from me
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”
It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.
Love and Friendship
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.
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