14 Love Poems To Get You In a Sappy Mood For Valentine’s Day

Heart-shaped balloons are tied to the summit of the Sydney Tower to mark Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2012. Standing at 260 metres above street level, Sydney’s highest viewing platform, a total of 14 singles searched for a love match by speed dating while enjoying breathtaking views. AFP PHOTO / Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

There’s still a dried up Christmas tree on the curb down the street from my house and the neighbors just took their stuffed Santa and reindeer down last week, but despite all that, Valentine’s Day is upon us.

February 14 is all about love. And flowers. And chocolates. And fancy dinners at crowded restaurants. If you’re feeling cynical, it’s “a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap,” as they say in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you’re madly in love or just feeling hopeful, it’s a day to celebrate Eros and amour. There’s no law that says you can’t get yourself some tulips on Valentine’s Day, either. It’s a thoughtful gesture that I highly recommend.

Melodramatic love odes aren’t really in fashion anymore, but that doesn’t mean romance is dead. There are plenty of love poems about loss, longing, and devotion to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day, whether you’re happily single or attached. Some of them are sappy, some are tongue-in-cheek, and some might just make you laugh.

Here’s a look at 14 pieces of poetry from writers like Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, Langston Hughes, Neko Case, and Pablo Neruda (the godfather of love poetry) to amp up the passion this Valentine's Day. 

Neko Case

Can't give up actin' tough,
it's all that I'm made of.
Can't scrape together quite enough
to ride the bus to the outskirts

—"Middle Cyclone"

Pablo Neruda

But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.

—"Your Feet"

Langston Hughes

Out of love,
No regrets—
Though the goodness
Be wasted forever.
Out of love,
No regrets—
Though the return
Be never.

  —"No Regrets"

Louise Glück

They sat far apart
deliberately, to experience, daily,
the sweetness of seeing each other across
great distance. 

—"The Rouse"

Edna St. Vincent Millay

After all my erstwhile dear,
My no longer cherished;
Need we say it was not love,
Now that love is perished?  

—"Passer Mortuus Est"

W.S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color. 


Elizabeth Bishop


Close, close all night
the lovers keep.
They turn together
in their sleep,
Close as two pages
in a book
that read each other
in the dark.
Each knows all
the other knows,
learned by heart
from head to toes. 

—from Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box

Frank O’Hara


oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much 


E.E. Cummings


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'skeeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart) 

—"[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]"

Sandra Cisneros


Maybe in this season, drunk

and sentimental, I’m willing to admit

a part of me, crazed and kamikaze,

ripe for anarchy, loves still.

—"One Last Poem For Richard"

Billy Collins


You are so beautiful and I am a fool

to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up

in songs and poems.

There seems to be no room for variation.

I have never heard anyone sing

I am so beautiful

and you are a fool to be in love with me,

even though this notion has surely

crossed the minds of women and men alike. 


Katharine Kilalea


That night we were drinking,
and the chimneys were smoking,
and my lips were growing big
as bread baked in the oven.
I met London in your face,
and I smelt wine on your breath 
and the shape of your mouth
left me feeling slightly lyrical.
We drank a lot that night 

—"You were a bird" 

Margaret Atwood


It's not love we don't wish

to fall into, but that fear.

this word is not enough but it will

have to do. It's a single

vowel in this metallic

silence, a mouth that says

O again and again in wonder

and pain, a breath, a finger

grip on a cliffside. You can

hold on or let go. 

—"Variations on the Word Love"

Fernando Pessoa


All love letters are
They wouldn't be love letters if they weren't
In my time I also wrote love letters
Equally, inevitably
Love letters, if there's love
Must be
But in fact
Only those who've never written
Love letters
If only I could go back
To when I wrote love letters
Without thinking how
The truth is that today
My memories
Of those love letters
Are what is
(All more-than-three-syllable words,
Along with unaccountable feelings,
Are naturally


—"All Love Letters Are"

Images: calliopebutterflyshadevinishskullyfmgypsydancer12librariesrock, giuseppimiloborisvbrtsergio, susivin, betsyweber, abhi_ryan, noortje, doug88888/Flickr

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