How do I love thee, Bustle reader? As much as I love watching a sunset; taking a long walk on the beach; petting a dog? As much as I love when Starbucks accidentally puts whipped cream on my Frappuccino, as though they knew I secretly really did want it? How about as much as I love
reading a love poem on Valentine’s Day? (I mean, Valentine’s Day is pretty much the national holiday of reading love poems, if there were such a day.)
But OK, so here’s
the thing about love poems: they can get kind of a bad rap — considered sappy or cheesy, a little dry, or worse, unintelligible. Some are downright pornographic (and depending on the number of fruit metaphors involved, sometimes I’m actually alright with that.) But yeah, I get where the love poem skeptics are coming from. Read enough sonnets in high school, and you might have a poor opinion of the humble love poem too. But, believe it or not, there are tons of love poems worthy of the love they express—and those are the poems you’re going to want to read this Valentines Day.
Are you feeling the love yet?
Here are 21 love poems (and, okay,
a couple anti-love poems — because I love you, Dorothy Parker) to read this Valentine's Day. “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"
Read in full here. "Poem For My Love" by June Jordan
"I am amazed by peace
It is this possibility of you
and breathing in the quiet air"
Read in full here. "Song Of The Anti-Sisyphus' by Chen Chen
"Because who knows what will happen,
but I want to, baby, want to believe it’s always possible
to love bigger & madder, even after two, three, four years,
four decades. I want a love as dirty as a snowball fight
in the sludge, under grimy yellow lights. I want this winter
inside my lungs. Inside my brain & dream."
Read in full here. "[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)"
Read in full here. "Loving You Burns Like Shingles" by Terri Kirby Erickson
"My love for you is a sun inside my chest.
It burns like shingles, wrings tears from my eyes
like the hands of a tough old woman washing
clothes in a tin tub."
Read in full here. "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;"
Read in full here. "The Envelope, Please" by Natalie Shapero
"I didn’t have a wedding. I know, I know,
I up and missed my singular
chance to drift from house
of worship to dance hall"
Read in full here. "Love Poem Without A Drop Of Hyperbole In It" by Traci Brimhall
"I’ll throw myself in front of a bishop or a queen
for you. Even a sentient castle. My love is crazy
like that. I like that sweet little hothouse mouth
you have. I like to kiss you with tongue, with gusto,
with socks still on."
Read in full here. "Sonnet 65" by William Shakespeare
"Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?"
Read in full here. "Resignation" by Nikki Giovanni
"I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north"
Read in full here. "Getting Into Bed On A December Night" by Ellen Bass
"When I slip beneath the quilt and fold into
your warmth, I think we are like the pages
of a love letter"
Read in full here. "Loving You" by Nazim Hikmet
"Loving you is like eating bread dipped in salt,
like waking feverish at night
and putting my mouth to the water faucet,"
Read in full here. "I loved you first: but afterwards your love" by Christina Rossetti
"I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove."
Read in full here. "For Keeps" by Joy Harjo
"There is nowhere else I want to be but here.
I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us."
Read in full here. "Love Song" by William Carlos Williams "One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII" by Pablo Neruda
"I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul."
Read in full here. "Love Song" by Dorothy Parker
"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."
Read in full here. "These Hands, If Not Gods" by Natalie Diaz
"It is hard not to have faith in this:
from the blue-brown clay of night
these two potters crushed and smoothed you
into being—grind, then curve—built your form up—"
Read in full here. "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?"
Read in full here. "Sometimes With One I Love" by Walt Whitman
"(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return’d,
Yet out of that I have written these songs)."
Read in full here. "Twenty-One Love Poems [Poem II]" by Adrienne Rich
"I dreamed you were a poem,
I say, a poem I wanted to show someone . . .
and I laugh and fall dreaming again
of the desire to show you to everyone I love,"
Read in full here.