Love, I think, is one of the first things many people think of when they think of poetry; we think of serenades and ballads, of writing poems in letter for a loved one, or the little rhymes that come inside of our greeting cards. Many of the greatest writers of all time have found themselves coming back to the topic time and time again. So, here are five of my favourite love poems – perhaps you can send them to somebody you love.
- Mythology – Caitlyn Siehl
‘On Sunday, she steps out of the shower
and you don’t think you’ve ever seen
anything more beautiful than the way
she walks towards you with a towel
on her head, water clinging to her
like there is nowhere else it would rather be.’
I adore the way this poem interlinks the mundane and the ethereal, in the same way romance often does. It is both the little moments and the ineffable mythology of ‘love’ itself. Siehl paints a love that consumes the subject, a love that makes everything else seem negligible in comparison.
- Shoulder, Shoulder, Slow, Slow – Ian S. Thomas
‘And entire books were written entirely in hugs and hand holding and letting go of each other
And we’d hold and touch and let go of each other in all these different ways to say all these different things’
Thomas shows us a new kind of love that he has dreamed about – one that is nothing more than touch, a world that learns to communicate in those sensations without words. It’s a beautifully simple reimagining of our world that makes my heart warm when I read it.
- Valentine – Carol Ann Duffy
‘I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.’
This is one of the first love poems that I remember reading, and it has stuck with me ever since. Duffy shows us the layers of love and the reality – a valentine beyond just the consumerist things we associate with the day, love in the organic ‘onion’ that may seem comical at first but the image is stunning in its simplicity.
- i carry your heart with me – e.e. cummings
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)’
This poem is perhaps the most well-known love poem on my list. Cummings’ poem is a well-crafted and raw illustration of enduring love. It depicts a love in which two hearts are inextricably entwined and the paired back language and form allow for love to be at the core.
- Unending Love – Rabindranath Tagore
‘As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time’
If you are looking for a poem that shows the power of eternal love, then this is the poem for you. Tagore speaks of a profound love that goes beyond one life or one form, instead it falls into the realm of every love throughout time. This is rumoured to have been Audrey Hepburn’s favourite poem and I understand why.