Poetry has long been the literary genre to convey feelings and emotions rather than scientific truths and historical facts.
Most of the great poets of their times have at some point written love poems. From William Shakespeare to Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Burns and John Keats.
Love poetry has been the one genre that probably every poet has had a go at. Most people fall in love, and poets are not immune to the spell, so many verses and sonnets were inspired by poets’ muses and lovers.
In this article, we tried to list some of the most passionate and romantic love poems we could find.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning probably had one of the most romantic love affairs of all time, making her one of the famous female poets of the era.
After she published some of her early works, another poet, Robert Browning, started writing to her, and so began a courtship that would end with the pair of poets getting secretly married and fleeing to Italy where they live happily ever after.
From that relationship, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, draw most of the inspiration that gave life to some of the most romantic poems of all times.
The poem How Do I Love Thee? was dedicated to her husband who was the one that saved Elizabeth from the quiet and reclusive life she was not destined to have. She was 40 years old when she broke free from an overprotective father and this poem sums up perfectly the sixteen years of the happy marriage that she spent alongside with her husband.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning represents the English Romantic movement at its best, both through her work and her own personal life.
“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.”
Come Slowly, Eden! is a short love poem only composed of eight lines.
One of the interesting fact about it is that it was written by Emily Dickinson, one of the most famous American poetesses who’s spinster’s life was already the talk of the town during her time.
She lives most of her life as a recluse, and by all accounts probably never had a lover. Yet her poetry books are full of romantic poetry, often addressed to a mysterious “Master”, who, according to scholars, was a godlike inspirational figure.
Emily Dickinson lived almost entirely as a recluse, and her work only received critical appraise posthumously.
“Come slowly, Eden!
lips unused to thee,
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee,
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars –enters,
And is lost in balms!”
William Butler Yeats can be considered as one of the most prominent figures of Irish (and British) poetry and literature.
Born into a wealthy Anglo-Irish family in 1865, Yeats grew up in the Irish countryside, a home that would late inspire him greatly.
The other part of Yeats life that inspired him was his unrequited love for English heiress and Irish nationalist, Maud Gonne. Yeats proposed to her four times and was always rebuffed to his greatest despair.
It is only 20 years later that Gonne and Yeats would end up being lovers, for one night only, and though their friendship seemed to have endured, it was never more than platonic.
Yeats only married when he was 51 years old to 25 years old Georgie Hyde-Lees, and despite the age difference (and Yeats later infidelity) the union seems to have been a success.
From his turmoiled love life, Yeats drew much of his inspiration. He was awarded the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1923 “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”.
William Butler Yeats was a prolific and critically acclaimed poet but he used his skills with words as a senator for the Irish Free State.
His poem “He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven” is a straightforward missive to the speaker for his lover: “If I were rich I would give you everything and anything, but I am just a poor man, and all I have are my dreams.” The rather simple and dated idea is made striking by the repetitive use of the same word and the absence of any actual rhyme throughout the poem.
Yeats compensated for the banality of his poem by using the rhythm of the repetitions in a very lyric way. Academics suggested that the simplicity of the poem was one of the reasons it ended up being so popular.
“Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
Walt Whitman, born in 1819, is often referred to as the “Father of free verse” given his extensive work that rid itself of meter patterns, rhymes or other musical patterns.
He is one of the founders of modern American poetry and has been one of the most influential writers of his time.
A lot of ink has been poured regarding Whitman sexuality, but it is commonly accepted that he was homosexual (or “at least” bisexual). For this reason, he was heavily critiqued during his lifetime by contemporary thinkers that declared that his work was depicting “that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians.”
While Whitman never acknowledged any sexual inclination, his strong relationship with many young men was well known even during his lifetime. Most of his Calamus poems, which are part of his book Leaves Of Grass, depicting the manly love of comrades is assumed to be describing his own homosexual love affairs.
Some of Walt Whitman’s work was very controversial, but as poetry is always a matter of interpretation, his supposed homosexuality was never confirmed.
“Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love, the pay is certain one
way or another,
(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return’d,
Yet out of that I have written these songs.)”
Sonnet 116, titled Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds is probably the most famous piece of love poetry of all times. First published in 1609, describe love beyond the physical attraction that two people can feel for each other and celebrates love in a purer form, strong and constant, based on trust and understanding.
Even though this love poem was written centuries ago, it contributed to making Shakespeare one of the most romantic poets of all time and inspired the future generation of English poets: Elizabeth Barret Browning, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Lord Byron, Rudyard Kipling and all the great masters of English poetry.
Even though Amazon and Kindles have never been as successful as today, book are still doing well. E-books sales dropped by 20% in 2017.
“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 wand’ring 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.”
One of the most famous South American writers and poets, Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, was born in Chile in 1903.
He published his first poetic work at the age of 13 years in his local newspaper. A few years later he would adopt the pen name, Pablo Neruda.
Fame came early for him, as he managed to publish his first volume of verses when he was only 20 years old, after impressing the biggest publisher of the country.
Neruda wrote in many different styles about many different subjects, but some of his most famous works were his passionate love poems. He was also a prominent political actor in the troubled Chile of his time, and it is now a well-known fact that his death had been ordered by the dictator Pinochet, who took power Chile a couple of weeks before his death (though official investigations have not concluded yet).
Neruda’s popularity and influence, as well as his ability to use words to convey messages to the people of Chile, was so feared that it caused his own death.
His most famous love poems are were published in his Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair book in 1924 when Neruda was only 19 years old. The eroticism of his work shocked some of the critics of the time, especially given the young age of the poet.
To this day, 100 years after it was first printed, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair remains the best selling poetry book in the Spanish Language ever with more than 20 million copies sold.
Pablo Neruda is probably the most famous South American poets of all times. (by hilosprimitivos)
“Here I love you.
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorus on the vagrant waters.
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.
The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
Sometimes a sail. High, high stars.
Oh the black cross of a ship.
Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.
Here I love you.”