Elizabeth: Favorite Love Poems

When_I_Saw_YouThis Saturday marked the arrival of a traditional day on the calendar, that’s right, “Clean out the Garage Day.” Well, you may have spent the day in slightly different fashion, but here in beautiful California, where the skies were blue, the weather was warm, and there was a strong, testosterone-based helper nearby, it was the perfect day to reclaim the garage from the mass of belongings that were attempting to crowd out the car.

I’m happy to report that substantial progress was made. The trunk of the car is now full of items ready to be donated and a few other items went straight to the curb tagged with a “free” sign and the hope that someone in the neighborhood would spirit them away when my back was turned (which as always, they did).

As usual, during my archeological-garage-dig, amongst the things that had me thinking “why on earth did I keep this,” or in some cases, “what the heck is this,” I found a variety of things that I had completely forgotten about. One of which was a box of random keepsakes from my high school years that included a handwritten book of poems, from my angsty teenaged poem writing days when I was apparently not a fan of rhyming. Many of them were Really Bad Poems. Some of them though, were rather sweet, with thoughts of life and love directed at long-forgotten (or perhaps fictional) recipients.

All this got me thinking about other poems of life and love. Earlier this week, Nancy talked about her Favorite Love Vows and Michaeline talked about Valentines and Love Letters, so today following the theme, I thought I’d share some of my favorite poets and their words on love. Many are probably familiar, but perhaps a few will be new to you.

“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe

“Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields . . . “

“To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell

“. . . A hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast;
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart;
For, Lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.”

“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:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies. . .”

“Paradise Lost (Eve speaks to Adam)” by John Milton

“. . .With thee conversing I forget all time;
All seasons, and their change, all please alike. . .”

“How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43)” 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
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. . . “

“Love’s Philosophy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“. . . And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?”

“Unending Love” by Rabindranath Tagore

“I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.”

From the Persian poet Hafez

“One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough.”

What would a discussion of poems be without some Shakespeare?

“Shall I Compare Thee”

“Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou are more lovely and more temperate. . .”

“Sonnet CXVI”

“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.
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests.. and is never shaken.
It is the star to every wandering bark
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love is 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.”

So, what wonderful words have I missed?  What would I find on your list?

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Favorite Love Poems

    • Michille – If you know the kind of limericks I know then no, they probably don’t follow this theme. Probably funny though. I like the Marlowe one too though I’m typically not a big poetry fan in general.

  1. I remember reading most of these poems in my high school English classes. I wonder if they’re still taught? They certainly resonate with me. And poetry is a sign of the times, right? In 1650, a guy wrote a gal a poem. In 2010, Shane bought Agnes an air conditioner!

    • Kay – If I read these in high-school, I’ve long forgotten them. I was actually introduced (or re-introduced) to several of these in a romance novel (Jenny’s Crazy for You novel). I liked the snippets that were quoted enough to look up the full poems. In the choice between a poem and an air conditioner, the air-conditioner might win out, no matter how nice the poem 😉

  2. I’ve always loved the Byron poem. And the Shakespeare sonnet that begins:

    When my love swears that she is made of truth
    I do believe her, though I know she lies.

  3. I’m not usually a poetry person, but I have to admit, when they do it right, it’s a miracle of wordsmithery. You get a phrase or even a whole poem that is elegant, sharp in meaning, and slices straight through to the heart.

    When I was looking up love letters, I ran across John Donne’s “license my roving hands, and let them go before, behind, between, above below. Oh! My America! My new-found land!” (-: Reminds me of young love and the joy of discovery. http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~keith/poems/Elegy19.html The poem can get a bit draggy, but there are nice bits when taken out of context (-:.

    I also like Dorothy Parker, but she’s often whining about someone not loving her enough. Not enough agency in her poems . . . .

  4. My husband and I used to quote Sonnet CXVI to each other so often when we were first dating and in the early years of our marriage that he included the entire text of the poem in his PhD thesis on the page where he dedicated the thesis to me. It was an atypical dedication. The other scientists were like, “What is this?” 🙂

    • Jennifer, what a sweet thing to do. Yay for your husband. I’ve always liked the “alters when it alteration finds” line in that one.

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