Love poems are tricky—for most of us, it's difficult to find one that properly conveys how you feel about matters of the heart, and the idea of writing your own romantic poetry is even more daunting. Luckily, there’s no shame in turning toward the experts for help. (In fact, if your idea of writing a love poem starts with "Roses are red," we think your beloved will appreciate you borrowing from a professional poet!)
Below, we’ve collected 20 of the best love poems—including short love poems, sweet poems, and famous love poems, all of which should do the trick when you’re looking to woo a special someone.
Related: 10 Steamy Historical Romance Novels That'll Make You Swoon
"It feels right to be up this close in tight wind
It feels right to notice all the shiny things about you
About you there is nothing I wouldn’t want to know
With you nothing is simple yet nothing is simpler"
—"Lines Depicting Simple Happiness," by Peter Gizzi
Gizzi's poetry is perfect for when you want love poems that aren't overly mushy. You can read more of his work in his book of selected poems, In Defense of Nothing.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”
—"How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways," by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Love this love poem? Check out The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
“I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved”
—"The Good-Morrow," by John Donne
Read more of his metaphysical poetry in The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
"Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
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," by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is most famous for writing novels, including The Handmaid's Tale. But she's also a skilled poet who's written 11 volumes of poetry.
Related: 20 Books Like The Handmaid's Tale
“Who said that love was fire?
I know that love is ash.
It is the thing which remains
When the fire is spent.
The holy essence of experience.”
—"Who Said That Love Was Fire?" by Patience Worth
Allegedly, Patience Worth was a spirit channeled by Pearl Lenore Curran. You can learn more about Curran/Worth's relationship in Patience Worth: a psychic mystery.
Related: 10 Most Terrifying Ghost Stories and Paranormal Novels
“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.”
—"She Walks in Beauty," by Lord Byron
If you're looking to impress a woman, you could do a lot worse than reading one of Byron's love poems for her. All of George Gordon Byron's writing can be found in his Complete Works.
Related: Your Favorite Poems of All Time
“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)”
—"i carry your heart with me," by e.e. cummings
Read more of his best love poems sans capital letters in his Selected Poems.
“I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times...
In life after life, in age after age, forever.”
—"Unending Love," by Rabindranath Tagore
Discover more from this Bengali wordsmith in The Complete Works of Rabindranath Tagore.
"I am yours as the summer air at evening is
Possessed by the scent of linden blossoms,
As the snowcap gleams with light
Lent it by the brimming moon.
Without you I'd be an unleafed tree
Blasted in a bleakness with no Spring.
Your love is the weather of my being.
What is an island without the sea?"
—"Yours," by Daniel Hoffman
“That I did always love
I bring thee proof
That till I loved
I never lived.”
—"That I Did Always Love,” by Emily Dickinson
You can read the rest of Dickinson's poems in her Complete Poems.
Related: 20 Quotes From Your Favorite Poets
“You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.”
—"Love One Another," by Khalil Gibran
If you're unfamiliar with this Lebanese-American writer, we highly suggest reading his Complete Works.
“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”
—"Sonnet 116,” by William Shakespeare
You can't have a list of the best love poems without including the Bard. For a fun twist on Shakespurr—we mean, Shakespeare—check out Shakespeare's Cats: The Complete Sonnets for the Literary Cat Lover.
Related: The 36 Most Famous Poems Ever Written in the English Language
“Then seek not, sweet, the ‘If’ and ‘Why’
I love you now until I die.
For I must love because I love
And life in me is what you give.”
—"Because She Would Ask Me Why I Loved Her,” by Christopher Brennan
Brennan's heartwarming words can also be found in 50 Classic Love Poems You Have to Read.
"Again and again, even though we know love’s landscape
and the little churchyard with its lamenting names
and the terrible reticent gorge in which the others
end: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lay ourselves down again and again
among the flowers, and look up into the sky"
—"Again and again, even though we know love's landscape," by Rainer Maria Rilke
The most romantic love poetry is timeless—Rilke's words about being happy to do the same, simple things with your loved one, over and over, are as touching today as they were 100 years ago. Read more of his work in Where the Paths Do Not Go.
"When you come to me, unbidden,
To long-ago rooms,
Where memories lie.
Offering me, as to a child, an attic,
Gatherings of days too few.
Baubles of stolen kisses.
Trinkets of borrowed loves.
Trunks of secret words,
—"When You Come," by Maya Angelou
The Complete Poetry of Maya Angelou is something that everyone should read once in their lifetime.
“Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene;
Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen.
Only your word will heal the injury
To my hurt heart, while yet the wound is clean -
Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly;
Their beauty shakes me who was once serene.”
—"Rondel of Merciless Beauty," by Geoffrey Chaucer
We can't think of a higher compliment than being told you have "merciless beauty." The Canterbury Tales author's Complete Works are definitely worth a read.
“Don't go far off, not even for a day, because—
because—I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.”
—"Don't Go Far Off," by Pablo Neruda
Also don't be fooled by Neruda's innocent words here—he's known for his passionate poems that will get your heart racing. See for yourself in The Poetry of Pablo Neruda.
"I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"
—"Mad Girl's Love Song," by Sylvia Plath
Sometimes, you need a good unrequited love poem—for those moments, you can do no better than Pulitzer Prize winner Sylvia Plath, the master of sad poetry. Read more of her poetry in her Collected Poems.
“love will come
and when love comes
love will hold you
love will call your name
and you will melt
love will hurt you but
love will never mean to
love will play no games
cause love knows life
has been hard enough already”
—pg. 60, Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
Not too many poets stand out in their own time, but recently Rupi Kaur has managed to do just that. Milk and Honey became a best-selling poetry book soon after its release in 2014, and her second book of poetry, The Sun and Her Flowers, managed to do the same.
"O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.
As fair are thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry."
—"A Red, Red Rose," by Robert Burns
Bonus points if you read this one out loud with a light Scottish brogue. For more words to woo your bonie lass or lad, check out the Complete Works of Robert Burns.
Related: 11 Poetry Collections That Even Non-Poetry Readers Will Enjoy
Featured photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash, from the poetry collection This Is For the Women Who Don't Give a F*ck, by Janne Robinson.