Two Great Love Poems for Valentines Day

Love is a profound thing, and it’s pretty tricky to put into words. Naturally, this has motivated ages of poets to create love poems to portray it as accurately as possible, making love poetry one of the richest and most inexhaustible topics around.

There are quite a few versions of love poems. Some focus on young love or enduring marriages, others on the sting of bereavement or the end of a long relationship. I’m going to cover plenty of these in this new “love poetry series” over the next few weeks. So I hope you enjoy reading about new poets and their take on love all the way up until Valentine’s Day!

For more, read some love poems written by the Vita Brevis community!


A Love Poem For those Moments You Wish Would Never End

John Donne (1572-1631) is a poet of much contradiction. He became an Anglican priest despite writing many poems in defense of a libertine lifestyle of sexual promiscuity and self-indulgence. He ruined what could have been a lucrative career in law by secretly marrying the niece of his employer. And, though much of his poetry is deeply intellectual (referred to widely as “metaphysical poetry”), he’s written somewhat disrespectful and sophomoric love poetry about his “free love” lifestyle yet others that are strikingly mature and understated, speaking of the power of (perhaps) monogamy and his love for (hopefully) his wife. It’s hard to know with poets.

Regardless, his elusive qualities give him a brilliant capacity to capture the power and uncertainty of love, which he does expertly in one of his best-known poems, “The Sun Rising”. It captures those moments that you just wish would never end. You’ll see what I mean:

THE SUN RISING

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.

               She’s all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world’s contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.


Poetry that Captures the Drama of Love

I’d like to get a variety of voices in this series, so this next poem is by Dorothea Lasky, born in 1978. She’s currently an Associate Professor of Poetry at Columbia University and is something of a superstar for many emerging poets due to her refreshingly modern style with colloquial touches. She has penned a particularly vibrant poem that speaks volumes of the drama of love:

POEM TO AN UNNAMEABLE MAN

You have changed me already. I am a fireball
That is hurtling towards the sky to where you are
You can choose not to look up but I am a giant orange ball
That is throwing sparks upon your face
Oh look at them shake
Upon you like a great planet that has been murdered by change
O too this is so dramatic this shaking
Of my great planet that is bigger than you thought it would be
So you ran and hid
Under a large tree. She was graceful, I think
That tree although soon she will wither
Into ten black snakes upon your throat
And when she does I will be wandering as I always am
A graceful lady that is part museum
Of the voices of the universe everyone else forgets
I will hold your voice in a little box
And when you come upon me I won’t look back at you
You will feel a hand upon your heart while I place your voice back
Into the heart from where it came from
And I will not cry also
Although you will expect me to
I was wiser too than you had expected
For I knew all along you were mine

For more, read some love poems written by the Vita Brevis community!

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