14 Poems for Valentine’s Day

With its origins in the religious feast day of a martyred Roman saint, we’re a little fuzzy on how exactly Valentine’s Day evolved over the centuries into a popular secular celebration of love, romance, and chocolate. But no matter if you embrace the day with gusto or scoff at the oversized expectations it brings, devoted Bas Bleu readers can’t deny the power of a great love poem! Whether you’re looking to restore your faith in love, searching for the perfect words to inscribe in your sweetheart’s valentine, or turning your focus inward after a relationship ends, these fourteen poems for Valentine’s Day will make your literature-lovin’ heart beat a little faster. As always, feel free to share your favorite love poems in the comments section below. (To read each poem in full, click on the graphic.)

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one. —Christina Rossetti, “I loved you first, but afterwards your love”

The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon

So powerful
I fell to the ground

Your love
has made me sure

I am ready to forsake
this worldly life
and surrender
to the magnificence
of your Being —Rumi, “Defeated by Love”

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall. —Seamus Heaney, “Scaffolding”

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. —Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “How Do I Love Thee?” (Sonnet 43),

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever. —Anne Bradstreet, “To My Dear and Loving Husband”
The shine on her buckle took precedence in sun
Her shine, I should say, could take me anywhere
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
About you many good things come into relation
I think of proofs and grammar, vowel sounds, like
A is for knee socks, E for panties
I is for buttondown, O the blouse you wear
U is for hair clip, and Y your tight skirt
The music picks up again, I am the man I hope to be
The bright air hangs freely near your newly cut hair
It is so easy now to see gravity at work in your face
Easy to understand time, that dark process
To accept it as a beautiful process, your face —Peter Gizzi, “Lines Depicting Simple Happiness”

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. —Derek Walcott, “Love After Love”

_____________________________________

Don’t want to miss another post from The Bluestocking Salon? Sign up to receive our posts via email! Just scroll down past the comments section and you’ll see a space where you can enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.

2 thoughts on “14 Poems for Valentine’s Day

  1. Here is another that I love by John Donne:
    The Good-Morrow
    BY JOHN DONNE
    I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
    Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
    But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
    Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
    ’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
    If ever any beauty I did see,
    Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

    And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
    Which watch not one another out of fear;
    For love, all love of other sights controls,
    And makes one little room an everywhere.
    Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
    Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
    Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

    My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
    And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
    Where can we find two better hemispheres,
    Without sharp north, without declining west?
    Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
    If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
    Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.