My top five love poems

I’ve selected my top five love poems – one romantic, one intellectual, one humorous, one passionate, and one familial – in the hope that these will fill your Valentine’s Day needs. Here they are:

1) Romantic – “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond” by E.E. Cummings

I first heard this poem in the 1980’s Woody Allen movie “Hannah and Her Sisters,” in which a man gives this poem to a woman he hopes to seduce. It works. 🙂 The full text is here, but here’s an excerpt:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose…


(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

2) Intellectual – “Variations on the Word Love” by Margaret Atwood

Love poems that are a bit more intellectual appeal to me since I’m more of a realist, less of a romantic. The full text is here, but here’s an excerpt:

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It’s the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts.

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.

3) Humorous – Bob Hicok’s “Mortal Shower”

This is a funny poem that reminds us how everyday moments add up into love. The full text is here, but here’s an excerpt:

… I’m

in Pittsburgh tonight
and with her,
mirrors don’t scare me,
room service is a gas
because she’s alive, I’m a giant,
a tight-assed
titan because she’s alive
and says

come home, the Honda needs
new brakes, a robin flew
into the window today
but shook it off, just
dizzy, stunned
by reflection.

4) Passionate – Anne Sexton’s “Us”
This one speaks for itself! Read the whole text here, or this excerpt:

I stood up in my gold skin
and I beat down the psalms
and I beat down the clothes
and you undid the bridle
and you undid the reins
and I undid the buttons,
the bones, the confusions,
the New England postcards,
the January ten o’clock night,
and we rose up like wheat,
acre after acre of gold,
and we harvested,
we harvested.

5) Parental love – “Santa Barbara Road” by Robert Hass
I love Hass’s idea of being defined by the people who love us. Here’s an excerpt:

Household verses: “Who are you?”

the rubber duck in my hand asked Kristin

once, while she was bathing, three years old.

“Kristin,” she said, laughing, her delicious

name, delicious self. “That’s just your name,”

the duck said. “Who are you?” “Kristin,”

she said. “Kristin’s a name. Who are you?”

the duck asked. She said, shrugging,

“Mommy, Daddy, Leif.”

3 thoughts on “My top five love poems

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