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Love poems for hopeless romantics

Love poems are popular at weddings, anniversaries, and with those of us who just love love. We rounded up 7 of our favourites.

Katie Russell
Image credit: Flynn Shore/Penguin

If you’re anything like us, your phone’s screenshot folder is full of poems and fragments you’ve stumbled across on social media. Because whether you’re going through heartbreak, falling in love, or embarking on a new chapter in your life, poetry helps us feel seen and less alone.

Poetry is also a beautiful way of expressing your feelings for another person. We often turn to the words of great writers who have distilled the immense joy and complexity of being in love, be it for weddings, anniversary cards, or (for those of us who simply love reading about love) a regular source of comfort.

The following seven poems describe the many different forms that romantic love can take. The sun has burst the sky and The Orange consider how love can transform the way you experience the world in the most gorgeous ways. Wedding, Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, and How Do I Love Thee depict true love as a force that can overcome all obstacles. We bought new sheets and I want to see you, meanwhile, show that love can turn simple acts into something magical.

Wedding

From time to time our love is like a sail
and when the sail begins to alternate
from tack to tack, it’s like a swallowtail
and when the swallow flies it’s like a coat;
and if the coat is yours, it has a tear
like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins
to draw the wind, it’s like a trumpeter
and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions . . .
and this, my love, when millions come and go
beyond the need of us, is like a trick;
and when the trick begins, it’s like a toe
tip- toeing on a rope, which is like luck;
and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.

Alice Oswald. Quoted from Penguin's Poems for Weddings by Laura Barber

The sun has burst the sky

The sun has burst the sky
Because I love you
And the river its banks.

The sea laps the great rocks
Because I love you
And takes no heed of the moon dragging it away
And saying coldly ‘Constancy is not for you’.

The blackbird fills the air
Because I love you
With spring and lawns and shadows falling on lawns.

The people walk in the street and laugh
I love you
And far down the river ships sound their hooters
Crazy with joy because I love you.

Jenny Joseph. Quoted from Penguin's Poems for Love by Laura Barber

How do I love thee? (Sonnet 43)

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. Quoted from Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning Poems

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The Orange

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange –
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave –
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

Wendy Cope. Quoted from Set Me On Fire by Ella Risbridger

Sonnet 116

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:
O, 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's 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.

We bought new sheets

I am telling a story, enjoying myself
I know because my hand is conducting
my descriptions
We are driving through golden light
And your body is inclining towards me
at all points
As it does when you’re happy with me

The lake shines on the watery sun,
the dog sleeps on the bank, one eye
watching
as we clutch each other’s bodies beneath
the darkening mountain
and close our eyes underwater

Night buzzes around us
we shake it till it billows then snap it
tight,
pull its edges and fold it under
like a pair of real adults.

Kae Tempest. Quoted from 100 Queer Poems by Mary Jean Chan and Andrew McMillan

I want to see you

I want to see you.
Know your voice.

Recognize you when you
first come ’round the corner.

Sense your scent when I come
into a room you’ve just left.

Know the lift of your heel,
the glide of your foot.

Become familiar with the way
you purse your lips
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space
and kiss you.

I want to know the joy
of how you whisper
‘more’.

Attributed to Rumi, translator unknown. Quoted from The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart

These poems are from the following anthologies

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