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Quotations from Classic Love Poems

Celebrating the spirit of love

Compiled by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

Read some of the most popular love poems of all time by a poets ranging from Shakespeare to Nikki Giovanni.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
I love you
because the Earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north
sometimes
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
Nikki Giovanni (1943– ) from "Resignation"
As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among maidens.

As an apple tree among the trees of the wood,
so is my beloved among young men.
attr. King Solomon (tenth century B.C.) from the Song of Solomon
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach . . .
Come live with me, and be my love;
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) from "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"
Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to Love.
Vergil (70–19 B.C.) Eclogues, X, l. 69
All right. I may have lied to you and about you, and
made a few pronouncements a bit too sweeping,
perhaps, and possibly forgotten to tag the bases
here or there,
And damned your extravagance, and maligned your
tastes, and libeled your relatives, and slandered a
few of your friends,
O.K.,
Nevertheless, come back.
Kenneth Fearing (1902–1961) from "Love 20¢ the First Quarter Mile"
Ah love is bitter and sweet,
but which is more sweet
the bitterness or the sweetness,
none has spoken it.
H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886–1961) from "Eros"
Give me a kiss, and to that kiss a score;
Then to that twenty, add a hundred more:
A thousand to that hundred: so kiss on,
To make that thousand up a million.
Treble that million, and when that is done,
Let's kiss afresh, as when we first begun.
Robert Herrick (1591–1674) from "To Anthea"
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
Omar Khayyam (died 1123?) from the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam
Translated by Edward FitzGerald
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
Ben Jonson (1573–1637) from "Song to Celia"
I think I should have loved you presently,
And given you in earnest words I flung in jest.
Edna St.Vincent Millay (1892–1950) from "I think I Should Have Loved You Presently"
O, my Luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve is like the melodie,
That's sweetly played in tune.
Robert Burns (1759–1796) from "A Red, Red Rose"
Before you kissed me only winds of heaven
Had kissed me, and the tenderness of rain—
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses
Like theirs again?
Sara Teasdale (1884–1933) from "The Kiss"
With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
John Milton (1608–1674) from
Paradise Lost (Eve is speaking to Adam here)
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain.
Matthew Arnold (1822–1888) from "Dover Beach"
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) from "Wild Nights"
Your eyen two will slay me suddenly,
I may the beauty of them not sustain,
So woundeth it throughout my herte kene.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?–1400) from "Merciles Beaute"
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime . . .
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near . . .
Andrew Marvel (1621–1678) from "To His Coy Mistress"
. . . for me there lies,
Within the lights and shadows of your eyes,
The only beauty that is never old.
James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) from "Beauty That Is Never Old"
If things on earth may be to heaven resembled,
It must be love, pure, constant, undissembled.
Aphra Behn (1640–1689) from "And Forgive Us Our Trespasses"
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 skillfully,mysteriously) her first rose
E. E. Cummings (1894–1962) from "somewhere i have never travelled"
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle:—
Why not I with thine?
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Li Po (700?–762) from "The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter"
Translated by Ezra Pound

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A group of sparrows is called a host, a group of magpies a tidings, and a group of peacocks a muster.

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