Classic Love Poems on the Web

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Love is only a click away

by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

From Donald Hall to Shakespeare, Byron to Browning, a wide sampling of some of the best known love poetry is just a few keystrokes away.

Some poems fall within the traditional, comparing their loves to a red rose or summer day, while others are stunningly original—Emily Dickinson describes love as an "imperial thunderbolt/That scalps your naked soul," and John Donne uses the eccentric image of a flea to woo his woman.

And while Byron celebrates the innocence of his love, the impatient Andrew Marvell warns that should his "coy mistress" wait too much longer before surrendering to him, life may pass her by: "The grave 's a fine and private place,/ But none, I think, do there embrace."

Valentine Links

Here are links to poems expressing every permutation of love.

I've got an arrow here...
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)
"Vanquished . . . But by a simple arrow."

Donald Hall (1928– )
Chipmunks, hoptoads, and love.

How Do I Love Thee?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
" . . . Let me count the ways."

i carry your heart with me . . .
E. E. Cummings (1894–1962)
"the deepest secret nobody knows . . . the wonder that's keeping the stars apart . . . i carry your heart"

Go, Lovely Rose
Edmund Waller (1606–1687)
Waller's most famous poem, and one of the most famous lyric poems in English literature.

To His Coy Mistress
Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)
A classic seduction poem. Why wait? " . . . at my back I always hear/ Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near"

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950)
Love is not all, but who could live with the lack of it?

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
trans. Edward Fitzgerald (1809–1883)
The Persian poet's essential ingredients for romance: "A jug of wine, a loaf of bread-and thou"

Without warning...
Sappho (c. 600 B.C.)
The great ancient Greek poet reveals how "love shakes my heart."

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love . . .
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926)
Lovers journey to a holy place.

Love Sonnet XVII
Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)
"I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where."

Poet to His Love
Maxwell Bodenheim (1893–1954)
This modern American poet likens his lover to a silver church in a forest.

The Flea
John Donne (1571–1631)
Love is . . . being bit by the same flea.

Madonna of the Evening Flowers
Amy Lowell (1874–1925)
"Then I see you,/Standing under a spire of pale blue larkspur,/With a basket of roses . . . And you smile."

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
Robert Burns (1759–1796)
The best-known love poem by the famed Scottish poet.

Dorothy Parker (1893–1967)
A fine example of Parker's concise, satiric style, this one's for the cynics.

She walks in beauty like the night
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824)
A real beauty of a poem.

To Celia
Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
"Drink to me only with thine eyes,/And I will pledge with mine . . . "

Camomile Tea
Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923)
"We might be fifty, we might be five . . . "

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
"Come live with me and be my Love,/And we will all the pleasures prove . . . "

I Love Thee
Eliza Acton (1799–1859)
" . . . as I love the calm/Of sweet, star-lighted hours!"

Love Song for Alex, 1979
Margaret Walker (1915–1998)
The African-American poet serenades her "monkey-wrench man"

To His Love (Sonnet 18)
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? . . . "

I Am Not Yours
Sara Teasdale (1884–1933)
"I am not yours . . .although I long to be"

To Amarantha, that she would dishevel her Hair
Richard Lovelace (1618–1658)
An ode to the poet's Rapunzel.

To Alice B. Toklas
Gertrude Stein (1874–1946)
A rhythmic and almost childlike patter of verse.

At First Sight
Robert Graves (1895–1985)
Is there such a thing as friendship at first sight?

Sources +