March 31, 2018 4 min read
Do people write poems anymore? Once they leave school (where they’re effectively made to write them) I mean.
I like to read poems. I love flicking through old, well-thumbed copies of books from the likes of Maya Angelou and Seamus Heaney and I own more Best Children’s Poem books than most adults should ever own, but I haven’t written a poem in a very long time.
Poems have sadly become quite old fashioned and outside the school system, today, they’re almost obsolete.
Sitting down and writing a poem wouldn’t cross most people’s minds and writing poems to other human beings really isn’t the done-thing any more. The closest most people get to putting personal, meaningful pen to paper, is if they choose to write their wedding vows.
But once upon a time, before the days of Facebook, Skype and free telephone calls, people would write love letters and even more beautiful, they would write love poems.
I honestly think there’s nothing is more beautiful than a poem. Words deliberately written to paint pictures in your mind.
But what makes a love poem great?
Firstly, love poems try to make sense of love. The author might not succeed, but they’ve got to try. The best love poems ever written were created by those who dared attempt to make love real – something that could be felt through every word.
These poems have lasted through the ages and will continue long after you and I are gone.
Amazing thought, isn’t it?
Throughout history, people have written their deepest thoughts on paper and those words are still read and understood. Enduring. Untouched by the decades and centuries that have past. The authors still alive in thought.
A fan of poetry yourself? Everyone has their own taste, so I’ve put together a list of just 10 of the best love poems in various styles for you below. Enjoy!
William Shakespeare’s sonnet “Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds” is a classic. It’s a definition of love – the unbending, unchangeable nature of it. His words:
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
A beautiful sonnet that will last forever. Read it here.
Another classic from Shakespeare. “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day”? is a sonnet to how beauty is seen by man, and how it fuels desire. His closing couplet summarises the sonnet wonderfully.:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
A work of genius. Read the sonnet here.
Roethke’s poem “I knew a woman” is a complex, playful poem that celebrates a woman who captivated him. It’s about experience. It’s also a nod to feelings out of control:
Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
These lines stick with me most - they capture time and emotion. Read the sonnet here.
Keats sonnet has a remarkable twist. It begins about a star, the beauty of it. Only the last section of the sonnet is about a lady:
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
A sensual and emotive sonnet. Read it here.
“She Walks in Beauty” is one of the most romantic poems in all English literature. It captures a woman’s charm and elegance and sets a wonderful scene with such eloquence, it makes no wonder this poem is so popular.:
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Read it here.
“How do I Love Thee?” is one of the most heartfelt sonnets. The opening stanza sets the scene - a flowing poem about how she loves her husband:
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.
The poem is about free, unconditional love. Read it here.
Rossetti’s sonnet is about adoring love between two people. It perfectly captures a devotional relationship with charming ballads:
I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Rossetti’s words are symbiotic of love. Read the poem here.
Yeats’ sonnet is for the timeless characteristic of love. It directly addresses the speaker’s lover and highlights unrequited love. With these closing words you imagine love between the heavens. :
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Simply magical. Read the sonnet here.
“Song for the Last Act” is a sonnet about love towards the end of one’s life. It’s gut-wrenching, teary and beautiful. Bogan’s first words set the scene immediately. :
Now that I have your face by heart, I look
Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
This is a sonnet everyone can enjoy. Read it here.
I end with, perhaps, the best. “Voyages” is an immense poem that captures the imagination with its directness. It’s connected to love throughout.
It’s split into stages, from I to V and I can’t cherry-pick a section of this particular poem as it's all quite perfect. It’s all connected and it’s all very beautiful. A true masterpiece. Read it here.
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