Ever since the start of 2020, I’ve been–more or less–posting a poem a day on Facebook. It’s been a wondrous gift. A poem, short and searing, takes just a few moments of your time to read. I’ve shared poems from across the centuries, happy poems, crushingly sad poems, hopeful poems, and poems about random things. I am addicted.

For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share ten of my favorite poems about love. And if you’ve got a favorite poem about love, of any kind, share it!


[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

(1952)


Walking Each Other Home by Barbara Kingsolver

My friend lives on this road
the same as me, two hollows down,
two gladed mountainsides,
briar patches that go without saying,
fields in pumpkin or hay or fallow.
Once, we can never forget, a bear.
And once for too long a season
a road-killed deer whose return to dust
we both watched, the ragged pelt
dried to leather, the shipwreck of rib cage.
My friend alone saw the bear, and
told me of it, the winter of her chemo.
I was the one to see the deer
fresh struck, and had to find words,
though even now I can hardly bear
to say how I watched hooves beating air,
reaching for some blind heaven.
Between us, we know this map by heart.
I walk from my house to hers
and then together we speak of things—
or don’t, we are often quiet—
all the way back home to mine. Or she
walks here first, collects me for her return.
Either way, this is the road where we live.
Always we walk each other home.
And always we walk some of it alone.

(2020)


The Promise by Jane Hirshfield

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.
Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.
Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.
Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.
Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.
Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,
Always.

(2011)


You Will Hear Thunder by Anna Akhmatova

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.
That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.

(1976)


Having a Coke with You by Frank O’Hara

Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles
and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvelous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it

(1960)


Aimless Love by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

(2002)


How You Know by Joe Mills

How do you know if it’s love? she asks,
and I think if you have to ask, it’s not,
but I know this won’t help. I want to say
you’re too young to worry about it,
as if she has questions about Medicare
or social security, but this won’t help either.
“You’ll just know” is a lie, and one truth,
“when you still want to be with them
the next morning,” would involve too
many follow-up questions. The difficulty
with love, I want to say, is sometimes
you only know afterwards that it’s arrived
or left. Love is the elephant and we
are the blind mice unable to understand
the whole. I want to say love is this
desire to help even when I know I can’t,
just as I couldn’t explain electricity, stars,
the color of the sky, baldness, tornadoes,
fingernails, coconuts, or the other things
she has asked about over the years, all
those phenomena whose daily existence
seems miraculous. Instead I shake my head.
I don’t even know how to match my socks.
Go ask your mother. She laughs and says,
I did. Mom told me to come and ask you.

(2010)


When I have you… by Rumi

When I have you, the passions of love make me stay awake;
When you are not with me, I cannot sleep—I moan, I ache;
I’m awake the night you stay with me and the night you don’t—
But how those two nights are worlds apart, look, for heaven’s sake

(13th century)


God Says Yes To Me by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

(late 20th century)


Atlas by UA Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called maintenance,
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;
 
Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;
 
Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes, which deals with dentists
 
And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds
 
The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living; which is Atlas.
 
And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dry rotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.
 
(2010) #apoemaday