The Greatest Love Poetry of All Time


The Greatest Love Poetry of All Time

“Wilt thou give up thy garter, oh fairest of the fair”? Anne, nobody speaks that way. And look at that sap Percival who sits around mooning the entire time. He never lets a girl get a word in edgewise. In real life she’d have pitched him.”

… well maybe not, Gilbert.

Some of the best love stories of our time have begun with poetry – words of love, which are honest and vulnerable and tell us about the true nature of the human spirit.  Whether you lived in the Shakespearean Age, or the present day, the way love feels is the same and poetry shows us this. Below we share with you the works of some of the world’s most talented writers. In the history of romance, poetry has always played an active part … so maybe Gilbert Blythe wasn’t altogether right about his advice to Anne in Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel. We hope that these poems help get you in the mood for Valentines Day! Have you gotten your Valentine something special yet? Check ShopAtSullivan.com for some ideas.

Most Romantic Poetry of all Time

William Shakespeare

Sonnet CXVI

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.

Sonnet XVIII

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And oft’ is his gold complexion dimm’d; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d: But thy eternal Summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest: So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 138

When my love swears that she is made of truth I do believe her, though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutor’d youth, Unlearned in the world’s false subtleties. Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young, Although she knows my days are past the best, Simply I credit her false speaking tongue: On both sides thus is simple truth suppress’d. But wherefore says she not she is unjust? And wherefore say not I that I am old? O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust, And age in love loves not to have years told: Therefore I lie with her and she with me, And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.

Excerpts from Plays

My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite. (Romeo and Juliet) … See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. O that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek. (Romeo and Juliet) … Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind. (Romeo and Juliet) … Eternity was in our lips and eyes, Bliss in our brows’ bent; none our parts so poor But was a race of heaven. (Anthony and Cleopatra) … Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love. (Hamlet)
Christopher Marlowe
Hero and Leander
It lies not in our power to love, or hate, For will in us is over-rulde by fate. When two are stript long ere the course begin, We wish that one should lose, the other win. And one especially doo we affect, Of two gold Ingots like in each respect, The reason no man knowes, let it suffise, What we behold is censur’d by our eyes. Where both deliberat, the love is slight, Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Poem XLIII – “How Do I Love Thee?”
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 everyday’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 a 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.
A.E. Housman
When I was One-and-Twenty WHEN I was one-and-twenty I heard a wise many say, ‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas But not your heart away; Give pearls away and rubies But keep your fancy free.’ But I was one-and-twenty, No use to talk to me. When I was one-and-twenty I heard him say again, ‘The heart out of the bosom Was never given in vain; ’Tis paid with sighs a plenty And sold for endless rue.’ And I am two-and-twenty, And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true. Oh, When I Was In Love With You OH, when I was in love with you, Then I was clean and brave, And miles around the wonder grew How well I did behave. And now the fancy passes by, And nothing will remain, And miles around they’ll say that I Am quite myself again. I know a thing that’s most uncommon; … (Envy, be silent and attend!) I know a reasonable woman, … Handsome and witty, yet a friend. Not warp’d by passion, awed by rumour; … Not grave through pride, nor gay through folly, And equal mixture of good-humour … And sensible soft melancoly. “Has she no faults then (Envy says), Sir?” … Yes, she has one, I must aver: When all the world conspires to praise her, … The woman’s deaf, and does not hear.
John Donne
Love Hath No Decay Only our love hath no decay; This no to-morrow hath, nor yesterday; Running it never runs from us away, But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day
Robert Burns
A Red, Red Rose O my Luve’s like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O my Luve’s like the melodie That’s sweetly play’d in tune. As fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in luve am I: And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a’ the seas gang dry: Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear, And the rocks melt wi’ the sun: I will luve thee still, my dear, While the sands o’ life shall run. And fare thee well, my only Luve And fare thee well, a while! And I will come again, my Luve, Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.
William Butler Yeats
When You Are Old When you are old and grey and full of sleep, And nodding by the fire, take down this book, And slowly read, and dream of the soft look Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; How many loved your moments of glad grace, And loved your beauty with love false or true, But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, And loved the sorrows of your changing face; 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.
William Wordsworth
She Was A Phantom of Delight She was a Phantom of delight When first she gleamed upon my sight; A lovely Apparition, sent To be a moment’s ornament; Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair; Like Twilight’s, too, her dusky hair; But all things else about her drawn From May-time and the cheerful Dawn; A dancing Shape, an Image gay, To haunt, to startle, and way-lay. I saw her upon nearer view, A Spirit, yet a Woman too! Her household motions light and free, And steps of virgin-liberty; A countenance in which did meet Sweet records, promises as sweet; A Creature not too bright or good For human nature’s daily food; For transient sorrows, simple wiles, Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles. And now I see with eye serene The very pulse of the machine; A Being breathing thoughtful breath, A Traveller between life and death; The reason firm, the temperate will, Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill; A perfect Woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command; And yet a Spirit still, and bright With something of angelic light.
Jimmie Davis and Charlie Mitchell
You Are My Sunshine The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms. But when I awoke dear, I was mistaken, And I hung my head and cried. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, You make me happy when skies are gray You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away. I’ll always love you and make you happy, If you will only say the same. But, if you leave me and love another, You’ll regret it all someday.
William Blake
The Clod And The Pebble Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care, But for another gives its ease, And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair. So sung a little Clod of Clay Trodden with the cattle’s feet, But a Pebble of the brook Warbled out these metres meet: Love seeketh only self to please, To bind another to its delight, Joys in another’s loss of ease, And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.
Kahlil Gibran
On Love Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow

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