Love Poems We Love

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, I asked some of the AAR staffers to share their favorite romantic poetry. As it turns out, our staff shares a love of poems, both classic and contemporary. There were so many excellent suggestions that I can’t include them all, so there are links to even more. If you would like to celebrate National Poetry Month with a bit of romance, here are some of their picks.


She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron – selected by Lee

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;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.


And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!


The Owl and the Pussy-Cat  by Edward Lear – Selected by Dabney


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar,

“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,

You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!”


Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:

But what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away, for a year and a day,

To the land where the Bong-Tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,

His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.


“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.


Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe – Selected by Melanie, Blythe, and Haley

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.


A Valediction Forbidding Mourning by John Donne – Selected by Blythe

As virtuous men pass mildly away,

And whisper to their souls to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say

The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,

No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;

‘Twere profanation of our joys

To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,

Men reckon what it did, and meant;

But trepidation of the spheres,

Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love

(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit

Absence, because it doth remove

Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,

That our selves know not what it is,

Inter-assured of the mind,

Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,

Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach, but an expansion,

Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so

As stiff twin compasses are two;

Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show

To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,

Yet when the other far doth roam,

It leans and hearkens after it,

And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,

Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

And makes me end where I begun.


Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare – Selected by Maggie

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.


How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Selected by Beverly

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 every day’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 the 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.


I’ve Dreamed of You So Much by Robert Desnos – Selected by Haley

I’ve dreamed of you so much that you are losing your reality.
Is there still time to touch this living body
And to plant on this mouth the birth
Of the voice that I hold dear?

I’ve dreamed of you so much that my arms accustomed
In embracing your shadow to crossing over my chest would not reach
Around your body, perhaps.
And that, before the real semblance of what has haunted
And governed me for days and years,
I would become a shadow, doubtless.
Oh sentimental hesitations.

I’ve dreamed of you so much that there is
Doubtless not time for me to wake up now.
I sleep standing up, my body exposed
To all semblance of life
And love and you, the only one
Who matters to me now,
I would be less able to touch your forehead
And your lips than the first lips
And first forehead to come my way.

I’ve dreamed of you so much, walked, spoken,
Slept with your ghost so much
That all that remains for me to do perhaps,
And yet, is to be a ghost
Among the ghosts and a hundred times
More shadow than the shadow which strolls
And will stroll blithely
On the sundial of your life.


Other selections that are available to read online:

“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by e.e. cummings, selected by Dabney.

“As We Are So Wonderfully Done with Each Other” by Kenneth Patchen – Selected by Dabney

“when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story” by Gwendolyn Brooks – Selected by Dabney

“If You Forget Me” by Pablo Neruda – Selected by Dabney

“I loved you first: but afterwards your love” by Christina Rossetti – Selected by Melanie

“The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe – Selected by Melanie and Dabney

“Why do I love” You, Sir? by Emily Dickinson – Selected by Melanie

“The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes – Selected by Dabney and Melanie

“To Lucasta on Going to the Wars” by Richard Lovelace – Selected by Maggie

“To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick – Selected by Maggie

“When You Are Old” by William Butler Yates – Selected by Lee and Dabney

“Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare – Selected by Beverly

“Antonio” by Laura Elizabeth – Selected by Lynn

“Her Words” by Lang Leav – Selected by Haley

“Le Serpent Qui Danse” by Charles Baudelaire – Selected by Haley

What are your favorite poems?


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06/01/2016 11:18 am

I value the knowledge on your internet site. Cheers!.

Mary Beth
Mary Beth
04/12/2016 11:47 am

I have always loved this pitch perfect invocation of first love. I used it in my 6th grade classroom with great results. My students readily identified with all of the emotions the poem encapsulates.

Oranges by Gary Soto

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted –
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickel in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickel from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
in mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

04/11/2016 11:40 am

My Lover by Wendy Cope

For I will consider my lover, who shall remain nameless.
For at the age of 49 he can make the noise of five different kinds of lorry changing gear on a hill.
For he sometimes does this on the stairs at his place of work.
For he is embarrassed when people overhear him.
For he can also imitate at least three different kinds of train.
For these include the London tube train, the steam engine, and the Southern Rail electric.
For he supports Tottenham Hotspur with joyful and unswerving devotion.
For he abhors Arsenal, whose supporters are uncivilised and rough.
For he explains that Spurs are magic, whereas Arsenal are boring and defensive.
For I knew nothing of this six months ago, nor did I want to.
For now it all enchants me.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he presents himself as a nice, serious, liberated person.
For secondly he sits through many lunches, discussing life and love and never mentioning football.
For thirdly he is careful not to reveal how much he dislikes losing an argument.
For fourthly he talks about the women in his past, acknowledging that some of it must have been his fault.
For fifthly he is so obviously reasonable that you are inclined to doubt this.
For sixthly he invites himself round for a drink one evening.
For seventhly you consume two bottles of wine between you.
For eighthly he stays the night.
For ninthly you cannot wait to see him again.
For tenthly this does not happen for several days.
For having achieved his object he turns again to his other interests.
For he will not miss his evening class or his choirpractice for a woman.
For he is out nearly all of the time.
For you cannot even get him on the telephone.
For he is the kind of man who has been driving women round the bend for generations. For, sad to say, this thought does not bring you to your senses.
For he is charming.
For he is good with animals and children.
For his voice is both reassuring and sexy.
For he drives an A-registration Vauxhall Astra Estate.
For he goes at 80 miles per hour on the motorways.
For when I plead with him he says, ‘I’m not going any slower than this’.
For he is convinced he knows his way around better than anyone else on earth.
For he does not encourage suggestions from his passengers.
For if he ever got lost there would be hell to pay.
For he sometimes makes me sleep on the wrong side of my own bed.
For he cannot be bossed around.
For he has this grace, that he is happy to eat fish fingers or Chinese takeaway or to cook the supper himself.
For he knows about my cooking and is realistic.
For he makes me smooth cocoa with bubbles on the top.
For he drinks and smokes at least as much as I do.
For he is obsessed with sex.
For he would never say it is overrated.
For he grew up before the permissive society and remembers his adolescence.
For he does not insist it is healthy and natural, nor does he ask me what I would like him to do.
For he has a few ideas of his own.
For he has never been able to sleep much and talks with me late into the night.
For we wear each other out with our wakefulness.
For he makes me feel like a lightbulb that cannot switch itself off.
For he inspires poem after poem.
For he is clean and tidy but not too concerned with his appearance.
For he lets the barber cut his hair too short and goes round looking like a convict for a fortnight.
For when I ask if this necklace is all right he replies, ‘Yes, if no means looking at three others.’
For he was shocked when younger team-mates began using talcum powder in the changing-room.
For his old-fashioned masculinity is the cause of continual merriment on my part.
For this puzzles him.

Mary Beth
Mary Beth
Reply to  Paola
04/12/2016 11:51 am

@Paola – simply lovely, thank you so much for sharing this!

This was a wonderful idea. I don’t often read poetry, however finding the ‘right’ poem can be a breathtaking experience. Thank you!