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Be My Valentine




Happy Valentine's Day. Today is a day for romance, long stemmed red roses, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, dinner reservations and love poems. What poet in love hasn't given a try at writing a love poem? Poetry simply lends itself to expressions of passion and romance. The coffee mug I use at the office has a quote on the side, "At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet." Plato

Love poems range from teen angst, sappy Hallmark rhymes, classic sonnets and everything between. Love has been a dominant topic of poetry since before the written word. What new can one say? I think love poems are amongst the most deadly traps for the cliché. One of the first poems I attempted to write was a love poem comparing love to a red rose, how original is that?

The challenge for the contemporary poet is to avoid the abstract and touch on the unique, an intimate moment that makes the heart flutter..


Valentine Poem

Do you remember the red boots
and the muddy puddle?
I remember the splash you made
with the crowd, the laughter
that colours my days.
                    ~~Phil Wood

Even the frame of the poem contributes to the theme. The sonnet seems to be love's vehicle for the classics. But love poems have taken on all shapes and sizes. Probably the best known of all love sonnets comes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861, what English speaker wouldn’t recognize the first line of this sonnet?

Sonnet 43

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.
                         ~~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sonnet 65

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea    
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
                                     ~~William Shakespeare



Sonnet XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
               ~~Pablo Neruda translated by Mark Eisner


So where ever you are in life and love, your words can share your journey.


You still could not figure out how I found the path again through this
Visual confusion of green leaves, brown sticks, and open spaces.

You wondered, did you ever leave a glow on the broken branches,
or your scent lingering, afloat in the air, like a trail?

Or was there a code in the chirping of birds or a signal from sunlight
Breaking through the canopy, you, lit up from head to toe?

You wondered still if ever I envisioned you a fairy, rising from a stream
Flowing quietly, slowly, and you emerging wet, mysterious and sensual?                                           

Let my fingers touch your lips, enough of your wondering,
For the sensations you left in this body, this skin, and these lips

Are memories swirling in my pool of recall, for I wanted to catch
Again those eyes where delight once undeniably dwelt.
                                                                                 ~~ Joel Josel
An Old Cliché, Love

Backs to the sea
as the sunsets on our lives
we stand,
equal partners
bound by a pledge
and a ring.

Our feet firmly
planted on the shore
we lock fingers
to steady each other
on the shifting sand
and face forward
for one more adventure,
to watch our last sunrise
            ~~Judi Van Gorder  

Even if you are between loves, nursing a broken heart or currently just feeling left out of the whole romance and roses thing,  give this one day a chance.    If you have a favorite love poem or want to share one of your own, please post it here.   My hope for each of you is that you have many love poems in you waiting for that moment to burst free.

~~Tinker aka Judi Van Gorder


Recommended Comments

Judi, love poems are at the top of my list of favorites, but the ones that appeal to me the most are by far specifically the ones about lost love (and to a lesser degree, unrequited love). There are lots of poems that others might not consider to be love poems, yet to me they nevertheless are. Ill provide an example of just such a poem I shared a while back in the "A Poem I Read Today" forum. Here's the LINK

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Tony, Thanks for responding.  Since A Poem I Read Today is not readable to non members I am providing a link to Modern Love, by Douglas Dunn outside of PMO.  I appreciate your sharing it here.  I missed it on the forum.


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