Discover our lovingly curated list of famous poems about love that express this most profound human emotion.
The rhythm of poetry is the perfect vehicle to express the ebb and flow of love in human existence. From the general, does she or doesn’t she feel when a person’s heart is first stirred by love in youth, all the way to the rocking of bodies in the throes of passion, the cadence of poetry is the perfect expression of love in all its forms. Get paid to write poetry by submitting your work to our round-up of poetry publications and websites.
The following famous poems about love were written by writers from around the world who found the words to beautifully describe that one emotion that comes in so many different forms during the course of a life. These poems are a great example of meter in poem, which will inspire, sadden, gladden, and hopefully bring you to write your poetic expressions of love.
- Here Are Famous Poems About Love Ranked
- 1. “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
- 2. “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- 3. “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron
- 4. “Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning
- 5. “I Loved You First: But Afterwards Your Love” by Christina Rossetti
- 6. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
- 7. “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
- 8. “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet
- 9. “Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare
- 10. “I Am Not Yours” by Sara Teasdale
- 11. “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats
- 12. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick
- 13. “The Good-Morrow” by John Donne
- 14. “I Love You” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
- 15. “Love Song” by Rainer Maria Rilke
Here Are Famous Poems About Love Ranked
1. “Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
Sonnet 18 begins with one of the most famous lines in poetry. The poem is a typical Shakespearean sonnet, with three quatrains followed by a couplet in 14 lines of iambic pentameter. The poem’s title represents the age of consent of the person the sonnet is about. In the case of Sonnet 18, the general consensus is that the subject is a man rather than a woman, which is unusual for a love poem.
This sonnet is part of the Fair Youth sequence, which comprises 126 love poems from Shakespeare’s sonnets. In “Sonnet 18,” Shakespeare expresses his feelings that the beauty of youth is more lovely and more temperate than a summer, that the beauty of youth is more permanent than a summer’s day, and that the love for the subject is eternal, and shall not fade like the temperance of a summer day.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18”
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.”
2. “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning was heavily influenced by that of William Shakespeare. By age ten, Ms. Browning had consumed almost all of Shakespeare’s plays and was inspired to be a writer. At twelve, Browning wrote her first long-form poem, comprised of rhyming couplets. A series of physical ailments and misfortunes did not deter her from reading and writing, and at age 20, Browning published “An Essay of Mind and Other Poems” anonymously.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s entire life was pockmarked with one tragedy after another, including the deaths of her mother and brother, recurring illness, and the scorn of a tyrannical father. Through it all, she found solace in writing and reading, publishing various works, including a collection called “Poems” at 38. This work garnered the attention of Robert Browning, who later became her husband. Ms. Browning dedicated the famous love poem “How Do I Love Thee” to Robert Browning, considered one of her best works.
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.Elizabeth Barret Browning, “How Do I Love Thee?”
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.”
3. “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron
Lord Byron, aka George Gordon Byron, is one of the most prominent figures of the Romantic Movement that occurred near the end of the 18th century in Europe. He is celebrated as one of the finest English poets that have ever lived, and his work represents the best love poems ever written. Though Byron only lived to be 36 years of age, he left a lasting legacy that no one else compares to.
It’s widely believed that “She Walks in Beauty” was written in praise of Lord Byron’s beautiful cousin, who was in mourning and wearing a black, sequined dress at a party that Lord Byron attended. If this is accurate, it speaks highly of Byron’s ability to objectively admire a woman’s beauty that is not blatantly obvious but instead exuded from within, as the poem expresses. Furthermore, the poem isn’t about the love of a carnal nature but love that emanates as an embodiment of the woman, even in her sorrow.
“She walks in beauty, like the nightLord Byron, “She Walks in Beauty”
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;”
4. “Meeting at Night” by Robert Browning
Robert Browning was a distinguished Victorian-era poet who gained fame for his dramatic monologues. He fell upon the work of Elizabeth Barrett, and a love story of epic proportions ensued. Despite Elizabeth’s constrained life due to health issues and a controlling father, they wrote back and forth for a long time and fell madly in love through words.
Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett defied societal expectations and her father’s harsh objections by eventually eloping to Italy. Their intense love and shared enthusiasm for poetry shone through their works, especially in Robert Browning’s poem, “Meeting at Night,” which he wrote during his courtship of his beloved fellow poet. Originally, this poem was included with another, called “Parting at Morning,” but Browning separated them into two works in 1989.
“The grey sea and the long black land;Robert Browning, “Meeting at Night”
And the yellow half-moon large and low;”
5. “I Loved You First: But Afterwards Your Love” by Christina Rossetti
Victorian poet Christina Rossetti’s work famously explores the deep themes of love, loss, and spirituality. As a woman of unwavering Christian faith, much of her work is suffused with religious undertones which reflect her personal convictions. Rossetti was a master of language that evokes imagery and captures complex human emotions with arresting clarity. For this reason, many readers find Rossetti’s poems to be of solace during times of sadness, loneliness, and depression.
In “I loved you first: but afterwards your love,” Rossetti expresses the nuances of reciprocated love and how feeling the love from another feels like more than the love she feels for them. She then discovers the feeling of oneness that elevates the feeling of love from the confines of weighing or measuring and sees that there’s no need to compare because love makes them united as one. It’s a beautiful expression of the power of unity that requited love brings.
“I loved you first: but afterwards your loveChristina Rossetti, “I Loved You First: But Afterwards Your Love”
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.”
6. “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his exploration of macabre themes. As a master of the Gothic genre, his work is saturated with eerie and frightening elements that reflect his fascination with the darker aspects of human nature. His work is popular with readers who enjoy vivid, chilling imagery that elicits intense emotional responses. However, Poe wrote at least one intensely passionate poem about love that is so touching it will make any reader’s heart skip a beat.
The lyric poem “Annabel Lee” wasn’t published until two days after Edgar Allan Poe died when it appeared in the New York Tribune. “Annabel Lee” is reputedly about Poe’s 13-year-old wife, Virginia, who died of tuberculosis, but that’s not positively known. In the poem, Poe expresses a deep and abiding love that doesn’t end, even after the wife is taken by the “envious angels” in Heaven. Poe writes that even death cannot come between him, his life, and his bride, Annabel Lee.
“It was many and many a year ago,Edgar Allan Poe, “Annabel Lee”
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;”
7. “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
Scottish poet Robert Burns is considered a pioneer of the Romantic Movement. His father, a tenant farmer near Alloway, Scotland, primarily taught him at home. He struggled financially and sold his first poems more for the money than for any great desire for fame. Out of all Burns’ failed enterprises, his poems earned him praise and respect as a literary visionary.
In “A Red, Red Rose,” Burns professes his love for a beautiful young girl, comparing his feelings to a lovely melody. He goes on to say that, although they will be separated, his love for her shall never wane, even though miles and miles will be between them. This poem has become one of Robert Burns’s most famous, especially in Scotland, where it’s become a love song.
“O my Luve is like a red, red roseRobert Burns, “A Red, Red Rose”
That’s newly sprung in June;”
8. “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet
Born in England, Anne Bradstreet was not formally educated, but her father taught her well at home, as he was an avid reader. At 16, Bradstreet, nee Dudley, married Simon Bradstreet, after which they emigrated to the New World as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Bradstreet did not have a hardy constitution, and she struggled with a string of illnesses, partially because she wasn’t fit for the hardships of colonial life.
Despite her illnesses, Anne Bradstreet found the time and strength to write, leaving the world with a body of work that is highly respected to this day. She became the first female to be recognized as a New World Poet and is considered one of the most important American poets. The poem “To My Dear and Loving Husband” is one of the most beautiful poems about life and a tribute to the love she felt for her husband, Simon.
“If ever two were one, then surely we.Anne Bradstreet, “To My Dear and Loving Husband”
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.”
9. “Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare
Sonnet 116 begins by emphasizing the unbreakable nature of true love. The speaker asserts that love is not genuine if it wavers or changes in the face of external circumstances. As the poet describes, love is an “ever-fixed mark” that remains steadfast even during the most tumultuous times. It serves as a guiding star, offering direction and stability to those who are lost or wandering.
Sonnet 116 is often celebrated for its romantic portrayal of love, emphasizing its constancy and immortality. The poem transcends the limitations of time, physical appearance, and transient circumstances. It presents love as a force that surpasses life’s challenges and remains unyielding. Shakespeare’s use of metaphors, such as the “ever-fixed mark” and the “star to every wand’ring bark,” adds depth and imagery to convey the timeless essence of love.
“Let me not to the marriage of true mindsWilliam Shakespeare, “Sonnet 116”
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.”
10. “I Am Not Yours” by Sara Teasdale
American poet Sara Teasdale was born in St. Louis, MO. Although she ended up winning a Pulitzer Prize at the age of 34, it wasn’t until she was ten that she had any formal education. The reason was due to her ill health, which forced her parents to home-school her until she was well enough to attend classes. The Pulitzer was earned for Teasdale’s collection of poems called “Love Songs.”
In “I Am Not Yours,” Sara Teasdale writes about the conflict between love and preserving personal identity. The poem expresses a longing for connection and intimacy without losing a sense of self. She expresses a desire to be lost in the presence of her loved one but also asserts her individuality and independence. The poem invites the reader to think about the balance between surrendering to love and preserving one’s own identity within a relationship.
“I am not yours, not lost in you,Sara Teasdale, “I Am Not Yours”
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.”
11. “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats
Irish-born William Butler Yeats was a poet and playwright widely considered to be one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century. His poetry explored themes of Irish nationalism, mysticism, love, and the complexities of the human experience. Yeats was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and played a significant role in forming the Irish literary tradition. He is a highly regarded historical figure, especially in his homeland of Ireland.
“When You Are Old” is a poem about love over time. The writer asks a person to consider a time in the future when she is old and how she was loved as a young woman by all. But it also speaks of how the writer loved her for the way she was inside, her pilgrim soul. The writer still loved her when her face changed due to aging. The last stanza is sad, speaking of how love fled. This poem about unrequited love was supposedly written about a woman who repeatedly turned down Yeats’ marriage proposals.
“When you are old and grey and full of sleep,William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old”
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;”
12. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick
Robert Herrick, a prolific 17th-century poet, penned over 2,500 poems, roughly half forming his seminal work, Hesperides, which includes the spiritually inclined Noble Numbers. Published in 1648, his earlier work often referred to lovemaking and femininity, while his later poems were more philosophical. Despite never marrying and having no love poems tied to a specific woman, Herrick appreciated life’s richness and sensuality. His work primarily encapsulates the notion that life is fleeting, the world stunning, and love remarkable.
“To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” expresses the shortness of life and the swift passage of time. Using flowers and the sun as imagery, Herrick suggests that just as flowers wilt and the sun sets, youth fades. He implies that one’s prime is transient and asserts the wisdom of taking advantage of youth, seizing the moment while you can. The ending part of the poem advocates for marriage during one’s prime, warning that delaying could lead to a life of regret. This poem emphasizes the necessity of making the most of youth and time.
“Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,Robert Herrick, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”
Old Time is still a-flying;”
13. “The Good-Morrow” by John Donne
John Donne was an English poet and scholar who served in the military. Despite being born into a Catholic family, he became a priest in the Church of England. He was given a high-ranking job at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, thanks to royal support. Donne is a famous metaphysical poet known for his unique, vivid style in his poems and translations. His work ranges from sonnets to satires, and he wrote about everything from love to religion. He was also known for his impactful sermons.
“The Good-Morrow” is a famous poem about love that reflects on how the speaker’s life was incomplete until he found his beloved. He compares their mutual love to a spiritual awakening that transcends ordinary existence. Their love makes their small, intimate space feel as vast as the world itself. The speaker suggests their perfect, equal love has created a harmonious world, immune to decline or death.
“I wonder, by my troth, what thou and IJohn Donne, “The Good-Morrow”
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?”
14. “I Love You” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Ella Wheeler was born on a farm in Johnstown, Wisconsin, in 1850. Her family valued learning, and they especially liked language. As a young girl, Ella kept herself busy reading anything she could get her hands on. This undoubtedly helped to shape her future as a writer. When she was about eight, she started writing her own poetry. By the time she was thirteen, her talent was already recognized, as her first poem was published, hinting at the successful poet she would become.
“I Love You” is a quintessential poem about love. It combines the carnal desires of love with the euphoric, intangible feelings of true love. The words are like something that a lover would whisper in the ear or write on scented paper to be whisked off, received by a lover, and secreted away, bound by a ribbon. She likely wrote this declaration of love for her husband, Robert Wilcox, who passed away after thirty years of marriage.
“I love your lips when they’re wet with wineElla Wheeler Wilcox, “I Love You”
And red with a wild desire;”
15. “Love Song” by Rainer Maria Rilke
Born in Prague, Ranier Maria Rilke was placed in a military academy by his parents with the hope that he would become an officer. Rilke didn’t take to the military school—and with intercessions by his uncle, who recognized Rilke’s gift—could leave the academy and attend a German prep school. Rilke discovered his passion for the literary arts and published his first poetry collection there. Today, he is famous as a master of verse, as is evident in “Love Song.”
As the title suggests, “Love Song” expresses the abiding love between two people, using music as a metaphor to suggest the achieved harmony. The poem uses musical words like vibrate, chord, sings, played, strings, instrument, etc. Rilke adeptly uses the symphony of these words to explain how the two souls play in harmony together.
“When my soul touches yours a great chord sings!Rainer Maria Rilke, “Love Song”
How shall I tune it then to other things?”
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