Photos by Mehwash Bhatti
Happy Valentine’s Day! 💘 Enjoy this selection of poems about romantic love…
1. “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
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 played 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: O I will love thee still, my dear, While the sands o' life shall run. And fare thee weel, my only luve, And fare thee weel awhile! And I will come again, my luve, Though it were ten thousand mile.
2. “First Love” by John Clare
I ne’er was struck before that hour
With love so sudden and so sweet,
Her face it bloomed like a sweet flower
And stole my heart away complete.
My face turned pale as deadly pale,
My legs refused to walk away,
And when she looked, what could I ail?
My life and all seemed turned to clay.
And then my blood rushed to my face
And took my eyesight quite away,
The trees and bushes round the place
Seemed midnight at noonday.
I could not see a single thing,
Words from my eyes did start—
They spoke as chords do from the string,
And blood burnt round my heart.
Are flowers the winter’s choice?
Is love’s bed always snow?
She seemed to hear my silent voice,
Not love's appeals to know.
I never saw so sweet a face
As that I stood before.
My heart has left its dwelling-place
And can return no more.
3. “Bedouin Song” by Bayard Taylor
From the Desert I come to thee On a stallion shod with fire; And the winds are left behind In the speed of my desire. Under thy window I stand, And the midnight hears my cry: I love thee, I love but thee, With a love that shall not die Till the sun grows cold, And the stars are old, And the leaves of the Judgment Book unfold! Look from thy window and see My passion and my pain; I lie on the sands below, And I faint in thy disdain. Let the night-winds touch thy brow With the heat of my burning sigh, And melt thee to hear the vow Of a love that shall not die, Till the sun grows cold, And the stars are old, And the leaves of the Judgment Book unfold! My steps are nightly driven By the fever in my breast, To hear from thy lattice breathed The word that shall give me rest. Open the door of thy heart, And open thy chamber door, And my kisses shall teach thy lips The love that shall fade no more Till the sun grows cold, And the stars are old, And the leaves of the Judgment Book unfold!
4. “Ask Me Why I Love You” by Walter Everette Hawkins
Ask me why I love you, dear, And I will ask the rose Why it loves the dews of Spring At the Winter’s close; Why the blossoms’ nectared sweets Loved by questing bee,— I will gladly answer you, If they answer me. Ask me why I love you, dear, And I will ask the flower Why it loves the Summer sun, Or the Summer shower; I will ask the lover’s heart Why it loves the moon, Or the star-besprinkled skies In a night in June. Ask me why I love you, dear, I will ask the vine Why its tendrils trustingly Round the oak entwine; Why you love the mignonette Better than the rue,— If you will but answer me, I will answer you. Ask me why I love you, dear, Let the lark reply, Why his heart is full of song When the twilight’s nigh; Why the lover heaves a sigh When her heart is true; If you will but answer me, I will answer you.
5. “Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare
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.
6. “Romance” by Claude McKay
To clasp you now and feel your head close-pressed, Scented and warm against my beating breast; To whisper soft and quivering your name, And drink the passion burning in your frame; To lie at full length, taut, with cheek to cheek, And tease your mouth with kisses till you speak; Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet senseless words, Melodious like notes of mating birds; To hear you ask if I shall love always, And myself answer: Till the end of days; To feel your easeful sigh of happiness When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes; It is so sweet. We know it is not true. What matters it? The night must shed her dew. We know it is not true, but it is sweet— The poem with this music is complete.
7. “Love’s Philosophy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river And the rivers with the ocean, The winds of heaven mix for ever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with thine?— See the mountains kiss high heaven And the waves clasp one another; No sister-flower would be forgiven If it disdained its brother; And the sunlight clasps the earth And the moonbeams kiss the sea: What is all this sweet work worth If thou kiss not me?