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Love is in the air -- and on the page: 14 poems for Feb. 14

Posted by Alex Pearlman  February 10, 2012 09:36 AM

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love poems.jpgBy Tamar Zmora

Romance novels are not my forte; Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, and the rest of those popular romance literature authors aren’t my go-tos to contemplate amorous love, passion, or the ideal relationship -- if such a thing even exists. Instead of advocating a bunch of books about amorous love, “Dear John” letters, and Romeo and Juliet-esque confessions, I say you profess your love to whomever you need to profess it to through some poetry.

I’m not talking the “roses are red, violets are blue” stuff of Hallmark splendor (i.e., incredibly tacky cards). As soft as the lull from a sweet serenade, the wilt of a rose petal on a cold winter day, or the candlelight illuminating a home-cooked meal, these poems will elevate your spirits and make you recall the pitter-patter of your heart when you first saw your love -- or the longing and waiting to find said love. Light some candles, grab a glass of red wine and some chocolate fondue (or just a bowl of chocolates), and let the euphoria of these love poems wash over you.

"When I Was One-And-Twenty" (A.E. Housman). For young and young-at-heart lovers. "[The heart w]as never given in vain," wrote Houseman, but as I am only three-and-twenty, interpretation I shall not advise. Instead, I will leave it to the skillful reader to see it with his or her own eyes.

"You Smiled, You Spoke, and I Believed" (Walter Savage Landor). Simple flirtations. Show that smile again, won't you? Landor's begging.

"She Comes Not" (Herbert Trench). A poem about lust and waiting. Trench's lady comes solely at night -- "by starlight and candle-light and dreamlight," to be precise. Sounds dirty!

"Beautiful Dreamer" (Stephen Foster). You have likely heard this sweet serenade sung by everyone from Roy Orbison to Marilyn Horne, but the verses are quite, well, beautiful in themselves.

"Sonnets from the Portuguese, XIV" (Elizabeth Barrett Browning). Love for love's sake, Browning writes. Love unconditionally and for eternity. Do not love for appearance or for pity's sake, but for love and love alone. Sage advice, no?

"Heart, We Will Forget Him" (Emily Dickinson). A cheeky take on the battle between the heart and the mind that is getting over someone. Dickinson swears she's trying to move forward, but she's "lagging" and remembering. It happens, sweetie.

"My True-Love Hath My Heart" (Philip Sidney). The writer expresses his unyielding desire for his true love. When thoughts and senses are shared, empathy is felt, and two hearts become one. Sidney gives us the recipe for a successful relationship in 14 lines: talk, listen, and care.

"I Loved You" (Alexander Pushkin). Timid and suppressed love are the themes in this short verse. When love is not returned or reciprocated, it still lingers quietly and pained. In my experience, a pint of Ben & Jerry's seems to do the trick.

"To One in Paradise" (Edgar Allen Poe). Love is gone, and poor Poe is trying to hold on to what was and cope with the death of love. He's stuck in the past, but "a voice from out the Future cries [out]," trying to bring him back to the present. Perhaps someone should hook Poe and Dickinson up?

"I Do Not Love You, Except" (Pablo Neruda). The fickle matters of the heart are quite clear in this poem, if you hadn't guessed from the title. If you need more Neruda (and who doesn't?), "Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines" is about loss, breaking up, and the memories of what once was.

"When I Am Dead, My Dearest" (Christina Rossetti). Rossetti's awareness of death recalls the marital vow "'Til death do us part." She asks her lover not to mourn her passing because "Haply I may remember, And haply may forget."

"Love and A Question" (Robert Frost). Here's one about the fear and uncertainty facing a newlywed couple. The poem talks of a visiting stranger -- but whether he's real or a metaphor is up to you to decide.

"A Magic Moment I Remember" (Alexander Pushkin, again). This poem is not a reference to the Ben E. King & the Drifters song, but it's not far off in theme: the desire to be near to someone now and near to that memory later on. In other words, don't forget to take a mental picture.

"Young and Old" (Charles Kingsely). An older man passes down what he has learned of love to a young lad. Some day, we'll all do the same.

Share your favorite love poem in the comments!

Photo by kitkatscrapper (Flickr)

About Tamar -- I'm a recent Wellesley College grad with a degree in English and studio art. I grew up in the Midwest and briefly lived in Europe and the Middle East. My name is often mistaken for Tamara from "Sister, Sister." I love exploring coffee shops and am almost always highly caffeinated. I am very interested in films, the arts, theatre, painting, photography -- you name it -- '90s TV shows, and music.

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