Whether or not you’re the type of person who normally expresses herself in verse, Valentine’s Day has a way of bringing out the poetry in all of us. But even if you haven’t yet mastered the art of writing an Elizabethan sonnet, or have completely forgotten what an iambic pentameter is, you can still share some Valentine’s Day poems with your husband.
Because (luckily) love poetry isn’t just for teenagers or newlyweds. We all know those initial fireworks are great, but there are plenty of poems out there that celebrate the strength and energy of married love instead. Poems that won’t feel fake or forced if you want to share them with your husband.
1 “To My Dear and Loving Husband” by Anne Bradstreet
You know that feeling when everything between the two of you is just clicking? So did Anne Bradstreet, one of the early colonial settlers in Massachusetts. The passion of her love poem to her husband is not something we usually associate with the Puritans, but it still resonates today.
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
2 “Touched By An Angel” by Maya Angelou
When you’re married, love can feel pretty different from how it did when you were dating or engaged. Especially once you have kids. That breathless excitement might not be there, but it’s been replaced by something deeper and truer. Maya Angelou’s “Touched by an Angel” gets at that (sans any reference to the ’90s TV show).
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
3 “I Love You” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
For something understated but sexy, try Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s “I Love You.” Wilcox started publishing her poetry in the 1880s and her work became very popular, according to the Poetry Foundation. It’s not hard to see why:
So kiss me sweet with your warm wet mouth,
Still fragrant with ruby wine,
And say with a fervor born of the South
That your body and soul are mine.
Clasp me close in your warm young arms,
While the pale stars shine above,
And we’ll live our whole young lives away
In the joys of a living love.
4 “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by E.E. Cummings
With its rhythmic pacing and sweet sentiments, there are good reasons that E.E. Cummings’s “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” has become a classic. It’s simple enough that it makes sense the first time you read it, but you’ll also see new things if you reread it a few times. While it may have been avant-garde in the mid-twentieth century, according to the Poetry Foundation, today, its unusual spacing and lack of capitalization make it look almost like a text message.
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
5 “The Life That I Have” by Leo Marks
Leo Marks’s “The Life That I Have” is a beautiful, simple poem that captures the permanence of love by using repetition: “Is yours and yours and yours.” But there’s a poignant story behind the poem, which Marks wrote in 1943 while working as a code breaker for Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive, according to Huffpost. Marks’s girlfriend had just died in a plane crash, and the poem was his way of “transmitt[ing] a message to her which I’d failed to deliver when I’d had the chance.”
Marks then went on to give the poem to Violette Szabo, an agent with the French resistance, to use as her personal cipher for encoding secret messages. Szabo was later compromised, and eventually tortured and killed by the Nazis — a story depicted in a 1958 film called
Carve Her Name With Pride.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
6 “The Good-Morrow” by John Donne
For a lot of people, the idea of love poetry immediately conjures up Shakesepeare’s sonnets. But John Donne, one of the Bard’s contemporaries, was also a prolific writer of love poems. In “The Good-Morrow,” Donne describes a mature love that is content in itself, with the two partners making their “one little room an everywhere:”
And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.
7 “Another Valentine” by Wendy Cope
Even if you thought you hated love poems, it turns out there’s a love poem especially for you. “Another Valentine,” a short poem written by Wendy Cope for
The Daily Telegraph, starts out by expressing weariness for “yet another” Valentine’s Day. But by the end, the speaker has started to think it through and gotten into the spirit of the holiday:
Today we are obliged to be romantic
And think of yet another valentine.
We know the rules and we are both pedantic:
Today’s the day we have to be romantic.
Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.
You know I’m yours and I know you are mine.
And saying that has made me feel romantic,
My dearest love, my darling valentine.
8 “Close, Close All Night” by Elizabeth Bishop
This poem is also subtly sexy. “Close as two papers in a book that read each other in the dark?” Mmhmm. Bishop’s poem is easy to follow and quite intimate in its portrayal of two lovers. Plus, being compared to a book is always romantic, in my opinion.
Elizabeth Bishop is considered one of the most distinguished American poets in the 20th century, and she was a Pulitzer Prize Winner, the Poet Laureate for the United States from 1949 through 1950, and a National Book Award Winner for poetry in 1970.
Close close all night
the lovers keep.
They turn together
in their sleep,
Close as two papers
in a book
that read each other
in the dark.
Each knows all
the other knows,
learnt by heart
from head to toes.
9 “My True Love Has My Heart” by Philip Sidney
Sir Philip Sidney was born in the 1500s and was a prominent figure in the Elizabethan age as a poet, scholar, courtier, and soldier. He did not allow his writings to be published during his lifetime, according to poets.org, but thankfully this little gem is still available for all to enjoy, including your husband, who I’m sure will love that you have his heart and he has yours. This short and sweet poem would be perfect in a handmade Valentine, or even written inside of a card.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given;
I hold his dear and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driven.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his,
His heart in me keeps him and me in one;
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart for once it was his own,
I cherish his because in me it bides.
My true-love hath my heart and I have his
10 “Sonnet 43” by Elizabeth Browning
This poem by Elizabeth Browning is probably one of the most popular — or at the very least, the most quoted — love poems ever. Especially the first line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” You can’t go wrong with a true classic, and a beautiful one at that.
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.
11 “I loved you first: but afterwards your love” by Christina Rossetti
For those of us who said “I love you” first, or even not, Rossetti’s poem shows how it doesn’t matter over time and that love between two people can grow and evolve. It’s the perfect way to describe just how beautiful it is when two loves become one larger love.
I loved you first: but afterwards your love
Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
Which owes the other most? my love was long,
And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
And loved me for what might or might not be –
Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.
12 “Wish I Could Find the Words” by Nigel P. Stringfellow
If you wish you could just find the words to express the gratitude, love, and appreciation for your husband, this poem definitely finds them for you, and it’s even aptly named.
Just wish I could find the words
That would make the meaning clear
About why I just love you so
And why I want you here
Why I need you here with me
So I can shower you with love
Why it is so clear to see
You are an angel from above
An angel sent from heavens high
To bring the lord’s own prayer
That you and I on blue skies fly
Share a love that is true and rare
A love that is so truly pure
That it completely fills my heart
A love that will forever endure
And that we shall never part
A love that will last you see
Until the end of time
A love which joins us – you and me
And forever will our hearts entwine.