Love is twain, it is not single,
Gold and silver mixed to one,
Passion ‘tis and pain which mingle
Glist’ring then for aye undone.

Pain it is not; wondering pity
Dies or e’er the pang is fled;
Passion ‘tis not, foul and gritty,
Born one instant, instant dead.

Love is twain, it is not single,
Gold and silver mixed to one,
Passion ‘tis and pain which mingle
Glist’ring then for aye undone.

This poem is in the public domain.

Love is a breach in the walls, a broken gate,
    Where that comes in that shall not go again;
Love sells the proud heart’s citadel to Fate.
    They have known shame, who love unloved. Even then,
When two mouths, thirsty each for each, find slaking,
    And agony’s forgot, and hushed the crying
Of credulous hearts, in heaven—such are but taking
    Their own poor dreams within their arms, and lying
Each in his lonely night, each with a ghost.
    Some share that night. But they know love grows colder,
Grows false and dull, that was sweet lies at most.
    Astonishment is no more in hand or shoulder,
But darkens, and dies out from kiss to kiss.
All this is love; and all love is but this.

This poem is in the public domain. 

After Duras
"We go back to our house. We are lovers. 
We cannot stop loving each other."

I come to confiscate your love. 
What will you do?

Small shrubs grow in the blackened yard.
Sun, which is yellow, shines in through the windows, now barred.

You were watching me eat. 
Put your tongue in my mouth then retract it.

We were waiting for our recompense.
But everyone knows love is bankrupt.

On the billboard in front of us: breasts.
The empty middles of the mannequins that peered out through the glass. 

Reprehensibly, I mouthed the words: I love you.

Copyright © 2011 by Katy Lederer. Used with permission of the author.

Blond fireflies amid the summer hedges,
how splendid your sunray
darting through the darkness! You’ve reminded me
of something that has never vanished
from my childhood: infinite
hope through the fields. I see myself
as a child again, feel the unknown 
rhythm of times past: 
I a dream I am lying on a girl
stuck in my heart:
a musical bas-relief
for vast infinity: I compare her
to the moon, to the stars,
to the splendorous night
and everything attaches me to that love
I lose myself in:
of this I actually know nothing
except a confusing clamor.


Un amore

Lucciole bionde per le siepi d’estate,
com’è splendido il vostro raggio
che per le tenebra appare! Voi mi ricordate
qualcosa che non si annulla
della mia fanciullezza: infinita
speranza pei prati. Mi rivedo
fanciullo, sento l’ignota
cadenza di tempi andati:
sono in sogno sopra una fanciulla
che mi s’è fitta in cuore:
un bassorilievo musicale
per estese infinità: la paragono
alla luna, alle stelle,
allo splendore della notte
e tutto mi affiso in quell’amore
e mi vi disperdo:
di qui non so nulla

Copyright © 2013 by John Taylor. Used by permission of the translator. All rights reserved.

Blond fireflies amid the summer hedges,
how splendid your sunray
darting through the darkness! You’ve reminded me
of something that has never vanished
from my childhood: infinite
hope through the fields. I see myself
as a child again, feel the unknown 
rhythm of times past: 
I a dream I am lying on a girl
stuck in my heart:
a musical bas-relief
for vast infinity: I compare her
to the moon, to the stars,
to the splendorous night
and everything attaches me to that love
I lose myself in:
of this I actually know nothing
except a confusing clamor.


Un amore

Lucciole bionde per le siepi d’estate,
com’è splendido il vostro raggio
che per le tenebra appare! Voi mi ricordate
qualcosa che non si annulla
della mia fanciullezza: infinita
speranza pei prati. Mi rivedo
fanciullo, sento l’ignota
cadenza di tempi andati:
sono in sogno sopra una fanciulla
che mi s’è fitta in cuore:
un bassorilievo musicale
per estese infinità: la paragono
alla luna, alle stelle,
allo splendore della notte
e tutto mi affiso in quell’amore
e mi vi disperdo:
di qui non so nulla

Copyright © 2013 by John Taylor. Used by permission of the translator. All rights reserved.

I lie here thinking of you:—

the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
heavily
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—

you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!

From A Books of Poems: Al Que Quiere! (The Four Seas Company, 1917).

                        (Dante, Vita Nuova)


To all those driven berserk or humanized by love
this is offered, for I need help 
deciphering my dream.
When we love our lord is LOVE.

When I recall that at the fourth hour
of the night, watched by shining stars,
LOVE at last became incarnate,
the memory is horror.

In his hands smiling LOVE held my burning
heart, and in his arms, the body whose greeting
pierces my soul, now wrapped in bloodred, sleeping.

He made him wake. He ordered him to eat
my heart. He ate my burning heart. He ate it
submissively, as if afraid, as LOVE wept.

From Desire, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Frank Bidart. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I
    On ashes of old volcanoes
    I lie baking
    the deathward flesh in the sun.

    I can hear
    a door, far away,
    banging in the wind:

    Mole Street. Quai-aux-Fleurs. Françoise.
    Greta. “After Lunch” by Po Chu-I.
    “The Sunflower” by Blake.

2
    And yet I can rejoice
    that everything changes, that
    we go from life
    into life,

    and enter ourselves
    quaking
    like the tadpole, its time come, tumbling toward the slime.

From Collected Poems by Galway Kinnell. Copyright © 2017 by The Literary Estate of Galway Kinnell. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Seen my lady home las’ night,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel’ huh han’ an’ sque’z it tight,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f’om huh eye,
An’ a smile go flittin’ by⁠—
    Jump back, honey, jump back.

Hyeahd de win’ blow thoo de pine,
    Jump back, honey, jump back,
Mockin’-bird was singin’ fine,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
An’ my hea’t was beatin’ so,
When I reached my lady’s do’,
Dat I couldn’t ba’ to go⁠—
    Jump back, honey, jump back.

Put my ahm aroun’ huh wais’,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised huh lips an’ took a tase,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me, honey, love me true?
Love me well ez I love you?
An’ she answe’d, “’Cose I do”—
    Jump back, honey, jump back.

From Selected Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, edited by Herbert Woodward Martin. Reprinted courtesy of Penguin Classics.

And what is love? It is a doll dress’d up
For idleness to cosset, nurse, and dandle;
A thing of soft misnomers, so divine
That silly youth doth think to make itself
Divine by loving, and so goes on
Yawning and doting a whole summer long,
Till Miss’s comb is made a pearl tiara,
And common Wellingtons turn Romeo boots;
Then Cleopatra lives at number seven,
And Antony resides in Brunswick Square.
Fools! if some passions high have warm’d the world,
If Queens and Soldiers have play’d deep for hearts,
It is no reason why such agonies
Should be more common than the growth of weeds.
Fools! make me whole again that weighty pearl
The Queen of Egypt melted, and I’ll say
That ye may love in spite of beaver hats.

This poem is in the public domain. 

This is not a small voice
you hear               this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Darryl. Shaquille.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.

This is not a small love
you hear               this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than the flesh
where they suck the bones of the alphabet
and spit out closed vowels.
This is a love colored with iron and lace.
This is a love initialed Black Genius.

This is not a small voice
you hear.

From Wounded in the House of a Friend. Copyright © 1995 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press.

when love floods a person
            it cuts
a canyon

that deepens year after year
            carrying silt
away leaving

the essential person
            revealed
letting everyone see

the layers of yellow
            sandstone, red basalt
grey granite

when love washes over a person
                        it washes
the person away

Copyright © 2021 by Alicia Ostriker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

If I had one more day
I would write a love poem
composed of one word
repeated like binary code.

I’ll multiply it by the number
of days that passed 
without saying it to you
and I’ll add the days

when I said it with no words
because I want to say it 
more. And like a bee 
gathering pollen, I’ll collect 

everything ever said 
in one word like a square root
multiplied by the power of ten.
I’ll count even that day

when my anger at you
or for you turned me into 
a stone, and also the days 
when I was away

sending my songs like 
postcards to the lonely,
feeling you in every touch 
of love I gave to the world.

I’ll count all my days,
even the nine months of days 
before I was born, to say  
this exponential, growing “I love you.”

Copyright © 2021 by Dunya Mikhail. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 2, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I saw you as I passed last night,
    Framed in a sky of gold;
And through the sun’s fast paling light
    You seemed a queen of old,
Whose smile was light to all the world
    Against the crowding dark.
And in my soul a song there purled—
    Re-echoed by the lark.

I saw you as I passed last night,
    Your tresses burnished gold,
While in your eyes a happy bright
    Gleam of your friendship told.
And I went singing on my way;
    On, on into the dark.
But in my heart still shone the day,
    And still—still sang the lark.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 25, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Though I marked my calendar, I’ll forget to watch
earth paint the moon gray, then black, then white again.

White as toothache, dry elbow skin, a crown of bones,
as, I imagine, a narwhal’s tusk, though I’ve never seen one.

Tonight I’d dip that tusk in my wine glass
to prevent all future hangovers, all future gloomy

moods where I pretend I’ll look up the etymology
of melancholia, but don’t. Where I pretend I need

a spouse to soothe me—but I don’t. Like—I won’t say
earth or moon—but like a shovel, I’m purposeful

but often idle. Collecting cobwebs is a passing,
though fulfilling hobby. Someday I hope to be less

shovel, more soil. Prepped for roots, for thriving—
Love, I want to say (to whom, I’m not sure),

I’ve come to a different power tonight.
This is the self stripped of alimonies, stripped of pearls.

Unforgiveable, unrelenting, cherished by no one—
not you, wife, nor you, husband. Not even you

dear moon, whom I want to see cloaked
but won’t. Clouds tonight. Bats beading them.

At least, I think so. Maybe smaller darknesses
are just that—smaller, and thus, personable.

Copyright © 2016 by Amie Whittemore. This poem originally appeared in Superstition Review. Used with permission of the author.

Farewell, sweetheart, and again farewell;
To day we part, and who can tell
     If we shall e'er again
Meet, and with clasped hands
Renew our vows of love, and forget
     The sad, dull pain.

Dear heart, 'tis bitter thus to lose thee
And think mayhap, you will forget me;
     And yet, I thrill
As I remember long and happy days
Fraught with sweet love and pleasant memories
     That linger still

You go to loved ones who will smile
And clasp you in their arms, and all the while
     I stay and moan
For you, my love, my heart and strive
To gather up life's dull, gray thread
     And walk alone.

Aye, with you love the red and gold
Goes from my life, and leaves it cold
     And dull and bare,
Why should I strive to live and learn
And smile and jest, and daily try
     You from my heart to tare?

Nay, sweetheart, rather would I lie
Me down, and sleep for aye; or fly
      To regions far
Where cruel Fate is not and lovers live
Nor feel the grim, cold hand of Destiny
      Their way to bar.

I murmur not, dear love, I only say
Again farewell. God bless the day
      On which we met,
And bless you too, my love, and be with you
In sorrow or in happiness, nor let you
      E'er me forget.
 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

On the beach, close to sunset, a dog runs
toward us fast, agitated, perhaps feral,
scrounging for anything he can eat.
We pull the children close and let him pass.

Is there such a thing as a stray child? Simon asks.
Like if a mother had a child from her body
but then decided she wanted to be a different child’s mother,
what would happen to that first child?

The dog finds a satisfying scrap and calms.
The boys break free and leap from rock to rock.
I was a stray man before I met your mother,
you say, but they have run on and cannot hear you.

How fast they run on, past the dark pool
your voice makes, our arms which hold them back.
I was a stray man before I met you,
you say. This time you are speaking to me.

From Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 (Graywolf Press, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth Alexander. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press.

When the heavens with stars are gleaming
   Like a diadem of light, 
And the moon’s pale rays are streaming, 
   Decking earth with radiance bright; 
When the autumn’s winds are sighing, 
   O’er the hill and o’er the lea, 
When the summer time is dying, 
   Wanderer, wilt thou think of me? 

When thy life is crowned with gladness, 
     And thy home with love is blest, 
Not one brow o’ercast with sadness, 
     Not one bosom of unrest—
When at eventide reclining, 
    At thy hearthstone gay and free, 
Think of one whose life is pining, 
    Breathe thou, love, a prayer for me. 

Should dark sorrows make thee languish, 
     Cause thy cheek to lose its hue, 
In the hour of deepest anguish, 
     Darling, then I’ll grieve with you. 
Though the night be dark and dreary, 
     And it seemeth long to thee, 
I would whisper, “be not weary;” 
   I would pray love, then, for thee. 

Well I know that in the future, 
    I may cherish naught of earth; 
Well I know that love needs nurture, 
    And it is of heavenly birth.
But though ocean waves may sever 
     I from thee, and thee from me, 
Still this constant heart will never, 
    Never cease to think of thee. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets. 

not back, let’s not come back, let’s go by the speed of 
queer zest & stay up 
there & get ourselves a little 
moon cottage (so pretty), then start a moon garden 

with lots of moon veggies (so healthy), i mean 
i was already moonlighting 
as an online moonologist 
most weekends, so this is the immensely 

logical next step, are you 
packing your bags yet, don’t forget your 
sailor moon jean jacket, let’s wear 
our sailor moon jean jackets while twirling in that lighter, 

queerer moon gravity, let’s love each other 
(so good) on the moon, let’s love 
the moon        
on the moon

Copyright © 2021 by Chen Chen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 31, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.