Dedicated to the One I Love

The Muse takes many forms in poetry, and one of those forms is often a real-life relationship or friendship. While some poems have a mysterious or abstract context, there are also poems, in contrast, that are overt tributes to others, and are titled or dedicated as such.

Dedicating a poem to a friend or loved one is an intimate and generous act that follows a long poetic tradition: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning famously wrote poems for one another, cementing their romance. Elizabeth Bishop wrote "The Armadillo" for Robert Lowell, who in turn dedicated "Skunk Hour" to Bishop. Allen Ginsberg's monumental "HOWL" was dedicated to Carl Solomon, who Ginsberg had spent time with at a psychiatric facility and who came to be a lifelong friend. The poets of the New York School—Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler often wrote poems to and for each other, and second-generation New York School poet Ted Berrigan wrote a number of poems to others (including Ron Padgett and musician Lou Reed); many poets dedicated works to Berrigan as well.

Get cozy this Valentine's Day with dedications of love, homage, and friendship, as found in the following poems:

To Love:

"Mermaid Song" by Kim Addonizio, for Aya
"To Dorothy" by Marvin Bell
"To Chloe: Who for his sake wished herself younger"
   by William Cartwright
"For Love" by Robert Creeley, for Bobbie
"South" by Jack Gilbert, for Susan Crosby Lawrence Anderson
"For K. J., Leaving and Coming Back" by Marilyn Hacker
"To Anthea Who May Command Him Any Thing"
   by Robert Herrick
"Song to Celia" by Ben Jonson
"To Fanny" by John Keats
"You Therefore" by Reginald Shepherd, for Robert Philen
"To Elsie" by William Carlos Williams

To Friendship:

"The Fall of Rome" by W. H. Auden, for Cyril Connolly
"The Rare Birds" by Amiri Baraka, for Ted Berrigan
"Chicago Morning" by Ted Berrigan, to Philip Guston
"Sonnet: Homage to Ron" by Ted Berrigan, for Ron Padgett
"Sunday Morning" by Ted Berrigan, for Lou Reed
"The Armadillo" by Elizabeth Bishop, for Robert Lowell
"Latin & Soul" by Victor Hernández Cruz, for Joe Bataan
"The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot, for Ezra Pound
"Quilts" by Nikki Giovanni, for Sally Sellers
"Howl" by Allen Ginsberg, for Carl Solomon
"Skunk Hour" by Robert Lowell, for Elizabeth Bishop
"The Tongue" by Chris Martin, for Ben Estes
"On Gifts For Grace" by Bernadette Mayer
"In the Library" by Charls Simic, for Octavio