On Valentine’s Day, people seek the perfect way to express their love and affection: flowers, chocolates, cards, etc. But how can one take the personal, the emotional—the whole of a relationship, with all of its joys and sorrows, in its mundane and extraordinary moments—and express it in a way that is true to the feeling? In The Life of Poetry, Muriel Rukeyser writes, “When it is hard to hold for a moment the giant clusters of event and meaning that every day appear, it is time to remember this other kind of knowledge and love, which has forever been a way of reaching complexes of emotion and relationship, the attitude that is like the attitude of science and the other arts today … Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling.”

This Valentine’s Day, find the words you need through poetry, whether it’s in the passions and stirrings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who declares, “All thoughts, all passions, all delights, / Whatever stirs this mortal frame, / All are but ministers of Love” (“Love”); or the confused delight of Robert Herrick, who says, “How love came in I do not know, / Whether by the eye, or ear, or no” (“Of Love: A Sonnet”); or the profound discovery of Pablo Neruda: “in this territory we found only a kiss, / only ungraspable love that will remain here / wandering among the sea foam and roots” (“Love for This Book”). Find classic and contemporary love poems, erotic poems, and poems about heartbreak and friendship, as well as book recommendations, essays, poem pairings, poets’ love letters, and more on our love poems page.

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