On this list, you will find ten of the best-loved and most famous love poems ever written. From Anne Bradstreet to Alfred Lord Tennyson, these romantic love poems last for no more than eighteen lines and touch on the most important themes of human relationships.
Famous Short Love Poems
- 1 Sonnet 11 by Pablo Neruda
- 2 Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
- 3 To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet
- 4 When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats
- 5 How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- 6 Why do I love you, Sir? by Emily Dickinson
- 7 She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron
- 8 I Am Not Yours by Sara Teasdale
- 9 A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
- 10 Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal by Alfred Lord Tennyson
- 11 FAQs
Also known as ‘I crave your mouth,’ this affectionate and intimate fourteen-line sonnet is one of Neruda’s best. In the first two quatrains of this piece, Neruda expresses his wants regarding his lover. These lines go through her features (voice, hair, “lovely body,” and more). Here are a few lines from this piece:
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
Neruda uses metaphors and similes to depict these parts of his lover and why he wants each one. They bring out different emotions in him but “want” is the overwhelmingly dominant one. He wants to “eat the sunbeam flaring in [her] body”. He is “hungry” for her and wants to kiss her lips.
Explore more Pablo Neruda poems.
‘Annabel Lee’ creates a very different mood than all the other poems on this list. In its short lines, the speaker, who is commonly considered to be Poe himself, outlines the loss he has suffered. Here are a few lines from this poem:
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
It was a loss only made necessary by the strength of the love he shared with his beloved. The angels took her to sate their jealously over the relationship the two of them shared.
Read more Edgar Allan Poe poems.
This short twelve-line poem is dedicated to the poet’s husband. She expresses her genuine, true love for her husband by describing how they have bonded. They were two and, through marriage and their growing emotional attachment, became one. Here are a few lines from this piece:
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.
Throughout the poem, she assures her husband that she loves him and will continue to do so. He is worth more to her than any amount of money or “all the riches that the East doth hold.” This is one of the sweetest love poems on this list.
Discover Anne Bradstreet’s poetry.
This twelve-line poem is another on this list that uses natural imagery to speak about beauty. In the case of ‘When You Are Old,’ Yeats is very likely addressing a woman that he loved and lost, Maud Gonne. He walks his ex-lover through the reasons that people loved her, primarily for her beauty. Here are a few lines from this piece:
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
There was someone, a single man, who loved her purely and for all the right reasons. He alludes to his own passion for her and asks that she remember him and perhaps regret that things did not work out between them.
This poem is one of the most famous short love poems in the English language. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker declares that she is going to “count the ways” that she loves “thee.” Here are a few lines from this piece:
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.
The person she addresses throughout is her lover, someone who she loves freely and deeply. At the end of the poem, she asks God that he might allow her to continue loving him after she has died. This is one of the most romantic poems on this list as it also considers the delight of their friendship. It proposes their relationship is going to last for all eternity.
Explore Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry.
Scholars and poetry lovers are divided over whether the person Dickinson was addressing this poem to was a man or was instead God. The latter is the most common interpretation considering Dickinson’s cloistered life. Here are a few lines from this piece:
“Why do I love” You, Sir?
The Wind does not require the Grass
To answer—Wherefore when He pass
She cannot keep Her place.
She outlines in the poem, whether to God or a real companion, why she loves him. She is the grass to his wind and he is the lightning that flashes behind her eyes. The poem ends simply, with the speaker saying she loves this person or God because they exist.
Read Emily Dickinson’s poetry.
‘She Walks in Beauty’ is a three-stanza poem filled with longing and romance. It is one of Lord Byron’s most beautiful. The first two lines read: “She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies”. The history around this poem says that Byron wrote it after seeing his cousin and experiencing a spark. Here are a few lines from this poem:
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
He was so moved by her beauty that he penned these immortal lines. Her beauty is like the starry skies under which she walks. It is a part of her, but it is also a part of the world.
Discover more Lord Byron’s poems.
A three-stanza, twelve-line poem, ‘I Am Not Yours’ is one of Teasdale’s most popular poems. Throughout this poem, Teasdale addresses someone who she’d like to be swept up in love with but simply isn’t. She longs to be “lost” but she is not “lost in you”. Here is an excerpt from the poem:
I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.
She is not “yours” she states clearly from the start. As a lyric poet, Teasdale is showing her strengths with lines such as “I find you still / A spirit beautiful and bright.” It’s clear she does find beauty in this person and that it reminds her how she has yet to find a love that plunges her “deaf and blind” into the wind.
Explore Sara Teasdale’s poetry.
A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
This short poem is made up of four four-line stanzas. Burns uses metaphors and similes to depict his speaker’s affection for a specific woman throughout the verses. This unnamed woman is only addressed as his “Luve” in ‘A Red, Red Rose’. Here is a quote from the famous poem:
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
He compares her to a red rose, a traditional symbol for love and passion as well as to music and spring. The speaker is sure that he is going to be in love with her forever.
Read Robert Burns’ poetry.
A sonnet-length poem that was first published in 1847, ‘Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal’ is part of a longer epic poem called The Princess. Here are a few lines from the piece:
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
The firefly wakens; waken thou with me.
The poem is read by a character, Princess Ida to the prince who is in love with her. There are examples of personification, nature-based imagery, and metaphors throughout.
Explore Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poetry.
One of the most beautiful love poems ever written in ‘Annabel Lee’ by Edgar Allan Poe. Another contender might be ‘How I Love Thee’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Yes. Poe wrote love poetry. These include ‘Annabel Lee’ and ‘Lenore.’
Sonnets are often considered to be the most romantic type of poem, particularly those written by William Shakespeare.