St. Valentine’s Day is observed every year as a day of celebrating romantic love, friendship, and admiration.
On February 14th, people share gifts and send messages of love and affection to their beloveds’, spouses, family, and friends. More than all these, a classic poem is always a wonderful thing to read on Valentine’s Day. In literature, there are a thousand of poems written across the centuries and woven deeply into each culture. We have handpicked a list of the most romantic poems of all time. These flowery poems match what one has in heart; be it to celebrate the sweetness of love, or the pain of unrequited love, or the heaviness of a long-distance relationship, or a love that lasts long.
Best Valentine's Day Poems
- 1 A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
- 2 A Valentine by Edgar Allan Poe
- 3 Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley
- 4 Love Is Enough by William Morris
- 5 When You Are Old by William Butler Yeats
- 6 How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- 7 Sweet Rose of Virtue by William Dunbar
- 8 She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron
- 9 One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by Pablo Neruda
- 10 Another Valentine by Wendy Cope
Robert Burns’s “A Red, Red Rose”, commonly known as “my Luve is like a red, red rose” is a 1794 song based on Scottish traditional sources. This romantic poem describes the speaker’s deep love for his or her beloved. The speaker promises his/her beloved that their love will outlast human life and even the planet itself. With images that are beautiful, though not long-lasting, speaks about their love that will remain fresh and constant forever. The speaker’s contradictory but passionate claim in the poem reiterates that true love though renews constantly has the power to remain unchangeable.
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.
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Valentine” is written for a woman, who is already married. The poem still remains a favorite due to its subject matter, theme, and writing style that keeps its unique and beautiful meaning. More than a lyrical poem, “A Valentine” is actually a riddle written in the form of an acrostic. The riddles help him to express his secret love to his secret lover, for he is afraid to tell her directly. He has woven the implication for his lover’s beauty in the poem.
In the poem itself, Poe expresses that it is wrongful to be infatuated with a married woman, still, he tries to express his love in discreet. Though Poe has written it for a secret lover, who is already married, it is evidently a beautiful poem. In the modern context, excluding the love for a married woman, it can be dealt with as a poem of an introvert.
For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet’s, too,
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.
Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley
“Love’s Philosophy,” written by Percy Bysshe Shelly, is one of the best love poems. Published in 1819, the poet expresses how everything in nature and life has a companion except him. Just because the term ‘philosophy’ means literarily ‘love of wisdom,’ the poet offers a kind of self-reflective inquiry into the wisdom of ‘love’ in the poem. He links love to Nature and the physical world through his playful arguments that bring forth the idea of “union of love.” The main reason for the poem’s popularity remains with its presentation of love’s philosophy in terms of human intimacy parallel to the binding celestial energy. On the whole, the poem tries to find a correlation between the things in the world in general and the poet’s love in particular through the images. It is also about the poet’s unrequited love that was never conveyed.
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
“Love is Enough” by William Morris is a short nine-line poem. The poem beginning with “Love is enough” may sound like all the poet wants is love. But, the following lines make it clear that love is enough in the face of darkness. He believes that it has the power to make lovers fearless in a dreary and depressing world of darkness. Though written in a single stanza, the poem’s consistent rhyme scheme AABBCCDDD adds a layer of rhythm to it. He gives the images of all adversity, but in the end, he concludes by saying that the lovers can and will confront all of these things without flinching away. Their love could make them strong enough to overcome anything together.
Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass’d over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.
“When You Are Old” by the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, is one of the bittersweet poems in the literature that deals with the complexities of love. The poem published in Yeats’ second collection, The Rose (1893), generally considered to be addressed to Maud Gonne, an Irish actress with whom Yeats was infatuated throughout his life. The speaker in the poem asks his addressee to think ahead to old age, strongly suggesting that the person will eventually regret being unwilling to return the speaker’s love. Being the best-loved of Yeats’s works, the poem argues in favor of a love that is based on the deeper beauty of the soul.
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;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning argues that true love is everlasting with the power to surpass space, time, and even death. It is a personal poem by the poet to her husband and poet Robert Browning. During their courtship, she wrote a series of forty-five sonnets expressing her love for him. Upon his suggestions, she published them in the next volume of poems in 1850. This eternal and all-powerful love depicted in the poem could be applied to any human love since the speaker and addressee are unnamed.
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 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.
William Dunbar’s “Sweet Rose of Virtue” expresses the speaker’s agonized heart over his changed love and feelings. The speaker no longer understands a woman he used to love. In the beginning, the speaker confessing his love for the listener who seemed to be virtuous, gentle, and sweet. In the past, he loved and appreciated her for being full of life and beauty. But now he feels that she has become “merciless.” Further, while concluding, the speaker declares the woman to be dead. It is a complicated emotion and the real state of her is unclear, for the readers cannot decide, whether she is really dead or the poem considers her to be dead out of his frustrated mindset. (The translation used here was completed by Michael R. Burch.)
Sweet rose of virtue and of gentleness,
delightful lily of youthful wantonness,
richest in bounty and in beauty clear
whose piteous death does my heart such pain
that, if I could, I would compose her roots again―
so comforting her bowering leaves have been.
Lord Byron, the famous British Romantic poet in his poem “She Walks in Beauty” seeks to capture a sense of the beauty of a particular woman. As the title suggests, the poet tries to declare that this particular woman’s beauty is practically unparalleled because of the exquisite harmony and visual balance of her looks, through the beautiful imagery present in the poem. He compares her to a lovely night with a clear starry sky. Further, he speaks of her beauty as a harmonious “meeting” between darkness and light. Moreover, the poet tries to affirm that this outer beauty is representative of inner goodness and virtue. Still, as the poem progresses, it makes clear that this harmony is vulnerable and prone to be altered by even the smallest of changes.
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;
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
‘One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII’ is one of Neruda’s most famous sonnets, translated from the original Spanish. It was originally published in the collection, Cien sonetos de amor or 100 Love Sonnets, in Argentina, in 1959. Dedicated to his wife, Matilde, the poems in the collections are categorized into four sections: morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Just a look at the poem, one could realize the overwhelming love presented in it. Provided, it has the word “love” appears nine times in the poem. He tries to relate his feelings of love to other objects before concluding by asking her to close her eyes and feel his love.
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.
Wendy Cope’s “Another Valentine” presents a more mature perspective of Valentine’s Day through a speaker who is assured of her longstanding love. As the poem begins, it looks like the speaker is complaining about the date on the calendar that declares “we are to be loving and romantic.” Though she whines over the obligation to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the depth and spirit of their love shine abundantly in this short read. Evidently, from the poem, it is clear that when the people in love are sure about their love, there is no requisite for a day to celebrate, for every day is a day for celebrating their love.
Today we are obliged to be romantic
And think of yet another valentine.
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.