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12 Romantic Poems To Make Your Partner Melt On Valentine's Day

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As soon as the new year hits, stores become a sea of pinks and hearts and chocolates, reminding shoppers that Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. This year you may be doing less shopping IRL and (much) more online, so it’s understandable if you miss the hint. If you forget a gift this year or you want something less milk chocolate and more heartfelt, these Valentine's Day love poems for your wife (or your husband) will say everything you’ve been wanting to express, even if you don’t fancy yourself a wordsmith.

You and your partner have no doubt been through some, shall I say, *stuff* this year, whether it’s figuring out how to be homeschool teachers at the drop of a hat, learning to work from home together, or just navigating the simultaneous stressors and boredom of life in a pandemic. Even if you don’t typically do much for Valentine’s Day, this year, it’s a good opportunity to show gratitude and love for your partner.

We all can’t be poets, but anyone can take the words of a poem and write it out by hand on or read it out loud (or, let's face it, copy and paste it into a text because it's the thought that counts, right?). Bonus points if you buy the poet’s book as a small but meaningful gift to go along with the poem.

1

"Looking at Each Other" by Muriel Rukeyser

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Perhaps best known for her poems about feminism, social justice and Judaism, Muriel Rukeyser also wrote one stunning love poems, like "Looking at Each Other" (particularly timely for its references to fighting for acceptance in same sex relationships).

Yes, we were looking at each other

Yes, we knew each other very well

Yes, we had made love with each other many times

Yes, we had heard music together

Yes, we had gone to the sea together

Yes, we had cooked and eaten together

Yes, we had laughed often day and night

Yes, we fought violence and knew violence

Yes, we hated the inner and outer oppression

Yes, that day we were looking at each other

2

"After Paradise" by Czeslaw Milosz

With the very first line of "After Paradise," Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz speaks to the spousal relationship: "Don't run anymore." What follows serves as an exquisite reminder of how important it is to always hold the little things in a long-term relationship sacred.

You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,

A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror

Are only forever once, even if unremembered,

So that you watch what it is, though it fades away,

And are grateful every moment for your being.

Let that little park with greenish marble busts

In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,

Remain as it was when you opened the gate.

And the street of tall peeling porticos

Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.

3

"Valentine" by Carol Ann Duffy

Marriage isn't always a bed of roses, as the saying goes, which is what makes Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy's "Valentine" such a perfectly relatable (and yet somehow still so romantic) poem.

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.

It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.

It promises light

like the careful undressing of love.

Here. It will blind you with tears

like a lover.

It will make your reflection

a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

4

"Another Valentine" by Wendy Cope

Originally commissed by The Daily Telegraph from award-winning poet Wendy Cope, "Another Valentine" puts a sweetly hilarious spin on long-term love.

Today we are obliged to be romantic

And think of yet another valentine.

We know the rules and we are both pedantic:

Today’s the day we have to be romantic.

Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.

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.

5

"Having a Coke With You" by Frank O'Hara

Any poem that includes the line "I look at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world" is surely a poem any wife (or human) would appreciate, but this poem by Frank O'Hara goes a step further in elevating some of the most mundane moments in a relationship. "Having a coke with you," he writes:

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne

or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona

partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian

partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt

partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches

partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary

it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still

as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it

6

"Romeo and Juliet" by Richard Brautigan

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Both unsentimental and incredibly sentimental, if that makes sense, "Romeo and Juliet" by post-Beat era poet Richard Brautigan is one that will sums up married love rather perfectly, whether or not it was intended to do so.

If you will die for me,

I will die for you

and our graves will be like two lovers washing

their clothes together

in a laundromat

If you will bring the soap

I will bring the bleach.

7

"Don't Go Far Off" by Pablo Neruda

Of course we couldn't have a list of love poems without one by Pablo Neruda, and "Don't Go Far Off" is a soul-stirring call to the all-consuming spark that brought you two together in the first place.

Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --

because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long

and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station

when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don't leave me, even for an hour, because

then the little drops of anguish will all run together,

the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift

into me, choking my lost heart.

8

"Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses" by Alberto Rios

This playful love poem by Alberto Rios is about what is often the real glue that holds couples together: the ability to make each other laugh.

Mr. Teodoro Luna in his later years had taken to kissing

His wife

Not so much with his lips as with his brows.

This is not to say he put his forehead

Against her mouth--

Rather, he would lift his eyebrows, once, quickly:

Not so vigorously he might be confused with the villain

Famous in the theaters, but not so little as to be thought

A slight movement, one of accident. This way

He kissed her

Often and quietly, across tables and through doorways,

Sometimes in photographs, and so through the years themselves.

This was his passion, that only she might see.

The chance

He might feel some movement on her lips

Toward laughter.

9

"[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" by E.E. Cummings

It's true that E.E. Cummings' punctation was so bonkers he appeared to have a broken shift key on his typewriter. But when your writing is this beautiful, it could be written backwards and it wouldn't matter — it still makes the reader swoon.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

10

“Love Is” by Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni is a prolific love poet (she has a whole collection of poems spanning three decades of work, simply titled, Love Poems). She was active in the Black Arts Movement, per Black Past. “Love Is” is a gorgeous poem filled with reminders that love is the simple things like asking questions or saying goodnight.

Some people forget that love is

tucking you in and kissing you

'Good night'

no matter how young or old you are

Some people don't remember that

love is

listening and laughing and asking

questions

no matter what your age

Few recognize that love is

commitment, responsibility

no fun at all

unless

Love is

You and me

11

“Touched By An Angel” by Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou is often talked about in the context of her groundbreaking memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but she was also an accomplished poet. “Touched By An Angel” talks about the complexities of love, how it can both hurt and heal, and it’s a good reminder that you and your spouse chose each other for better and for worse.

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love's light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

12

"Like an Auto-Tune of Authentic Love" by Carmen Giménez Smith

For a more contemporary poem (it talks about FaceTime, laptops, and Jack Nicholson) you can send your spouse “Like an Auto-Tune of Authentic Love” by Carmen Giménez Smith. With lines like, “Surprising love can happen at// any part of one’s life// like the pixels deciding when to// flicker into bursts,” this one may especially resonate if you and your partner found each other later in life.

I’m watching an old movie in one corner

of my laptop and in another the shadows

nesting in your neck, the flickering frequencies

of your sweater, and remember the Jack Nicholson

tagline in that movie we almost watched then decided

against fearing the little taser of misogyny:

You make me want to be a better person. Sometimes

the only thing I want is to say marry me

even though we both think marriage is archaic and weird

or at least for us. It’s not marry me I want to say

but rather weld with me like a net we also sit in.

Oh FaceTime face and shadow neck and the almost synced

sound of our shared watching. You have a list of things

that are going to be the death of you,

and so do I, which we cover in our debriefings.

All of this is to say that distance makes my heart go farther

into the terrain of heartfelt and I love it: how ordinarily

classifiable it is like feeling literal figurative butterflies

in your stomach. The good being fundamental.

Surprising love can happen at any part of one’s life

like the pixels deciding when to flicker into bursts.

*With additional reporting by Alice Emory