John Harrington, the hero of my debut novel, Fashioning a Romance, has a few personality quirks, one of which is randomly spouting off quotes from a wide variety of books and poems. So in the spirit of John’s compulsion to quote – and because Fashioning a Romance is indeed a romance – I thought I’d compile a list of the most romantic love poems I can find. Some of them are pretty long, so I’ve just taken my favorite bits out to share with you here. And here they are, in no particular order:
1. How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I know. It’s not exactly a revolutionary choice, but Browning’s poem encompasses so much in so few words. It’s timeless.
“I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight”
“Smiles, tears of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”
2. I carry your heart with me by e. e. cummings
I challenge you not to sigh wistfully after reading this poem in its entirety. It really is so beautiful.
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
my heart) I am never without it”
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)”
3. Rememberings by Peter Robson
Thank goodness for Google and the Internet. Otherwise I never would have found this little gem by a contemporary poet I’d never heard of before.
“I also know for me you’re the one
In spirit, body and soul
Forever, whenever, wherever you be
You are the half of my whole”
4. To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet
Nearly four hundred centuries after this poem was penned, the warmth from these words is almost palpable. Talk about your warm fuzzies…
“If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever a man were lov’d by wife, then thee.”
“My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.”
5. La Vita Nuova by Dante Alighieri
This may seem like an odd choice. Dante’s poem is simple and straightforward, not flowery (which I mean in a good way!) like the others, but it really spoke to me. It’s a short poem, so here it is in its entirety:
“In that book which is
On the first page
That is the chapter when
I first met you
Appear the words…
Here begins a new life”
What can I say? The concept that the moment when two soul mates sparks a new life gives me a warm, tingly feeling.
Also, I was thrilled to find this poem by Dante, as there’s a pivotal scene in Fashioning a Romance when John and his new love, Caitlyn, stand before Rodin’s iconic sculpture “The Kiss” which, as I learned, is based upon two actual historic characters whose story is revealed in Dante’s Inferno. I love it when things all come together full circle like this.
I had a blast researching art and literature for Fashioning a Romance. I hope you enjoyed my list and that I was able to incite a smile or even a wistful sigh.