The 7 best love poems from realistic portrayal of relationships to the bittersweet yearning of love lost

If you're not sure where to start when it comes to this poetry genre, let us help with some of our favourites

Nicola Chan |

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Roses and chocolates are irresistible, but there's nothing quite like poetry on Valentine’s Day. Not read much? Start off with some of our favourites, and find what speaks to you!

To A Stranger by Walt Whitman

This poem embodies that sort of intense, fleeting crush you get on someone that feels as though you know them from a past life. You know nothing about them, only what you imagine them to be like. It's likely nowhere near what the reality of being with them would be like, but that brief, vivid life you make up in your head with them is amazing, perfect and wonderful.

Ginny Wong, Production Editor

Indian Summer by Dorothy Parker

This poem is not about how frenetic, gentle, or romantic love can be, but it remains my favourite love poem. The short, fiery, and witty poem spells out, bluntly and unapologetically, that nothing is more important than staying true to yourself in a romantic relationship, even though some of your traits might displease your lover.  

Nicola Chan, Reporter

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Variations on the Word Love by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is better known as a novelist, but some of her poetry is breathtaking. Her poem Variations on the Word Love discusses many forms of love, but ultimately, for me, it is a reminder of the awesome power of that emotion. She speaks of how the word "love" - only four little letters - are in no way sufficient to encapsulate its enormity. She reminds us that "this word is not enough/but it will have to do". It's a reminder, perhaps, that actions, especially when it comes to expressing our love for others, speak louder than words. 

Karly Cox, Deputy Editor

Habitation by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s Habitation is my favourite one. The poem is a very mature look at love, which I really like. At the beginning of any relationship the sparks may be strong, but we have to remember that sparks don’t last forever, and we have to work hard at building a fire.

Jamie Lam, Special Projects Editor

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The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

This is a poem that was first published in 1906, and tells the story of a highwayman - a thief - and his lover, Bess.

On a stormy night, the highwayman rides to Bess' father's inn where she is patiently waiting for him to arrive. After sharing a romantic moment, he promises her that he will return to her the following night, after a robbery, "though hell should bar the way!"

Such foreshadowing, of course, is never good news in the literary world of romantic poetry, and Bess has to make a brave sacrifice to save her love.

Noyes uses clever and vivid imagery to tell the story of the two lovers, evoking so much emotion in the reader, and The Highwayman remains one of my favourite poems ever.

Rhea Mogul, Junior Reporters' Manager

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

My favourite love poem is also The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, though for very different reasons to Rhea. Don't get me wrong, the poem itself is beautiful. I adore the way it deftly handles its readers' emotions, and the way the rhythm calls to mind the sound of hooves cantering upon a dirt highway. But what I love about The Highwayman is that it's the first poem I "got".

"The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor" made absolutely no sense to me - why were there ribbons on a moor?? And then Mrs Rowlinson, that one teacher who marched to her own beat and changed who I was to who I am, explained the concept of imagery. In that instant everything clicked, it all made perfect sense and I understood the poem. That was the moment I fell in love with words, and when I found something that, for the first time ever, showed me I'm capable of more than what I've been told I can achieve.

Heidi Yeung, Web Editor

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Lemony Snicket's poems to his wife in a Series of Unfortunate Events

I don't really have a favourite love poem, but I do love the little poetic dedications Lemony Snicket writes to his deceased wife Beatrice in the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Here’s one of the examples: "For Beatrice -/You will always be in my heart,/In my mind,/And in your grave." Although they are a little morbid, they are, at their core, very sweet, and you can really tell from them how much he loves and misses his wife.

Nicole Moraleda, Sub-editor

Masks by Shel Silverstein

This is a short, simple, and rather bittersweet poem, but its message is a poignant one. It suggests that love is out there waiting for all of us, if only we are brave enough to open ourselves to it.

Charlotte Ames-Ettridge, Sub-editor