Valentine’s Day: Love Poetry Recommendations

Poetry features many forms of love

Valentines Day: Love Poetry Recommendations

Valentine’s Day rolls around every year and tells us that love is in the air. That love tends to be thought of as synonymous with romance, so it can be easy to forget that love comes in many forms, all of which poets have been trying to pin down and capture for centuries. The concept of love may be abstract and all-encompassing, but below are five poems that attempt to encapsulate what “love” could mean (click on the titles to read them). 

A Dog Has Died” by Pablo Neruda 

The title suggests that death is the takeaway of this poem, but Neruda elects to focus instead on the dog’s life, celebrating the bond between man and dog. Though their lives are short in comparison to ours, this poem perfectly conveys how the love that we have for our pets may remain in our memories for a long time. 

Love and Friendship” by Emily Bronte

This poem is Wuthering Heights author Emily Bronte’s tribute to platonic relationships, which exist in parallel alongside more romanticized romantic relationships. Through simile, Bronte explores the oft-overlooked value of friendship. Friendship is constant and grounding; it is not flashy, but that is why it is comforting. 

Dayanhe— My Wet Nurse” by Ai Qing

This poem finds its origins in Ai Qing’s background as a Chinese poet from a wealthy family. ‘Dayanhe’ was the foster nurse who raised him, despite their differences in social status as commoner and landowner’s son. The poem critiques the Chinese social structures of the time while also serving as a heart-wrenching expression of gratitude from a child to a parent. 

Poem for My Love” by June Jordan 

Jordan paints a serene picture of the speaker with their lover before briefly jolting the reader back into cold reality by alluding to social issues surrounding racial and gender identity. The poem then dives back into a dreamlike state, entwining love and peace to suggest that finding the former will usher in the latter, no matter the state of the surrounding world. 

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” by Pablo Neruda 

In this poem, the speaker gives an unorthodox declaration of love to their lover, implying that the love they feel cannot be described in any traditional sense, not with frilly metaphors nor long-winded explanations. This poem encourages any inner suspicions we may have that our love cannot be boxed into expectations and definitions, but is wholly unique, our own.

Featured art by Julie Huang