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The 10 Best Love Poems of 2021

What makes a great love poem? Love is such an emotionally charged topic that the answers to that question are going to vary tremendously depending on who you ask. But all the same, coming up with a good love poem can be an important task. Noted poet Mark F. Stone of Ohio, for instance, became a poet expressly for the purpose of wooing his bride-to-be. Now, you may not be a poet yourself, but there is no reason you can’t borrow a few verses for that greeting card.

If you are more of an academic poetry lover who stills enjoy Shakespeare’s love sonnets now and again, then the list for you of the 10 Greatest Love Poems Ever Written is recommended. But, if you find the language of the Renaissance half a millennia ago a bit distant, then the below list of best love poems finely crafted by living poets in traditional English meter and rhyme may be perfect for communicating to someone you love.

This best love poems list is in no particular order and all poems have been published by the Society of Classical Poets in 2021. (Not see a poem here that you think should be? Just post it in the comments at the end.)

—Evan Mantyk, SCP Editor

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1. Anyone But You

by Anna J. Arredondo

The phone may ring;
The call will bring
__Anyone but you.

The mail will come;
It will be from
__Anyone but you.

A text may buzz;
I’m sure it was
__Anyone but you.

Oh, this is dire;
I don’t desire
__Anyone but you.

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Notable Reader Comments

“Neatly wrapped pain … admirably crafted and highly entertaining”
—Susan Jarvis Bryant

“I love the …. unusual metric scheme.”
—Cynthia Erlandson

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2. My Sonnet as Texted

by Carl Kinsky

Her face, uplit as she scrolls through her phone,
no feelings shown, she wears light like a mask.
Have we two lives we share? Is each one’s own?
Afraid that I know, I’m too scared to ask.
I stay in shadows, silent, statue still,
and watch her phone’s glow wash across her face.
A dancing light, love alters course at will;
at whim, it changes distance, strength, and pace.
Her Facebook friends share their most liked new memes.
She stares intensely. She can’t know I’m here,
can’t know my fears, just theirs, their hopes, their dreams.
Remote though she appears, she stands so near.

My sonnet’s sent. She smiles. Shade turns to shine.
I’m part of her life while she’s all of mine.

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Notable Reader Comments

“A wonderful modern take on the classical topos of ‘the loved but unattainable lady.'”
—Joseph S. Salemi

“So many truths and so much wisdom is encapsulated in our addiction to our ‘devices.'”
—Paul Freeman

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3. December

by Peter Hartley

Two years ago it didn’t seem as cold
As this. But then her heart was warm, and she
Would make this house a happy place to be.
Where once the rhododendron would unfold
The garden weeds exert their stranglehold.
The lawn is sodden wet, the rowan tree
Has shed its showy berries. Here we see
Its boughs are bare, so barren to behold.

The dying and the dead surround me here
Till in the spring the flowers reappear
In all their glory as they do each year
To bring us happiness and bring us cheer.
But still I mourn in this December chill
For she will not come back, nor ever will.

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Notable Reader Comments

“The way that you contrast the cold weather and the woman’s warm heart in the opening stanza; and when you speak of the December chill in the last two lines, it brings the poem full circle.”
—Cheryl Corey

“I love the conversational, lyrical feel and appeal of ‘December.’ You capture the warmth and wonder of love and loss, and that comparison to the changing seasons made me think the poem was treading the path of hope and Spring-like new beginnings… and then, that punch in the gut. Unlike the Spring flowers; ‘… she will not come back, nor ever will.’ I especially like the ‘showy berries.’ I love the way that sounds. But, the musicality of language does nothing to alleviate the pain of the closing couplet… the measure of a very fine poem, indeed.”
—Susan Jarvis Bryant

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4. My Lips Have Kissed Her

by David D. Irby

My lips have kissed her lips. Now I know why
the timid sun arises with each day.
I understand what moves the birds to fly
and why the trees within the breezes sway.

My lips have kissed her lips. I can’t deny
that it has moved me to my very soul.
The rules of intellect do not apply.
One kiss, and I have lost all self-control.

My lips have kissed her lips. I must comply
with wishes that my heart cannot ignore.
My feelings now can surely justify
that I go back and ask her lips for more.

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Notable Reader Comments

“Excellent and evocative”
—Sally Cook

This poem starts off as light love lyrics, but with the little flip the poet gives in the last line, it is “very far from trite.”
—Margaret Coats

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5. A Rose and Me

by Mike Bryant

__My words, like models, only pose
As simulacrums of this perfect rose.
__No one can know or comprehend
The rise and flow of love, the weft, the bend.
__For love is what we know and feel—
The deathly lows, the height of heaven’s zeal.
__Intensity is what I see
In every moment that you look at me.

__So, please accept this long-stemmed rose
Which reaches out to you, the one I chose
__In softened sighs, and read the note
That answers all the questions that you wrote.
__I hear you sotto voce here
Within my mind and see your blue eyes clear.
__I’ll always hold your memory—
The stem, the bloom, your fingertips and me.

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Notable Reader Comments

“Aye, ‘The Rose and Me,’ Mr Bryant, is crafted rather well with also lovely sound and sentiment.”
—D.G. Rowe

“Very clever and well done.”
—Brian Yapko

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6. Sunset

by Michael Miller

A life alone is at its center bare,
A quiet conversation with myself,
A single, threadbare suit I always wear,
A volume set aside upon life’s shelf.
A time or two fate’s hands would find me paired,
Awakening to partnership each day.
A coupled time where thoughts and deeds were shared,
An interlude that kept dark thoughts at bay.
A pleasure past is left as dispossessed,
An absence added to my solitude.
As life is loaned by time then repossessed,
A canvas bright at birth becomes grey-hued.
__To once more find a love would ease my soul,
__To have a peer to hold would make life whole.

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Notable Reader Comments

“A model of subdued eloquence. Masterful, Mr. Miller”
—Julian D. Woodruff

“In my old but still sound opinion, Michael Miller has written an excellent sonnet about loneliness which is one of the major human tragedies of this era. Keep on, Maestro!”
—Lionel Willis

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7. Brighter Horizons

by David Watt

I have seen the sunrise over
An expanse of brightening sea
As I wandered like a rover,
Long before you came to me.

I have seen the sun rise early,
In its haste to pack a punch,
So the city’s hurly-burly
Settled down in time for lunch.

I have seen the sun rise scarlet
With its garish face in smoke,
Like a stogie puffing harlot
On the lookout for a bloke.

I have seen the sunlight struggle
When midwinter morns hung bleak;
And the birds stayed in to snuggle
Up together, beak to beak.

I can’t count those mornings, weary,
When the sun rose far too soon
For my eyes, still tired and bleary,
To regard her light till noon.

I have seen the sunrise stolen
By the depths of placid lakes,
And regretted brilliance swollen
Washing out to silver flakes.

But no matter place or season,
Every sunrise now is grand,
For the one important reason—
That your face is close at hand.

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Notable Reader Comments

“The progression of ideas and images … was lucid and faultless.”
—C.B. Anderson

“I love the ‘stogie-puffing harlot on the look out for a bloke’ and birds snuggling ‘beak to beak’ Great lines, great images, Les Patterson would be impressed.”
—Jeff Eardley

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8. Though Worlds May Die and Silent Be

by Roy E. Peterson

Till rolling seas cease heaving high,
The starry nights stop passing by,
The universe is wrapped in flame,
And there is no one left to blame.
__Until then? … You’re my loved one.

Till sun no longer makes a day,
And earth will never get a ray,
The quiet coldness of the earth
Bespeaks a lonely universe.
__Until then? … I’m still not done.

Though worlds may die and silent be,
We still have an eternity
To be together, on and on.
The words like death and dying gone.
__Until then? … We’ve just begun.

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Notable Reader Comments

“Love persistent through gloomy apocalypse–until the veil is lifted in the final stanza, and unsuspected potential revealed. Succinct and well done, Roy.”
—Margaret Coats

“I especially like that you got the blame game out of the way right in the first stanza.”
—Yael

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9. L O V E…

by Susan Jarvis Bryant

It’s not a dozen scentless hothouse roses.
__It’s not a chocolate-box of sweet cliché.
It’s not the scorching kiss that lust imposes
__To lead the fired and fevered flesh astray.
It’s not an aphrodisiacal dinner
__Or sighs in dizzy highs of fine Champagne.
It’s not a pricy pledge placed on a finger
__If Always means till youth and fervor wane.

It’s words all selfless souls have thought and spoken.
__It’s songs that soar above the spinning sphere.
It’s heaven’s gift, a glorious golden token
__That shines its rays when days are dark and drear.
It’s ears that hear the fear beneath our laughter.
__It’s eyes that warm us when our world is cold.
It’s hands that hold us here and ever after—
__Beyond the age when bones and hope grow old.

It’s never been a borrower or lender;
__Its bliss is given unconditionally.
Its flame burns with a beauty, truth and splendor
__That blazes in the bond that sets us free.
It’s rest when we are weary, lost and lonely.
__It’s peace when here on earth we’re ash and dust.
It’s forever—it’s our cherished one and only—
__Love’s our pleasure… Love’s our savior… Love’s our must.

Originally published in Expansive Poetry Online

Notable Reader Comments

“There is a wit and genius in this; I love your structures and repetitions, and slow build-ups”
—James Sale

“‘Love’ is one of those enduring works that my mother and her generation would have savoured.”
—Jeff Eardley

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10. The Offer of Roses

by Christine de Pisan (1364-1431), translated by Margaret Coats

The God of Love by me presents to you
These roses of resolve both fresh and fair,
New gathered from the pure and loyal dew
Of his domain where I his scepter bear.
If you are grateful for his cordial care,
And take the gift, and make Love’s covenant,
He wills that from this moment you prepare
To be for ladies’ honor vigilant.

Accept one lovely rose of vibrant hue;
Inhale its fragrance sweet beyond compare,
And pledge yourself to join Love’s retinue.
He sends me with this mission wheresoe’er
There may be gentlemen who are aware
Of joys and benefits that Love can grant,
Inquiring whether they the purpose share
To be for ladies’ honor vigilant.

Knights good and gallant and noble and true,
You lovers likewise, it is your affair
And solemn choice this service to pursue.
Love wills it, therefore chivalry should dare,
And hide at heart no idle, trifling air.
It is to your estate significant
That now and for your life you freely swear
To be for ladies’ honor vigilant.

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The Goddess placed a vessel on the table. It was filled with beautiful, fragrant, fresh-cut red and white roses, and with each rose was a handsome scroll containing the following ballade, expressing what Love willed that each lover should swear as he boldly took a pretty rose.

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Oath of the Order of the Rose

Good Love, I make to you my solemn promise,
And to the Rose, flower of beauty famed,
As well, to Loyalty’s intrepid Goddess,
By whose true ardor I have been inflamed,
That injuries at ladies’ honor aimed
I will oppose, and vanquish ladies’ foes,
Nor by me will a woman be defamed,
Therefore I join the Order of the Rose.

I pledge to make it my specific business
To see that ladies’ praises are proclaimed;
Each one I will respect as my own mistress.
To her, whom I my favored lady named,
Who is alone my sovereign duly claimed,
I will hold fast until my lifetime close.
All this is voluntarily declaimed;
Therefore I join the Order of the Rose.

Love I thank for his abundant kindness,
Who by this embassy my heart reclaimed,
Healing me of my inherent weakness
Through hope that strives beyond my vices tamed,
To merit virtue’s manhood unashamed.
Challenge I will, when scoundrels interpose
Expressions by which ladies might be blamed;
Therefore I join the Order of the Rose.

You princes brave, whose valor is acclaimed,
Pronounce this vow where honor’s goodness glows;
Contend when feuds against its goals are framed,
Therefore I join the Order of the Rose.

 

See the original French here.

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Notable Reader Comments

“A very beautiful story and a more than worthy translation of it, complete with wonderful rhyme.”
—Joe Tessitore

“The works flow smoothly and beautifully in their endeavor to entertain us with a delightful slice of romance and history. I love the admirably portrayed smile and sentiment. Thank you very much and a very happy Valentine’s Day to you.”
—Susan Jarvis Bryant

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NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments.


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5 Responses

  1. jd

    Thank you for these! Enjoyed every one especially for the
    varieties of creation. I also thought all were excellent.

    Reply
  2. C.B. Anderson

    Well, Evan, does this mean that the next anthology will not need a section containing love poems? My list is a little bit different from yours, but few persons dare to write bad love poems these days.

    Reply
  3. James A. Tweedie

    My favorite love poem is

    “I love you.”
    “I love you, too.”

    Everything else is elaboration!

    By the way, I enjoyed the list.

    Reply
  4. Yael

    So many fine love poems, what’s not to love? Thank you Evan, this fine collection is great heart medicine.

    Reply

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