The Most Romantic Poem

This made me both laugh and get weak in the knees…

Last weekend, I went to see the movie Gloria Bell with my friend Gisela, and one scene was incredibly romantic. A man and a woman sit on a sofa, and the man reads her a poem out of a book. (Side note: How dreamy to read poetry from a paperback, side by side, curving back the cover.)

The poem is by Chilean poet Claudio Bertoni:

I’d like to be a nest if you were a little bird.
I’d like to be a scarf if you were a neck and were cold.
If you were music, I’d be an ear.
If you were water, I’d be a glass.
If you were light, I’d be an eye.
If you were a foot, I’d be a sock.
If you were the sea, I’d be a beach.
And if you were still the sea, I’d be a fish,
and I’d swim in you.
And if you were the sea, I’d be salt.
And if I were salt, you’d be lettuce,
an avocado or at least a fried egg.
And if you were a fried egg,
I’d be a piece of bread.
And if I were a piece of bread,
you’d be butter or jam.
If you were jam,
I’d be the peach in the jam.
If I were a peach,
you’d be a tree.
And if you were a tree,
I’d be your sap…
and I’d course through your arms like blood.
And if I were blood,
I’d live in your heart.

* Ahh!! Clutches heart!*

What poems or books do you find romantic? The one above reminds me of our wedding poem, which still makes me teary ten years later.

P.S. A parenting poem that took my breath away, and how do you know your partner’s the one? Plus, more poems you may love.

  1. Kedibone Mooi says...

    I’m watching the movie Gloria Bell on TV and this poem caught my attention. I really Love it! It oozes passion & authenticity.

  2. Dawn Simpson says...

    Don’t watching the movie today on Netflix I just had to research the poem it is the most beautiful poem I have ever read or even more so, heard read

  3. Sheila Williams says...

    Thank you very kindly for posting this poem. I saw the movie several months ago and searched for that poem. Finally, I came across it on your website. I have been thinking about that scene in which he reads it to her ever since.

  4. Carrie says...

    Hi. Thanks for the post. Wanted to note in Gloria Bell they’re sitting on her couch while he reads the poem to her. It’s very open, but lacks the intimacy of a bedroom which I think was deliberate. Words and being vulnerable is just as intimate or can be than having sex with someone. Food for thought. That was my take.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you’re right about the sofa! just re-watched the clip on youtube. thank you!

  5. I adore this one by Michael Ondaatje, it shows such love, attention and the passing of time:

    7 or 8 Things I Know About Her (A Stolen Biography)

    The Father’s Guns
    After her father died they found nine guns in the house. Two in his clothing drawers, one under the bed, one in the glove compartment of the car, etc. Her brother took their mother out onto the prairie with a revolver and taught her to shoot.

    The Bird
    For a while in Topeka parrots were very popular. Her father was given one in lieu of a payment and kept it with him at all times because it was the fashion. It swung above him in the law office and drove back with him in the car at night. At parties friends would bring their parrots and make them perform what they had been taught: the first line from Twelfth Night, a bit of Italian opera, cowboy songs, or a surprisingly good rendition of Russ Colombo singing “Prisoner of Love”. Her father’s parrot could only imitate the office typewriter, along with the ching at the end of each line. Later it broke its neck crashing into a bookcase.

    The Bread
    Four miles out of Topeka on the highway – the largest electrical billboard in the State of Kansas. The envy of all Missouri. It advertised bread and the electrical image of a knife cut slice after slice. These curled off endlessly. “Meet you at the bread,” “See you at the loaf,” were common phrases. Aroused couples would park there under the stars on the open night prairie. Virtue was lost, “kissed all over by every boy in Wichita”. Poets, the inevitable visiting writers, were taken to see it, and it hummed over the seductions in cars, over the nightmares of girls in bed. Slice after slice fell towards the earth. A feeding of the multitude in this parched land on the way to Dorrance, Kansas.

    First Criticism
    She is two weeks old, her mother takes her for a drive. At the gas station the mechanic is cleaning the windshield and watches them through the glass. Wiping his hands he puts his head in the side window and says, “Excuse me for saying this but I know what I’m talking about – that child has a heart condition.”

    Listening In
    Overhear her in the bathroom, talking to a bug: “I don’t want you on me, honey.” 8 a.m.

    Self Criticism
    “For a while there was something about me that had a dubious quality. Dogs would not take meat out of my hand. The town bully kept handcuffing me to the trees.”

    Always one fantasy. To be traveling down the street and a man in a clean white suit (the detail of “clean” impresses me) leaps into her path holding flowers and sings to her while an invisible orchestra accompanies his solo. All her life she has waited for this and it never happens.

    In 1956 the electric billboard in Kansas caught fire and smoke plumed into a wild sunset. Bread on fire, broken glass. Birds flew towards it above the cars that circled round to watch. And last night, past midnight, her excited phone call. Her home town is having a marathon to benefit the symphony. She pays $4 to participate. A tuxedoed gentleman begins the race with a clash of symbols and she takes off. Along her route at frequent intervals are quartets who play for her. When they stop for water a violinist performs a solo. So here she comes. And there I go, stepping forward in my white suit, with a song in my heart.

  6. bethany says...

    Have you ever read “Topography” by Sharon Olds? So sexy and funny. The first time I heard it, I was a freshman in college at a private university (read: conservative), and they invited this musician, Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine, to come and play a small concert. He played the piano and in between songs he read poems, and this is one he read. I was totally mesmerized by it and I’ve never forgotten it. I was already an English major, but that moment made me fall in love with poetry in a new way.

    • If you like Olds, Dorianne Laux is another wonderful poet you’d probably love for weaving eros in a feminist voice. Not as Buddhist as Olds is now, but still writing. Kim Addonizio and my latest crush is Aracelis Girmay can write anything.

      This thread is punctuating my day for a while now. Reminds me that thought is the beginning of everything. And the call and response to these poems is so thoughtful. I hope Jo creates a poetry anthology. Peace of wild beings from Seattle.

    • Joanna says...

      Oh girl, same. Linford and Karin as Over the Rhine also came to my small, liberal arts school. The music. The poetry. It made me fall in love with words. Turns out they went to and met at our school….before dropping out and making music together. I’m so grateful for someone to bring words to life.

  7. DBC says...

    Interesting enough this poem was written by Bertoni for a young friend of his who attempted to kill herself. Its context provides a nuanced perspective on the piece. Still a beautiful poem.

  8. Dina says...

    First of all – the comment sections of this blog are the BEST THING EVER!
    Second of all, being a translator, I can tell you that it’s not easy to make translated poetry sound this beautiful. So although part of being a translator is being invisible – the translator of this poem deserves some love and respect…

  9. r says...

    that poem sounds more like a mother to a child….doesnt sound “romantic” between two lovers. just my opinon, still so sweet.

  10. Ilona says...

    I read this at my friend’s wedding seventeen years ago. She asked me to choose a poem to read and I was worried the title would be off-putting…!

    The Difficulty That Is Marriage by Paul Durcan

    We disagree to disagree, we divide, we differ;
    Yet each night as I lie in bed beside you
    And you are faraway curled up in sleep
    I array the moonlit ceiling with a mosaic of question-marks;
    How was it I was so lucky to have ever met you?
    I am no brave pagan proud of my mortality
    Yet gladly on this changeling earth I should live for ever
    If it were with you, my sleeping friend.
    I have my troubles and I shall always have them
    But I should rather live with you for ever
    Than exchange my troubles for a changeless kingdom.
    But I do not put you on a pedestal or a throne;
    You must have your faults but I do not see them.
    If it were with you, I should live for ever.

    • Oh my, this is stunning! I’ve just saved it for our wedding next year x

  11. Nancy says...

    [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
    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)

    • MATT DOVAL says...

      wow… love this poem! I know just one person who will hear this from my lips.

  12. Katrina says...

    *tear rolling*…. My two favorite short romantic lines are the Walt Whitman Quote “We were together, I forget the rest”
    AND my all time favorite singer/song write Josh Ritter (also crush)
    From the song Strangers:
    “I just can’t believe we were ever strangers”

    The second I hear that song start, just melting away over here……

  13. Jessie says...

    And to relate this post back to celebrity crushes: John Turturro (swoon!)

  14. Shannon says...

    How beautiful! There’s something about Chilean poets and their way of expressing love that really gets me. At our wedding, our friend read this excerpt from Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII, and I will forever love it.

    I love you without knowing how or when or from where.
    I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
    so I love you because I know no other way than this;
    where I does not exist, nor you,
    so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
    so close that your eyes shut as I fall asleep.

    • Lesley says...

      Yes THIS!^^ My husband turned this into part of his wedding vows. Oh m y word.

  15. Daisy says...

    My husband and I read this poem by Margaret Atwood at our wedding.

    Variation on the Word Sleep
    Margaret Atwood, 1939
    I would like to watch you sleeping,
    which may not happen.
    I would like to watch you,
    sleeping. I would like to sleep
    with you, to enter
    your sleep as its smooth dark wave
    slides over my head

    and walk with you through that lucent
    wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
    with its watery sun & three moons
    towards the cave where you must descend,
    towards your worst fear

    I would like to give you the silver
    branch, the small white flower, the one
    word that will protect you
    from the grief at the center
    of your dream, from the grief
    at the center. I would like to follow
    you up the long stairway
    again & become
    the boat that would row you back
    carefully, a flame
    in two cupped hands
    to where your body lies
    beside me, and you enter
    it as easily as breathing in

    I would like to be the air
    that inhabits you for a moment
    only. I would like to be that unnoticed
    & that necessary.

    • Allison says...

      No way! That was my wedding poem too!!! I’m obsessed with that poem; it’s soooo beautiful. (And I love Atwood generally.)

  16. “All I Know About Love” by Neil Gaiman is my favorite. The line about hands reaching in the darkness is just so true. It wasn’t read at our wedding last summer because I didn’t stumble upon it until after we got married, but every time I re-read it, it feels so deeply “our poem,” especially when I brush against my husband in bed and re-remember he and his love are real.

    “This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
    This is everything I have learned about marriage: nothing.

    Only that the world out there is complicated,
    and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
    and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
    is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another
    hand to squeeze
    and not be alone.

    It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they
    Somebody’s got your back.
    Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t
    want to rescue you
    or send for the army to rescue them.

    It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
    It’s light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both
    safely home.
    Because home is wherever you are both together.

    So this is everything I have to tell you about love and
    marriage: nothing,
    like a book without pages or a forest without trees.

    Because there are some things you cannot know before you
    experience them.
    Because no study can prepare you for the joys or trials.
    Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like
    and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
    a dance that cannot be taught,
    a song that did not exist before you began, together, to

    And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
    not knowing for certain if someone is even there.
    And your hands will meet,
    and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.

    And that’s all I know about love.”

    • Bobbi says...

      We are having this read at our wedding in May, by my fiance’s sister, thanks to someone who posted it to Cup of Jo’s comment section months ago.

    • This is perfect. My 20th anniversary is this September, and now I know what to give him ;-) Thanks.

    • Thank you for sharing this. I’m a big fan of his, but have never heard of this poem. It’s absolutely beautiful.

    • I stumbled upon it on his blog, I think? So glad to be able to introduce it to a few new people. Thank you for lovely words, ladies. And happy anniversary, Nancy! What a beautiful milestone.

  17. Jennifer Hodges says...

    My two favorite love poems are sonnets:

    Sonnet XXX by Edna St. Vincent Millay

    Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
    Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
    Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
    And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
    Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
    Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
    Yet many a man is making friends with death
    Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
    It well may be that in a difficult hour,
    Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
    Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
    I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
    Or trade the memory of this night for food.
    It well may be. I do not think I would.

    I get the chills EVERY TIME.

    Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare

    My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
    Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
    If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
    If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
    I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
    But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
    And in some perfumes is there more delight
    Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
    I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
    That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
    I grant I never saw a goddess go;
    My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
    As any she belied with false compare.

    I discovered this one thanks to the TV show “My So-Called Life” – I love the message that it’s OK to love a woman who’s not perfect – a woman who’s REAL.

  18. AP says...

    This one, by Matthew Olzmann, gets me every time with its tenderness and humor.


    Here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
    might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
    about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
    at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
    loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
    gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
    from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
    You have soft hands. Because when we moved, the contents
    of what you packed were written inside the boxes.
    Because you think swans are overrated.
    Because you drove me to the train station. You drove me
    to Minneapolis. You drove me to Providence.
    Because you underline everything you read, and circle
    the things you think are important, and put stars next
    to the things you think I should think are important,
    and write notes in the margins about all the people
    you’re mad at and my name almost never appears there.
    Because you make that pork recipe you found
    in the Frida Kahlo Cookbook. Because when you read
    that essay about Rilke, you underlined the whole thing
    except the part where Rilke says love means to deny the self
    and to be consumed in flames. Because when the lights
    are off, the curtains drawn, and an additional sheet is nailed
    over the windows, you still believe someone outside
    can see you. And one day five summers ago,
    when you couldn’t put gas in your car, when your fridge
    was so empty—not even leftovers or condiments—
    there was a single twenty-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew,
    which you paid for with your last damn dime
    because you once overheard me say that I liked it.

    • Grace says...

      I love this so, so much! It’s so perfectly real.

  19. paula says...

    what is the name of the poem?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m not sure! i couldn’t find it anywhere online.

  20. Lindsey says...

    So many beautiful poems! If you like poetry, you should listen to The Slowdown podcast with Tracy K. Smith. It’s a 5 minute daily poem and it’s so wonderful:

  21. Anastasija says...

    This is soo delightful!

    Adding this favorite from W.H. Auden:

    O Tell Me The Truth About Love

    Some say love’s a little boy,
    And some say it’s a bird,
    Some say it makes the world go round,
    Some say that’s absurd,
    And when I asked the man next door,
    Who looked as if he knew,
    His wife got very cross indeed,
    And said it wouldn’t do.

    Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
    Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
    Does its odour remind one of llamas,
    Or has it a comforting smell?
    Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
    Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
    Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    Our history books refer to it
    In cryptic little notes,
    It’s quite a common topic on
    The Transatlantic boats;
    I’ve found the subject mentioned in
    Accounts of suicides,
    And even seen it scribbled on
    The backs of railway guides.

    Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
    Or boom like a military band?
    Could one give a first-rate imitation
    On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
    Is its singing at parties a riot?
    Does it only like Classical stuff?
    Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    I looked inside the summer-house;
    It wasn’t even there;
    I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
    And Brighton’s bracing air.
    I don’t know what the blackbird sang,
    Or what the tulip said;
    But it wasn’t in the chicken-run,
    Or underneath the bed.

    Can it pull extraordinary faces?
    Is it usually sick on a swing?
    Does it spend all its time at the races,
    or fiddling with pieces of string?
    Has it views of its own about money?
    Does it think Patriotism enough?
    Are its stories vulgar but funny?
    O tell me the truth about love.

    When it comes, will it come without warning
    Just as I’m picking my nose?
    Will it knock on my door in the morning,
    Or tread in the bus on my toes?
    Will it come like a change in the weather?
    Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
    Will it alter my life altogether?
    O tell me the truth about love.

  22. Kelly says...

    Our evening routine lately has been for me to read to my husband from Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs, until I hit one that makes me cry (so many of them!) and then he rubs my back to soothe me. It’s so nice to feel cozy together, and to chat about all the wonderful dogs we’ve known before we go to sleep. I’m still not all the way through the book, on account of the crying, but with his help I’m sure we’ll finish it.

    • Maria says...

      This sounds incredibly sweet. I love Mary Oliver too!

  23. siobhan says...

    A favorite about long-distance love:

    The Quiet World

    In an effort to get people to look
    into each other’s eyes more,
    and also to appease the mutes,
    the government has decided
    to allot each person exactly one hundred
    and sixty-seven words, per day.

    When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
    without saying hello. In the restaurant
    I point at chicken noodle soup.
    I am adjusting well to the new way.

    Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
    proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
    I saved the rest for you.

    When she doesn’t respond,
    I know she’s used up all her words,
    so I slowly whisper I love you
    thirty-two and a third times.
    After that, we just sit on the line
    and listen to each other breathe.

  24. Sarah says...

    This was one of the readings from our wedding, my absolute favorite, by Jeannette Winterson:

    “You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

    And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

    PS You have to be brave.”

  25. Rachel M. says...

    Going to see this movie with my husband on Sunday – totally wasn’t on my radar before reading this post. Thanks for always sharing interesting things!

  26. Katie says...

    Do you know “le toi de moi” by Carla Bruni? It is intimate like Bertoni’s poem and then she croooons to you.

    “Je suis ton pile
    Tu es mon face
    Toi mon nombril
    Et moi ta glace
    Tu es l’envie et moi le geste
    Toi le citron et moi le zeste
    Je suis le thé, tu es la tasse
    Toi la guitare et moi la basse”

  27. Nina says...

    Northern Irish band The Divine Comedy had a slightly twisted take on this idea (starts off sweet enough, but wait for it…):

  28. Lauren says...

    We choose this poem to be read at our wedding and I cried through the whole reading.

    All I Ever Wanted by Katie Ford

    When I thought it was right to name my desires,
    what I wanted of life, they seemed to turn
    like bleating sheep, not to me, who could have been
    a caring, if unskilled, shepherd, but to the boxed-in hills
    beyond which the blue mountains sloped down
    with poppies orange as crayfish all the way to the Pacific seas
    in which the hulls of whales steered them
    in search of a mate for whom they bellowed
    in a new, highly particular song
    we might call the most ardent articulation of love,
    the pin at the tip of evolution,
    modestly shining.

    In the middle of my life
    it was right to say my desires
    but they went away. I couldn’t even make them out,
    not even as dots
    now in the distance.

    Yet I see the small lights
    of winter campfires in the hills—
    teenagers in love often go there
    for their first nights—and each yellow-white glow
    tells me what I can know and admit to knowing,
    that all I ever wanted
    was to sit by a fire with someone
    who wanted me in measure the same to my wanting.
    To want to make a fire with someone,
    with you,
    was all.

  29. Danielle says...

    My now husband and I had a long distance flirtation after meeting at a wedding. 6 weeks after we met I flew to San Francisco for a multi-day second date. On the first morning I woke up with the craziest most intense leg cramps. The next day we walked all over the city – I wanted to get out picture taken in front of the statue in North Beach from the cover of poet Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America.
    After all that walking I was so afraid I was going to have the crazy leg cramps again so when we got back to his apartment his ran a bath with epsom salts for me, sat on a chair behind the half closed door (so as not to glare ;) and read me Brautigan poems which are of course equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking:
    I live in the Twentieth Century by Richard Brautigan

    I live in the Twentieth Century
    and you lie here beside me. You
    were unhappy when you fell asleep.
    There was nothing I could do about
    it. I felt hopeless. Your face
    is so beautiful that I cannot stop
    to describe it, and there’s nothing
    I can do to make you happy while
    you sleep.

    -2 by Richard Brautigan

    Everybody wants to go to bed
    with everybody else, they’re
    lined up for blocks, so I’ll
    go to bed with you. They won’t
    miss us.

    • AP says...

      Love your story, Danielle! It’s so romantic. And love Brautigan, who is so underrated. (Have you ever read his story, “Revenge of the Lawn”?)

  30. Amanda B. says...

    Coming Home by Mary Oliver:

    When we are driving in the dark,
    on the long road to Provincetown,
    when we are weary,
    when the buildings and the scrub pines lose their familiar look,
    I imagine us rising from the speeding car.
    I imagine us seeing everything from another place–
    the top of one of the pale dunes, or the deep and nameless
    fields of the sea.
    And what we see is a world that cannot cherish us,
    but which we cherish.
    And what we see is our life moving like that
    along the dark edges of everything,
    headlights sweeping the blackness,
    believing in a thousand fragile and unprovable things.
    Looking out for sorrow,
    slowing down for happiness,
    making all the right turns
    right down to the thumping barriers to the sea,
    the swirling waves,
    the narrow streets, the houses,
    the past, the future,
    the doorway that belongs
    to you and me.

    This was read at my wedding because when I think of my husband, I think of home.

  31. Phoebe says...

    My sister read this poem at our wedding…

    Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog
    by Taylor Mali

    First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
    especially in a city like New York {note: I changed this to Portland}.
    So think long and hard before deciding on love.
    On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
    when you’re walking down the street late at night
    and you have a leash on love
    ain’t no one going to mess with you.
    Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
    Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

    On cold winter nights, love is warm.
    It lies between you and lives and breathes
    and makes funny noises.
    Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
    It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

    Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
    But come home and love is always happy to see you.
    It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
    but you can never be mad at love for long.

    Is love good all the time? No! No!
    Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

    Love makes messes.
    Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
    Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
    Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
    Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
    and swat love on the nose,
    not so much to cause pain,
    just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!

    Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
    Because love loves exercise.
    It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
    It pulls you in several different directions at once,
    or winds around and around you
    until you’re all wound up and can’t move.

    But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
    People who have nothing in common but love
    stop and talk to each other on the street.
    Throw things away and love will bring them back,
    again, and again, and again.
    But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
    And in return, love loves you and never stops.

  32. Nancy says...

    I love this post so profundly!

    At my wedding, this poem was read:

    Lupins – Seamus Heaney

    They stood. And stood for something. Just by standing.
    In waiting. Unavailable. But there
    For sure. Sure and unbending.
    Rose-fingered dawn’s and navy midnight’s flower.

    Seed packets to begin with, pink and azure,
    Sifting lightness and small jittery promise:
    Lupin spires, erotics of the future,
    Lip-brush of the blue and earth’s deep purchase.

    O pastel turrets, pods and tapering stalks
    That stood their ground for all our summer wending
    And even when they blanched would never balk.
    And none of this surpassed our understanding.

    • Wendela says...

      Ha ha- somehow my first thought was “this reminds me of the children’s book The Runaway Bunny”. But way sweeter, of course.

  33. Lauren E. says...

    Gosh, this is gorgeous. We did a reading at our wedding (Union by Robert Fulghum which described our tumultuous road to marriage PERFECTLY). But our wedding song is pure poetry:

    Without You by Eddie Vedder

    I’ll grow when you grow
    Let me loosen up the blindfold
    I’ll fly when you cry
    Lift us out of this landslide
    Wherever you go
    Whenever we part

    I’ll keep on healing all the scars
    That we’ve collected from the start
    I’d rather this than live without you
    For every wish upon a star
    That goes unanswered in the dark
    There is a dream, I’ve dreamt about you

    And from afar, I lie awake
    Close my eyes to find I wouldn’t be the same

    I’ll shine when you shine
    Painted pictures on my mind

    Sun sets on this ocean
    Never once on my devotion
    However you are
    Or far that you are

    I’ll keep on healing all the scars
    That we’ve collected from the start
    I’d rather this than live without you
    For every wish upon a star
    That goes unanswered in the dark
    There is a dream, I’ve dreamt about you

    And from afar, I lie awake
    Close my eyes to find I’d never be the same
    Without you

    • Andrea says...

      One of the best songs ever :)

    • Kelly says...

      We did Union, too! We went to four weddings before ours after we had picked the reading, and hearing it hit us both right in the feels. Sometimes I’ll just say “from that moment of yes to this moment of yes” when we’ve made a big life decision, and we both get the giggles.

  34. This reminds me of a romantic version of The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown <3

  35. Em says...

    My twin sis read a poem about French horns announcing love at my wedding reception, and I wish I could find it. It was so touching–she and my now husband and I played horn together in high school and were pals that one year. More than a decade later, the French horns were right when he and I re-met. :) Thank you for posting this beautiful poem!

  36. Kate T says...

    When my husband and I were falling in love, he recited this poem to me.

    Two Songs by Adrienne Rich


    Sex, as they harshly call it,
    I fell into this morning
    at ten o’clock, a drizzling hour
    of traffic and wet newspapers.
    I thought of him who yesterday
    clearly didn’t
    turn me to a hot field
    ready for plowing,
    and longing for that young man
    pierced me to the roots
    bathing every vein, etc.
    All day he appears to me
    touchingly desirable,
    a prize one could wreck one’s peace for.
    I’d call it love if love
    didn’t take so many years
    but lust too is a jewel
    a sweet flower and what
    pure happiness to know
    all our high-toned questions
    breed in a lively animal.


    That “old last act”!
    And yet sometimes
    all seems post coitum triste
    and I a mere bystander.
    Somebody else is going off,
    getting shot to the moon.
    Or, a moon-race!
    Split seconds after
    my opposite number lands
    I make it—
    we lie fainting together
    at a crater-edge
    heavy as mercury in our moonsuits
    till he speaks—
    in a different language
    yet one I’ve picked up
    through cultural exchanges. . .
    we murmur the first moonwords:
    Spasibo. Thanks. O.K.

    • Emily says...

      My dear friend read “The Whistler” by Mary Oliver when I married my wife. I love that it captures the wonder of discovering your partner over and over. Every time I read it I tear up.

      All of a sudden she began to whistle. By all of a sudden
      I mean that for more than thirty years she had not
      whistled. It was thrilling. At first I wondered, who was
      in the house, what stranger? I was upstairs reading, and
      she was downstairs. As from the throat of a wild and
      cheerful bird, not caught but visiting, the sounds war-
      bled and slid and doubled back and larked and soared.

      Finally I said, Is that you? Is that you whistling? Yes, she
      said. I used to whistle, a long time ago. Now I see I can
      still whistle. And cadence after cadence she strolled
      through the house, whistling.

      I know her so well, I think. I thought. Elbow and ankle-
      Mood and desire. Anguish and frolic. Anger too.
      And the devotions. And for all that, do we even begin
      to know each other? Who is this I’ve been living with
      for thirty years?

      This clear, dark, lovely whistler?

  37. Melissa says...

    This is beautiful…

  38. Aww, I love reading through all the poems in the comments! I read a Mark Twain poem to our husband during our reception as part of my speech (we both gave short thank you speeches):

    These I Can Promise by Mark Twain

    I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
    I cannot promise riches, wealth, or gold;
    I cannot promise you an easy pathway
    That leads away from change or growing old.
    But I can promise all my heart’s devotion;
    A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow;
    A love that’s ever true and ever growing;
    A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.

  39. AD says...

    Our wedding poem. Simple but so sweet in its straightforward delivery of the very reason we were choosing each other.


    I like you and I know why.
    I like you because you are a good person to like.
    I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
    And you remember it a long, long time.
    You say, Remember when you told me something special
    And both of us remember

    When I think something is important
    you think it’s important too
    We have good ideas
    When I say something funny, you laugh
    I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
    I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
    And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
    But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too
    You know how to be silly
    That’s why I like you
    Boy are you ever silly
    I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
    I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
    Maybe day after tomorrow
    Maybe never
    Too late, it’s a quarter past silly
    Sometimes we don’t say a word
    We snurkle under fences
    We spy secret places
    If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off
    You are one too
    If I pretend I am drowning, you pretend you are saving me
    If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
    then you are getting ready to jump

    That’s because you really like me
    You really like me, don’t you
    And I really like you back
    And you like me back and I like you back
    And that’s the way we keep on going every day

    If you go away, then I go away too
    or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
    You don’t just say Well see you around sometime, bye
    I like you a lot because of that
    If I go away, I send you a postcard too
    And I like you because if we go away together
    And if we are in Grand Central Station
    And if I get lost
    Then you are the one that is yelling for me

    And I like you because when I am feeling sad
    You don’t always cheer me up right away
    Sometimes it is better to be sad
    You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
    You want to think about things
    It takes time

    I like you because if I am mad at you
    Then you are mad at me too
    It’s awful when the other person isn’t
    They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose

    I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
    then you are really sorry
    You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that
    You say, maybe it was something you ate
    You say, the same thing happened to me one time
    And the same thing did

    If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
    If I find four, I give you two
    If we only find three, we keep on looking
    Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don’t

    If I break my arm, and if you break your arm too
    Then it’s fun to have a broken arm
    I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours
    We are both sorry
    We write our names and draw pictures
    We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too

    I like you because I don’t know why but
    Everything that happens is nicer with you
    I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
    It must have been lonesome then

    I like you because because because
    I forget why I like you but I do
    So many reasons
    On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
    On the fifth of July, I like you too
    If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
    If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
    We could be a HOLIDAY
    We could be a CELEBRATION
    We could be a WHOLE PARADE
    See what I mean?

    Even if it was the 999th of July
    Even if it was August
    Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
    Even if it was no place particular in January
    I would go on choosing you
    And you would go on choosing me
    Over and over again
    That’s how it would happen every time
    I don’t know why
    I guess I don’t know why I really like you
    Why do I like you
    I guess I just like you
    I guess I just like you because I like you.

    • Jenny says...

      This is really simple, clever and lovely :) I think it captures the little joys that make a really great relationship. Thanks for sharing.

    • m says...

      Gosh I just loved this.

    • Kim says...

      I love this. My husband and I say just as many “I like yous” as “I love yous” to each other. Sometimes hearing “I like you” is even more powerful than the other, especially if I’m feeling not particularly likeable :)

  40. Steph says...

    This is my favorite. I love its simplicity and how unsentimental it is:

    by Seamus Heaney

    Masons, when they start upon a building,
    Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

    Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
    Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

    And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
    Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

    So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
    Old bridges breaking between you and me

    Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
    Confident that we have built our wall.

    • janet says...

      Thank you Steph! This is so lovely. I am saving this one.

    • Lauren E. says...

      Wow wow wow. This is everything. Thank you for sharing.

    • Madelyn says...

      Thank you for sharing, that was beautiful.

  41. Sarah says...

    This is one of my favorites, by Pablo Neruda (which is much more delicious in its original Spanish)

    When I die

    When I die I want your hands on my eyes:
    I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
    to pass their freshness over me one more time
    to feel the smoothness that changed my destiny.

    I want you to live while I wait for you, asleep,
    I want for your ears to go on hearing the wind,
    for you to smell the sea that we loved together
    and for you to go on walking the sand where we walked.

    I want for what I love to go on living
    and as for you I loved you and sang you above everything,
    for that, go on flowering, flowery one,

    so that you reach all that my love orders for you,
    so that my shadow passes through your hair,
    so that they know by this the reason for my song.

    • Nina says...

      That’s breathtaking – thank you for sharing it.

    • Amanda says...

      Pablo Neruda is one of my favorites! So many of his poems make my heart skip a beat…

  42. Bonnie says...

    I am not a poetry lover – I think I’m not a deep enough thinker/feeler. But we used this in our very small wedding…

    Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

    Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship – as they threaten all relationships at one time or another – remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong.

    In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives – remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight. ~ Apache Marriage Blessing

  43. AC says...

    This reminds me of one of my favorite songs by the Lemonheads (Evan Dando), Being Around. A little less sappy, a slightly different perspective, but even more amazing:

    If I was in the fridge, would you open the door?
    If I was the grass, would you mow your lawn?
    If I was your body, would you still wear clothes?
    If I was a booger, would you blow your nose?
    Would you keep it? would you eat it?
    I’m just tryin to give myself a reason, for being around.

    If I was the front porch swing would you let me hang?
    If I was the dance floor would you shake your thing?
    If I was a rubber check would you let me bounce
    Up and down inside your bank account?
    Would ya trust me, not to break you?
    I’m just tryin really hard to make you,
    Notice me being around.

    If I was a haircut would you wear a hat?
    If I was a maid, could I clean your flat?
    If I was the carpet would ya wipe your feet,
    In time to save me from mud off the street?
    If you like me, if you love me,
    Why don’t you get down on your knees
    And scrub me?
    I’m a little grubby
    From being around.

  44. Wink says...

    This poem is never one I would read at a wedding, but to me it is a devastatingly raw, true and loving portrayal of what marriage is. Standing by the one you love through sickness and health. (Robert Lowell suffered many nervous breakdowns and Elizabeth Hardwick, his wife, whom he wrote this for, saw him through.)

    Man and Wife

    Tamed by Miltown, we lie on Mother’s bed;
    the rising sun in war paint dyes us red;
    in broad daylight her gilded bed-posts shine,
    abandoned, almost Dionysian.
    At last the trees are green on Marlborough Street,
    blossoms on our magnolia ignite
    the morning with their murderous five days’ white.
    All night I’ve held your hand,
    as if you had
    a fourth time faced the kingdom of the mad—
    its hackneyed speech, its homicidal eye—
    and dragged me home alive. . . .Oh my Petite,
    clearest of all God’s creatures, still all air and nerve:
    you were in your twenties, and I,
    once hand on glass
    and heart in mouth,
    outdrank the Rahvs in the heat
    of Greenwich Village, fainting at your feet—
    too boiled and shy
    and poker-faced to make a pass,
    while the shrill verve
    of your invective scorched the traditional South.

    Now twelve years later, you turn your back.
    Sleepless, you hold
    your pillow to your hollows like a child;
    your old-fashioned tirade—
    loving, rapid, merciless—
    breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head.

    Robert Lowell, 1917 – 1977

  45. Jen says...

    This was ours, and it rings much more true now than it did at our wedding!

    The Invitation
    By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

    It doesn’t interest me
    what you do for a living.
    I want to know
    what you ache for
    and if you dare to dream
    of meeting your heart’s longing.

    It doesn’t interest me
    how old you are.
    I want to know
    if you will risk
    looking like a fool
    for love
    for your dream
    for the adventure of being alive.

    It doesnt interest me
    what planets are
    squaring your moon…
    I want to know
    if you have touched
    the centre of your own sorrow
    if you have been opened
    by life’s betrayals
    or have become shrivelled and closed
    from fear of further pain.

    I want to know
    if you can sit with pain
    mine or your own
    without moving to hide it
    or fade it
    or fix it.

    I want to know
    if you can be with joy
    mine or your own
    if you can dance with wildness
    and let the ecstasy fill you
    to the tips of your fingers and toes
    without cautioning us
    to be careful
    to be realistic
    to remember the limitations
    of being human.

    It doesn’t interest me
    if the story you are telling me
    is true.
    I want to know if you can
    disappoint another
    to be true to yourself.
    If you can bear
    the accusation of betrayal
    and not betray your own soul.
    If you can be faithless
    and therefore trustworthy.

    I want to know if you can see Beauty
    even when it is not pretty
    every day.
    And if you can source your own life
    from its presence.

    I want to know
    if you can live with failure
    yours and mine
    and still stand at the edge of the lake
    and shout to the silver of the full moon,

    It doesn’t interest me
    to know where you live
    or how much money you have.
    I want to know if you can get up
    after the night of grief and despair
    weary and bruised to the bone
    and do what needs to be done
    to feed the children.

    It doesn’t interest me
    who you know
    or how you came to be here.
    I want to know if you will stand
    in the centre of the fire
    with me
    and not shrink back.

    It doesn’t interest me
    where or what or with whom
    you have studied.
    I want to know
    what sustains you
    from the inside
    when all else falls away.

    I want to know
    if you can be alone
    with yourself
    and if you truly like
    the company you keep
    in the empty moments.

    • Emma says...

      My friends read this to each other at their wedding. It was so moving.

  46. Allie says...

    Aww, I loved that poem so much. This poem always strikes a chord in me. More in tune with loving yourself, the best relationship to love.

    GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

    Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

    And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    By Max Ehrmann © 1927
    Original text

  47. Meghan says...

    Yes! I love, “All I want is you” by Barry Polisar – Song on the Juno soundtrack

    If I was a flower growing wild and free
    All I’d want is you to be my sweet honey bee
    And if I was a tree growing tall and green
    All I’d want is you to shade me and be my leaves

    All I want is you, will you be my bride
    Take me by the hand and stand by my side
    All I want is you, will you stay with me?
    Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea

    If you were a river in the mountains tall
    The rumble of your water would be my call
    If you were the winter, I know I’d be the snow
    Just as long as you were with me, when the cold winds blow

    • Shay says...

      My husband picked this for our wedding song! He picked one thing for our wedding, the music – a bluegrass band. They learned to play a few songs for us, that being one of them. We dreaded our first dance but once it was happening, we had so much fun :)

    • sara says...

      This is one of our favourite family songs and reading this poem also reminded me of it. My six year old daughter sometimes adds to the lyrics, which is sometimes sweet and sometimes, wtf? For example, “If you were a fork I would be your pin, and if you were a chicken I would be your skin!”

    • eliot says...

      This song is all I could think of while reading this post! So good.

  48. Jenny says...

    From our wedding, 13 years ago:

    “The minute I heard my first love story,
    I started looking for you, not knowing
    how blind that was.
    Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
    They’re in each other all along.”

    • Wink says...

      Thank you for posting this, Annie! How amazing to hear O’Hara’s voice and see his expressions. My favorite part of this recording may actually be hearing the NYC traffic honking in the background.

    • Natalie says...

      One of my absolute favourite poems – desperately romantic.

  49. m says...

    Both of us have abusive in our pasts, so believing in our love took enormous amounts of faith. I’m sharing only a portion of the poem.

    THE TRUE LOVE by David Whyte

    There is a faith in loving fiercely
    the one who is rightfully yours,
    especially if you have
    waited years and especially
    if part of you never believed
    you could deserve this
    loved and beckoning hand
    held out to you this way.

    I am thinking of faith now
    and the testaments of loneliness
    and what we feel we are
    worthy of in this world.
    so that when
    we finally step out of the boat
    toward them, we find
    everything holds
    us, and everything confirms
    our courage, and if you wanted
    to drown you could,
    but you don’t
    because finally
    after all this struggle
    and all these years
    you simply don’t want to
    any more

    you’ve simply had enough
    of drowning
    and you want to live and you
    want to love and you will
    walk across any territory
    and any darkness
    however fluid and however
    dangerous to take the
    one hand you know
    belongs in yours.

    • Cindy says...


    • Amy says...

      Well that just made me cry at work (sigh…)

  50. Natalie Gilbert says...

    My partner has this incredible, beautiful, contagious laugh. I read a few stanzas of this poem at our wedding (which was last weekend!). It left everyone very teary – him and I included.

    Your Laughter – Pablo Neruda

    Take bread away from me, if you wish,
    take air away, but
    do not take from me your laughter.

    Do not take away the rose,
    the lance flower that you pluck,
    the water that suddenly
    bursts forth in joy,
    the sudden wave
    of silver born in you.

    My struggle is harsh and I come back
    with eyes tired
    at times from having seen
    the unchanging earth,
    but when your laughter enters
    it rises to the sky seeking me
    and it opens for me all
    the doors of life.

    My love, in the darkest
    hour your laughter
    opens, and if suddenly
    you see my blood staining
    the stones of the street,
    laugh, because your laughter
    will be for my hands
    like a fresh sword.

    Next to the sea in the autumn,
    your laughter must raise
    its foamy cascade,
    and in the spring, love,
    I want your laughter like
    the flower I was waiting for,
    the blue flower, the rose
    of my echoing country.

    Laugh at the night,
    at the day, at the moon,
    laugh at the twisted
    streets of the island,
    laugh at this clumsy
    boy who loves you,
    but when I open
    my eyes and close them,
    when my steps go,
    when my steps return,
    deny me bread, air,
    light, spring,
    but never your laughter
    for I would die.

  51. Olivia says...

    I love the idea of a wedding poem and decided several years ago that I would have Eileen Myles’s “Peanut Butter” read at my future wedding to my then boyfriend, now fiancé. It will be read when we get married next summer :) We have been together since high school, so these lines always bring tears to my eyes:

    “why shouldn’t
    I have always
    known be the
    very best there
    is. I love
    you from my
    starting back
    there when
    one day was
    just like the
    rest, random
    growth and
    breezes, constant
    love, a sand-
    wich in the
    middle of
    a tiny step
    in the vastly
    path of
    the Sun. I
    squint. I
    wink. I
    take the

  52. Steph says...

    Not a poem, but this line from Emily Brontë gets me every time:

    “Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same.”

  53. Josie says...

    Either John Fuller’s Valentine (which we had at our wedding and is so romantic and sexy) or this extract from Autumn Journal by Louis MacNeice (my birthday is in September…)

    “September has come, it is hers
    Whose vitality leaps in the autumn,
    Whose nature prefers
    Trees without leaves and a fire in the fireplace.
    So I give her this month and the next
    Though the whole of my year should be hers who has rendered already
    So many of its days intolerable or perplexed
    But so many more so happy.
    Who has left a scent on my life, and left my walls
    Dancing over and over with her shadow
    Whose hair is twined in all my waterfalls
    And all of London littered with remembered kisses.”

  54. Shall i compare thee to a summer’s day
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate
    Rough winds do shake to the darling buds of May
    And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
    ——Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18——

  55. How wonderful! To Love & be Loved is perhaps the ultimate essence of our be-ing!:) Amor Omnia Vincit Love Conquers All! X

  56. Kate says...

    I found a poem, or maybe it was just advice, on Cup of Jo a few years ago, and have never been able to find it again.

    It was about relationships, and the content had something about ships can’t return to harbour, they have to just weather the storm together.

    ‘Just know you can’t go back there…’ perhaps was a line from it?

    Anyone remember it? Or even better…a link ☺️

    • Jess says...

      Kate — maybe I’m wrong, but by chance are you thinking of the ghost ships quote by Cheryl Strayed? one of my favorites:

      I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

    • Kate says...

      Jess, I do love that quote too. I’ve been thinking of it a lot recently, but sadly that’s not the one I’m after.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to post it.

    • Esther Zimmerman says...

      Hi Kate,

      Could it be Seth Adam Smith’d advice:
      “We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our marriage.
      Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.”

      Sending you warmth,

  57. Leah says...

    Wow, This is so beautiful in capturing love!

  58. Megan Flowers says...

    Reminds me of Runaway Bunny ❤️

  59. Justine says...

    Ah yes. I love this one.

  60. Katie says...

    it may sound strange, but this poem reminds me of the Runaway Bunny, a children’s book that makes me actually sob when I read it to my kids. Something about the way that mother bunny chases and loves that baby bunny even when the baby bunny wants to go be independent just kills me.

    • Jen says...

      I was thinking the exact same thing! I love that book.

  61. I don’t know if romantic is the right term but these two poems by Tony Hoagland melted my heart when I read them last year:

    Better Than Expected

    Things were not as bad as I had thought.
    The scrape in the fender of the rented car
    could be hidden with a little white paint
    before I returned it to the agency.

    This CD of New Age music, which I disliked at first,
    with its synthetic wind of pulsing jellyfish,
    does a remarkable job of slowing down my heart.

    Merely to have survived to this point
    is already the most unlikely triumph;
    to still be breathing and trying to improve.

    Things are definitely better than expected.
    I’m not on trial for anything.
    I have given up on the idea of great success.
    The oncologist says the X-ray shows no “abnormalities.”

    We are always trying to come to a decision,
    always in a place where we are making up our minds
    whether the soup is good, the flowers pretty,
    whether we are fortunate, or poor.

    All my life I have been
    loved by women,
    held up by water,
    ignored by war.
    I have outlasted the voluntary numbness
    I required to remain alive.

    Why shouldn’t I be able,
    why shouldn’t I be able now
    to walk down the street,

    under the overhanging trees,
    and raise my arms and say
    that the rain shaking down from the leaves

    is not an inconvenience but a joy?


    • I LOVE this poem. thank you

    • AP says...

      So poignant. Especially now that he is gone, and too soon.

  62. shannon says...

    This reminds me of the lyrics to “All I Want Is You” by Barry Louis Polisar:
    If I was a flower growing wild and free
    All I’d want is you to be my sweet honey bee
    And if I was a tree growing tall and green
    All I’d want is you to shade me and be my leaves

    All I want is you, will you be my bride
    Take me by the hand and stand by my side
    All I want is you, will you stay with me?
    Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea

    If you were a river in the mountains tall
    The rumble of your water would be my call
    If you were the winter, I know I’d be the snow
    Just as long as you were with me, let the cold winds blow

    If you were a wink, I’d be a nod
    If you were a seed, well I’d be a pod
    If you were the floor, I’d wanna be the rug
    And if you were a kiss, I know I’d be a hug

    If you were the wood, I’d be the fire
    If you were the love, I’d be the desire
    If you were a castle, I’d be your moat
    And if you were an ocean, I’d learn to float

    • molly says...

      love this song! I thought the same thing!

  63. Jess says...

    Thomas Wyatt’s poem about Anne Boleyn, ‘Whoso List To Hunt’ is incredible, sexy, and dangerous. It’s one of my favourites, maybe not stereotypically romantic but it’s the most passionate given the story behind it. It gives me shivers every time I read it.

  64. Jillian says...

    I’ve been married for 14 years. Every year on our anniversary I read The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry to myself and have a little cry. It’s such a beautiful picture of deep, long lasting love.

    It’s long, but here’s my favorite stanza:

    Sometimes our life reminds me
    of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
    and in that opening a house,
    an orchard and garden,
    comfortable shades, and flowers
    red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
    made in the light for the light to return to.
    The forest is mostly dark, its ways
    to be made anew day after day, the dark
    richer than the light and more blessed,
    provided we stay brave
    enough to keep on going in.

    • Jen M says...

      We read that at our wedding (2-1/2 years ago), and that exact section of the poem is hanging in our house.

  65. Mary Beth says...

    This poem, for me, is the perfect description of those first experiences of the pain and the glory of young love.
    by Gary Soto

    The first time I walked
    With a girl, I was twelve,
    Cold, and weighted down
    With two oranges in my jacket.

    December. Frost cracking
    Beneath my steps, my breath
    Before me, then gone,

    As I walked toward
    Her house, the one whose
    Porch light burned yellow
    Night and day, in any weather.

    A dog barked at me, until
    She came out pulling
    At her gloves, face bright
    With rouge. I smiled,
    Touched her shoulder, and led
    Her down the street, across
    A used car lot and a line
    Of newly planted trees,
    Until we were breathing

    Before a drugstore. We
    Entered, the tiny bell
    Bringing a saleslady
    Down a narrow aisle of goods.

    I turned to the candies
    Tiered like bleachers,
    And asked what she wanted –

    Light in her eyes, a smile
    Starting at the corners
    Of her mouth. I fingered
    A nickel in my pocket,
    And when she lifted a chocolate
    That cost a dime,
    I didn’t say anything.
    I took the nickel from
    My pocket, then an orange,
    And set them quietly on
    The counter. When I looked up,
    The lady’s eyes met mine,
    And held them, knowing
    Very well what it was all


    A few cars hissing past,
    Fog hanging like old
    Coats between the trees.
    I took my girl’s hand
    in mine for two blocks,
    Then released it to let
    Her unwrap the chocolate.

    I peeled my orange
    That was so bright against
    The gray of December
    That, from some distance,
    Someone might have thought

    I was making a fire in my hands.

    • agnes says...

      Love this story!

    • Maiz says...

      I read through all of the comments until this one, and it’s the one that brought the tears. Perfect.

  66. Gina Moore says...

    In case anyone reading this needs another idea for a reading at their wedding, this one was ours!

    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

    “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches they find that they are one tree and not two.”

    • M says...

      This made me teary. So beautiful and true.

    • Jane says...

      At our wedding, the clerk -asked by us- read a poem be Erich Fried that still gives me chills 13 yrs later.
      Here is the original and an English translation below:

      Was es ist

      Es ist Unsinn
      sagt die Vernunft
      Es ist was es ist
      sagt die Liebe

      Es ist Unglück
      sagt die Berechnung
      Es ist nichts als Schmerz
      sagt die Angst
      Es ist aussichtslos
      sagt die Einsicht
      Es ist was es ist
      sagt die Liebe

      Es ist lächerlich
      sagt der Stolz
      Es ist leichtsinning
      sagt die Vorsicht
      Es ist unmöglich
      sagt die Erfahrung
      Es ist was es ist
      sagt die Liebe

      Erich Fried

      English translation:

      What it is

      It is nonsense
      says reason
      It is what it is
      says love

      It is misfortune
      says calculation
      It is nothing but pain
      says fear
      It is hopeless
      says insight
      It is what it is
      says love

      It is ridiculous
      says pride
      It is careless
      says caution
      It is impossible
      says experience
      It is what it is
      says love

      Translation by M. Kaldenbach

    • Jenn says...

      I adore Louis de Bernieres, and this passage.

  67. Hannah says...

    My wedding is in less than three weeks (eek) and our five year old has learnt a poem by heart to recite to us. Its adapted from the book “Some Things Go Together”, by Charlotte Zolotow

    “Pairs of things that go together:
    Pigeons with park
    Stars with dark
    Sand with sea
    and you with me.

    Hats with heads
    Pillows with beds
    Sky with blue
    and me with you.”

    • spark says...

      Oh my, that is just gorgeous and to have your child recite it… how utterly perfect.

    • M says...

      Congratulations! This will be such a memorable, sweet and sentimental moment, I’m sure. So perfect.

    • Regan says...

      I’ve always loved this one for the emotion it evokes of being all consumed by someone.

      I wrote a good omelet by Nikki Giovanni

      I wrote a good omelet… and ate a hot poem… after loving you,

      Buttoned my car… and drove my coat home… after loving you

      I goed on red and stopped on green… floating somewhere in between… being here and being there… after loving you

      I rolled my bed and turned down my hair slightly confused but… I don’t care…

      Laid out my teeth… and gargled my gown… then I stood … and laid me down…

      to sleep… after loving you

  68. Danae says...

    Here’s Billy Collins’ take on love poetry…

    You are the bread and the knife,
    The crystal goblet and the wine…
    -Jacques Crickillon

    You are the bread and the knife,
    the crystal goblet and the wine.
    You are the dew on the morning grass
    and the burning wheel of the sun.
    You are the white apron of the baker,
    and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

    However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
    the plums on the counter,
    or the house of cards.
    And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
    There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

    It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
    maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
    but you are not even close
    to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

    And a quick look in the mirror will show
    that you are neither the boots in the corner
    nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

    It might interest you to know,
    speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
    that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

    I also happen to be the shooting star,
    the evening paper blowing down an alley
    and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

    I am also the moon in the trees
    and the blind woman’s tea cup.
    But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
    You are still the bread and the knife.
    You will always be the bread and the knife,
    not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.
    Billy Collins

    • Michelle says...

      This is immediately what I thought of too! Love this poem.

    • Anna says...

      I’ve always loved this poem!

  69. KRIS HUNTINGTON says...

    My wedding poem, I had to hunt for it…. :-)

    January 26th
    By Paul Lehman

    Freedom is wonderful
    You can choose not to know
    the names of actors and blues bands
    or the teams playing in the Super Bowl
    You can go to bed instead of going to the moves
    and if you’re luck the person
    next to you will be you
    of the curly locks what a coincidence
    how sweet to think of all the routes
    we have taken to arrive at this moment
    and I wonder whether we were ever
    in the same place at the same time
    before we knew each other
    and now good morrow to our waking souls
    I am going to commit your scent to memory
    and when you aren’t here you’ll still be here
    and the person kissing you will be me

    From: The Daily Mirror: a journal in poetry

    • KRIS HUNTINGTON says...

      typo in line 5: lucky

  70. Anna says...

    Variation on the Word Sleep
    by Margaret Atwood

    I would like to watch you sleeping,
    which may not happen.
    I would like to watch you,
    sleeping. I would like to sleep
    with you, to enter
    your sleep as its smooth dark wave
    slides over my head

    and walk with you through that lucent
    wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
    with its watery sun & three moons
    towards the cave where you must descend,
    towards your worst fear

    I would like to give you the silver
    branch, the small white flower, the one
    word that will protect you
    from the grief at the center
    of your dream, from the grief
    at the center. I would like to follow
    you up the long stairway
    again & become
    the boat that would row you back
    carefully, a flame
    in two cupped hands
    to where your body lies
    beside me, and you enter
    it as easily as breathing in

    I would like to be the air
    that inhabits you for a moment
    only. I would like to be that unnoticed
    & that necessary.

    • Jenny says...

      That is so beautiful! x

  71. Sarah says...

    I am getting married in a month and chose this poem to put on the back of our wedding program. I feel like it perfectly captures long-term relationships.

    The Wild Rose

    Sometimes hidden from me
    in daily custom and in trust,
    so that I live by you unaware
    as by the beating of my heart,

    suddenly you flare in my sight,
    a wild rose blooming at the edge
    of thicket, grace and light
    where yesterday was only shade,

    and once more I am blessed, choosing
    again what I chose before.

    -Wendell Berry

    • Rae says...

      Love that poem Sarah. I hope your wedding day is lovely!

  72. Sheila says...

    I read poetry to my love in bed often, usually once a week :) She loves the sound of my voice, and I love to read out loud. We’ve been working through Mary Lambert’s poems from “Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across” for a few months.

  73. Ruth says...

    I loved that scene in the movie too! And the poem made me think of the childrens’s book, “The Runaway Bunny”. :)

    • MICHELLE GAVIN says...

      I thought the same thing……Runaway Bunny ??

    • Joanna says...

      Me too! Particularly the ” If you become a bird and fly away from me, I will be a tree you come home to” line (so lovely!).

  74. Nicky says...

    This was read to me on Valentine’s Day. I find it so incredibly dear.

    Valentine for Ernest Mann
    by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

    You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
    Walk up to the counter and say, “I’ll take two”
    and expect it to be handed back to you
    on a shiny plate.
    Still, I like your spirit.
    Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
    write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
    So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
    poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
    they are sleeping. They are the shadows
    drifting across our ceilings the moment
    before we wake up. What we have to do
    is live in a way that lets us find them.
    Once I knew a man who gave his wife
    two skunks for a valentine.
    He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
    “I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
    And he was serious. He was a serious man
    who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
    just because the world said so. He really
    liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
    as valentines and they became beautiful.
    At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
    in the eyes of skunks for centuries
    crawled out and curled up at his feet.
    Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
    we find poems. Check your garbage, the off sock
    in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
    And let me know.

    • AbbieMirand says...

      I love Pablo Neruda for his drama, I can feel his hunger for the one he loves, it leaps off of the page!

      “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”

    • Ruth says...

      I just love her.

  75. Elizabeth says...

    My boyfriend reads a lot of poetry to me and boy can I tell you it IS dreamy.

    One of my favorites is ‘Can’t Get Over Her’ by Ellen Bass, though it is possibly not the most romantic poem. Depends on how you define it I guess.

  76. Bailey says...

    It’s like Margaret Wise Brown’s children’s book “The Runaway Bunny”!

  77. Shannon says...

    I love the line from your wedding poem: “A hunger comes into your body, so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.”

    My favorite lines from one of our wedding poems, “Like the Water” by Wendell Berry

    Like the water
    of a deep stream,
    love is always too much.
    We did not make it.
    Though we drink till we burst,
    we cannot have it all,
    or want it all.
    In its abundance
    it survives our thirst.

  78. Anna says...

    Our wedding vows were poems! My husband’s was from Walt Whitman’s Sobg of the Open Road:
    Allons! the road is before us!
    It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!

    Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!
    Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
    Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
    Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

    Camerado, I give you my hand!
    I give you my love more precious than money,
    I give you myself before preaching or law;
    Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
    Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
    And mine was Pathways by Rilke:
    Understand, I’ll slip quietly
    away from the noisy crowd
    when I see the pale
    stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.

    I’ll pursue solitary pathways
    through the pale twilit meadows,
    with only this one dream:
    You come too.
    They made me so happy!

    • Pathways! Oh my! Stowing that one away… Lovely.

  79. Kate Dwyer says...

    The title of this poem is “Para una joven amiga que intentó quitarse la vida” – “For a young friend who tried to take her own life,” which puts a totally different spin on it. Heartbreaking and beautiful. <3

  80. Lilly says...

    Pablo Neruda’s Poem #20. Of course the translation to English doesn’t sound as romantic as the original one, but still.

    Tonight I Can Write
    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    Write, for example, “The night is starry
    and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.”
    The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
    Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
    I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
    She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
    How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
    Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
    To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
    To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
    And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
    What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
    The night is starry and she is not with me…

    • Natalie says...

      I was literally just about to write anything by Pablo Neruda . This poem is so beautiful . I am not a poetry geek but if someone recited this to me, I’d definitely be weak in the Knees

    • stacy says...

      YES! THIS! This is the most heartbreaking, devastatingly beautiful poem. The Merwin translation is my favorite.

  81. Linds says...

    Such a great topic. THIS is my favorite:

    Quarantine by Eavan Boland

    In the worst hour of the worst season
    of the worst year of a whole people
    a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
    He was walking – they were both walking – north.

    She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
    He lifted her and put her on his back.
    He walked like that west and west and north.
    Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

    In the morning they were both found dead.
    Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
    But her feet were held against his breastbone.
    The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

    Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
    There is no place here for the inexact
    praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
    There is only time for this merciless inventory:

    Their death together in the winter of 1847.
    Also what they suffered. How they lived.
    And what there is between a man and woman.
    And in which darkness it can best be proved.

  82. Annie says...

    This reminds me of when my husband and I were first dating. We wandered into an old book store before we headed to a movie. My husband sat in an old chair in the back and I sat on his lap. I read to him my favorite poem by Pablo Naruto. “I want to do with you
    What spring does with the cherry trees.”

    Now, I lay here pregnant with our first child. He brings me spring every day.

    • AbbieMirand says...

      Such beautiful words, and imagery!

    • Laura D. says...

      That is so beautiful, Annie.

  83. Heather says...

    Ohhhhh- This is gorgeous! Reminds me of The Avett Brothers “I wish I was” … simple and deeply sweet sentiments in both.

    • Claire says...

      I just heard them play this at a concert a few weeks ago and cried like a baby. I love them. ❤️

    • CBK says...

      Yes! I was thinking the same thing, too. :) I’ve been to probably a dozen Avett Brothers concerts and have never NOT cried like a baby at least once during the show.
      I officiated the wedding of two good friends a couple years ago and they chose this passage from The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman as one of the readings. It’s beautiful and made me cry every time I heard it:

      “I will love you forever; whatever happens.
      Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again.
      I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment.
      And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart.
      Every atom of me and every atom of you.
      We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams.
      And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.”

  84. I love poetry, but my absolute favorite “The Knowing” by Sharon Olds. It is so incredible intimate–I tear up every time I read it. <3

    Afterwards, when we have slept, paradise-
    comaed and woken, we lie a long time
    looking at each other.

    I do not know what he sees, but I see
    eyes of surpassing tenderness
    and calm, a calm like the dignity
    of matter. I love the open ocean
    blue-grey-green of his iris, I love
    the curve of it against the white,
    that curve the sight of what has caused me
    to come, when he’s quite still, deep
    inside me. I have never seen a curve
    like that, except the earth from outer
    space. I don’t know where he got
    his kindness without self-regard,
    almost without self, and yet
    he chose one woman, instead of the others.

    By knowing him, I get to know
    the purity of the animal
    which mates for life. Sometimes he is slightly
    smiling, but mostly he just gazes at me gazing,
    his entire face lit. I love
    to see it change if I cry–there is no worry,
    no pity, no graver radiance. If we
    are on our backs, side by side,
    with our faces turned fully to face each other,
    I can hear a tear from my lower eye
    hit the sheet, as if it is an early day on earth,
    and then the upper eye’s tears
    braid and sluice down through the lower eyebrow
    like the invention of farming, irrigation, a non-nomadic people.

    I am so lucky that I can know him.
    This is the only way to know him.
    I am the only one who knows him.

    When I wake again, he is still looking at me,
    as if he is eternal. For an hour
    we wake and doze, and slowly I know
    that though we are sated, though we are hardly
    touching, this is the coming the other
    coming brought us to the edge of–we are entering,
    deeper and deeper, gaze by gaze,
    this place beyond the other places,
    beyond the body itself, we are making

    • Lauren says...

      Wow that’s beautiful. I am teary for sure.

    • Amanda Rhodes says...

      I think “The Promise” by Sharon Olds is my favorite love poem ever.

  85. Lauren says...

    That poem reminds of the song All I Want Is You by Barry Louis Polisar that I think plays at the beginning of Juno. It’s so sweet!

    • NN says...

      Ha! SAME!
      I love that song! Thank you for finding the singer so now I’ll get it.

    • Ali says...

      I thought the same!

    • Sarah says...

      Yes! I couldn’t quite place it but I could hear the refrain in my head. Thank you!