Celebrating Valentine's Day with five excerpts from the Love Poems Banded Book Set.
Before there were boomboxes to hold up outside your crush’s window there were love poems! Though they’ve not gone extinct, contemporary love poems present very different experiences of love than those of the pre-Internet age. If you’re looking for inspiration for how to woo your Valentine this month or maybe even on how to love yourself more, the poets of Valentine's past are a good place to start.
Understandably, poetry can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to love…luckily the Love Poems Banded Book Set, a collection of five anthologies concerning pleasure, flirtation, reflection, and yearning, is the perfect resource! A “love poem,” as this set shows us, doesn’t always have to be your tried and true high school English class “Shall I compare thee to a summer's day”; it can also come in the form of a rambling letter or a short song. If there is one takeaway from Love Poems, it is that a love based poetry is more about the energy than the form. Check out these beautiful examples and go forth and serve love this Valentine's Day!
Daosheng wrote this poem to her husband after being told that he was considering taking a concubine. Though concubinage was a common practice in imperial China often associated with great political power and wealth, Daosheng’s verse was so touching that her husband changed his mind. Though the poem’s origin exhumes some bigger issues of female agency and desire at the time, it is still ultimately very beautiful. If your crush needs a little convincing this year, consider telling them that your relationship reminds you of a special clay creation. Nothing says love like “There is you in my clay, and me in your clay.”
Shakespeare isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but hang in there because Sonnet 55 is a good one. If you don’t know where to go with sonnets, locate the last two lines, also called the “rhyming couplet!” In this poem’s final lines, Shakespeare promises his lover immortality, essentially saying that even though they will inevitably die, they will forever dwell in his work which will outlive society’s most beautiful monuments. He may have been on to something here, because here we are centuries later still imagining their love. If you’re feeling poetic this year, try writing a Valentine’s sonnet that makes your crush live forever.
To put it simply, American poet Theodore Roethke is urging you to trust the process! Just as the worm makes its way through dirt and the moon around the Earth, love always finds a way. Not that it is a competition, but “The Manifestation” is perhaps the best poem found among the five anthologies.
Unlike the other four excerpts, this love poem is written by a woman about another woman. In this ambiguous verse, St. Vincent Millay writes of a woman who challenges the domestic conventions of “wife” with her “witchy” unconventionality. It is unclear whether this poem was written about a lover or herself, but either way the cheeky excerpt above is fun inspiration for a “galentine’s” compliment.
Just one of several letters from novelist Franz Kafka to his fiancee Felice Bauer featured in Love Letters, the November 1st letter is hard to ignore. In this confession, Kafka admits that when it comes to hobbies, writing and thinking about Felice are neck in neck. It may be on the bold side but these lines could make for a great surprise V-day text message. If there were emojis 110 years ago, Kafka certainly would have utilized the red heart to punctuate his thoughts.