If the TV sitcoms we grew up with were any indication, then all wives really want on Valentine’s Day is for their spouse to show up with a giant, satin-covered box of chocolates and an armful of long-stemmed red roses — or even a poetic declaration of true love, spoken aloud for all to hear. Of course, TV isn’t real life (even if chocolate is always a win), and not everyone has the ability to wax poetic on the spot. So what are some existing Valentine’s Day love poems your wife is sure to fall in love with this year?
And no, I’m not talking about the kind of flowery cursive prose you find inside a greeting card at the pharmacy. That’s not to say there aren’t some perfectly fine pre-packaged choices you can stuff into a red envelope, of course, but if you’re looking to show your wife how deeply loved she is on a more literary level, there’s certainly no lack of love poems out there that are bound to speak to her very soul. Whether you write one of these out by hand on carefully chosen, artisan-made paper or get down on one knee to read it out loud (or, let’s face it, copy and paste it into a text because it’s the thought that counts, right?), these gorgeous words could be just what her heart needs to hear this Valentine’s Day.
“Looking at Each Other” by Muriel Rukeyser
Perhaps best known for her poems about feminism, social justice and Judaism, Muriel Rukeyser also wrote one stunning love poems, like “Looking at Each Other” (particularly timely for its references to fighting for acceptance in same sex relationships).
Yes, we were looking at each other
Yes, we knew each other very well
Yes, we had made love with each other many times
Yes, we had heard music together
Yes, we had gone to the sea together
Yes, we had cooked and eaten together
Yes, we had laughed often day and night
Yes, we fought violence and knew violence
Yes, we hated the inner and outer oppression
Yes, that day we were looking at each other
“After Paradise” by Czeslaw Milosz
With the very first line of “After Paradise,” Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz speaks to the spousal relationship: “Don’t run anymore.” What follows serves as an exquisite reminder of how important it is to always hold the little things in a long-term relationship sacred.
You must be attentive: the tilt of a head,
A hand with a comb, two faces in a mirror
Are only forever once, even if unremembered,
So that you watch what it is, though it fades away,
And are grateful every moment for your being.
Let that little park with greenish marble busts
In the pearl-gray light, under a summer drizzle,
Remain as it was when you opened the gate.
And the street of tall peeling porticos
Which this love of yours suddenly transformed.
“Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy
Marriage isn’t always a bed of roses, as the saying goes, which is what makes Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy’s “Valentine” such a perfectly relatable (and yet somehow still so romantic) poem.
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
Here. It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram. Read more