A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
The breath goes now, and some say, No:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do.

And though it in the center sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

—John Donne (1633)

Want to discuss this poem? Stop by our Poetry Classroom at Tweetspeak Poetry, and talk with Classics professor Karen Swallow Prior

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The Reading

Run your hand over the poem,
and you already know it.

Feel the round of the R to begin;
curl under the opening line and cup
the first y so you can feel its tail
tickling. Run your hand across
its side and gather up the poem,
the cup, the tail and begin down.

You will do this again, but for now
you already know what’s coming
before you know it—
the way I knew I would find you.

I knew the way a hand knows,
before a syllable is spoken.

—L.L. Barkat, author of the fiction-poetry title The Novelist

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Sonnet (With Children)

My love is like a deep and placid lake…
Not now, sweetie, Daddy’s busy, OK?
OK: my love’s a deep and peaceful lake…
Here, Daddy can fix it. All better. Now go play.
Um, my love, yes—a rose that blooms in spring…
You tell her Daddy says she has to share.
My love’s… My love’s a lake that blooms—no, that springs…
On the wall?! Her what?! No, wait—I’ll be right there.
OK—love, lake, spring, joy, flower bedding…
And why is the house so quiet now, I wonder?
Ah, fuck it! (Whoops! Don’t say that!) You know where I’m heading.
Don’t touch a thing—I need to get the plunger!
Forgive me, love, but time, as you know, is ticking.
So here: no you, no joy, no life. No kidding.

— Gabriel Spera

For more Gabriel Spera poems, see The Rigid Body

This poem appeared in Every Day Poems

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Sonnet 130: My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing like the Sun

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.

—William Shakespeare

For more Shakespeare love poems, see Love Poems & Sonnets of William Shakespeare

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A Red, Red Rose

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

—Robert Burns

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Einstein’s Happiest Moment

Einstein’s happiest moment
occurred when he realized
a falling man falling
beside a falling apple
could also be described
as an apple and a man at rest
while the world falls around them.

And my happiest moment
occurred when I realized
you were falling for me,
right down to the core, and the rest,
relatively speaking, has flown past
faster than the speed of light.

— Richard Berlin

For more Richard Berlin poems, see Secret Wounds

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A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
Because my love is come to me.

Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

—Christina Rossetti

For more love poems, see The Complete Poems, Christina Rossetti

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Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

—Elizabeth Barrett Browning

For more love poems, see Sonnets from the Portuguese and Other Poems

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How do I love thee Emily Dickinson art by Emily Wierenga

art by Emily Wierenga

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Shakespeare: Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

—William Shakespeare, 1609

The lover in The Novelist recites this sonnet to overcome the main character, Laura. It works. Read more about The Novelist at Tweetspeak Poetry.

For more Shakespeare love poems, see Love Poems & Sonnets of William Shakespeare

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Love—like there has never been Shakespeare in Love photo by Tina Howard

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