Poetry is one of the most profound ways to express the human spirit as it encounters the journey of life and love. And when you're brimming with joy or filled with emotion on the big day, a good poem can express all of this and more. In addition to your vows, a heartfelt piece of poetry is a special way to make an important moment even more memorable.
To add emotional depth to your ceremony (and your bookshelf!), we researched and sifted through poetry books, both current and historical, and narrowed down the must-reads about love. Whether you're planning your wedding or are on the hunt for the perfect anniversary gift—there's something here for everyone.
For lovers of modern yet heartfelt prose, our top picks are "Milk and Honey" and "Pillow Thoughts." Want to embrace the words of history's greatest poets? Go with "Love Letters of Great Men, Vol. 1" or "Love Poem Collection: The Greatest Love Poems of All Time."
Read on for the best poetry books about love.
The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz
Hafiz, a famous Persian poet during the 14th century, is a beloved favorite of Persian culture. Daniel Ladinsky, a poet himself and the book's translator, gives Hafiz’s voice a platform that transcends time and place.
Love Poem Collection: The Greatest Love Poems of All Time edited
If you’re looking for a comprehensive collection of love poems throughout history, add this pick to your shelf. Featuring great literary figures—Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Shakespeare, Henry Ford—the book was curated to cover the wide scope of human emotions that love provokes.
Love Letters of Great Men, Vol. 1 edited
Here’s a collection of real, romantic letters written by men to their lovers. As famously seen on Sex and the City: The Movie, this comprehensive book includes love letters written by Ludwig van Beethoven, Lord Byron, Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and more.
Originally published anonymously in 1952, Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems once caused a provocative scandal. His poems spoke of passions in a way that his formerly deemed “outrageous” poetry would eventually become to be praised. In this thematic book of poetry, Neruda takes refuge in the arms of his lover, Matilde Urrutia, on the dreamy island of Capri, embracing their seascape surroundings with eroticism.
Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom For A Better Life
Based on various notes author Cleo Wade compiled in her New York City apartment, Heart Talk's book of poems may likely be the de facto manual for moving through a 21st-century world. Wade's gentle words encourage readers to be graceful with themselves, especially their hearts.
The Major Works
William Wordsworth is widely considered one of the best English poets in history. He wrote about the celebration of nature, beauty, and love, and so The Major Works presents his poems in order of composition, allowing the reader to journey along with Wordsworth’s poetic development with each page turn.
Love Her Wild: Poems
Love Her Wild is a collection of short poems that embrace life’s small relatable moments, such as skinny-dipping on a hot summer night. Written by America’s emerging poetry sweetheart, Atticus addresses the highs and lows of love in provocative, brief prose.
The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry
This collection features love poems from all “the greats” of post-American and French revolutions—a time which celebrated a new innovative human spirit and its capacity to love. In The Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry, familiar poems such as Blake’s “Tyger” or Coleridge’s “Khubla Khan” read alongside poetry from lesser-known female poets such as Charlotte Smith and Mary Robinson.
Life on Mars: Poems
Life on earth contains multitudes, and so does love. The former U.S. poet laureate reveals these dimensions in her collection of intergalactic poems, Life on Mars, about the wonders of the human condition.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Mary Oliver celebrates love and elation with Felicity. Oliver is known to pull inspiration from wild landscapes in previous books such as Blue Horses and Dog Songs, where she describes humans' loving relationships with animals. In this book of poems, she explores what it’s like to fall in love with another person and ponders human connection.
Mixed Feelings: Poems and Stories
Mixed Feelings, authored by Avan Jogia, explores the mixed-race experience alongside interwoven themes of love, identity, and longing in straightforward language with impact. Take for example, the fateful short story, "Mohammad Omar Atif." "The meter ran and ran, and so did their mouths, so they turned off the meter and circled the block for a while and have been circling each other ever since."
Milk and Honey
Written by Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey examines love through the lens of suffering and survival. Kaur's poems take readers into dark corners of life—love during or after loss, tragedy, and violence, and unveils the sweet moments that still exist within them.
The Princess Saves Herself in This One
This poetry book is broken into four parts—the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. Written by Amanda Lovelace, The Princess Saves Herself in This One explores love, loss, grief, power, and possibilities through the eyes of the author’s own personal experience.
Her Favorite Color Was Yellow
Her Favorite Color Was Yellow by Edgar Holmes is a tribute to his wife and soulmate. The poems highlight the experience of love from its soaring peaks to its lonely valleys.
Written by Sydney-based LGBTQ+ writer Courtney Peppernell, Pillow Thoughts explores love and loss through raw emotion. The book is divided into separate sections for readers to turn to, "If you are soul-searching," or "If you need a reason to stay," for example.
Bitter Sweet Love
Written by best-selling author Michael Faudet, Bitter Sweet Love embodies his whimsical, haunting, and seductive writing. The book is a continuation of his debut Dirty Pretty Things. Bitter Sweet Love explores love, heartbreak, relationships and sex through poetry, verse, and short stories.
O: Love Poems from the Ozarks
Written by Dave Malone, O: Love Poems from the Ozarks is a collection of poetry rooted in the surroundings of the Ozarks, a mountain range in southern Missouri. Drawing from nature in all of its erotic forms, Malone’s verses waken and intrigue, inviting readers to unearth their passions.
The Tale of Genji
Written during 11th century medieval Japan, The Tale of Genji is about a shining young prince and his passionate adventures in love. Though technically a novel, Genji’s provocative character goes through turbulent nature, love affairs, alliances, and shifting political fortunes written through poetic language.
What to Look for in Love Poetry Books
Style and Theme
When on the search for the perfect poem to share on your wedding day, consider the style and tone you'd like to go for. Do you want deeply romantic and lengthy proclamations of your love, or short and sweet metaphorical prose? Decide what kind of poetry you prefer, then search for books in that realm.
What are the characteristics of a love poem?
A great love poem provokes emotion in its readers, oftentimes through a range of imagery and symbolism choices. Many poets will compare their deep love for their muse to tangible things or use visual elements. For instance, in "Milk and Honey," Rupi Kaur writes, "I could light a whole city and then I want to have you cause the two of us combined could set it on fire."
What should be included in a poetry book?
In general, a poetry book will be filled with a wide range of poems that flow well together. They will be similar in themes and placed in a deliberate order that offers the reader somewhat of a "story" to follow.
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