Beloved Poetry Readings for Valentine’s Day

Have you ever read something and thought to yourself, “Hey! That is precisely how I feel!” I’m a self-proclaimed word nerd, so I often encounter passages that feel like they were written for me. I did not realize until today that February had snuck up on me. Oh, February, the month of romance! Valentine’s Day is next week, so in honor of this holiday, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite poetry readings on love. Feel free to run with them and make the day memorable for your loved one! Hopefully, I can make your planning easier this year.

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Excerpt from “La Vita Nuova” by Dante

Suppose you are looking for the perfect lines expressing the “love at first sight” ideology. In that case, you may want to consider this excerpt that Dante wrote about his idealized love for Beatrice.

                In that book which is

                My Memory…

                On the first page

                That is the chapter when

                I first met you

                Appear the words…

                Here begins a new life.

This excerpt is sweet and simple and can be added to any card or memorized quickly. Personally, it would be hopelessly romantic to recite these few lines as you hand your love a bouquet of roses.

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Excerpt from “Paradise Lost” by John Milton

For my fellow nature lovers out there, I suggest the following excerpt from Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Although this excerpt is a little longer than the last one, it is touching. Eve is exclaiming that even though she and Adam are surrounded by nature’s breathtaking beauty and other wonders, none of them means anything to her without him.

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With thee conversing I forget all time;
All seasons, and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds: pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night
With this her solemn bird and this fair moon,
And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:
But neither breath of Morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers;
Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night
With this her solemn bird; nor walk by moon,
Or glittering star-light without thee is sweet.

Nothing sweeps us up quite like the longing of love, does it? On a fun side note, did you know that my first name Sabrina was mentioned in Milton’s Comus? She was a water nymph, and her name is derived from a Welsh river.

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“Valentine” by Donald Hall

For a playful poem that is also heartfelt, read Hall’s “Valentine.” In this poem, he alternates between the life and power of animals mixed with his own declarations of love.

Chipmunks jump, and

Greensnakes slither.

Rather burst than

Not be with her.

Bluebirds fight, but

Bears are stronger.

We’ve got fifty

Years or longer.

Hoptoads hop, but

Hogs are fatter.

Nothing else but

Us can matter.

I can see this poem also being read to children due to its playful nature.

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“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

One of my favorite periods of history, the Victorian, brought us the lovely poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She had an interesting romance with fellow poet Robert Browning. Even though Elizabeth was sickly and her family was not keen on Robert, he married her. He whisked her away to the Tuscan sunshine. There their love bloomed and flourished. Whenever I think of love poetry, the first line of this poem Elizabeth wrote to Robert always comes to mind first. I bet you have heard it before as well!

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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.

This is one of the poems that just gives me the “feels,” and I have no other way to describe it. My romantic heart soars with every line of this sonnet. It is a great one to steal, and you will most likely find it in several Valentine’s Day cards as well.

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“Decade” by Amy Lowell

For those of us who have been in a relationship for a while, we know the same person’s, familiar love. The love that captures our beings in the beginning fades, but it is the quieter love of choosing the same person every day that sustains us over time. In the following lines, Amy Lowell tenderly illustrates this love, and it reminds me of the love I share with my husband, JJ.

When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.

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I adore how she compares their love to the familiar things that we encounter every day. It allows us to connect to her words on a deeper level.

“Your Catfish Friend” by Richard Brautigan

Ok, I saved the best for last! The first time I read this poem, I started cracking up and probably sounded like a donkey braying because it sounds like the kind of poetry my husband would write for me. In this poem Richard uses the illustration of a catfish in a pond to make us feel the longing of love from afar. If you are an avid angler or simply enjoy the pastime of fishing, you cannot do better than this poem!

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If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
   one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
   of my affection
and think, “It’s beautiful
here by this pond.  I wish
   somebody loved me,”
I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
   at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond?  It seems like
a perfect place for them.”

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Even though I found this poem to be a bit comical because it feels so masculine and reminded me of my husband, it does strike a chord. It also had me thinking about when love started tickling the back of my neck as a child. I believe the bug started to get me around middle school, and I can identify with the poor catfish trapped in a pond longing to be noticed.

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Awwww love! It can be such a strong emotion, and the great philosophers were among the first to tell us that it can literally make us lose our minds. In the beginning, our brains dump so many chemicals into our system that we become addicted to the feeling. Overtime that, all calms down, and we settle into a more familiar kind of love. Regardless of where you are at in your journey of love, appreciate it, even if you are single! Learning to love myself was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn in this life, but the process to get there was worth every step.

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Nevertheless, I hope all of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! If you need more ideas of beautiful poetry or would like to schedule a surprise photosession for you and your loved one simply click here to be taken to my contact page. Until next time lovelies!

Ethereal Milk Bath Photoshoot Sabrina Greene Photography
Ethereal Milk Bath Photoshoot Sabrina Greene Photography

Model: @katyanechayeva | Romantic Bodysuit Design: Jon Pierce Fashions | Hair & Makeup: Fab Flawless with Sheri Gaffney and Cierra Long

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About Sabrina

Sabrina is a photographer located near Asheville, NC who loves to create stories through her lens. She is known for her conceptual photography inspired by literature and her love of books.

Sabrina is also a portrait, wedding, and small business photographer. Her artistic style bridges the line of cinema and paintings.

And when she’s not photographing people, you can find her indulging in journaling, reading traditional fairy and folktales, researching her beloved Southern Appalachia, daydreaming, or spending time with her family and her pampered dog, Pixel.

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