English Poems

10. ‘Wild Nights’ by Emily Dickinson

A leading American poet (1830 – 1836), she is one of the most accessible and popular poets. This selection is not typical of her output and is surprisingly passionate for a woman of those times. Dickinson led a secluded life and it’s not certain for whom these lines were intended, ‘might I but moor tonight with thee’. Biographers believe that she may have created a fantasy for herself. But this may also have been a love poem for a man.

Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!
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9. ‘We Are Made One with What We Touch and See’ by Oscar Wilde

Of course, it’s well known that Wilde’s romantic exploits got him into trouble, resulting in a two-year sentence for hard labour.  He’s better known for his comedic plays and witty quotes than for his poems. This poem has the joyful line; ‘we draw the spring into our hearts and feel that life is good’. Read the full poem.

We shall be notes in that great Symphony
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres,
And all the live World’s throbbing heart shall be
One with our heart, the stealthy creeping years
Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die,
The Universe itself shall be our Immortality!
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8. ‘Bright Star’ by John Keats

A leading figure amongst the English Romantic poets, many of Keats’ poems are melancholic. He was a doomed man, dying of TB at the age of 26 in a house in Rome where he had gone to improve his health. The house, next to the Spanish Steps, is now a museum dedicated to his life and the life of Shelley. He wrote his poetry in a brief five-year period. Sensual love is celebrated in the line, ‘pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast’.

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.
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7. ‘Another Valentine’ by Wendy Cope

This is from the point of view of a couple that have been together a long time. At first, Cope seems slightly resentful that she is being forced into making a romantic declaration just because a certain date in the calendar demands it, but she gets into the spirit of the occasion and her love for her man shines through. They are sure of each other, as shown by ‘you know I’m yours and I know you are mine’. It is more difficult to find love poems for him, but “Another Valentine” is just that.

Today we are obliged to be romantic
And think of yet another valentine.
We know the rules and we are both pedantic:
Today’s the day we have to be romantic.
Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.
You know I’m yours and I know you are mine.
And saying that has made me feel romantic,
My dearest love, my darling valentine.

6. ‘A Drinking Song’ by W.B. Yeats

The title does not suggest a love poem and it’s debatable as to how much alcohol consumption is playing a part! Nevertheless, it is a romantic poem. The opening lines are ‘wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye’ Let’s hope they don’t regret it in the morning.

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
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5. ‘Valentine’ by John Fuller

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Perhaps the least well known poet on the list, he is an English writer, born in 1937, and is the son of the feted poet, Ro

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