Love is a Many Clichéd Thing: How to Write an Original Love Poem

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By Faith Watson (fmwrites)

Cupid’s arrows will surely hit the target if you write your next love poem sincerely, without worry or pretense. But sometimes something extraspecial is called for. You want to write the big one, a love poem that will be read at the altar or found in a keepsake box decades from now. When it comes to writing a unique poem for your beloved, try drawing inspiration from a wide range of poetry—modern and classic, as well as poems written in different languages and from other cultures. Here are some approaches to help you melt a heart.

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Not all Roses are Red.

Not all lips are like cherries, either. Good to remember if you want to write a love poem focusing on the physical features of your subject. It’s been done so often it’s not easy to do without sounding rather copycat. However, there are plenty of classic and modern examples to help you expand on your imagery as you focus on the specific beauty of your loved one.

When Pablo Neruda provided descriptive imagery of his wife Matilde, he often related her personal qualities to nature, to culture, to the very land and times they shared. He was in awe as he described not just her features, but also her movements and habits.

From Neruda’s “Sonnet XXX”:

You have the thick hair from a larch of the archipelago,
skin made by centuries of time,

From Neruda’s “Sonnet XXXVI”:

I love to watch your miniature empire
sparkle: your weapons of wax and wine and oil,
garlic, and the soil that opens for your hands

If you’d like to evoke passion, you can dive right in and write the sexy parts—with or without reserve. Want to talk about body parts? Head straight to your favorites and take delight in them, as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu has done here in “Between Your Sheets”:

Imagination shows me all your charms,
The plenteous silken hair, and waxen arms,
The well turned neck, and snowy rising breast
And all the beauties that supinely rest
between your sheets.

Or, follow Shakespeare’s lead in “Sonnet 141.” Here he goes the opposite way, declaring it’s not how she looks that makes him love her; she has flaws but he loves her anyway:

In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;

L is for the way you Look at Love.

Elementary school teachers can use this device as a prompt for their students, but not the adult love poet. Avoid acronyms. M-A-R-R-Y-M-E works for sky writing but doesn’t read as a poetic attempt for expressing your deepest desires. However, writing out the lines that would follow your Capital Letters isn’t a bad exercise to get you started. You might find the seeds to grow a more sophisticated kind of poem. Consider how the famous lyrics to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” read when written as a poem with a few tweaks to tone them down:

The way you look at me,
you are the only one
I see. Extraordinary—
even more.

Words of love,
all that I can give.
We are two in love.
Take my one heart.
It was made for you.

How Do You Love Them?

Go ahead, count the ways. But for your poem, limit it to one powerful theme. It’s easier to be original if you keep it real. Choose a topic you can personally relate to your love. Nature? Home? Family? Here is a great example of using a simple, personal theme (in this case, an everyday habit of a couple) to craft a love poem:

Time and again, however well we know the landscape of love,
and the little church-yard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke, “Time and Again”

Love is Enough.

Sometimes, you don’t need to write to your love, you can craft a poem inspired by the great love you know. Try simply writing about love. How it feels to be you, in love. What has gone right in your world since finding love. How love has helped you find your heart, your path, your satisfaction in life.

William Morris wrote:

Love is enough: though the world be a-waning.

e.e. cummings wrote:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

Rumi, the Sufi poet, doesn’t hold back in this excerpt from “Looking for Your Face”:

From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it.

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for.

Today I have found you
and those that laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did.

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you with a hundred eyes.

Is anything more splendored than the truth about love? About all the dreams that come true for a soul that has found the love of a lifetime? Above all, be yourself as you set out to write your love poem. Let your beloved know it’s from you, with all your heart.

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