Maybe you’ve read one of Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s Sonnets from the Portuguese. If you’ve ever said something like “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” you’re quoting Sonnet #43, which is far sweeter and more poignant than its clichéd reputation would have you believe. Here is Sonnet 22. As you might remember (or not) from high school English, the first two quatrains of this type of sonnet (Petrarchan, or Italian) present a problem, followed by a proposed resolution in the following six lines. Typically, there is a “turn” near the ninth line, indicating a thematic movement from problem to resolution.
Not that you need to know any of that to enjoy this poem. In fact, you might get confused looking for a strict problem and solution. (I did.) And if you enjoy it, or if you enjoy lots of poems about love and being loved, you might check out the whole Sonnets. And can I just say in passing that this poem shares a lot of sentiment with Twilight. No offense to Ms. Browning.
Question: Do you have any favorite love poems?
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvèd point–what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think. In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd,–where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.