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John Richetti reads a selection of love poetry

Love Poems: an Anthology

Love has always been a recurring theme in poetic expression over the centuries. The speaker is almost always a man addressing a woman to praise her beauty or to declare his desire for her or even to berate her for refusing his advances, and often enough warning her that her beauty won't last. Love, of course, is a vague notion. The word can signify sexual desire or something less intense such as fondness and fellow-feeling for friends and relatives or indeed for the rest of the world, fellow humans and animals. I have been browsing lately in an anthology, A Book of Love Poetry, edited by Jon Stallworthy (Oxford University Press, 1973), and I have encountered many familiar poems and also many I did not know, including about a dozen by women. So here in this section I have chosen to record a number of love poems, including many that most readers like me will not be familiar with. As Stallworthy remarks in his introduction, "there are almost as many definitions of love as there are poets," and in "a high proportion of cases, what they have to say is said better, more freshly, than anything on any other subject." —John Richetti, 2021

  1. Anonymous, The Great Adventurer (1:28): MP3
  2. W.H. Auden, Lullaby (1:49): MP3
  3. John Berryman, Go Illsped Book (1:07): MP3
  4. John Betjeman, A Subaltern's Love Song (2:40): MP3
  5. John Betjeman, Late Flowering Lust (1:15): MP3
  6. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43 from the Portuguese (0:59): MP3
  7. Robert Browning, My Last Duchess (3:25): MP3
  8. Robert Burns, Ae Fond Kiss (1:18): MP3
  9. Robert Burns, My love is like a red, red, rose (0:46): MP3
  10. Robert Burns, Song (1:35): MP3
  11. Robert Burns, Ye Banks and Braes (1:01): MP3
  12. Lord Byron, She Walks in Beauty (0:56): MP3
  13. Lord Byron, So We'll Go No More A-Roving (0:38): MP3
  14. Roy Campbell, The Sisters (1:21): MP3
  15. Thomas Campion, Cherry Ripe (1:01): MP3
  16. Thomas Carew, A Song (1:04): MP3
  17. Richard Crashaw, Wishes to His Supposed Mistress (4:43): MP3
  18. John Donne, The Canonization (2:32): MP3
  19. John Donne, The Extaise (4:06): MP3
  20. John Donne, The Indifferent (1:45): MP3
  21. John Donne, To His Coy Mistress Going to Bed (3:13): MP3
  22. John Dryden, Song (1:06): MP3
  23. Richard Duke, No Title 1658-1711 (1:08): MP3
  24. T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (8:09): MP3
  25. William Empson, Vilanelle (1:21): MP3
  26. Robert Frost, The Rose Family (0:24): MP3
  27. Robert Graves, Down Wanton, Down (1:09): MP3
  28. Robert Graves, Sick Love (0:52): MP3
  29. Robert Graves, Symptoms of Love (0:36): MP3
  30. Thom Gunn, My Sad Captains (:53): MP3
  31. Anthony Hecht, Going The Rounds, A Sort of Love Poem (2:13): MP3
  32. A.D. Hope, The Gateway (0:56): MP3
  33. Ben Jonson, Drink to me only with thine eyes (0:47): MP3
  34. Ben Jonson, Song to Celia (0:52): MP3
  35. John Keats, Bright Star (0:56): MP3
  36. John Keats, La belle dame sans merci (2:09): MP3
  37. Cecil Day Lewis, Come Live With Me (0:50): MP3
  38. Garcia Lorca, La casada infiel (2:23): MP3
  39. Garcia Lorca, La casada infiel [English translation] (2:16): MP3
  40. Richard Lovelace, To Lucasta (1:33): MP3
  41. Richard Lovelace, To Althea, from Prison (1:22): MP3
  42. Patrick MacDonogh, She Walked Unaware (1:53): MP3
  43. Archibald MacLeish, Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments (2:12): MP3
  44. Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Lover (1:16): MP3
  45. Andrew Marvell, The Definition of Love (1:41): MP3
  46. Andrew Marvell, The Garden (3:41): MP3
  47. Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress (2:21): MP3
  48. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Between Your Sheets (1:09): MP3
  49. Thomas Moore, An Argument (0:28): MP3
  50. Howard Nemerov, The Goose Fish (2:14): MP3
  51. Pablo Neruda, Tu risa (2:02): MP3
  52. Pablo Neruda, Tu risa [English translation] (1:43): MP3
  53. Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee (2:03): MP3
  54. Edgar Allan Poe, To Helen (0:46): MP3
  55. Ezra Pound, Commission (2:04): MP3
  56. Sir Walter Raleigh, Her Reply (1:17): MP3
  57. Thomas Randolph, The Milkmaid's Epithalamium (1:30): MP3
  58. John Crowe Ransom, Piazza Piece (1:02): MP3
  59. John Crowe Ransom, The Equilibrists (3:57): MP3
  60. Theodore Roethke, I knew a woman (1:50): MP3
  61. Theodore Roethke, She (1:06): MP3
  62. Christina Rossetti, The First Day (0:58): MP3
  63. Sir Charles Sedley, To Cloris (0:57): MP3
  64. Shakespeare, Sonnet 18, Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (0:53): MP3
  65. Shakespeare, Sonnet 138, When my love swears that she is made of truth (0:58): MP3
  66. Karl Shapiro, Buick (1:57): MP3
  67. Sir Philip Sidney, from Astrophel and Stella, Loving in truth (1:07): MP3
  68. Sir Philip Sidney, from Astrophel and Stella, With how sad steps (0:59): MP3
  69. Christopher Smart, The Author Apologizes To A Lady For His Being a Little Man (2:21): MP3
  70. from the Song of Solomon (2:32): MP3
  71. Edmund Spenser, One Day I Wrote Her Name (0:52): MP3
  72. Sir John Suckling, Song (0:49): MP3
  73. Jonathan Swift, Stella's Birthday, 1718 (1:01): MP3
  74. Alfred Lord Tennyson, Break, Break, Break (0:51): MP3
  75. Alfred Lord Tennyson, Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal (1:03): MP3
  76. Alfred Lord Tennyson, Tears, Idle Tears (1:25): MP3
  77. Dylan Thomas, In my craft or sullen art (0:58): MP3
  78. Dylan Thomas, Lament (3:42): MP3
  79. Edmund Waller, Go, Lovely Rose (0:53): MP3
  80. Walt Whitman, Goodbye My Fancy (1:21): MP3
  81. Richard Wilbur, The House (0:50): MP3
  82. Richard Wilbur, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World (1:59): MP3
  83. William Carlos Williams, Postlude (1:00): MP3
  84. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, Written in a Lady's Prayerbook (1:06): MP3
  85. George Wither, Shall I Wasting in Despair (1:48): MP3
  86. Thomas Wyatt, They Flee from Me (1:20): MP3
  87. William Butler Yeats, A Drinking Song (0:21): MP3
  88. William Butler Yeats, Adam's Curse (2:21): MP3
  89. William Butler Yeats, Brown Penny (0:45): MP3
  90. William Butler Yeats, Politics (0:36): MP3
  91. William Butler Yeats, The Wild Old Wicked Man (2:42): MP3
  92. William Butler Yeats, Who Goes with Fergus (0:42): MP3

© 2021 John Richetti. Recordings available for non-commercial and educational use only. Distributed with permission of John Richetti by PennSound.