In observance of the day, I print below a few of my favorite love poems, dedicated, of course, to my own tender Valentine of 34 years, Claire Marie.
The first is by a poet I first learned to appreciate as a kid and have never stopped appreciating, Eugene Field. Hailed as America's greatest poet for children (which he undoubtedly was), Field did produce some very beautiful, very moving poetry for those same children when they grew up.
Here's one lovely example:
A Valentine to My Wife
Accept, dear girl, this little token,
And if between the lines you seek,
You'll find the love I've often spoken—
The love my dying lips shall speak.
Our little ones are making merry
O'er am'rous ditties rhymed in jest,
But in these words (though awkward—very)
The genuine article's expressed.
You are as fair and sweet and tender,
Dear brown-eyed little sweetheart mine,
As when, a callow youth and slender,
I asked to be your Valentine.
What though these years of ours be fleeting?
What though the years of youth be flown?
I'll mock old Tempus with repeating,
"I love my love and her alone!"
And when I fall before his reaping,
And when my stuttering speech is dumb,
Think not my love is dead or sleeping,
But that it waits for you to come.
So take, dear love, this little token,
And if there speaks in any line
The sentiment I'd fain have spoken,
Say, will you kiss your Valentine?
The second comes from the pen of Sidney Lanier, the Southern word stylist who served with the Macon Volunteers in the Confederacy. His long marriage to Mary Day triumphed over ill health, poverty, frequent uprootings, career inconsistencies, and more.
Look off, dear Love, across the sallow sands,
And mark yon meeting of the sun and sea;
How long they kiss in sight of all the lands,
Ah! longer, longer we.
Now, in the sea's red vintage melts the sun
As Egypt's pearl dissolved in rosy wine
And Cleopatra night drinks all. 'Tis done,
Love, lay thine hand in mine.
Come forth, sweet stars, and comfort heaven's heart,
Glimmer, ye waves, 'round else unlighted sands;
Oh night! divorce our sun and sky apart
Never our lips, our hands.
And finally, from the Scottish bard himself, here's Robert Burns' much-treasured...
A Red, Red Rose
O, my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my Luve's like a melodie
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair as thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun:
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run:
And fare thee well, my only luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.