Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day has arrived, and that means cards and gifts galore. But if you can't afford a diamond or a steak for your lover, words will do — especially if they're perfectly arranged by a pro.

Luckily, you're not the first to fall for someone. Just as your heart beats for your boyfriend or girlfriend, so have those of thousands of poets. See a few famous short love poems below, collected from the Poetry Foundation and with all credits to the respective writers. Share them with your partner so they know your romance is real.

"To Dorothy" by Marvin Bell

You are not beautiful, exactly.

You are beautiful, inexactly.

You let a weed grow by the mulberry

and a mulberry grow by the house.

So close, in the personal quiet

of a windy night, it brushes the wall

and sweeps away the day till we sleep.

A child said it, and it seemed true:

“Things that are lost are all equal.”

But it isn’t true. If I lost you,

the air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.

Someone would pull the weed, my flower.

The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,

I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.


"She Walks in Beauty" by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night

   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

   Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

   Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

   But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

   A heart whose love is innocent!


"A Glimpse" by Walt Whitman

A glimpse through an interstice caught,

Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove late of a winter night, and I unremark’d seated in a corner,

Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand,

A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,

There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.


"How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.


"i carry your heart with me" by e.e. cummings

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)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

RTX26M2O Flowers are on display for sale ahead of the Valentine's Day at a flower market in Vienna, Austria, on Friday. Photo: Reuters