Love is one simple word, carrying with it a web of complex emotions, intimate moments, and powerful memories that can last a lifetime (whether the love does or not). This being the season for gifting loved ones with cheesy rhymes on paper hearts and reveling in all the feels, let’s take a look at the elements of a great love poem.
Three things to consider when you are working on your love poems this season (and year-round):
Message for the reader
If you are in the boat of wanting to write the perfect poem for your special someone and have no idea where to start, try starting with one of those intimate moments. Maybe it’s the moment when you first said “I love you,” or the moment you first met, or maybe it’s a moment you and your person went through a trying time together and came out on the other end stronger together for it.
Ground yourself in one moment that stands out to you as being a moment that has helped to define the kind of love you carry. Start there, and set the scene.
As you begin to catalog all the pieces of your moment (because we all know strong visuals and sensory details can only serve to enhance your writing), pay attention to the feels that will no doubt get your heart pumping, paint a grin across your face, or even bring tears to your eyes all over again.
Rather than stuffing those overwhelming emotions back down because you are so focused on finding your next perfect line of words, name the feelings. Add them to your list of memory details as you go, and explore all the ways those feelings could work themselves into the sensory details and imagery you are creating.
Finally, when you have your moment perfectly carved out with some words and phrases that can set the scene and you have a sense of the emotions that are built into that moment, consider what message you hope to share with your reader. This most often means first considering who this poem is for.
Are you giving this poem to your special someone, and if so, do you want to fill it with inside jokes and create something that is meant for only the two of you to fully share? Or do you want the person about whom the poem is written to be one of many who can read and receive this work of art you are crafting?
If you know who this poem is for, then you can more specifically narrow down what you are trying to say to them. Is it ultimately a beautiful piece to simply say “I love you” to someone? Is it a reflection of the complexity of unrequited love? Are you expressing your gratitude, and ultimately saying “thank you” for the love you have received? Are you saying “no” to an unhealthy kind of love?
There may be a few things you are trying to say that you can intertwine throughout, but narrowing it down to the one ultimate message for your intended audience can really help to shape and focus the poem as well as lead you to your title.
And yes, this time of year, with all the hearts and reds and pinks and romance in the air, can feel heavy for anyone experiencing loss of love, painful love, or a lack of love.
Guess what? The above still applies.
The important thing about love poems is that sometimes the relationship has ended, and the love may or may not carry on, but the experience of it remains a part of you. These kinds of love poems are every bit as needed in the world of poetry as the happy (or sappy) love poems too.
This season can be a blur of butterflies in your stomach or a tough crawl through a sludge of isolation. Wherever you find yourself this season, take comfort and find hope in the truth that someone else in the world desperately needs the love poem you are carrying in your heart.
And write it.
Dedicated to ‘Love Is a Dog from Hell’ by Charles Bukowski