No matter the genre of a poem the best poems benefit from strong voice with supporting tone. The best poems of any genre expresses enduring ideas about matters important to us as readers and writers. In The Art and Craft of Poetry Michael Bugeja states that, “the best poems often cross borders, borrowing images from nature or politics to enhance a love poem (or vice versa) (26).” Love poetry, especially benefits immensely from this cross genre approach. However, it is not enough to blend genres but to write love poetry with an appropriate voice and tone. To do so it is important to be familiar with the most common topics of love poems.

Bugeja notes twelve traditional types for love poems into which fall most love poems. Those twelve types are:

  1. The Carpe Diem.
    1. Translates from Latin as “seize the day.” This type of poem usually works on a theme of “act quickly on romantic impulses because life is short.”

  2. The Complaint
    1. This type addresses another person who denies or in some way refuses to return feelings of love or affection for the speaker.

  3. Love Tribute
    1. Love tribute poems are usually celebratory and dedicated to a lover.

  4. The Proposal
    1. In these poems one lover solicits the favors, affections, or hand of the other.

  5. Love Concept
    1. Love concept poems treats a phase of love in a philosophical manner.

  6. The Obstacle
    1. Any poem about any person, object, or thing that prevents one lover from reaching the other.

  7. Absent Love
    1. Poems about an absent love bemoan the absence of one lover from another.

  8. Love Moment
    1. These kinds of poems attempt to recapture the moment one lover fell in (or out!) of love with another.

  9. The Reconcilliation
    1. Reconciliation poems mark the end of an estrangement or spat between lovers.

  10. Love Token
    1. These poems are usually about an object given from one lover to another as a token of affection. These are usually written to accompany said object.

  11. Illicit Love
    1. Illicit love poems concern an affair or tryst.

  12. Future Love
    1. These poems imagines a young couple in the future and muses upon the quality of their relationship when they grow old.

There are, of course, other types of love poems but these twelve are the most common. They can, of course, be combined to suit your circumstances.

When writing love poetry it is especially important to remember that it is the ideas expressed that transcend time and language. Imitating old masters like Shakespeare or Poe may be good practice but it forces a modern poem into language that will seem stilted and clumsy to the modern ear. In love poetry, (again) as in all poetry, tone and voice is important. It isn’t enough to say what you want but rather to say it in the right way. Bugeja says that “Poets who try to sound like the Elizabethan and Victorian masters make two mistakes. First, they sound pompous or silly. Second, they forget that the ideas behind of, say, Shakespeare and Dickinson are what fascinate contemporary readers (31).”

Bugeja suggests thinking about what you want to say and how you would say it to a lover in different circumstances. For example: how would you tell your lover something intimate if you were alone? How is that different than if you were at a party or if you were with just your closest friend? Message, tone, mood, and imagery are all very important aspects of a poem and must all be used appropriately to create a strong love poem.

So, while personalized, love poems should express universal ideas and feelings. When thinking about the tone of a love poem think about the nature of romance. As Shakespeare wrote: “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

Works Cited

Bugeja, Michael. The Art and Craft of Poetry. Writer’s Digest Books. 1994.