Unrequited Love

Poems about unrequited love

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(Unrequited Love playlist) **Art: Unrequited Love (a scene from Much Ado About Nothing) by William Oliver, 1880 (source)

“Is there any heart not bleeding” by Ahmet Pasha (d. 1497, Ottoman Turkey)
–  from Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology

When the moth of my soul recalls
the shining lamps of your beauty
There is no party not warmed
by our passion, our verse

All our hearts are gathered in your dark curls—
what if the wind unbinds them?
Will there be any of us not disheveled
and crazed with thoughts of love? (…)

“Being in Love” by Marvin Bell (b. 1937; New York, US; magazine editor and publisher, essayist) – from Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times

Being in love with someone who is not in love with
you, you understand my predicament.
Being in love with you, who are not
in love with me, you understand my dilemma.
Being in love with your being in love
with me, which you are not, you understand

the difficulty. Being in love with your
being, you can well imagine how hard it is.
Being in love with your being you,
no matter you are not your being being in
love with me, you can appreciate and pity
being in love with you. Being in love (…)

“Evening. Gertrude” by Anne Batten Cristall (1769–1848; Penzance, Cornwall, UK; schoolteacher) – from Romantic Woman Poets: An Anthology

IN clouds drew on the evening’s close,
Which cross the west in ranges stood,
As pensive GERTRUDE sought the wood,
And there the darkest thicket chose;
While from her eyes amid the wild briar flows
A sad and briny flood.
Dark o’er her head
Rolled heavy clouds, while showers,
Pefumed by summer’s wild and spicy flowers,
Their ample torrents shed.

Why does she mourn?
Why droop, like flowret nipped in early spring?
Alas! her tenderness meets no return!
Love hovers round her with his airy wing,
And warms her youthful heart with vain delight:
While URBAN’s graceful form enchants her sight,
And from his eyes shoots forth the poisonous sting,
Another’s charms the impassioned youth imspired,
The sportive ROSAMONDE his genius fired. (…)

“Song” by Aubrey Thomas de Vere (1814-1902; County Limerick, Ireland; essayist, travel-writer, dramatist) – from Ireland’s Love Poems

Slanting both hands against her forehead,
On me she levelled her bright eyes;
My whole heart brightened as the sea
When midnight clouds part suddenly;
Through all my spirit went the lustre
Like starlight poured through purple skies.

And then she sang aloud, sweet music,
Yet louder as aloft it clomb;
Soft when her curving lips it left;
Then rising till the heavens were cleft,
As though each strain, on high expanding,
Were echoes in a silver dome.

But ah! she sings she does not love me;
She loves to say she ne’er can love;
To me her beauty she denies,
Bending the while on me those eyes
Whose beams might charm the mountain leopard,
Or lure Jove’s herald from above!

https://i0.wp.com/www.tcdailyplanet.net/wp-content/uploads/files/14/05/beaux1.jpgPhoto of The Beaux Stratagem by George Farquhar, produced by Theatre in the Round (Minneapolis, Minnesota, US), 2014 (Source)

“Song” from the drama The Recruiting Actor by George Farquhar (1677-1707; Derry, Ireland; dramatist) – from Ireland’s Love Poems

Come, fair one, be kind;
You never shall find
A fellow so fit for a lover;
The world shall view
My passion for you,
But never your passion discover.

I still will complain
Of your frowns and disdain,
Though I revel through all your charms:
The world shall declare,
That I die with despair,
When I only die in you arms.

I still will adore,
And love more and more,
But, by Jove, if you chance to prove cruel,
I’ll get me a miss
That freely will kiss,
Though I afterwards drink water-gruel.

“The Return of the Muse” by Sandra M. Gilbert (b. 1936; New York, US; literary critic, essayist, non-fiction writer, editor)
– from The Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry

You always knew you wrote for him, you said
He is the father of my art, the one who watches all night,
chainsmoking, never smiling, never satisfied.
You liked him because he was carved from glaciers,
because you had to give him strong wine to make him human,
because he flushed once, like a November sunset,
when you pleased him.

But you didn’t love him.
You thought that was part of the bargain.
He’d always be there like a blood relative,
a taciturn uncle or cousin,
if you didn’t love him. You’d hand him poems,
he’d inspect them, smoke, sip a business deal,
and that would be that. (…)

“Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form” By Matthea Harvey (b. 1973; Germany; England; Wisconsin, US; magazine poetry editor, children’s book writer)
– from Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century

Pity the bathtub that belongs to the queen its feet
Are bronze casts of the former queen’s feet its sheen
A sign of fretting is that an inferior stone shows through
Where the marble is worn away with industrious
Polishing the tub does not take long it is tiny some say
Because the queen does not want room for splashing
The maid thinks otherwise she knows the king (…)

“Ophelia” by Richard Hedderman (Wisconsin, US; freelance writer, museum educator, stage combat choreographer) – from In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare

Under spring stars,
he touched my face and breasts
and the innumerable moons of my body.

For months, I listened for him
everywhere, hearing his laugh now and again
down stone corridors or across the hushed drifts
that chilled Elsinore. (…)

“Love in an Empty Lot” by Ho Sugyong (b. 1964; Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea)
– from Echoing Song: Contemporary Korean Women Poets

I stayed still a while.
Has love been spoiled?

Love abandons me and flows to you.
Love abandons you and flows to time.

Bright is the ancient mark of a forgotten wound,
bright and painful. (…)

“She Sat Alone Beside Her Hearth” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802-1838; Chelsea, London, UK; novelist) – from The New Penguin Book of Romantic Poetry

Poor child! what lonely days she passed,
With nothing to recall
But bitter taunts, and careless words,
And looks more cold than all.

Alas! for love, that sits at home,
Forsaken, and yet fond;
The grief that sits beside the hearth—
Life has no grief beyond. (…)

https://newimages.bwwstatic.com/columnpic/Her%20Name%20is%20Vincent.jpgPhoto of Her Name is Vincent: An Evening With Edna St. Vincent Millay, produced by Magis Theatre Company (New York City, NY, US), 2009 (source)

“Sonnet XXVII” by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950; Rockland, Maine, US; playwright, activist) – from The Heath Introduction to Poetry

I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.

{see also “Thursday”: “And if I loved you Wednesday, / Well, what is that to you?”

“In the Greenwood” by Desmond O’Grady (1935-2014; Limerick, Ireland; literature professor, writers group leader, memoirist)
– from Ireland’s Love Poems 

(I) My darling, my love,
Together let’s rove
Through the forest so flagrantly scenting.
By trout streams we’ll rest,
Watch the thrush build her nest,
While the doe and the roe buck are calling.
Each ring singing bird
In the wild wind wood heard
And the cuckoo high up in the plane trees
And never will come
Death into our home
In the shade of the sweet scented green-trees.

(II) O beautiful head
All kiss curled red,
Green and grand your eyes are.
My heart is high-strung,
Like a thread too well spun.
From loving too long from afar.

“A Well-Worn Story” by Dorothy Parker (1893-1967; Long Branch, New Jersey, US; essayist, short-story writer, literary critic, satirist, screenwriter)
– from American Wits: An Anthology of Light Verse

In April, in April,
My one love came along,
And I ran the slope of my high hill
To follow a thread of song.

His eyes were hard as porphyry
With looking on cruel lands;
His voice went slipping over me
Like terrible silver hands.

Together we trod the secret lane
And walked the muttering town.
I wore my heart like a wet, red stain
On the breast of a velvet gown. (…)

“Getting Through” by Deborah Pope (Wisconsin; English professor, essayist; Feminist)
– from The Poetry Anthology, 1912-2002

Like a car stuck in gear,
a chicken too stupid to tell
its head is gone,
or sound ratcheting on
long after the film
has jumped the reel,
or a phone
ringing and ringing
in the house they have all
moved away from,
through rooms where dust
is a deepening skin,
and the locks unneeded,
so I go on loving you ,
my heart blundering on,
a muscle spilling out
what is no longer wanted,
and my words hurtling past,
like a train off its track,
toward a boarded-up station,
closed for years,
like some last speaker
of a beautiful language
no one else can hear.

“The Reply to Mr. –“ by Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674-1737; Ilchester, Somerset, UK; essayist, epistolary fiction writer, novelist)
– from The Broadview Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Verse and Prose

No: I’m unmoved: nor can thy charming Muse
One tender Thought into my Breast Infuse.
I am from all those sensual motions Free;
And you, in vain, speak pretty things to Me:
For through the Splendid Gallantrys of Love,
Untouch’d, and careless, now I wildly rove,
From all th’ Attacques of those proud Darts secure,
Whose Trifling Force too Tamely you indure;
Nor ought, on Earth’s, so delicate to move
My Nicer Spirit, and exact my Love:
Even Theron’s Lovely and Inticeing Eyes,
Tho’ arm’d with flames, I can at last despise; (…)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/Victor_Segalen_Tahiti_1903.png/674px-Victor_Segalen_Tahiti_1903.pngVictor Segalen during an expedition to Polynesia, 1903 (source)

“Par respect” (Out of Respect) by Victor Segalen (1878-1919; Brest, Britanny, France; naval doctor, ethnographer, archeologist, writer, explorer, art-theorist, linguist, literary critic.)
– from The Yale Anthology of Twentieth Century French Poetry

Non! Que son  règne en moi soit secret. Que jamais il ne m’advienne. Même que j’oublie: que jamais plus au plus profound de moi n’éclose désormais son nom,

Par respect

No! let her reign in me be secret. Let it never come to pass. Let it even be forgotten: let her name never flower within my deepest self,

Out of respect (…)

“Jean Richepin’s Song” by Frederic Herbert Trench (1865-1923; Avonmore, County Cork, Ireland; theatre artist, playwright)
– from The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, 1892-1935

(I) A poor lad once and a lad so trim,
Fol de rol de raly O!
Fol de rol!
A poor lad once and a lad so trim
Gave his love to her that loved not him.

(II) And, says she, ” Fetch me to-night, you rogue, ”
Fol de rol de raly O!
Fol de rol!
And, says she, ” Fetch me to-night, you rogue,
Your mother’s heart to feed my dog!” (…)

“Ze-bi: By That Swamp’s Shore” by Unknown Chinese, [tr. Arthur Waley]
– from Classical Chinese Literature: From antiquity to the Tang dynasty

By that swamp’s shore
Grow reeds and lotus
There is a man so fair—
Oh how can I cure my wound?
Day and night I can do nothing;
As a flood my tears flow. (…)

“Sometimes with one I love” by Walt Whitman (1819-1892; West Hills, New York, US; essayist, journalist) – from American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, Vol. 1

SOMETIMES with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse
unreturn’d love;
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love–the pay is certain, one
way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not return’d;
Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)

“She’s my love” (from a translation of 17th century Irish poem) by Augustus Young (b. 1943; Cork, Ireland) – from Ireland’s Love Poems

She’s my love,
who only gives me trouble;
although she has made me ill,
no woman serves me as well.

She’s my dear,
who breaks me and doesn’t care;
who yawns when I take my leave,
O she wouldn’t grieve on my grave.

She’s my precious,
with eyes as green as grass is;
who won’t touch my bending head,
or take presents for caresses. (…)

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