The Love Poems

By John Donne

424 ratings - 4.25* vote

John Donne's standing as one of the greatest poets in the English language is now thoroughly established, and critics such as T. S. Eliot and F. R. Leavis have found in Donne's poetry qualities profoundly responsive to the modern age. While Donne is famous for his religious poetry, his love poems are among the most beautiful ever written, and this collection brings them to

... more

Book details

Hardcover, 100 pages
October 15th 1982 by St. Martin's Press

(first published 1958)

Original Title
The Love Poems of John Donne
0312499442 (ISBN13: 9780312499440)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Steven Godin

Stay, oh sweet, and do not rise,The light that shines comes from thine eyes;The day breaks not, it is my heart,Because that you and I must part.Stay, or else my joys will die,And perish in their infancie.

Luna Miguel

Ese poema en el que explica el ciclo del amor a través de las sombras de dos cuerpos que pasean me ha dado gasolina, felicidad y tranquilidad para mucho tiempo, espero. Lo leí en la edición de Vaso Roto con una introducción muy bella de Jordi Doce.


This is one of the handful of poetry books that I own. To be honest, if I understood more of Donne's context, I would most likely rate it higher. When understood, I found his poems to be very romantic and honest. If translated into my dumb language, some themes would be:

Hey Baby, Why Wait Until Marriage?
Let's Face It, There Will Always Be Other Hoes.
I Must Have Felt A False Love Yesterday
Because I Love You Even More Today.
Women Are Lying Whores.
I Can't Give You My Heart Because You Already
Own It.

Miroku Nemeth

Those who know Donne, know how passionate his poetry is, whether writing of romantic or spiritual love. A contemporary of Shakespeare, for many modern readers the rich complexity of his English may be a problem, but, like with the words of the Bard of Avon, taking the time to decipher and meditate upon Donne's lines of poetry is well worth the time. I honestly prefer a collection like this many times over to Shakespeare's sonnets; the words of Donne just seem more transparently deeply felt than the master wordsmith Shakespeare, whose true feelings and emotions seem buried beneath innumerable ingenius personas.

A sample
Elegy X: The Dream

IMAGE of her whom I love, more than she,
Whose fair impression in my faithful heart
Makes me her medal, and makes her love me,
As kings do coins, to which their stamps impart
The value ; go, and take my heart from hence,
Which now is grown too great and good for me.
Honours oppress weak spirits, and our sense
Strong objects dull ; the more, the less we see.
When you are gone, and reason gone with you,
Then fantasy is queen and soul, and all ;
She can present joys meaner than you do,
Convenient, and more proportional.
So, if I dream I have you, I have you,
For all our joys are but fantastical ;
And so I 'scape the pain, for pain is true ;
And sleep, which locks up sense, doth lock out all.
After a such fruition I shall wake,
And, but the waking, nothing shall repent ;
And shall to love more thankful sonnets make,
Than if more honour, tears, and pains were spent.
But, dearest heart and dearer image, stay ;
Alas ! true joys at best are dream enough ;
Though you stay here, you pass too fast away,
For even at first life's taper is a snuff.
Fill'd with her love, may I be rather grown
Mad with much heart, than idiot with none.

Lydia St Giles

Donne was a worldly character, very far from the image of the dweller in a garret. He volunteered to fight and sailed with Essex to take part in the sack of Cadiz. A Catholic at a time when this made public office difficult, he succeeded in getting elected as an MP. His early university studies could not, because of his faith, lead to his obtaining a degree yet, later in life, Donne’s success at the court of James I led to his being awarded a doctorate in divinity.
The “Poems of Love” come from a man who married secretly and was dismissed from his job as a result. There is romance and sensuality, coupled with cynicism about fidelity and despair at the prospect of death separating the lovers. However, “Holy Sonnets” take up more than fifty pages of this book, so the word love is used in its widest sense.
What is striking is the language used.. The English of the late 16th and early 17th centuries gives a strong flavour to the many poems in this (beautifully produced) volume. Changes in the spoken language mean that the modern reader will not see a rhyme where the writer intended, as in:
“Come live with mee and bee my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove”.
This is one of several poems which the British reader will be familiar with in a modernised version. I’ve enjoyed the immersion into the language which Donne used.


This was my first copy of John Donne's poetry. I picked my copy up in Berkeley in the 1980's because I'd heard A Valediction Forbidding Mourning and recognized it as one of the greatest poems ever written.

I would read these on my own, now and again, and it led me to more and more of his works. It led me to more and more poetry.

Perhaps this should be considered a threshold book?

Hee hee hee...

Josh Hornbeck

"The Love Poems of John Donne" ranges from transcendent observations about love that continue to have resonance, to the petulant ramblings of a stalker-y emo kid in Freshman English who has a better vocabulary than the professor. The transcendent poems are worth the work it takes to really dive deeply into Donne's language, but the petulant ones are insufferable.


"’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee."

Oh, how I love Donne. I'm such a sucker for the romance. :) Review to come...


I could read this book over and over again for the rest of my life.


Back in 1998 I was a hopeless romantic. Hence, I read and memorized a lot of Donne's poems.