Roses are red, violets are blue, would your valentine like a poem from you? This Valentine’s Day, there’s no shortage of amazing gifts you could give to show your love, but here’s an idea which has been around for centuries and has never gone out of style: the almighty love poem!
From Pablo Neruda, William Shakespeare, and e.e. cummings to modern day wordsmiths making their mark, poetry—when well-crafted—has the power to go straight to your beloved’s heart as surely as cupid’s arrow. When written poorly, a poem may make you look silly (or worse) so if you want to give a poem this Valentine’s Day, we better go over a few do’s and don’ts before you put pen to parchment.
- Do decide on the tone of your poem. Will you be playful? Funny? Sweet? Sincere? Serious? Keep this in mind as you write.
- Do study books of poetry for inspiration and to learn the different types of poems, but be yourself when it comes to creating your own.
- Do familiarize yourself with terminology such as “simile,” “metaphor,” “imagery,” “syllables,” and “alliteration.”
- Do make a list of all the things you love about the person you’re writing the poem for. What words come to mind when you think of him or her? What did you first notice about him or her? What made you fall in love? What are your favorite memories together? This will help you brainstorm what you want to say.
- Do edit, be patient, let it sit, and then edit again if necessary. Even the best writers rarely get it right the first time.
- Do give your poem a title. (Hint: if you’re really stuck, it could simply be the person’s name.)
- Do make sure the final line feels impactful. (Hint: One way to do this is to simply repeat the first line of the poem.)
- Do write your final draft by hand and date it to create a keepsake. There’s nothing colder than a personal poem typed up and fresh off the printer.
- Don’t use clichés like: Your smile lights up a room. Instead, try something such as: Your smile is like the first star of the evening, bringing light to the nighttime sky. Doesn’t that sound more original?
- Don’t compare your sweetheart’s attributes to things that have an unpleasant connotation.
- Don’t go overboard if the person you’re writing the poem for isn’t someone you’re already in a long-term relationship with. Using words like “love,” “always” and “forever” might scare a new boyfriend away. Guys, you could also come across as creepy if you give a feverishly passionate letter to the barista who makes your coffee every Monday. I’m not saying not to write a poem, just take your current status with him or her into consideration when writing.
- Don’t necessarily try to make it rhyme. There are so many types of poems you can write; rhyming is not mandatory and when done poorly, can come off sounding cheesy.
- Don’t get frustrated. You can always use a template to help guide you (there are plenty of free templates online), or choose a simple poem style such as an acrostic using your valentine’s name.
- Don’t rely on just the visual aspect of the person you’re writing about. Think about your other senses. What does he sound like? What does he smell like? What does he taste like? What does he feel like?
- Don’t be shy! Afraid you’ll make yourself vulnerable? This poem may be what captures, or (re-captures!) your valentine’s heart, so go for it!
Happy writing, and Happy Valentine’s Day!