She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes
—Lord Byron, 1788-1824, England
“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” the poet Lord Byron was the heartthrob of 19th-century London, setting the fashion for every tousled, troubled troubadour who has followed to the present day. Despite Byron’s terrible reputation and deformed clubfoot, no one could resist the lyrical, romantic overtures in his love poems (supposedly not even his own half-sister!) and this tender verse gives us a hint as to why.
I am not jealous
of what came before me.
Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet….
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!
—Pablo Neruda, 1904–1973, Chile
He may have served his native country as a diplomat and politician as well as winning the Nobel Prize for literature, but Neruda was best known as “a frank, sensuous spokesman for love.” Perhaps the most passionate of all modern poets, no one makes a woman with a past sound sexier than Neruda in these bold, ringing lines. Here are more romantic poetry lines to make you swoon.