Ahhh. These are the poetry books missing from your school library. These poems move -- they aren't academic exercises, but poems of the soul, the heart.
Ranging broadly across cultures -- the West, Japan, India, China, South America -- and covering some three millenia, these books draw together the best of erotic poetry.
Read (or send) a poem to someone you love today . . .
Recommended Erotic Poetry
Here, in one compact volume, is a greatest hits collection of the 100 best love poems ever written by 100 of the world's greatest poets. This essential anthology is ideal for the romantic-and will inspire any cynic. Classics (Sappho, Catullus) and Renaissance (Shakespeare, Donne, Dante) to the Romantics (Shelly, Keats, Wordsworth) and 20th century giants (Frost, Lorca, Graves), right down to the present day (Viorst, Patchen, Neruda). 2003, Grand Central Publishing
Celebrating the works of a great Chilean poet, this collection offers a vibrant translation of Neruda’s sensual and erotic poetry. Famous for his politically engaged lyrics, the Nobel Laureate also wrote bold and sexual sonnets, and this compilation captures the spirit and verbal dexterity of this lesser-known genre. 2007, Exile
"Every age probably regards itself as unique in its sexual sophistication, and if we take Ovid as a typical spokesman we should have to conclude that the keynote of his age was elegance. . . . Ovid could not possibly have taken himself, nor be taken for, an Ancient.”—Rolfe Humphries
2002, Modern Library
There is a deep tradition of eroticism in American poetry. Thoughtful, provocative, moving, and sometimes mirthful, the poems collected in The Best American Erotic Poems celebrate this exuberant sensuality. The poems range across the varied landscapes of love and sex and desire -- from the intimate parts of the body to the end of an affair, from passion to solitary self-pleasure. With candor and imagination, they capture the delights and torments of sex and sexuality, nudity, love, lust, and the secret life of fantasy. 2008, Scribner
The ancient Chinese tradition of erotic poetry has been largely ignored in the West. Now, a vast continent of sensual verse is opened to us with this glorious collection spanning nearly three thousand years and including many poems never before translated into English. The editors have brought together poems about deep love and pure lust, enticement and seduction, ecstasy and disappointment. Here are poems that express need, hunger, grief, and longing—for husbands and wives and for concubines and lovers; poems by turns explicit or subtle, light-hearted or desperate, written from both men’s and women’s points of view. The result is a dazzling array of voices that speak the universal language of desire. 2007, Everyman's Library
deserted beach-a bikini top rolls in on a wave
Short but sweet, haiku is one of the world's most pleasurable forms of poetry, and size definitely matters when haiku turns to erotic themes. By turns cheeky, brilliant, teasing, sad, bitter, and lustful, these tiny poems (sometimes called "erotiku") submitted by numerous lovers (of poetry) pack an enormous erotic wallop. Each haiku appears in English and in Japanese for maximum enjoyment, with playful pen-and-pencil drawings throughout. Best when read aloud, because after all, "without clothes, it's a different conversation." 2005, IBC Books, bilingual edition
may i feel said he
(i’ll squeal said she
just once said he)
it’s fun said she
(may i touch said he
how much said she
a lot said he)
why not said she
2010, W.W. Norton
Ovid's poems deal with the spectrum of sexual desire, from deeply emotional declarations of devotion, to flippant arguments for promiscuity. Poems include elegies to Ovid's mistress, advice on courtship, suggestions on how to break off a relationship, and a discussion of the art of cosmetics. 1983, Penguin Classics
These poems, selected from most of the cultures and histories of world literature, provide magnificent witness to the fact that love is as much an act of the imagination as it is of the body. From fourth-century Li Ch'ung's "Parody of a Lover" to John Betjeman's "Late-Flowering Lust," they re-create, through the revelations of language, the experience of the erotic. Other poets include Theodore Roethke, Robert Graves, Octavio Paz, Joseph Brodsky, Sylvia Plath, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and many others. 1994, Everyman's Library
Hamill, poet and translator, has created a ravishing anthology of poetry celebrating the spiritual aspect of Eros, the longing not only to merge one's body with another, but to join souls. This sacred eroticism, expressed in such poems as the "Song of Songs," has been experienced through the ages and around the world as a path to a perfect love, to God no less. 1999, Shambhala
Indian Love Poems is a unique gathering of poems from across more than two and a half millennia that attempts to catalog the disordered ecstasies of love, ranging from the Kama Sutra and earlier works up to present-day India and the poets of the Indian diaspora. The poems collected here reflect a variety of erotic and spiritual passions, and celebrate the powerful role of desire–both male and female–in the intricate dance of existence. This glittering tapestry of lyric voices beautifully and sensually evokes the transfiguring force of love. 2005, Everyman's Library
Following on the success of Passionate Hearts, Wendy Maltz continues her celebration of healthy sexuality with a new anthology of 121 poems that turn up the heat. Through some of the richest, most celebrated poetry ever written, Intimate Kisses revels in life’s greatest mystery and breaks through negative cultural messages that what feels good must be bad, or that only second-rate erotica can excite. 2003, New World Library
Passionate and breathtaking, Sappho's poems survive only in fragments following religious conspiracies to silence her. Sappho penned immortal verse on the intense power of the female libido; on the themes of romance, love, yearning, heartbreak, and personal relationships with women. This work retains the standard numerical order of the fragments and has been arranged in six sections. 1999, Prometheus Books
Renowned sex therapist Wendy Maltz assembled this collection of poetry, hoping to offer inspiration to couples who like it hot, but also heartfelt. This is an excellently edited selection--void of flowery nonsense or male-domination fantasies disguised in pretty-clothed words. We are given visions and vignettes as satiating and stirring as the act itself. "Sex has a way of softening limbs, / oiling joints and melding hearts ...," writes poet Wendy Lee. And so does this book. 2006, New World Library, Second Edition
Lisa Marie Canfield's poetry focuses on the urgency of a lover's desire and delves into a world of sensual experience. Her poems are drenched in descriptive language to paint direct pictures of forbidden pleasures, all-encompassing desires, consuming lust, obsessive need and a thirst to submit to love's ecstasy. Sexuality is the joy of life, the essence of connection keeping the lovers in anticipation, only awaiting the next merging, the union of souls. 2001, Writers Club Press
This collection of poems, first published by Neruda at the age of 19 in 1924, caused something of a scandal because of its frank and intense sexuality: "I have gone marking the atlas of your body / with crosses of fire. / My mouth went across: a spider, trying to hide. / In you, behind you, timid, driven by thirst." With image after arresting image, Neruda charts the oceanic movements of passion. 2006, Penguin Classics
Light some candles, pour some wine, and share these gems with someone you love!
"Sex is poetry. It can be a song, a verse, like music, melodious and rhythmic. Poetry is passion—direct or lettered with illusion. When given as a gift, poetry is romantic, beautiful, even chivalrous. It can serve as a definition of thought, a gesture, a move. It can even be foreplay." 2005, Pretty Things Press
The theme of Sharon Olds' fifth volume of poetry, The Wellspring is family and the sexual and sensual nature of the creation and sustenance of life--most often her own. Part II, concerned primarily with adolescence and awakening sexuality, offers perhaps the strongest grouping as Olds explores sexuality in an "endless... apprenticeship to the mortal." The last poems celebrate love in marriage, portraying the maturing of erotic and emotional bonds over time ("love is simply our element,/ it is the summer night, we are in it.") 1996, Knopf