Five of the Best Poems about Kissing

The best poems about kissing

Love is, of course, a perennial theme of poetry, and even the erotic and the sensual are amply covered in the annals of English verse. But how about something like kissing? The task we’ve set ourselves this week is to find five classic poems about kissing, or sharing a kiss, or stealing a kiss, or ‘kisses’ of some kind or another. We hope you like them.

Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella Sonnet 79. ‘Sweet kiss, thy sweets I fain would sweetly indite, / Which even of sweetness sweetest sweet’ner art: / Pleasing’st consort, where each sense holds a part; / Which, coupling doves, guides Venus’ chariot right’. So Sir Philip Sidney begins this sonnet from his Astrophil and Stella, the first major sonnet sequence written in English. Here, ‘Astrophil’ – Sidney’s alter ego – seems to have set himself the challenge of seeing how many epithets for a kiss he can cram into a single fourteen-line poem. He does fairly well, and we love the description of a kiss as ‘Poor hope’s first wealth, hostage of promised weal’, although we’re not quite sure about ‘Breakfast of love’…

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 128. This isn’t one of the more famous sonnets by Shakespeare, but it is both a fine poem about music and a great poem about a kiss. The Bard admires his mistress, the ‘Dark Lady’, as she plays music for him: the keys of the virginal (a sort of forerunner to the harpsichord) seem to leap up and kiss her fingers. But Shakespeare envies those keys, as his lips would love to take their place and kiss her fingers, before concluding that the keys can keep her fingers: he’d rather have her lips to kiss. Pucker up…

Robert Burns, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’. A kiss can often be a farewell gesture, and in this Burns poem, the kiss is certainly a goodbye kiss: ‘Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; / Ae fareweel, alas, forever! / Deep in heart-wrung tears I’ll pledge thee, / Warring sighs and groans I’ll wage thee!’

Leigh Hunt, ‘Rondeau’. Better-known as ‘Jenny Kiss’d Me’ after its first line, this delightful short poem is joyous, uplifting, and – whoever Jenny was – reminds us that a kiss from the right person can make us forget all of our miseries or reasons to be uncheerful, and light up our hearts. Nice one, Jenny. Nice one, Leigh.

Robert Graves, ‘The Kiss’. Opening with a stanza-long question about what it feels like to have your heart in your mouth when you love someone and long to kiss them, ‘The Kiss’ then proceeds to take a morbid turn, as the aptly named Graves associates this kiss not with love and life but with a dearth, and then death. This kiss is the kiss of death…

For more classic poetry, we also recommend The Oxford Book of English Verse – perhaps the best poetry anthology on the market (we offer our pick of the best poetry anthologies here, and list the best books for the poetry student here). Discover more great poems with these classic poems for daughters, these great poems about items of clothing, and these poems for birthdays.


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  5. I never thought about kissing poems before. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks for this post. I would like to nominate to the list Shelley’s “Love’s Philosophy ”

    The fountains mingle with the river
    And the rivers with the ocean,
    The winds of heaven mix for ever
    With a sweet emotion;
    Nothing in the world is single;
    All things by a law divine
    In one spirit meet and mingle.
    Why not I with thine?—

    See the mountains kiss high heaven
    And the waves clasp one another;
    No sister-flower would be forgiven
    If it disdained its brother;
    And the sunlight clasps the earth
    And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
    What is all this sweet work worth
    If thou kiss not me?

  7. thanks, i love ‘rondeau’ the best )

  8. I love Dante Rossetti’s Nuptial kiss, which is on more than just kissing, though

  9. I like breakfast of love. Or maybe I just like breakfast…