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10 of the Best Poems about Unrequited Love

The best poems about pining away for love

‘Love’ and ‘poetry’ go together to form a natural pair, but as Shakespeare pointed out, the course of true love never did run smooth. Sometimes the greatest lovers are those who pine away, hopelessly devoted to someone who will never return their affections. From the medieval courtly love tradition onwards, poets have been treating the subject of unrequited love. Here are ten of the best poems about love that is not reciprocated…

Sir Philip Sidney, ‘With how sad steps, O moon, thou climb’st the skies’. This poem, Sonnet 31 from Sidney’s sonnet sequence Astrophil and Stella, is a great Elizabethan poem about hopeless love (Stella, the object of Astrophil’s affections, is married to another man), although the sonnet appears to teeter on the edge of self-parody.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 87. This is probably Shakespeare’s greatest poem about unrequited love – and we think it qualifies as an ‘unrequited love poem’ because, although the poet and the Fair Youth appear to have been in a relationship of sorts, with the younger man reciprocating the Bard’s affections, it’s clear Shakespeare feels that the Fair Youth is out of his league and doesn’t really love the poet the way he loves him. Read the rest of this entry