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Happy National Poetry Day!

In celebration of National Poetry Day, we’ve featured here six poems from our poetry series, from cultures around the world. Enjoy!

Classical Love Poetry

Asclepias loves to love. With looks that please

she charms all comers to sail on her love’s tranquil seas.

–Meleager, Anthologia Palatina v 256

An extract from The British Museum Classical Love Poetry, edited and translated by Jonathan Williams and Clive Cheesman.

Indian Love Poetry

His pointed arrows are the young flowers of the mango; the string of his bow is a line of bees.

Oh my beloved, the warrior of spring comes to conquer pleasure-loving hearts.


An extract from The British Museum Indian Love Poetry, edited by A. L. Dallapiccola

Chinese Love Poetry

Flowers bloom:

no one

to enjoy them with.

Flowers fall:

no one

with whom to grieve.

I wonder when love’s


stir us most –

When flowers bloom,

or when flowers fall?

Gazing at Spring, I

By Xue Tao (768 – c. 832)

An extract from The British Museum Chinese Love Poetry, edited by Jane Portal.

Persian Love Poetry

Why do you ask me the colour of his eyes?

When did the colour of his eyes ever capture me?

The fire that sparked from his eyes

was what ensnared this mad heart.

–Forugh Farrokhzad

An extract from The British Museum Persian Love Poetry, edited by Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Sheila R. Canby.


even to the saucepan

where potatoes are boiling –

a moonlit night.


on the water

the reflection

of a wanderer


Extracted from The British Museum Haiku, edited by David Cobb.

Medieval Love Poetry cover


She welcomed him out of love

but if she had strong love for him,

he felt a hundred times for her.

For love in other hearts was as nothing

compared to the love he felt in his.

Love took root in his heart,

and was so entirely there

that little was left for other hearts.

An extract from The British Museum Medieval Love Poetry, edited by John Cherry.

©Trustees of the British Museum

Category: History


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