Poems About Unrequited Love

Poems About Unrequited Love – 10 Emotional Examples

Love has been a fixture in poetry for a very long time, but what about unrequited love? What happens when you love someone, but they do not return those feelings? Has any poet ever written about this? Well, yes, many poets have written poems about unrequited love, and that will be what we explore today. We are going to look at a number of poems about unrequited love to see what makes them stand out. Hopefully, you find a few poems that you also enjoy. If you want to learn about poems that speak about unrequited love, let’s start on this list!



A Look at Poems About Unrequited Love

Today, we are going to have a look at a list of ten poems about unrequited love. These are some of the most famous poems about this topic, and many poems that do make use of this kind of a topic are those that also express deep feelings of sadness and longing, hopefulness or hopelessness (depending on the poet in question), and the pain that comes with experiencing unrequited love.

For those who are also unfamiliar with this concept, unrequited love refers to love that has not been reciprocated. In other words, only one person is in love, and the other either does not love them back or is not even aware that they are loved. This has been a common topic in many poems for centuries.

Famous Poems About Falling Out of Love

It should also be noted that poems about unrequited love are not the same as poems about falling out of love. While a partnership of two people may have a partner who is still in love and, therefore, they are experiencing unrequited love, this is not what we generally see as a poem about this topic. However, there may be a few of these kinds of poems below because of their close relationship to feelings of unrequited love.

So, let’s have a look at our list of poems about unrequited love. Many of them are rather sad, but hopefully, they should also ring true for at least some of those who decide to read through the whole list. There are many more poems about unrequited love than can be listed here, but this should be a good overview of some of the most well-known poems about unrequited love.


The Secret (Between 1793 and 1864) by John Clare

Date PublishedBetween 1793 and 1864
Type of PoemLyric poem
Rhyme SchemeABAB
MeterIambic tetrameter and trimeter
TopicUnrequited love

The Secret is a poem that opens with its feelings of unrequited love. Those first words are, “I loved thee, though I told thee not”. The language may be old, but the idea behind it is one that does not beat around the bush. It is direct with its feelings of love that were never answered. This immediately makes it a rather interesting example of the many poems about unrequited love because it does not attempt to obfuscate or speak in riddles in any sense.

This is one of the ways that a poem about this topic can be presented to the reader, and it makes this poem one of the best poems of its kind.

Famous Poems About Unrequited Love John Clare (1820) by William Hilton; William Hilton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


You Say You Love (1817) by John Keats

Date Published1817
Type of PoemLove poem
Rhyme SchemeABCBD
TopicUnrequited love

You Say You Love is a poem by one of the greatest poets of the Romantic Movement. The poem breaks itself into multiple quintains that each follow the same basic rhyme scheme while also making use of the same descending metrical structure in which the first lines of each stanza make use of iambic tetrameter while the last only uses five syllables. The poem, through this formal structure, presents the image of a woman whom the speaker finds incredibly beautiful, and, as a result, it lights a passion within him.

This is one of the best-known poems about unrequited love by one of the most famous of all the Romantics.

Best Poems About Falling Out of Love John Keets (1821-1823) by Joseph Severn; Joseph Severn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Mariana (1830) by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Date Published1830
Type of PoemLyrical narrative
Rhyme SchemeABAB
TopicConnection and isolation

Mariana is a poem about far more than simple unrequited love, but aspects of it do also touch on this general theme. The full scope of the feelings expressed in this poem are those of isolation. The poem follows a woman after whom the poem is named, and she feels immense, unending isolation and both craves and laments the kind of connection that she wishes she had with the rest of society. While this craving for connection is far more pervasive than simply an example of unrequited love, this is one of the consequences of the isolation that she feels.

To be isolated is to also have an unrequited love, even if not for a singular person, but for the very concept of love and the comfort that it brings.

Best Poems About Unrequited Love Mariana in the South (c. 1897) by John William Waterhouse; John William Waterhouse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Appeal (1846) by Anna Brontë

Date Published1846
Type of PoemSonnet
Rhyme SchemeVariable
TopicUnrequited attention

Appeal is a poem about a deep longing and desire. The opening of the poem tells us, from the first-person perspective, that the speaker is weary and has been weeping. They are lonely and they are depressed in this existence. They long for something more and so, in a similar sense to the poem above, there is a desire for unrequited attention in general. Part of that could be love, especially in the use of the theme of longing that the poem expresses to us.

Some of us do not have a specific person we love, but we want the idea of love because we do not have it.


Never give all the Heart (Between 1885 and 1939) by William Butler Yeats

Date PublishedBetween 1885 and 1939
Type of PoemSonnet
MeterIambic tetrameter
TopicUnrequited love

Never give all the Heart is a poem that advises us about something. Many poems about unrequited love tell us in some lofty tones about the deep longing and sadness that comes from this sense of unanswered adoration and affection. That is not quite the case here. Instead, the poem tells us that we should not give the entirety of our heart to any one person. We should not allow another to take all of it from us because that will only lead to us becoming hurt.

This is another common message that can often be found in poems about falling out of love because while love may be something grand and glorious, the end of love can be painful and heartbreaking.

Influential Poems About Unrequited Love Portrait of William Butler Yeats (1900) by John Butler Yeats; National Gallery of Ireland, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Because I Liked You Better (Between 1894 and 1936) by A. E. Housman

Date PublishedBetween 1894 and 1936
Type of PoemLyric poem
Rhyme SchemeABCB
MeterIambic trimeter
TopicUnrequited love

Because I Liked You Better is a poem that can be seen as rather creepy in the modern day. The reason for this is because it is the tale of unrequited love, but one in which the loved one knew the lover’s feelings. She then rejected him. She tells him to forget her, and he does so by dying. It is not necessarily clear whether the speaker committed suicide because of this rejection, but that may be an implication of it.

It’s a rather dark way of looking at unrequited love, but also a way that some may feel when they cannot be with the one that they believe themselves to adore more than anything or anyone else.

Influential Poems About Falling Out of Love Alfred Edward Housman (1910) by E. O. Hoppé; E. O. Hoppé, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


I Am Not Yours (1915) by Sara Teasdale

Date Published1915
Type of PoemLyric poem
Rhyme SchemeABAB
TopicUnrequited love

I Am Not Yours is a sad reflection on unrequited love from the perspective of the one who does not love. The poet addresses the one who feels love for them and says that she is not theirs. She knows that they love her, but she only finds them to be a “spirit beautiful and bright” rather than someone that she loves. This could be, humorously, seen as an early-20th century version of the “friendzone”, but the feelings of the one who does not love someone back is the kind of perspective that is not often explored in poems about unrequited love. The focus is usually squarely on the one who feels the love but imagine being the one who cannot love them back.

This can also be a terrible and depressive state of affairs.

Contemporary Poems About Unrequited Love Sara Teasdale (1907); See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Pad, Pad (Between 1936 and 1971) by Stevie Smith 

Date PublishedBetween 1936 and 1971
Type of PoemLyric poem
Rhyme SchemeABCCB DDEE
MeterTrochaic meter
TopicUnrequited love

Pad, Pad is a poem about unrequited love, but at the end of a relationship. This also means that it is an example of a poem about falling out of love but from the perspective of the one who still loves. The first stanza is a heartbreaking scene in which the speaker recounts their partner sitting with them and telling them that they no longer loved them. The second stanza is more reflective and occurs far later in memory. There is no anger in that act of the declaration of an end to love, but there is a kind of mourning for the love that once existed.

This is a kind of unrequited love that has resigned itself, a kind that understands that things have come to an end.

Poems About Falling Out of Love Stevie Smith (2017); Akshay Nagaraju B, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


I Feel Horrible. She Doesn’t (1968) by Richard Brautigan

Date Published1968
Type of PoemFree verse
Rhyme SchemeNone
TopicUnrequited love

I Feel Horrible. She Doesn’t is a rather heartbreaking poem. It is also one of the many poems about falling out of love. We do not know for certain whether the speaker has fallen out of love, but we do know that the speaker tells us that they feel terrible because his partner no longer loves him. It also makes use of a very off-putting image as it states that he wanders around his home like a “sewing machine” that has just completed sewing “a turd to a garbage can lid”.

A fascinating and also disgusting image that tells us, in no uncertain terms, that the speaker feels absolutely horrible about the loss of love that has occurred in his life.


Warming Her Pearls (1987) by Carol Ann Duffy

Date Published1987
Type of PoemFree verse poems
Rhyme SchemeNone
TopicUnrequited love

Warming Her Pearls is a poem that serves as a dramatic monologue. It is from the perspective of a maid who has an attraction for her mistress. She helps to dress her and longs to be with her. The image of the pearls persists throughout the poem to make it a devastating exploration of same-sex attraction during the Victorian era in Britain. It is the last of the poems about unrequited love that we will discuss today, and it is a stunning final piece to end it on.


And with this final poem, we have come to the end of our list of poems about unrequited love. Some of these texts have been poems about falling out of love and some have been above love from a distance. There have been many different poems that have explored these kinds of ideas because it is a feeling that many have experienced in the world, but there are also far more examples than only those that have been mentioned in this article. So, if this is a topic that you find to be particularly interesting, there are many other poems for you to explore!




Frequently Asked Questions


What Are Poems About Unrequited Love?

The idea of a poem about unrequited love is one that focuses on the idea of love that is not reciprocated. This means that only one person is in love and the other either does not love that person or is not even aware of that person. In more contemporary terms, this can be seen as equivalent to having a crush that no one knows about.


Is Unrequited Love the Same As Falling Out of Love?

Unrequited love and falling out of love are quite different from each other. Although, when it comes to poems about falling out of love, they are not necessarily diametrically opposed to the idea of unrequited love. For instance, what if one person in a relationship were to fall out of love but the other was unaware? That would be unrequited love too. So, they can be seen as related, but they are not the same thing.


What Are the Characteristics of Poems About Unrequited Love?

Poems about unrequited love often focus on the object of the speaker’s love, and there can often be themes of yearning and sad emotions mixed into these feelings of love. However, there is no such thing as a type of poetry concerned with unrequited love. Instead, any poem about unrequited love can also be a sonnet, limerick, and so on. There are no restrictions on what type of poem needs to be used.


What Are Some of the Most Famous Poems About Unrequited Love?

There are many famous poems about unrequited love, such as Mariana (1830) by Alfred Lord Tennyson, I Am Not Yours (1915) by Sara Teasdale, and Warming Her Pearls (1987) by Carol Ann Duffy. In addition to these, there are many other poems that have similar ideas, such as poems about falling out of love or poems about love from a distance.


Who Are Some of the Most Famous Poets Who Wrote About Unrequited Love?

Many poets have written about unrequited love. Some of the most famous are poets like John Keats, William Blake, William Shakespeare, Stevie Smith, and many others. When it comes to poems about unrequited love and poems about falling out of love, there have been many over the years who have experienced these kinds of thoughts and feelings and written on those feelings.


Cite this Article

Justin, van Huyssteen, “Poems About Unrequited Love – 10 Emotional Examples.” Art in Context. December 1, 2023. URL: https://artincontext.org/poems-about-unrequited-love/

van Huyssteen, J. (2023, 1 December). Poems About Unrequited Love – 10 Emotional Examples. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/poems-about-unrequited-love/

van Huyssteen, Justin. “Poems About Unrequited Love – 10 Emotional Examples.” Art in Context, December 1, 2023. https://artincontext.org/poems-about-unrequited-love/.

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