The most romantic lines in literature?

What romantic words from a book are aptest to make your vision blur and your heart swell?

I’ll offer my choice to start off: Adam at Eve’s grave: “Wheresoever she was, there was Eden.” (Mark Twain, “Eve’s Diary”).

From “Pride and Prejudice”, when Elizabeth confesses her feelings have changed, Mr. Darcy “expresses himself as well as a man violently in love can be expected to.” <swoon>

Also, “Much Ado About Nothing”, Act IV, Scene I:

Bene.  Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?
Beat.  Yea, and I will weep a while longer.  
Bene.  I will not desire that.  
Beat.  You have no reason; I do it freely.  
Bene.  Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.
Beat.  Ah! how much might the man deserve of me that would right her.  
Bene.  Is there any way to show such friendship?  
Beat.  A very even way, but no such friend.  
Bene.  May a man do it?
Beat.  It is a man’s office, but not yours.  
Bene.  I do love nothing in the world so well as you: is not that strange?  
Beat.  As strange as the thing I know not. It were as possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as you; but believe me not, and yet I lie not; I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.  
Bene.  By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.
Beat.  Do not swear by it, and eat it.  
Bene.  I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.
Beat.  Will you not eat your word?  
Bene.  With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.
Beat.  Why then, God forgive me!  
Bene.  What offence, sweet Beatrice?  
Beat.  You have stayed me in a happy hour:  I was about to protest I loved you.
Bene.  And do it with all thy heart.  
Beat.  I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.

<double swoon>

"I know that it will be today,
My own dearly beloved - and my heart
Still so heavy with love I have not told,
And I die without telling you. No more
Shall my eyes drink the sight of you like wine,
Never more, with the look that is a kiss,
Follow the sweet grace of you.

I remember now the way
You have of pushing back a lock of hair
With one hand, from your forehead - and my heart
Cries out, and keeps crying : ‘Farewell, my dear,
My dearest - My own heart’s own -
My own treasue -my love.’

I am never away from you. Even now,
I shall not leave you. In another world,
I shalll be still that one who loves you, loves you
Beyond measure."

“Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostrand

Montfort wrote some pretty nice things for Anniz here when they first met but I can’t find my copy of them. sigh

Romeo and Juliet’s popularity sometimes causes it to be unfairly disregarded by Shakespeare buffs (gee, thanks, Leo), but it really does have some incredible stuff in it. My favorite:

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”
(Juliet, 2.2)

And from Henry V: “If thou would have such a one, take me; and take me, take a soldier; take a soldier, take a king” – but only when delivered by Kenneth Branagh. :wink:

Also, as far as pure aural pleasure goes, I think “In wanton Arethusa’s azured arms” (from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus) may be the sexiest line in English literature… :smiley:

No, no, no! These are the most romantic lines from “Much Ado”:

“One woman is fair, yet I am well;
another is wise, yet I am well;
another virtuous, yet I am well;
but till all graces be in one woman,
one woman shall not come in my grace.”
–Much Ado About Nothing, Act 2, Scene III


Oh, all right. You all want dialogue to make the women swoon? Try this:

“Behold yond simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks presages snow;
That minces virtue,
and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure’s name;
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse,
goes to ‘t With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are Centaurs,
Though women all above:
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends’;
There’s hell, there’s darkness,
there’s the sulphurous pit,
Burning, scalding, stench, consumption;
fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!”
–King Lear, Act 4, Scene VI


[sub]Sorry, I’ve not had a lot of luck in love, and I’m feeling resentful:[/sub]

“Why, love forswore me in my mother’s womb:
And, for I should not deal in her soft laws,
She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe,
To shrink mine arm up like a wither’d shrub;
To make an envious mountain on my back,
Where sits deformity to mock my body;
To shape my legs of an unequal size;
To disproportion me in every part,
Like to a chaos, or an unlick’d bear-whelp
That carries no impression like the dam.
And am I then a man to be beloved?
O monstrous fault, to harbour such a thought!”
–Henry VI, Part 3, Act 3, Scene II

I might also suggest the following, DRY –

“And that word love, which greybeards call divine,
Be resident in men like one another,
And not in me: I am myself alone.”


Of course, being near-fluent in Shakespeare doesn’t win points with most guys either, at least in my experience. :stuck_out_tongue:

“Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I’ll none: Adam’s sons are my brethren, and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.”

“That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.”
–Hamlet, Act 3, Scene ii


“What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.”
–Hamlet, Act 3, Scene i

“Teach not thy lips such scorn,
for they were made
For kissing, lady,
not for such contempt.” :smiley:
–Richard III, Act 1, Scene ii

Like Euty, I find Rostand’s classic to have some of the most romantic lines in literature.
My sig contains part of one of my favourite romantic lines:

“She’s a mortal danger without meaning to be one; she’s exquisite without giving it a thought; she’a a trap set by nature, a rose in which love lies in ambush! Anyone who has seen her smile has known perfection. She creates grace without movement, and makes all divinity fit into her slightest gesture. And neither Venus in her shell, nor Diana striding in the great, blossoming forest, can compare to her when she goes through the streets of Paris in her sedan chair.” -Cyrano de Bergerac, Edmond Rostand

Though, that’s shortly followed by one of the saddest lines I know of. Cyrano: so much passion but so much self-loathing and self-doubt…a character I can relate to.

I remember being touched by the last paragraph of Proulx’s The Shipping News and thinking “Finally, a love story that I can relate to.”

How about in Justine when Dom Clement is preparing to flog fair little justine and says,

“Be courageous. I’m about to use you like the last of the damned!”


Ok, so that’s not for everyone.

I don’t remember the exact lines, but when Sydney Carton comes to Lucie’s house to essentially give up on her and he says something like she should remember that somewhere in the world there will always be a man that loves her from the shadows or something.

GOD i love sydney carton. HE IS DREAMY.



Two of my favorites have already been mentioned – the Mark Twain bit and the Benedick/Beatrice thing.

However, the one that always gets me is towards the end of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Not Captain Wentworth’s declaration (although that was rather swoony also), but earlier. Anne Elliot and Wentworth’s friend Captain Harville had been having a lively debate over the relative fickleness of men and women. Harville had this to say:

Ah! …if I could but make you comprehend what a man suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and children, and watches the boat that he has sent them off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away and says, “God knows whether we shall ever meet again!” And then, if I could convey to you the glow of his soul when he does see them again; when, coming back after a twelvemonth’s absence, perhaps, and obliged to put into another port, he calculates how soon it could be possible to get them there, pretending to deceive himself, and saying, “They cannot be here till such a day,” but all the while hoping for them twelve hours sooner, and seeing them arrive at last, as if Heaven had given them wings…

I can’t ever read this passage without a tear in my eye. But then, I’m the wife of a sailor.

A Tale of Two Cities, Chapter 13.

"I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul…the sight of you with your father, and of this home made such a home by you, has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me…

In the hour of my death, I shall hold sacred the one good remembrance - and shall thank you and bless you for it - that my last avowal of myself was made to you, and that my name, and faults, and miseries were gently carried in your heart…

O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!"

I love that book.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudy climes and starry skies
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

Lord Byron

How many loved your moment of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

William Butler Yeats


Your absense has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

W. S. Merwin


Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts–
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all the while.

Wendy Cope
The Telephone

“When I was just ass far as I could walk
From here today,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning my head against a flower
I heard you talk.
Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say–
You spoke from that flower on the windowill–
Do you remember what it was you said?”

“First tell me what it was you thought you heard.”

“Having found the flower and driven a bee away,
I leaned my head,
And holding by the stalk,
I listened and I thought I caught the word–
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say–
Someone said ‘Come’–I heard it as I bowed.”

“I may have thought as much, but not aloud.”

“Well, so I came.”

Robert Frost
And my favorite, from ancient India

Although I conquer all the earth,
Yet for me there is only one city.
In that city there is for me only one house;
And in that house, one room only;
And in that room, a bed.
And one woman sleeps there,
The shining joy and jewel of all my kingdom.


MY GOD I am swooning. That is honestly, hands down, the most romantic thing I’ve ever read.

Albert…will you marry me?


Wow, quite a wide variety of responses; I would love to see more. I thought many of them would be familiar, but nearly all of these are words I had never seen before; I recognize Richard III’s and Hamlet’s quotes, and the Byron poem, but that’s about it.

I definitely like the Marlowe quote, the Wendy Cope quote, and the ancient Indian quote, none of which I had heard before.

Shakespeare’s cynical quotes are coming off as more eloquent than his amorous quotes! Nobody speaks up in favor of “Age cannot wither her / Nor custom stale her infinite variety.”

They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow
They rightly do inherit Heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense.
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity.
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds.
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.
–Sonnet 94, our friend Bill Shakespeare

No, really, that’s honestly the most romantic passage in literature for me. Yeah, life is odd.


What great selections–LNO, I love that sonnet–my favorite is Sonnet 116–my husband handwrote it out for me when we were dating:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

That’s Richard III for you… :stuck_out_tongue:

But since you quoted Antony and Cleopatra, I have to put in a good word for

The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes.


And also for this passage from Twelfth Night:

Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out ‘Olivia!’ O, you should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth,
But you should pity me!

I know I also have some John Donne quotes for this thread and I can’t think of what they are… :stuck_out_tongue: