Words at Play

Some of Our Favorite Quotations About Love

How writers talk about romance

Maybe you go all in for the Belgian chocolates, the red roses, the fine wine, fancy candlelit dinners, and the other trappings of Valentine's Day. Perhaps you try to play it smooth, trying to do something completely original but still romantic. Or maybe you try to ignore the day completely.

However we mark the day, there's no better opportunity than Valentine's Day to reflect on romance, passion, and the bittersweet possibility of heartbreak. Here are a few of our favorite quotes about Valentine's Day and the often-complicated feelings that love brings out. –John Rambow

The madness of love is the greatest of heaven's blessings . . .

  • Phaedrus, Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett

You fall in love with perhaps half a dozen people in your life, and a like number of people fall in love with you. But the affections are rarely mutual and almost never contemporary. It is the most irresponsible thing that can be done to let such a coincidence pass and not act upon it.

  • Age and Guile Beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut, P. J. O'Rourke

Love is like riding or speaking French. If you don't learn it young, it's hard to get the trick of it later.

  • Spoken by Hugh "Shrimpy" MacClare in Downton Abbey, written by Julian Fellowes

It isn't possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.

  • A Room with a View, E. M. Forster
writers talk about romance

Love is desire sustained by unfulfillment.

  • "Puss-in-Boots," Angela Carter

Oft have I heard both youths and virgins say,

Birds choose their mates, and couple too this day;

But by their flight I never can divine

When I shall couple with my Valentine.

  • "To His Valentine, on St. Valentine's Day," Robert Herrick

You can love someone so much. ... But you can never love people as much as you can miss them.

  • An Abundance of Katherines, John Green

I ain't got nobody

And nobody cares for me

That's why I'm sad and lonely,

Won't somebody come and take a chance with me?

  • "I Ain't Got Nobody," lyrics by Roger Graham

Romantic love is mental illness. But it's a pleasurable one. It's a drug. It distorts reality, and that's the point of it. It would be impossible to fall in love with someone that you really saw.

  • Fran Lebowitz

For what is love itself, for the one we love best?—an enfolding of immeasurable cares which yet are better than any joys outside our love.

  • Daniel Deronda, George Eliot

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

  • The Bible, I Corinthians, 13:4 (New International Version)

You make me smile with my heart

Your looks are laughable, unphotographable

Yet you're my favorite work of art

  • "My Funny Valentine," lyrics by Lorenz Hart

Win her with gifts, if she respect not words.

  • Two Gentlemen of Verona, William Shakespeare

There were no embraces, because where there is great love there is often little display of it.

  • Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, translated by John Rutherford

Desire is no light thing.

  • The Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson
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