Nailing down the best erotic poetry is difficult because preferences and tastes vary so greatly from person to person. This is great news! It means we have a variety of erotic poems to read that maximize and diversify our concept of sexiness.
As I was researching poems for this list, I found that I knew exactly what I didn’t like in an erotic poem. Descriptions of throbbing veins and the curve of her creamy white neck, for example, do not move me. This means that if you love phallic symbols and lingering contemplations of white ladies’ necks, you’re not going to see very much of that here. Sorry.
I landed on these 13 erotic poems that I think are genuinely sexy for one reason or another. For some, it’s the urgency in the speaker’s voice. It’s lovely to feel seen and needed. Poems with sensory detail so rich that I feel embodied in the poem itself also make a strong case for eroticism. There’s at least one poem here that had me pressing my hand to my heart with my mouth open, thinking with joy, “can they say that?”
So, here I present to you, 13 erotic poems that span from the classics to the contemporary, each of which made me sigh at least once:
your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.
Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes,
warm eggs, cinnamon
and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me
*(Note from Sarah: this is it. This is the one that had me fanning myself.)
At the touch of you,
As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow,
The arrows of delight shot through my body.
Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir’d with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
you burn me
Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine—tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
Touching you I catch midnight
as moon fires set in my throat
I love you flesh into blossom
I made you
and take you made
The first time we made love I realized why
I never prayed. One human can only say
Oh God so many times.
Last night I slept, and when I woke her kiss
Still floated on my lips. For we had strayed
Together in my dream, through some dim glade,
Where the shy moonbeams scarce dared light our bliss.
Words, juicy as passionfruit
On her tongue. He’d do anything,
Would dance three days & nights
To make the most terrible gods
You came to the side of the bed
and sat staring at me.
Then you kissed me—I felt
hot wax on my forehead.
I wanted it to leave a mark:
that’s how I knew I loved you.
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
As I would free the white almond from the green husk
So I would strip your trappings off,