When it comes to romance, Irish writers are rightly famous.
With Valentine’s Day upon us yet again, we decided to give you a flavor of the best love writings from some of our greatest writers and poets.
From W.B. Yeats to James Joyce to Seamus Heaney, there is more than enough material from the most talented Irish writers to ensure you have a romantic message for that special someone on February 14.
When you are old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments 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;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
“Why is it that words like these seem dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?”
“...drawn to the cities where you'd hear a voice kissing and talking deep love in every shadow of the ditch, and you passing on with an empty, hungry stomach failing from your heart...”
The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips
John Boyle O'Reilly
A wasting breath,
But you must know one word of truth
Gives a ghost breath. In language beyond learning's touch
Passion can teach.
Speak in that speech beyond reproach
The body's speech.
Donal IX MacCarthy Mór, Last High King of Munster, who in 1596
English translation of Lament for Art O’Leary
My steadfast love!
When I saw you one day
by the market-house gable
my eye gave a look
my heart shone out
I fled with you far
from friends and home.
And never was sorry:
you had parlors painted
rooms decked out
the oven reddened
and loaves made up
roasts on spits
and cattle slaughtered;
I slept in duck-down
till noontime came
or later if I liked.
Her scarf a la Bardot,
In suede flats for the walk,
She came with me one evening
For air and friendly talk.
We crossed the quiet river,
Took the embankment walk.
Traffic holding its breath,
Sky a tense diaphragm:
Dusk hung like a backcloth
That shook where a swan swam,
Tremulous as a hawk
Hanging deadly, calm.
A vacuum of need
Collapsed each hunting heart
But tremulously we held
As hawk and prey apart,
Preserved classic decorum,
Deployed our talk with art.
Which Irish love quote is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section, below.
*Originally published in 2012. Updated in February 2022.
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