"Do not write love-poems; avoid at first those forms that are too facile and commonplace: they are the most difficult, for it takes a great, fully matured power to give something of your own good where good and even excellent traditions come to mind in quantity."
Rainer Maria Rilke doles out this gem in letter one of his staggeringly famous work, Letters to a Young Poet. Letter one and he’s already nixing the most admired of forms. Sure you can buy your beloved gourmet chocolates—they’re doing amazing things with tarragon cacao these days—or sun-kissed sustainable tulips, but they will eat the chocolate and the flowers, I’m sorry to say, will die. But a love poem, that’s the eternal ticket to the beating heart. So let’s make your beloved fall to their proverbial knees. Here is some advice as you travel down that road less taken.
Hard copy is best.
Sure it’s easy to type out. Tweets have limits like haikus so that sort of counts. And it’s true, if the poem was saved to your hard drive or, for the sake of poetry, to a cloud, there’s a chance it will remain forever in the ether, which is a nice thought. But there’s something to say about the antiquated form of pen and ink that is romantic, in that super cute grade school note-passing sort of way.
Vulnerability is mandatory.
You must put yourself out there or you might as well just buy those delicious chocolates, yum. Announcing your feelings, whether bitter or sweet is a cathartic experience. When the teacher asks if anyone is brave enough to read their poem aloud in class, you know Julia Stiles jumps at the chance, really razing whatever wall stands between her and the room. It’s like every time she says “hate” she means “love,” ya know? And it’s all to the dreamboat Heath, whose future Brokeback performance is vulnerability at its best.