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Roses are red, violets are blue: Exclusive Poems and Our Top 10 Books of Poetry for Valentine's Day

Posted on 19th January 2021 by Waterstones

We asked some of our favourite authors to complete the famous Valentine's verse 'Roses are red, violets are blue...' in whatever way they liked. This is what happened. Interspersed with these romantic nuggets are some recommendations for enchanting collections of love poetry.

Roses are red
Violets don't stay
The sexiest characters
Are morally grey
Roses are red
The Darkling wears black
My love is as fierce
As a volcra attack.

Leigh Bardugo (@LBardugo)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Give someone a book
And they'll sleep with you

Holly Black (@hollyblack)

£5.99
Paperback
In stock
Available
A perfectly portable volume of some of the finest poetry ever written, Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets have become immortal representations of every human emotion from love to mortality.
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Vampires are pale
Werewolves are fluffy
Bollocks to Twilight
I still love Buffy.

Christopher Brookmyre (@cbrookmyre)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You like 70s muscle cars
I like Doctor Who
You like beetroot
I would feed it to horses
You like plain steamed things
And I like cheese courses
You run in races,
Love hunts, tents and hooks
I like indoor places
With fires, and books
No-one can say
Why we work as we do
We are just so different
Thing One and Thing Two.
But when all is gone and we are both long dead,
Rose red
We’ll still know the core and soul of us was true.
Boy Blue.

Jenny Colgan (@jennycolgan) 

£9.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Available
From Shakespeare to Gaiman via Walcott and Cummings, Chris Riddell adorns a selection of his favourite love poetry with a suite of typically gorgeous and intricate illustrations.
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Roses are red
Violets are blue
Angelina's taken
So you'll have to do.

John Connolly (@jconnollybooks)

 

Chris Ridell and Paul Stewart 

£9.99
Paperback
5+ in stock
Available
Revelling in the seamy side of life yet possessing an almost spiritual belief in the power of romantic love, however rough-hewn, Bukowski surprises and enthralls with every line of this singular collection.
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Roses are red
Violets are blue
Whether you’re faithful
I cannot construe.
Violets are blue
Roses are red
But if you are cheating,
Lover, you’re dead!

Lindsey Davis 

My roses have turned blue
My violets appear red,
And I no longer fancy you,
I fancy myself instead.

Laura Dockrill (@LauraDockrill)

£9.99
Hardback
10+ in stock
Available
Taking inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movements of a bygone age, Zanatelli supplies intricate collages to accompany timeless romantic verse from William Blake, Christina Rossetti and many more iconic poets in this beautiful volume also blessed with an introduction by Florence Welch.
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Roses are red
And various other colours
Violets are violet
If we're being specific.
(I believe it was this attention to detail that made you fall in love with me).

Matt Haig (@matthaig1) 

Roses are red
Violets are blue
A body can stray
While a heart stays true.

Sophie Hannah (@SophiehannahCB1)

£9.99
Paperback
In stock
Available
From wild passion to contented affection, the former Poet Laureate delineates the full emotional range of various forms of love in this sprightly, compassionate volume.
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Roses are red
Violets are purple
People just say they're blue
Cos rhyming's a hurdle.

Natalie Haynes

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I’d rather be dead
Than stuck with you!

Erica James (@TheEricaJames)

£7.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Available
One of the most revered Latin American poets, Pablo Neruda was an undisputed master of erotic verse and Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair stands as testament to his adroit lyricism and nuanced craft.
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Roses are red
Violets are blue
Why stop at one Valentine?
Love triangles give us two.

Lauren Kate (@laurenkatebooks)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
but all flowers wither
just like my love for you *sadface*
(I think the *sadface* is very ee cummings)
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I only snogged Benedict Cumberbatch
because he begged me too.

Sarra Manning (@sarramanning)

£9.99
Paperback
5+ in stock
Available
Boasting plenty of licentious verse and erotic lyricism, Sophie Hannah’s rambunctious history of poetic sex takes in passion, desire, regret and ecstasy with wit and candour.
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Roses are red,
violets are blue
I’m slightly adhesive
But I’ll stick to you.

Alexander McCall Smith (@McCallSmith)  

"Roses are red,
violets are blue...
romantic love is an ideological construct, but it's a beautiful ideological construct, and rooted, we all secretly believe, and fundamentally know, in the softest, sweetest, most hopeful part of our being. Plus, it's better than being alone and blankly masturbating into the Abyss. Although that can get a bit messy. Especially if it's the director's cut, the one with the giant waves and the threat of nuclear armageddon, and the bit where everyone thinks the baldy guy is dead, but he comes back to life because he's been saved by underwater aliens, but secretly it's because he's distraught without his ex-wife, and he believes fully in the power of, yep, romantic love. See. You can't get away from it. Even right now. There's a couple on the table opposite me. Japanese. And they're just kind of, well, hugging. Heads clunking together. No conversation. Just hugging. It's utterly beautiful. I could cry. No, wait. Hang on. She's got her phone out. Ah shit. Now she's texting. And he's watching her text. No. wait. Hold on. His phone has just gone. He's looking at it. She's looking at him looking at his phone. He's smiling. She's clearly just texted, Bluetoothed, or Airdropped a message, and he's looking at her, looking at him, looking at his phone, looking at the message she sent to him while he was looking at her, looking at her phone. I can't see, from here, exactly what she's sent, but I'm guessing it's something like, "I, like, totally love you, you are my life in every possible way, I can't breathe without you, and maybe we should turn off our f***ing phones and go back to clunking heads together, and stuff." Either way, I rest my case. Romantic love, like Derrida used to say about inherent narrative structure, is simply there, like life itself. You can't fight it. You can't deny it. But to hold onto it when you've got it, and to make it last, now there's a trick!"

Kevin Maher (@KevinTMaher)

£8.99
Paperback
10+ in stock
Available
Collecting the inspirational, lyrical poetry of the iconic Persian mystic, this superbly curated volume showcases Rumi's towering love poetry alongside his verse on spirituality and the natural world.
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Roses are red
Violets are blue,
Sugar is addictive,
I think you're brilliant.

Denise Mina (@DameDeniseMina) 

Roses are only sometimes red
Violets are never really blue
Do you really need a national holiday
To remember to say, "I love you"?

Patrick Ness (@Patrick_Ness) 

£10.99
Paperback
In stock
Available
The most adored love poetry in history gathered together in an attractively packaged volume and featuring all the legendary figures from Donne to Dickinson and beyond.
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Roses are red,
violets are blue.
Mikey stared at the words inside the Valentine’s card and wondered why they made him feel hollow. Maybe it was because he was colour blind and had never liked flowers anyway. Plenty of much more exciting things were either red or blue: buses, post boxes, the ocean, and the sky. Why did love always get reduced to roses and violets? Mikey tore up the card with a sense of relief, and went into the kitchen to bake a chocolate cake for his girlfriend instead.

Kate Rhodes (@K_RhodesWriter)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I said it was me,
It was actually you.

Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell)

£7.99
Paperback
In stock
Available
Combining the missives and verse that the seminal Romantic poet John Keats penned for his adored neighbour Fanny Brawne, So Bright and Delicate is full of luminous, heartrending poetry that speaks to the most profound emotions of the human heart.
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Roses are red,
violets are mauve,
my spelling's poor,
but I think I'm in loave.
Roses are Red,
so are your lips,
come to my house,
and I'll cook you some chips.
Roses are dark,
Violets are pale,
I'd like to date you,
when you get out of jail.
Roses are scentless,
Violets are smelly.
I want to go to your house,
and watch the telly.

Nina Stibbe (@ninastibbe)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
So please see
Frank O'Hara's 'Having a Coke with You'.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
So play me a love song
On my heart's kazoo.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I think you're sexy
I'm joining the queue.

Naomi Wood (@NaomiWoodBooks)

 
Thank you so much to all the authors who shared their poems.


Comments

June Peacock

Just loved these little nuggets! Great selection of reads too. Thank you! View more

June Peacock
7th February 2020
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