My Favorite Love Poem


Last week I was walking along the St. Joe River; it was early morning and the day was not yet too hot. My walks are restorative and invigorating and I always come away with ideas, things about which I would like to write, or a general plan for what I want to do when I get back home.

Some mornings I prefer to walk in silence, with only the sound of the occasional passing car, a cyclist alerting me, “On the left!” or the squawking geese that make their home on the river’s banks. This morning I listened to Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast. Gretchen is a happiness and habits expert; you may have read her books, The Happiness Project or Better Than Before. Her podcasts, which she hosts with her sister Elizabeth Craft, share tips on how to create habits that foster happiness. They also take listener calls.

A woman called in because she wanted suggestions for a reading for her upcoming wedding and she was willing to take ideas from Gretchen or her listeners. Her request took me back to my wedding 10 years ago. I was excited because as I planned the wedding, I remembered a poem that I had always loved. I shared it with Tony before we were married, decided to use it in the ceremony, and asked my father to read it for us.

I don’t know what reading or poem the listener will use for her ceremony—I hope she finds something that she will remember for all the days of her marriage. I wanted to share the poem I selected with you. Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) wrote the poem; he was a poet, lyricist, and wrote short stories and novels. He was a black man, born in Dayton, Ohio and unfortunately, died much too young. Here is his poem, Invitation to Love.


Invitation to Love

Come when the nights are bright with stars

Or when the moon is mellow;

Come when the sun his golden bars

Drops on the hayfield yellow.

Come in the twilight soft and gray,

Come in the night or come in the day,

Come , O love, when’er you may,

And you are welcome, welcome.


You are sweet, O love, dear love

You are soft as the nesting dove.

Come to my heart and bring it rest

As the bird flies home to its welcomenest.


Come when my heart is full of grief

Or when my heart is merry;

Come with the falling of the leaf

Or with the redd’ning cherry.

Come when the year’s first blossom blows

Come when the summer gleams and glows;

Come with the winter’s drifting snows,

And you are welcome, welcome.


– Paul Laurence Dunbar




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