Twenty years ago, I wrote an unsigned love poem to a girl I barely knew. I told Brianna, among other things, that life was a blaze of magnificence, that she made it even brighter, and that someday I would spend every day with the prettiest girl in the world.
When she read the poem she got goose bumps, smiled from ear to ear, and daydreamed about the gentleman behind the poetic prose. She showed it to her sister who sighed and said, “How romantic! I wish someone would write me a poem like that.” Then she showed it to her parents. Her mom smirked, but her dad frowned and said, “Don’t waste your time on a foolish boy hiding behind a silly poem.” Finally, she let her new boyfriend read it. In a grim voice he said, “Let me know when you find out who wrote it, because I’d like to give him a piece of my mind!”
Despite reactions ranging from enthusiasm to aggravation, she kept the poem and still has it in her possession today, two decades later. Her younger brother, Jose, recently found it neatly folded and tucked between two pages of an old photo album she keeps in her den.
I know all of this because Jose told me. He and I met in school twenty years ago and we have been best friends ever since. He was, frankly, the reason I wrote the poem.
A Second Glance
“Your sister is pretty,” I told Jose during my first visit to his home.
“Forget about it,” he said. “Brianna has buff guys fighting for her affection every day. You couldn’t hold her attention long enough to get a second glance.”
“I could if I wrote her a poem,” I replied.
“She has guys writing her romantic crap all the time,” he said. “She’ll just toss it out with all the other failed attempts.”
“Not mine,” I insisted.
“You’re crazy,” he chuckled. “Go ahead and try. Make me laugh!”
I wrote the poem that evening and mailed it anonymously the next morning.
I Thought I Was Special
The poem I wrote Brianna wasn’t genuine, at least not in my mind. I wrote it because Jose doubted me. Sure, I thought Brianna was pretty, but I didn’t want to settle down with her. At the time, I didn’t even know her. And as it turns out, she and I have almost nothing in common.
The last genuine love poem I wrote went to a girl I met a month before I met Brianna. She was on the varsity soccer team, and her beauty was majestic. I wrote Sara a poem and slipped it into her locker the same afternoon. I confessed my desire to be a soccer ball, and risk being kicked around, if it was the only way I could catch her attention. She caught up with me the next morning and told me I didn’t need to transform into a soccer ball to catch her attention. I asked her out on a date a few minutes later.
Our first date went well. But the next afternoon Sara spoke to a few of her teammates, two of which I had previously dated. She was appalled when she found out that I had written Jackie a poem about innocent kisses blown her way in the breeze, and Carol a poem about the lucky sunshine that glistens off her skin. Needless to say, a second date was not in our future.
“Stupid me! When I read the poem you wrote me, I actually believed you were being sincere! I thought I was special,” Sara screamed!
“I was… and you are,” I mumbled as she stomped away.
But Sara had a point. Although I had never summoned the desire to be a soccer ball in any of my previous poems, I did use similar analogies that carried the same fundamental message of flirtatious affection.
I wasn’t trying to hurt her. I thought she was gorgeous. I thought she carried herself with amazing grace. I wanted to be around her. I wanted to be hers. She was the most perfect girl in the entire world… and I felt this way a hundred times before.
No Two Words Would Rhyme
Roughly six months after I met Brianna, I met Angel. I realized shortly thereafter that she moved me in a way the others had not. I couldn’t consciously pinpoint it, but I knew our relationship felt special. Even after the initial excitement fatigued, she kept me captivated in awe. I was wide awake in the second inning for the first time in my life.
Angel and I have been together for nineteen years now—we’ve been through a lot together—and I appreciate her more and more with each passing day. Yet despite my love for her, she’s never received a love poem.
It’s not that I haven’t tried. I tried, once, to write her a poem about the depth and beauty of her hazel-green eyes. I stumbled over my words. Another time I tried to write her a poem about the mornings I wake up early just to watch her sleep. I failed again. And just last month I tried to write her a poem entitled “Amidst an Angel.” But no two words would rhyme.
Nineteen years and not a single love poem written. Of course, Angel knows I love to write, so she has occasionally questioned my motives for never writing her a romantic piece.
Yesterday evening I found myself trying again. I tried to poetically recreate the story of our first encounter. I wanted to make it cute. I wanted to make her smile. I wanted to make her cry. I wanted to typify our tale in exquisite prose. Nothing came.
The Most Profound Affirmation
I fell asleep around midnight last night thinking about my predicament. Have I completely lost my touch? Has someone cast an evil spell on me? Or is there a more profound, philosophical explanation?
I dreamt I was sitting at round table in a dimly lit room. There was a man sitting across the table from me. He looked a lot like me, only his hair was silver and his skin was worn.
“I’m here to answer your question,” he said.
“What question?” I asked.
“The one you’ve been asking yourself for almost two decades,” he replied.
“What’s wrong with me?” I huffed. “Why can’t I write Angel a love poem?”
“Perhaps you can’t write her a love poem because you realize, subconsciously, that leaving it unwritten is the most profound affirmation of love you can make. Because you truly do love her, and true love cannot be translated into words. Because words alone could never do her any justice.”
I nodded in agreement.
He went on, “The sad truth, of course, is that this affirmation of true love will always remain unnoticed. Because there is no visible output to notice—no poem to read.”
My eyes popped open.
Inspired to Write
It was 4:30 AM, but I was wide awake and inspired to write about the epiphany I had in my dreams. I leaned over, kissed Angel on the forehead, and rolled out of bed. I powered on my laptop and opened the word processor I use for blogging. After gazing at the blank white screen for several minutes, I placed my fingers on the keyboard and titled the page:
The Unwritten Love Poem: Why True Love is So Hard to Express
. . .
Afterthoughts & Questions
Why did I just share that story with you?
Because doing so helps remind me.
And, I know you need a reminder sometimes too.
Sometimes we all need to be reminded of the beauty and sweetness of truly loving someone without the forced glitz, glam, and airbrushing of the Instagraming world we live in. Because it’s so easy to forget. It’s so easy to see the fairy-tale highlight reel of staged romance that scrolls across our screens, and feel inadequate by comparison.
We need to remind ourselves that loving someone—truly and profoundly loving them—isn’t about crafting the perfect love poem, photographing the perfect internet kiss, or showing off in any way; it’s about showing up every day behind closed doors to quietly respect and support someone who means the world to us.
Do you agree?
Do you feel like your love is hard to accurately express?
Do you have your own “unwritten love poem” pulsing through your heart and mind?
I know this blog post is a little different, but I’d love to know what you think.
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.
I really appreciate the personal nature of this post, Marc. I’ve been following you and Angel ever since my husband bought me a ticket to your Think Better seminar a couple years ago in Austin. And this post just resonates so deeply.
I’m an artist… I do graphic design, and illustrations for a living, and have for a long time. I’ve been married for 15 years to my heart’s desire, a man I cannot fathom one moment, and who I know better than I know myself the next. He is my heart, and you know I have never, ever been able to paint, draw, or render him. I cannot do it… he is beyond representation… for me.
I feel you, 100%!
Marc Chernoff says
I remember meeting you, Jamie. Thank you for adding to the conversation here. Obviously, I love your sentiment. 🙂
Darla Jae says
Marc, I appreciate you putting your thoughts into such prose. Really enjoyed this immensely. I’m thoughtfully thinking about the love of my life, whom I was married to for a decade and a year…till it seemingly fell apart last year, unraveled… technically still together, yet remain apart. I’m literally still awaiting a letter they said the intended to send, yet I have not received it…perhaps he still loves me despite our differences…perhaps I too will never receive this letter. Much to my attempts, I too have been trying to put my thoughts on paper…yet nothing has transpired.
Thank you for giving me some perspective today.
I also loved your last email newsletter too. Keep up the excellent work!
Marc Chernoff says
It’s great to hear that you’re seeing things differently now. Thank you for the kindness and feedback, Darla.
This post really melted my heart. Thank you for sharing it. I felt it was a pleasant departure from some of the more serious personal growth lessons I’ve been studying on your blog and in your getting back to happy course over the past few weeks. Your words here made me think of a related past event in my life—one that I didn’t necessarily handle well. I’ve since learned that that what you say here is true–true love is really hard to express sometimes. Beautiful as always, Marc. And I’m looking forward to my upcoming coaching call with you and Angel.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you, Vivian. And it was great speaking with you. 🙂
I’ve been reading your articles for long time and this is the first time I leave a comment in your blog. Honestly, I love the way you write your blog. It’s so unique!
I agree with you that truly and profoundly loving someone isn’t about crafting the prefect poem, etc. And as you said, it’s about showing up every day behind closed doors to quietly respect and support someone who means the world to us. I do have unwritten love and poem in my heart and mind and I do feel like my love’s hard to accurately express, especially my love to my mom. But after I read this article I realize that that’s why I’ve never accurately expressed my love to my mom, that’s because I just love her so much more than anything in the world 🙂
Marc Chernoff says
Thanks for leaving us a comment, Ann. And I feel you on the love you have for your mom. I feel the same way.
This is so me. Although I haven’t written nearly as many poems as I would like, I keep coming back to that one girl that I can’t wrap my head around with just words or even thoughts. But…. She is taken at the moment and i already gave it a shot and kinda got kindly denied… Good game well played… Moving on!
Jennifer Quigley says
Hi Marc, your Angel is the luckiest girl in the whole world. What a beautifully sincere sentiment to share, not only with her, but with us. We all, I’m sure, wish to find love like you feel for Angel. God bless you both. May you both grow old together and be, each to each other, forever. Love Jen (Publishing Editor – Magnifique Magazine).
It’s really difficult to express love in words . I have tried it and I can just express the memories of meetings we held on. That flash back. That’s it.
BRANDY ASHLEY says
Marc I really appreciate the sincerity and depth to this article. My husband and I have been married for almost 25 years. In this “microwave” society, having a long-term relationship such as this is the rarity, not the norm. For 25 years I have tried to tell him how much he means to me but have failed at every attempt. The best I have been able to do is to say that he is everything to me. Sometimes we can carry guilt about not being able to verbalize how special someone is to us, but your article has put this into perfect perspective. Thank you for sharing such a raw writing with all of us. You have affirmed that it’s okay to not be able to express in words our true love to our true love…..it’s best to live it out each and every day.
Rashida Saif says
Nice one, Marc. I appreciate your articles every time I read them. I feel like you are talking to me directly in this one. Love is a beautiful thing, in any way you look at it, and it’s sometimes hard to express.
Arpana Teotia says
Marc, your post is so very heart touching 🙂
It’s true that true love is hard to express in words. It can only be felt…through small and simple things with no show off. When you try to step into the shoes of the other person and try to feel what he/she is going through, when you put the other person before yourself, when you pray for his/her dreams to come true, when try to be your best for him/her, when you stand like a rock with him/her, when you are ready to step out of your comfort zone for him/her with a smile, when you are ready to “live” and not just “exist” everyday, when you feel amazing all the time, when there is no fear and you are ready put your best foot forward in times of challenges, when “us” wins over “you” and “I”……..the list goes on and on…… It’s when you are blessed to experience true love. Anything lesser than this is just nothing over a period of time…
DOROTHY PARKER says
Great story Marc…I write all my feelings down in a journal…only for my eyes to read…after I read your article it gave me insights of the actual meaning of the word “LOVE”. there is a true love meaning, a friendship Love, fake Love, then God’s Love…Love is the greatest gift if being sincere…loving from your heart…
Lori Nelson says
Your story reminds me of the famous sonnet written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “If thou must love me, let it be for naught.” The speaker explains that true love is unexplainable and cannot be put into words. It just is.
Annette Aguillard Elliott says
I have gathered so much insight about myself as a female about what Love is about. I treasure looking forward to hearing from you about your life and how you and Angel have accomplished so much over the years in your relationship. Please keep these wonderful emails coming….
patricia hamilton says
Live your words … I love to write and I think I transmit my thoughts on paper quite well. But when it comes to love it’s a difficult subject because there is so much feelings are going to the words I don’t feel that the words express your true thoughts well enough. Whether it’s in a poem or a letter it’s always hard to express. I think you captivated it correctly in the way you feel difficulty through your wording. We all have love poems to write to somebody but I think the best Thing we can do is show words through feelings and our actions to me it counts more than a love poem.. fact that you’ve been married for more than 19 years now express your love the fact that you’re able to connect and support each other throughout the years expresses your love ??.Pat
I have enjoyed reading yours and Angels blog. I have even turned it on to several people I have met over time. I have never commented before so forgive me for writing my first post without fully agreeing.
Yes, true love is hard to express in writing. This is why actions need to express the love we feel for one another. It may be unnoticed some of the time but then again one shouldn’t do it to get noticed. Soul mates will notice though if they are in tune with each other.
The reason why I disagree is because it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to express love in writing. I would write something even if it’s about part of my love. Silly notes or poems back and forth reveal the action of an attempt. A silly rhyme or a childish poem is a partial expression.
I wouldn’t want it to be perfect expression of love for it can never be. People may be afraid of not meeting his/her lovers expectations or their own. But that is it! That is the point. I write it to the best of my ability and I am vulnerable to what she may think or say. I do not feel inadequate nor is it forced glam. It just comes from the heart. If she loves me then she will see past the words, the lack of the overall feeling of love it is suppose to express, and she will see that my heart is trying to put in words something that is indescribable. She will appreciate it for that and just love me back more.
I can appreciate your comment but I believe what Marc was saying was that Angel held a much higher position than any other woman he’d ever been with and to treat her as he did the others would have been an insult of his deep feelings for her. It reminded me of the book “The Other Side of Midnight”. Every woman he dated he treated the same and said the same words to. When a woman is loved correctly there’s no other woman that can be compared to her.
I am a pretty faithful reader, and this post prompted me halfway through to back up and read it aloud to my husband. Every day he gives me unwritten “I love yous.” We laughed at your teenaged attempts to get girlfriends with poetic words. These words you posted today ring true: “[love] is about showing up…every day to quietly respect and support someone who means the world to us.”
Like the cliche says: actions speak louder than words. Thanks for sharing your story and the larger epiphany you realized.
Keep on inspiring us! Have a GREAT day!
Barbacar Chemiat says
Thank you so much for your regular emails. I’m from Kenya, have always been following what you write.
In my opinion, I think my experience is a bit different—I have written so many things about my girl. And on her birthday I wrote her a handwritten poem, but I still love her so much but still I can express that through writing. I guess we are all a little different.
Thank you, Marc and Angel
Yaa Yeboah says
Good work, Marc. May God richly bless you and your family. This message has really changed my perception about love.
Joanne B. says
So true. How can we use simple words and thoughts we have used before for ordinary circumstances when this instance is so different? There simply are no words. So we are compelled to find new ways, new ‘words’ to document what we are feeling. I suppose this is a lesson to not even attempt to ‘document’ these feelings but to live them every day and appreciate them every day, because we should realize how fragile they just might be. While we think this is about our inability to expresser love for another, maybe it is really about accepting the fact that THAT person also feels the same about US! If we can only accept that WE are worthy of another imperfect person loving us despite our imperfections and THAT is where the real beauty is, we will stop trying to evaluate, quantify and qualify our love for another. Maybe it is that age old question of how we can love another fully if we don’t love ourselves. Sigh…
Victoria Stone says
Good morning! Thank you for this heaven-sent post. Today is my husband and my 41st year anniversary! My husband works for a winery and is extremely busy with the harvest. So we to keep today simple and not give cards gifts or flowers on this day but have a simple dinner together and remember how much our love has grown. And we will take a trip together after this season. We both feel that this is true love and respect.
Your post was a great affirmation of how we create our anniversary to fit our life. Thank you.
What a great life story, Marc! I think we have all had a time in our lives when we have felt this way about a person, whether is be a spouse or some other loved one in our lives. I am one of the luckiest guys alive to be with my soul mate of 30 years of marriage but not without some difficult times. She makes me a better man and for that I thank her. I think in most relationships communication is key but not a strong point for a lot of guys and certainly not one of my strengths but somehow even with out putting into words or down on paper she knows how I feel. She is the best thing that could of happen to me. Thanks so much for the article today. It makes me remember each day why I call her my wife!
This was the most meaningful explanation of what true love really is. I was married for 31 years to a man who could write beautiful words in beautiful cards to me all the time but his actions were completely opposite. He never looked at me with love in his eyes and he never respected me in countless ways. When I finally had the courage to leave I only found more men who treated me the same. At 62, I still feel hopeful because with all the achievements we may attain in our lives, loving and being loved will always be the greatest. Thank you for a wonderful article. You give me hope .
Bernz JP says
Thank you so much for this reminder, Marc. When I was younger, expressing love was hard for me because of fear. Fear of rejection maybe? When I started dating, I was still the same. Ego maybe? Now that I am married with kids, I’ve changed entirely. My wife’s love and support inspired me to do the same for her. Her love and sincerity made me a better husband a good father and a better person in general.
Really like your love-themed post. My thoughts on a love that continues through the decades is that the dreamy fantasy represented by the poem is what spurs us on to the next step in the relationship, to attempt to make the dream a reality. Bridging the dream with reality is tricky. The person you dreamed and continue to dream about is only part of who you committed to; the other parts that you don’t like so much are also who you’ve committed to. Loving and respecting those parts just as much as the ones that match up to the dream you created for yourself in that very first love poem you write in your head and hold in your heart I think is one of the keys to that bridge. Part of what’s helped me with this balancing act is to recognize that sometimes those un-dreamy parts are what make the dreamy parts possible. And so the poem/dream is never complete and yet continues to spur us forward.
What a wonderful post! I have been married to the love of my life for almost 33 years, and wrote him a love letter that he keeps under the glass of his night table beside the bed. For years I asked, cajoled and tried to have him write one for me because for some reason it seemed important to have his feelings be put in writing. I realized that it just was not his thing – he said (repeatedly), that he’d rather show me his love by his presence, kindness, steadfastness and affection- all things that cannot be put on paper. How true! He doesn’t have to write anything on paper – it is already written in my heart!
Mina Narula says
I think your ruthless honesty about your feelings when you wrote all the other poetry and now when you can’t pen down an authentic enough line is downright commendable. You are truly gifted, Marc. And you are you because of Angel!
More power to you both!
Danielle Barber says
I enjoyed this very much, So accurate and relatable! I really liked this post!!
Your revelation reminds me of the movie Inception. Leo DiCaprio’s character has tried to recreate his dead wife in dreams, but he finally tells her what he’s realized: “I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.”
Crystal R Harper says
This hit home in ways I can’t even express. I have been in a relationship with the same man for almost four years now, and I have never yet been able to write him anything. I try, desperately I do, but the words never do come. In my previous relationship, I wrote not just poems but short stories galore. Stories of what our life would be, the moments that we would share. Meeting the man I am with now, I realized, I don’t want the stories or the fantasies, I want the life. Forget the words on the page and the dreams that they paint, I want those moments vivid and in color. I want all of those moments with him, beside him, holding his hand.
I think is possible to write the poem, but it cannot be just any poem. The poem to her is within of what you just wrote…
And I took this two phrases just because I can relate on what I feel for my husband. We have been together for more than 30 years.
our relationship is organic, grows, have ups and downs, gets still, then blossoms in some marvelous ways. It is an adventure, a journey. It is home.
I loved these two images you gave me…
“She keeps me captivated in awe.”
“I wake up early just to watch her sleep.”
Santosha Harris says
Thank you for this personal Post. It reminded me of why how organic true love really is. there is nothing to show, not always something to photograph… just us. I can laugh with my husband, I can be vulnerable with him, I can even be broken with him and it still is us. He is the part of my heart that was missing for 40 years. We still have our ups and downs like everyone does, but we fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Your unwritten words were so clearly visible in my heart because they reflected my feelings too. Thank You.
I love it! And I totally agree. I think Helen Keller said it best in one of her quotes “The best and the most beautiful things cannot be seen or even touched. It must be felt with the heart.”
Something’s are just way too profound,way too deep and heartfelt that attempting to articulate these feelings with words will always fall short.
Thank you for your beautiful blog and the wonderful articles that keep on inspiring!
Dear Marc and Angel,
Thank you for this post (I am literally writing through tears).
I have always struggled with this. I want my man to “declare his love for me” in front of the whole world. I am so envious of the women who have men that do this and secretly think to myself that they must love their women much more than mine loves me. I get very depressed and then think that I am unworthy of love or romance.
This article reminds me that I am shown love in different ways and it is between just the two of us.
Thank you for all you both do! Your love and commitment to each other is wonderful; you are my role models!
Kim Aldrich says
Marc, thank you for this post – I can relate to it in the sense that there are certain treasured aspects of my relationship with my husband that almost seem to evaporate when I try to put them into words. Is it because they’re so fragile? I suppose that’s possible, but I think it’s deeper than that. I think it’s because they’re so special – and trying to capture these synergy moments in words somehow makes them sound so commonplace and pedestrian, which they’re definitely not. That’s about as close to talking “around” it without actually describing it in words haha! It’s the beauty of showing up vs. showing off that I treasure about him!
Kim Aldrich says
P.S. Marc, I also love that you were able to capture some words about NOT being able to capture some words about Angel. Classic!
Like you I write, people say my words are beautiful and moving whether they are prayers, poems or prose, but I have never written to my John because our love is shown in small actions, secret glances and unspoken words.
I am 88 he is 90 we have been married for nearly 60 years and my poem to him is the hand held under his arm as he tries to walk…this dear weak man who could once walk miles with me and our dog and was never tired. His letter of love to me is asking if I am alright when I have cramp in the night and try not to disturb him… but he wakes and asks if I am O.K.. The other day I was ill and he knelt down looking for a hidden tin of soup in a low cupboard, and because he can’t see very well got a tin of baked beans out instead… and in the end had to call on me to help him up as he was stuck on the floor….and we both laughed and laughed and ended up in a tight embrace.
Please know that I love to read your writings.
Blessings and love,
Brenda May xxx
Once I was young – different, but the same as you
I walked past an angel (in Gippsland Australia) – a girl who just seven days ago having reached 15 years of age
Me – well just nine days ago – and well into a young mans journey of dreams; I had just reached 21 years of age.
That moment is mine – and if someone reads this – they may or may not know – what had happened
I had met a girl, her name – Mileva born of a Montenegro man on 22.1.1947.
We married at 16 / 22
The journey was magic
I blinked at 61 – 15 years judicial
And woke to be an old man
This is why an unknown man made contact to Marc & Angel
Yes Mileva still stays with me – and (claims) she still sees that young man
Good thoughts on the poetry, or lack thereof!