Poem Sampler

Pickup Poems

Poems about the art of the pickup line.

by Peter Randall

1. “To His Coy Mistress” by Andrew Marvell
Have you ever tiptoed along the thin and windy line between saying no and getting dumped? Observe Marvell’s mastery of this situation, his understanding that there is no time like the present. He definitely gets the girl.

2. “Thrice Toss These Oaken Ashes” by Thomas Campion
Within that special someone we find qualities that we believe no one else has, things we have never heard, smelled, felt, or seen. In this poem, Campion describes his crush’s eyes and believes they have mythical powers.

3. “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick
This is a poem from an old man to young women, telling them to hurry up and marry because later they will not be as pretty. Unlike many other pickup poems, Herrick’s verse offers this advice to all pretty young women, not just one specific object of affection. Beautiful imagery, intriguing meter, and stunning metaphors are all used in the service of the poet’s goal.

4. “The Princess: Now Sleeps a Crimson Petal” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Do you ever desire something much more meaningful than sex? Read on about the mind-blowing episode of Alfred and his lover, in which Alfred holds her so dear to his heart.

5. “Volpone: Come my Celia, let us prove” by Ben Jonson
Jonson’s tasteful and optimistic view of desire radiates out of this poem. He sees no crime, no forbidden fruit causing moral dilemmas. Love is a game, he says, so let’s play!

6. “The Ghost in the Martini” by Anthony Hecht
Ah, the classic bar scene. There you see her (posing perfectly, you might add), across the room. All sorts of tactics and schemes fill your mind. Finally you get up and make your move. Something inevitably goes wrong, but that error might be the key to your success—the key to her apartment door. See how this one plays out in The Ghost in the Martini by Anthony Hecht.

Originally Published: February 13, 2007


On April 8, 2008 at 8:07am Alex wrote:
Great stuff, but I'd love to see more examples. There are more than 5 poems that act as very classy pick up lines...we want more!!!!

On February 8, 2011 at 11:16am vickie perkins wrote:
i would like to see mor examples that are
realy good pick up lines


Poetryfoundation.org welcomes comments that foster dialogue and cultivate an open community on the site. Comments on articles must be approved by the site moderators before they appear on the site. By submitting a comment, you give the Poetry Foundation the right to publish it. Please note: We require comments to include a name and e-mail address. Read more about our privacy policy.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.