In the past few weeks, Ed Sheeran’s new album “=” has gotten rave reviews. Although the style of many of the songs has shifted to more mainstream pop, Sheeran’s poetic lyrical style is still as strong as ever. From heartbreaking songs about loss to loving tributes to his wife and daughter, this album has it all. Check out these poetry collections that match Sheeran’s lyrical style on each tune!
“Tides” – Mixed Feelings by Avan Jogia
Mixed Feelings works to capture the experiences of biracial and multiracial individuals, providing representation in the poetry scene. The challenges and changes that come with Jogia’s identity are expressed in a vulnerable, but empowering way. This collection serves as a conversation starter, not only for readers to have difficult conversations with each other, but to start new conversations in the literary scene.
This Sheeran song is incredibly reflective of his own work, his past mistakes, and the changes in life. Although they may be dealing with different challenges, both writers capture honesty and openness in their work that pulls people in.
“Shivers” – Her Favorite Color Was Yellow by Edgar Holmes
Her Favorite Color Was Yellow is a modern look at the romantic muse, with Holmes dedicating his debut collection to the love of his life. The collection explores finding true love, the challenges of losing that love, and how to find it again.
“Shivers” is a beautiful ode to Sheeran’s own muse, his wife Cherry Seaborn. So many of the love songs on this album give the listener insight into the wonders and challenges of a mature relationship. This track is simple, loving, and insightful, just like Holmes’ poetry collection.
“First Times” – Lyrics 1964-2016 by Paul Simon
Although this may seem like a bit of an unorthodox choice, Paul Simon’s collection of lyrics from his long career reads like a poetry collection. Paul Simon is one of the most prolific songwriters of all time, penning many hits and insightful songs. This collection allows readers to truly see the brilliance of his writing by seeing them on paper, not just hearing the words on the radio.
“First Times” has not only a lot of style similarity to Simon’s work but a lot of similar themes as well. Simon often wrote about the challenges of balancing personal and public life. This track shows these same challenges in the age of social media and paparazzi. This wonderful collection showcases another amazing songwriter of a different era and is worth checking out.
“Bad Habits” – Love is a Dog from Hell by Charles Bukowski
When “Bad Habits” was released, the world was shocked. It was a completely new style for Sheeran and his confessional tone about late nights seemed awfully familiar. From writing about taboo topics to his dirty realism style, Bukowski is nothing if not a shocking poet. Bukowski puts all his cards on the table in an unashamed way in Love is a Dog from Hell.
Plus, Bukowski has nothing but a reputation for bad habits. His lyrical descriptions of boozing nights with beautiful women and sad days in lonely hotel rooms fit right alongside Sheeran’s lead single. This collection shows exactly why Bukowski’s bad-boy reputation made him one of the most divisive poets of the twentieth century.
“Overpass Graffiti” – Felicity by Mary Oliver
Felicity embraces every facet of love, but truly celebrates the joy of being in love. Oliver’s work champions the wonder and pleasure of loving another person, even when that love may be challenging. This collection grabs onto love and holds it tight, whispering sweet things into your ear. This Sheeran track takes it in the same direction, embracing love in a sickly sweet, sentimental way.
“The Joker and the Queen” – Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare is the world’s most famous playwright, but he is also well known for his collection of sonnets. The 154 poems center around a young man and his life in love. His loving passion for a character known as the “Dark Lady” and sopping sweet lines of each poem make this collection incredibly unique.
Sheeran’s song centers around the worship of a queen who chooses a simple jester as her lover. Shakespeare’s speaker is often in the same position, feeling less than the woman he loves. The courtly love themes of the song also evoke the imagery of Shakespeare’s time, making these two the perfect match.
“Leave Your Life” – The Collected Poems of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde is one of the most aesthetically focused poets of history. His work is incredibly insightful, often playful, and at the end of the day, beautiful. His poetry often deals with the themes of love, particularly gay love. In his lifetime, Wilde was tried for sodomy and indecency and his poems often reflect the intensity and challenges of these loves stories.
Although Sheeran doesn’t face the same challenges as a gay man in the 1800s, he does describe the intense love and challenges of a modern relationship. If this song has been on repeat for you, a few poems by Oscar Wilde might just hit the spot.
“Collide” – 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair – Pablo Neruda
This Nobel Prize-winning author has written some of the most enduring and personal love poems of the twentieth century. It is wonderfully erotic and heartachingly beautiful. Even though it was published in 1924, it still remains the best-selling poetry book in Spanish. Ed Sheeran is known himself for his beautiful and personal love songs, and this tune perfectly fits the bill. It is a classic love song sure to be used at weddings and in cutesy romantic comedies for decades to come.
“2Step” – Love Her Wild by Atticus
Atticus is at the forefront of the Instagram poetry scene, capturing the hearts of millions with his online work. This collection celebrates the small moments in love that mean the most. Whether it’s watching a sunrise or holding hands with your love, these little things add up to a lot. Atticus’ work is both incredibly vivid and descriptive, while still being relatable to a wide audience.
On this Sheeran track, he celebrates the wonderful feeling of dancing with his love after a bad week. No matter what is happening in life, something as simple and pure as dancing with someone you love can completely change things. Both of these writers embrace the simple joys in life that mean the most.
“Stop the Rain” – Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Plath is famous for her confessional style and intense psychological questions. Published posthumously after Plath’s suicide, Ariel is a collection of poetry that analyzes the challenges of love and the power of liberation. The collection and the titular poem are named for Plath’s horse and contain a lot of references to the empowerment of being free.
Although there is no horseback riding in this tune, Sheeran captures this idea by liberation in his own way. He sings about liberating himself from negativity by acknowledging that even though bad things occur, we cannot stop them. This bop examines the same sad themes as Plath, but with a more positive spin. So if you’ve been stuck re-reading Plath, “Stop the Rain” might be just what you need.
“Love in Slow Motion” – Selected Poems by Lord Byron
Lord Byron is the king (or should we say Lord?) of the love poem. He invented the idea of the Romantic hero, beautiful, brooding, and constantly in love. His seventeen canto poem Don Juan has become a romantic classic, as well as becoming a euphemism for an amazing lover.
This Sheeran song captures all the beauty and Romantic heroism in Byron’s work. It’s a loving song about putting your lover first. And really, what could be more romantic than that? Even the style of the song lends itself to a Romantic leading man grabbing a lyre to serenade you outside your window.
“Visiting Hours” – The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson’s poetry captures a world in isolation. Spending the majority of her life indoors, she was still able to find incredible meaning in her poetry. From her incredibly profound meditations on death to her observations about life, Dickinson captures the wide breadth of the world in a few words.
This heartfelt track looks at the challenges of losing someone close to you. Sheeran penned the song during quarantine when his daughter was born. His friend, Michael Gudinski, died before he was able to meet Sheeran’s daughter due to Covid-19. With a complex discussion about death and isolation, this Sheeran song reflects Dickinson’s poetry in the twenty-first century.
“Sandman” – Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends is a touching collection of children’s poems full of bright imagination. Silverstein has certainly dominated the children’s poetry market for the past several decades, just like Sheeran’s domination in the music industry.
But this incredibly sweet song from a father to a daughter reflects all the love and creativity of Silverstein’s work. The candy-coated lyrics and dreamy beat make this one of the most unique songs on the album. The same can be said of Silverstein, as he truly has carved himself his own space in the poetry world.
“Be Right Now” – Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav
Love and Misadventure take readers on a complicated journey through a relationship. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, this collection has it all. This collection takes your heart apart and puts it back together all on its own. Every element of love is captured in this collection, there is truly no stone unturned as Leav examines the complexity of love.
“Be Right Now” wants listeners to embrace their current emotions and live in the moment, whether it be beautiful or messy. Sheeran expresses that he doesn’t want to miss any part of their relationship, both the good times and bad. This is the perfect collection for those who want to embrace every moment of love, even the ones that hurt.