The Language of Love – as simple as X (p + b + c + o)?

  • Formula for the perfect romantic verse revealed to help tongue-tied Casanovas
  • Ed Sheeran and William Shakespeare nation’s favourite romantic wordsmiths

Struggling for words when it comes to expressing our love could soon be a thing of the past, with the release of a new formula revealing the secret to crafting the perfect romantic verse –and it could be as simple as: X (p + b + c + o)!

Developed in conjunction with Julia Bird of the UK Poetry Society, the formula is in response to Interflora’s new research revealing that 53% of people struggle to put their romantic thoughts into words.

The published poet has spent weeks analysing the nation’s 10 favourite romantic poems* for common traits, with the perfect verse essentials emerging as (P) pattern, (B) brevity, (C) comparison, (O) obstacle and (X) mystery quality.

Bethany Day, Brand Manager for Interflora, says: “Our research tells us that as a nation, we have forgotten how to put our true feelings into words. We want to change this, and this Valentine’s Day we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to express themselves when it comes to the language of love. That’s why we commissioned this formula, and while it’s a bit of fun, we do hope it will give people the confidence to give romantic prose go.”

To help it better understand the nation’s attitudes towards the language of love, Interflora also asked people who they thought were the best modern day romantic writers, with Ed Sheeran (11%), Adele (7%) and Gary Barlow (6%) emerging top. Meanwhile, William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 – “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” – was the nation’s favourite traditional romantic poem (16%).

Julia Bird says: “While not every love poem follows this formula, just in the way that there’s no strict formula for the most beautiful flower or the most perfect lover, it’s certainly a useful starting point for the wannabe poet. However, if you’re still struggling for inspiration when you’re penning your perfect romantic verse to accompany your Valentine’s Day bouquets, you can look to the famous love poets – or even contemporary songwriters – for further inspiration.”

A wealth of further information, including a guide to romantic etiquette and an eBook of romantic verses to inspire you are available at

The formula methodology in detail

P = Pattern. All ten of the nation’s favourite love poems are boldly metrical and have strong rhyming patterns. Rhythm is important to the love poet – it puts the reader in mind of heartbeats and dance steps. A rhyming couplet asserts a truth like no other figure of speech. Pepper your poems with pattern.

B = Brevity. Many of the poems on the lists are sonnets – from Shakespeare’s ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds’ to Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’. Your flower card provides even less space than the 14 lines of a sonnet, so you’ll want to make your point in a very few words – those words that your lover can recite by heart for the rest their life.

C = Comparison. ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ asks Shakespeare, and Robert Burns answers ‘O my Luve’s like a red, red rose’. The desire to compare and describe the love is a common thread through love poetry. What’s your love like? Why, s/he’s like this …

O = Obstacle. ‘The course of true love never did run smooth’ says Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Many of the nation’s favourite love poems examine the difficulties inherent in a love affair, from Yeats’ poverty in ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ to Andrew Marvell lacking world enough and time in ‘To His Coy Mistress’ to Christina Rossetti’s imminent death in ‘Remember’. What obstacle will you overcome in order to impress your soulmate?

X = Mystery Quality. Finally, multiply all these necessary ingredients of a love poem by the passion, creativity and detail that only you can provide when you’re contemplating your particular best beloved. X also symbolises a kiss, and you’ll want to finish your message with any amount of those.’


Interflora offers an extensive collection of beautiful flowers. Its network of expert florists have been delivering exquisite floral gifts for over 90 years, ensuring that each and every one is of the very best quality, created with care and hand delivered to the delight of every recipient. Interflora prides itself on having the perfect gift for any occasion be it a birthday, anniversary or just to say thank you. Interflora delivers the highest quality of service and the freshest, most stunning flowers, offering a range of delivery options from 3 hour to next day delivery as well as a convenient Click & Collect service. All bouquets are delivered with a 7 day freshness guarantee and the Interflora promise.

*Based on the nation’s favourite 10 love poems