You can love him, but you can't keep him

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Title: You can love him, but you can't keep him
Creator: pencap
Date(s): April 20, 2016
Medium: poetry
Fandom: Captain America Movieverse
External Links: Original post; archive link
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"You can love him, but you can't keep him" is a poem by Tumblr user pencap. It was originally posted on Tumblr as a Bucky Barnes poemfic in 2016. The poem has since become widely quoted and inspired derivative works in other fandoms.

Original poem

"You love him,
you do,
and here's the miracle:
he loves you too.
You are allowed to lick off the colour from his lips
to listen to the hymns in his pulse
to bask in the sunlight of his voice

You are allowed
to have him.

You love each other,
you do,
and here's the tragedy:
it's not enough.
You are allowed to watch the sun swallow him whole and burn him up
to stain your fingers to the bone holding him together
to count the constellations in his eyes as they blink out

You are not allowed
to save him."

– you can love him, but you can't keep him (j.p.)

This poem was posted on Tumblr by pencap on 20 April 2016.[1] The author tagged the post "#bucky barnes", in reference to Marvel character Bucky Barnes. No ship tag was included on the original post but it is most often interpreted as a Bucky Barnes/Steve Rogers work.

Derivative works

Within a month of the poem's publication, it was inspiring derivative works in MCU and other fandoms, particularly gifsets.[2]


MCU Ships

Other Fandoms


  1. ^ Original Tumblr post by pencap (archived version retrieved 7 August 2021)
  2. ^ Bilbo/Thorin gifset by, posted on 24 May 2016