St. Valentine’s Day

It’s a day to be celebrating love. And in honour of St. Valentine’s Day here are a couple of poems.

For the romantic…

Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116”

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

And for the slightly more ironic amongst us…

Dorothy Parker’s “One Perfect Rose”

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.

All tenderly his messenger he chose;

Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet–

One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;

“My fragile leaves,” it said, “his heart enclose.”

Love long has taken for his amulet

One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet

One perfect limousine, do you suppose?

Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get

One perfect rose.


5 responses to “St. Valentine’s Day

  1. Sorry about the spacing! Not sure what happened.

  2. Lovely poems! Here is a much lesser effort –but I hope I’ll do better with more practice!

    “A June-December Romance”

    This is the reason we break up: the sum
    Of being human—life is quick, too fast
    To stop up mortal fears that freeze me dumb
    As ice—the glacial touch, the chill that blasts
    My thoughts will never melt through any fire
    That love or sex can start. Despair stays mum;
    My silence swells like a flooded mire
    That winter sets to permafrost-like numb.
    — I feel that coming ice with every night
    But you are still in youthful summer blaze
    And feel your noon as ever still and bright
    While I am near the moon’s last darkest phase
    That calves new ice around my dulling heart
    And thickens space that blocks—then cracks—us apart.

    With apologies to all Valentiners out there!

  3. I hope this one is less bombastic…

    “Dining in Evening Shade”

    There is no need for awnings here this late:
    The sun is low—the bistro’s patio grows dark,
    And cool, as a breeze trickles through the gate.
    The summer crest is past; its downside arc
    Awaits to brisk in autumn. Twilight blows,
    Then mingles with your hair in bright high-lights,
    As if the sun were setting curls with glows.
    The sparkling sky of dusk serves such delights
    While shade soon sits with us for cake and tea
    And contemplates the cooling-down of chat.
    But then the bill gives pause to where we’ll be
    After the shade expands to night, and day
    Will we be closer to each other’s heart?
    Or will our dinner leave us in the dark?

  4. In keeping with the romance (or, in some poems, anti-romance) theme, here is one from an ancestor of mine, T.H.Higginson (from his “Poetical Works” of 1881):

    “Inscribed to Miss J.D.C., Belfast”
    (Originally printed 1815 in the “Belfast Newsletter”)

    Deep in a vale, from man retired,
    A rustic Harp I rudely strung;
    And oft by fancy’s power inspired,
    With pathos keen her notes I flung.
    The strains that charm the lover’s ear,
    Those artless strains were often mine;
    But now a tone, a sigh, a tear,
    We offer on fair friendship’s shrine.
    And though my untaught notes are wild,
    And though my Harp is rude to see,
    I sweep that harp (affection’s child)
    To friendship, gratitude and thee;
    And though a rustic swain I be,
    That fortune’s darkest frowns abide,
    I feel what thou hast done for me,
    Thou maid that dwellest by Lagan’s side!

  5. February brings not only Valentine’s Day, but February blahs. When that happens, I like to read the following poem by T.H.Higginson (by the way, I’ve cobbled together a new edition of Higginson’s poems–the first one since 1888!–look for it possibly in 2012!):

    “The Voice of Summer”
    by Thomas H. Higginson, a poet in Eastern
    Ontario, 1794 – 1884

    ‘Tis the voice of Summer, I hear it pass,
    Lightly along the waving grass;
    Waking the echoes that love to dwell,
    ‘Mong the fern clad nooks of the rocky dell;
    Stirring with vocal breath as it flows,
    The trembling shoots of the new blown rose:
    Varied, and rich, and bold, and free,
    It floats over forest, and fountain, and lea.
    It sighs through the leaves of the new clothed tree,
    It comes on the wings of the toiling bee;
    It spreads through the vale where the rustics meet,
    It swells o’er the hills where
    the scattered flock bleat;
    It creeps along through the winding glen,
    Where the fox has made his briery den;
    And murmuring follows the fountain’s flow,
    Where the laurels wave and the harebells blow.
    I love the voice of Summer! it brings
    To my mind, on its soft and musical wings,
    Seasons long past when my heart was light,
    When my fancy was warm
    and my hopes were bright;
    When the mountain’s brow and the healthy glade,
    And the narrow dell, and the wild-rose shade,
    And the dark-brown lake, and the hawthorn tree,
    Were all familiar things with me.
    I seek not the babbling voice of fame,
    Nor the war trumpet, kindling the soul to flame;
    I love not the boisterous hunter’s horn,
    that wakes the echoes at dawn of morn;
    I prize not the polish’d song and glee.
    In the lighted hall of minstrelsy;
    Though their harmony’s rich,
    and their tone’s sublime,
    O, summer, their music is not like thine.
    Then give me, away in sequester’d dell,
    Where man seldom enters where solitude dwells,
    To hear thy soft echoes by fountain and lea,
    Thy chime from the streamlet,
    thy sigh from the tree;
    Thy glee from the furze, where in fortified nest,
    The linnet is pressing her young to her breast;
    O, give me such tunes and all else I resign,
    Convinced that no music can be equal to thine.

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