S Valentine’s Day

The Day of celebrated Romance is upon us again! It’s a shame a) it is so commercialized, and b) its meaning is so under-celebrated. Every day should be Valentine’s Day. We should never let pass an opportunity to say the three most important words in a human’s experience: I Love You.

The poets, of course, have made quite a foray into conveying the ‘finer emotion’, from ‘Roses are Red’, to odes of undetermined length. Robert Burns gives a fine example of good expression:

A Red Red Rose

O, my love is like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June.
O, my love is like the melody,
That’s sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I,
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till all the seas gang dry.

Till all the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun!
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only love!
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my love,
Tho it were ten thousand mile!

You can sense the immense joy and pride this sturdy Scot takes in his bonnie lass, and his good fortune to have found her!

The Elizabethan Robert Herrick wrote many poems to cherished ladies. Scholars believe most, if not all of them, never existed. This is sad; Herrick certainly was overflowing with love.

To Electra

I dare not ask a kiss,
I dare not beg a smile,
Lest having that, or this,
I might grow proud the while.

No, no, the utmost share
Of my desire shall be
Only to kiss that air
That lately kissèd thee.

When you read this poem, you understand why he died a bachelor. A kiss should be like a drink of heady, spicy wine; to be visited with something lukewarm and watered-down instead must be very disappointing. I knew a man who made such a dramatic production of giving his sweetheart a romantic kiss that, if he started on Sunday, he wouldn’t actually come in for a landing until Wednesday, only to ‘kiss the air that lately kissèd she’, because by that time, she’d gone!

John Donne exuded affection and adoration. To-day I suppose a woman thus addressed would roll her eyes and mutter ‘Smarm’ under her breath.


Stay, O sweet, and do not rise!
The light that shines comes from thine eyes;
The day breaks not: it is my heart,
Because that you and I must part.
Stay! Or else my joys will die
And perish in their infancy.

And yet, who in love has not felt the anguish of separation from the cherished? Or counted the anxious hours, even minutes, until they can be again in one another’s embrace? Does not love give even the gloomiest of days a luminescence we can attribute to nothing else?

I love the passion with which Mihri Hatun wrote:

At one glance
I loved you
With a thousand hearts.

To be so consumed by love must be the most joyous experience of the human being. I earnestly wish you well of it.

These days it isn’t always possible or welcome to say ‘I love you’ to someone. Some people respond to the declaration of love with fear, or indifference. It doesn’t fit into their Master plan; it isn’t always ‘convenient’; it might hurt. The real beauty of Love is that it doesn’t require you to love me so that I can love you. My happiness is in my love for you. If you love me back, then there is twice the joy.

Who can look upon this face
And doubt the touch of Divine Grace
Who has adorned for all to see
Thy countenance for love of thee?
But perhaps, for love of men,
This radiant bloom above the stem.
Ne’er in life shalt thou behold
Such love for thee so open told
As in the eyes of them that see
And worship God for love of thee.

PTNC, 2009

I wish you all the happiest S Valentine’s Day!

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