Valentine’s Day is upon us once more. The celebration of love first appeared on the Christian calendar back in the 14th century and rose to prominence when Geoffrey Chaucer immortalized it in his writings and thus began one of the most emotional and commercial holidays in history.
Yet perhaps it is neither the date nor the gimmicks that will survive the centuries to come, but the poetry. Verse written about love is never more often quoted than on this special day, sometimes from the lips of a loved one, sometimes on the inside of a card. It survives and is resurrected year in and year out as either a favorite between two long-term soulmates, or uttered anew by a fresh love who thinks they are perhaps the very first heart to have this feeling.
Please enjoy a small selection of some of the most beautiful poetry and poignant quotes on this February 14th, and remember that as The Troggs wrote in 1967, “Love is all around.”
“Today is Valentine’s Day – or, as men like to call it, Extortion Day!” – Jay Leno
How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
“Love is when the desire to be desired takes you so badly that you feel you could die of it.” – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds (Sonnet 116)
by William Shakespeare
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 wand’ring 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.
“I got a Valentine’s Day card from my girl. It said, ‘Take my heart! Take my arms! Take my lips!’ Which is just like her. Keeping the best part for herself.” – Robert Orben
Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by William Butler Yeats
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
“What I find most disturbing about Valentine’s Day is, look, I get that you have to have a holiday of love, but in the height of flu season, it makes no sense.” – Lewis Black
A very happy Valentine’s Day to you all.