Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

To A Lady
by Victor Hugo,
From Les Feuilles D'Automne

Child, were I king, I'd yield my royal rule,
     My chariot, sceptre, vassal-service due,
My crown, my porphyry-basined waters cool,
My fleets, whereto the sea is but a pool,
     For a glance from you!

Love, were I God, the earth and its heaving airs,
     Angels, the demons abject under me,
Vast chaos with its teeming womby lairs,
Time, space, all would I give--aye, upper spheres,
     For a kiss from thee!

translation by Thomas Hardy
photogravure by Goupil et Cie, from a drawing by Deveria, appears in a collection of Hugo's poetry published by Estes and Lauriat in the late 1800s.


Why is today Valentine's Day?

There is a theory that the only reason today is associated with Cupid is due to a poem Geoffrey Chaucer wrote.
In 1381, Chaucer was busy composing a poem in honor of the arranged marriage between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. This was a very big deal indeed, and Chaucer was looking for just the right saint to honor on May 3, the day Richard II signed the papers of engagement to his Bohemia beauty.


His search ended, Kelly surmises, when Chaucer learned that a Saint Valentine of Genoa had an honorary feast day on May 3. Perfect! So he wrote the poem "The Parliament of Fowls" in the couple's honor.


"The Parliament of Fowls" literally means "the meeting of birds," says Kelly. "Chaucer dreamed up the idea that all birds chose their mates on May 3rd," he says.


After Chaucer's death in 1400, Valentine's Day celebrations got pushed back to February.
Why exactly is unclear, however, if you forgot about today, and someone is upset, perhaps you can use this information to give yourself a few extra months.

1 comment:

poemblaze said...

I was unfamiliar with the Chaucer link. Interesting.