Dude, wake up!
It’s Valentine’s Day.
Unless you want to be in BIG TROUBLE, there are already flowers, notes, cards, St. Louis Cardinals season tickets, and/or chocolate on the desk/table/nightstand/work area/dashboard of your favorite female.
If perhaps, you were thinking that today is the most important day of the year because it’s the first official day for workouts of the Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers, I don’t blame you.
But she, unless you have celebrated any relationship milestone at any baseball field, will.
Fortunately, it’s early. You still have time.
The stores are still open, and even many convenience stores have flowers and large cards, so you, who has utterly forgotten the significance of this day, can casually stroll into the house with an armload of “Why, Dear, of course I remembered” this evening, and she is unlikely to notice. Just make sure there is nothing that says “2017” on anything you leave on the table.
And of course, stuff is not enough. Your Valentine’s Day gift should also include some uniquely personal words.
This is the one time of the year when men who can normally talk incessantly, and often even eloquently, about just about anything – no matter how insignificant – without pausing to peruse a thesaurus in search of just the right words to say, suddenly find themselves speechless.
And yes, I do appreciate the irony of how no other day on the calendar seems to leave men more unable to communicate their affection to their wives or girlfriends than holiday named after a man who famously died single.
I can hear you now:
But not to worry. I’ve got you covered in this area, as well.
I am offering for you not one, but two Valentine’s Day poem, one of which is nearly 200 years old — 188 to be exact.
This poem first appeared in a series of poems in one of the famous English magazines of the 1800s, Bells Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (available in part HERE). In those days, along with the latest news, the Bells Life featured poetry or fiction features. Many of Charles Dickens’ books first appeared as monthly installments in magazines; he even wrote for Bell’s Life at times.
The publishers of Bell’s Life often included a section they called “Gallery of Comicalities: Embracing Humorous Sketches.” The writers and illustrators included brothers Robert and George Cruikshank, Robert Seymour and others.
The poem that inspired me first appeared in Bell’s Life on Valentine’s Day in 1830.
Below is the poem in its entirety. (A couple of notes: The G-word appears as it often did before it came to mean something entirely else in 20th and 21st Century America; the word “budget” does not refer to money, but rather to its original old English meaning, “contents of the mail” – in other words: Words)
As we celebrate another 21st Century Valentine’s Day, I think it’s appropriate to share with you the intelligent humor of a poem old enough for our great-great-great-great-great grandparents to read. Hopefully, we can capture some of that wit and wisdom in the words we write – and man, you better hurry. Valentine’s Day is over in just a few hours!
Virgins of tender susceptible hearts
Let your spirits, lively and gay
Prepare for love stanzas and Cupids and darts
For this is St. Valentine’s Day.
Tis the season of Love, and all feel on this morn
Something delightful within stir—
The maid whom the blushes of beauty adorn
As well the toothless old spinster.
Thou slovenly damsel, black as a coal
And thou, who so fair and so neat art,
Now betray by thine eyes the fond wish of thy soul
That fortune would send thee a sweetheart
Dear, fond little creatures
The postage, I’m sure
You’ll cheerfully pay, and not grudge it
And how grateful the task,
The enjoyment how pure,
To read the contents of the budget
May your swains be all faithful, loving as true
Nor seek base arts to entrap ye
May the single get married with nothing further ado,
And long may the married be happy
I was so impressed by the portion of that poem I saw in a book about Victorian Valentines that I spent hours researching it, so it could inspire you, too.
However, it’s possible that 19th Century English, the way the English wrote it, does not roll easily off your tongue, or texting finger.
In that case, I have included a more modern poem, one that mostly avoids the 200-year-old idioms, and also addresses the general cluelessness of men on this day.
The press secretary
Looking weary and wary
Tries again to explain what the Prez
Has thought, said or done
To a not-at all nice press gallery
The green-helmeted Eagle
Feels anything but regal
When for his gal he writes a new song to sing
He’s tryin’ to tell her
He’s still a romantic feller
Though he wears that huge Super Bowl ring
Brain-tired and weary
The writer will fear he
Has nothing new or inspiring to say
But he’ll still sit at his desk
As his scattered mind frets
Over saying “love” in an original way
The bloke and the gringo
From Justin to Ringo
Face the same formidable chore
Of experiencing their umpteenth
While feeling unable to say more
Than “I love you my dear
Even more than last year”
Without sounding like a terrible bore
One guy decides it’s too hard
So he will look for a card
That expresses his love for her better
Than he thinks that he could
(Although she wishes he would)
By simply just writing a letter
Men can compose eloquent phrases
To describe NASCAR races
Who won, how and why we explain
But putting feelings into words
Is worse than 200 mph curves
In Daytona in a hurricane
So in Love Letter races
It’s time that we face it –
We will never reach Victory Lane
Some men, at wit’s end,
Will decide not to pen
Their lady some lame-sounding jingle
They exclaim with a sigh
“Now, I finally figured why
That Saint Valentine dude died while still single.”
So my love, don’t be ticked
When you see I’m afflicted
With a terminal case of writer’s fatigue
Defining how you make my life better
With just 26 letters
Is obviously way out of my league