Esther Howland invented the greeting card as a Valentine Day occasion. Her greeting cards are works of art. A sampling of them can be found at Wikimedia Commons Search media – Wikimedia Commons.
This beginning of this holiday tradition is described in an excerpt from the Jefferson Educational Society, Book Notes # 31, Love Poems for Valentine’s Day:
“The story goes that while working in her father’s stationery shop she received a Valentine card from a competitor. She thought it simple and unattractive. Saying to herself, ‘I can do better than this,’ she did. She set up a small factory in the third floor of her parent’s home, hired some women she trained in the arts of paper cutting and origami. She soon outgrew the space, opened a factory and in the process created the American greeting card industry.”
After cutting and pasting my own Valentine’s cards for my mom and teachers in grade school, the day became more personal in high school. In English literature classes poetry, especially sonnets, were introduced as the language of romance. Two examples.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her husband Robert Browning:
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet #43)
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.
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 heighth 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.
A Sonnet Upon Departing
As a memory of high school poetry exercises and first love, I received the following sonnet from my girlfriend when I left home in June 1962 for a summer ranch job in Wyoming.
The sadness which I knew was drawing near,
And which I feared would grow as you had gone,
That sadness now has come, yet with my tear
Shines half a smile, like fog at early dawn.
No longer do I dread your last goodby,
Your parting kiss, your hand’s sweet lingering touch,
A bond will now transport my longing sigh
To you, dear heart, who’ll surely long as much.
So happy am I just to think of you,
Remembering half a hundred joyful days,
Anticipating half a million new,
When you return, and laughter skips and plays.
I’ll miss you, darling yes, but now instead
of grieving so, I’ll dream of what’s ahead.