Love on Valentine’s Day

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.





2 Replies to “Love on Valentine’s Day”

  1. From Derrick Smith, CU South
    Very nice, Chip! I am especially a fan of Shakespeare…

    I still sign me cards and thoughts to my wife of soon to be 40-years (not coincidentally she is also my girlfriend of 42) with “I think I love you.” That always draws a quizzical look from shoulder surfers. It began with a poem I discovered some time before our engagement, and is inscribed inside our wedding bands:

    I think I love you

    Once, when we were very young, you looked at me and said, “I think I love you”…and I bristled slightly (as young men do).

    And I said to you, “Think? You only think you love me? You mean you do not know?”

    For at that moment I knew love.

    I was on intimate terms with Cole Porter lyrics, and I cried when I read Withering Heights.

    But now that I have grown up I know the timeless treasure of your words.

    For Love must have a way to grow.

    And you found that way so long ago.

    You took the time to THINK our Love.

    And you still do.

    A good love takes thinking through. And living with…and I knew…

    The first morning I awoke and touched you next to me…

    I too… could say at last…

    “I THINK I Love You”

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