Tuesday

Feb. 14, 2012

Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds

by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 56: Sweet love, renew thy force be it not said

by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 116

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 wandering 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 prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnet 56

Sweet love, renew thy force be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but to-day by feeding is allayed,
To-morrow sharpened in his former might.
So, love, be thou, although to-day thou fill
Thy hungry eyes, even till they wink with fullness,
To-morrow see again, and do not kill
The spirit of love with a perpetual dullness.
Let this sad interim like the ocean be
Which parts the shore, where two contracted new
Come daily to the banks, that, when they see:
Return of love, more blest may be the view;
Or call it winter, which being full of care
Makes summer's welcome thrice more wished, more rare.

"Sonnet 116" and "Sonnet 56" by William Shakespeare. Public domain. (buy now)

Today is Valentine's Day, a big day for greeting card and candy sales, which goes back more than 1,500 years to the Feast of St. Valentine established in the fifth century, though nobody is sure exactly which of the many martyred Valentines it is the feast day of.

The ancient Romans had a fertility festival celebrated at mid-February of every year. The festival was called Lupercalia in honor of Lupa, the wolf who was said to have suckled Romulus and Remus, who went on to found the city of Rome. Lupercalia was a pagan fertility festival celebrated with sacrifices of goats and dogs, with milk and wool and blood. Young men would cut strips from the skins of the goats then strip naked and run through the city in groups, where young women would line up to be spanked with the switches, believing it would improve their fertility. Lupercalia was still wildly popular long after the Roman Empire was officially Christian, and it's not difficult to see why the Church would have wished to have a different sort of holiday take its place.

Chaucer gets credit for establishing St. Valentine's Day as a romantic occasion, when in the 14th-century he wrote in The Parlement of Foules of a spring landscape "on seynt Valentynes day" where the goddess Nature watched as every kind of bird came before her to choose and seduce their mates.

In the early 15th century, the Duke of Orleans wrote a Valentine's poem to his faraway wife while held captive in the Tower of London. Shakespeare mentioned the sending of Valentines in Ophelia's lament in Hamlet. And hundreds of years later, with the advent of cheaper postal services and mass-produced cards, the tradition of sending lacy love notes on the holiday was enormously popular with the Victorians. In 2010, more than 1 billion cards were sent worldwide.

On this day in 1895, Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest (books by this author) opened in London. He wrote the first draft in just 21 days, the fastest he'd ever written anything. The play tells the story of a man named Jack Worthing who pretends to have a younger brother named Ernest. Jack uses the imaginary Ernest as an excuse for getting out of all kinds of situations, and even pretends to be Ernest when that suits his purposes. At the same time, Jack's friend Algernon Moncrieff also begins impersonating the imaginary Ernest. When two women fall in love with Jack and Algernon, they both think they are in love with a man named Ernest. It comes out in the end that Jack and Algernon are themselves actually long lost brothers.

Wilde said that The Importance of Being Earnest expressed his philosophy that "we should treat all the trivial things of life very seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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