Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. Of course, this turns most people’s thoughts toward “love”, and other such things. For me, as a Catholic, it has other meanings as well (if you read the life of St. Valentine, you’ll see what I mean! Not very lovely at times, that’s for sure), but I have to admit that I, too, get bitten with the bug around this time of year. But each and every year, I’m left wanting…pining away for that one thing that always seems to be missing in each profession of everlasting love; that thing that makes us all crave love in it’s most pure state. Romance.

I have come to the conclusion, after years of seeking it, that Romance is dead. Dead as a doornail (to borrow a bit of phrasing from Dickens). And what’s worse, is that most people don’t even seem to notice. How can one be content with flowers and chocolates, only to have to endure mundane verse plastered into the middle of a piece of cardboard, with your name hastily written at the top to make it seem as if it were actually written with you in mind? How can verse such as “Roses are red, violets are blue” inspire anyone toward true romance?

Not too long ago (or perhaps too long ago), Romance was alive and well, and even real men weren’t afraid to express it. Even a man’s man wouldn’t blink an eye while writing some lovely lines to the woman of his dreams. He wouldn’t hesitate to say things like “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?’ and the woman he loved wouldn’t hesitate to tell him “Of course you shall”. Mr. Shakespeare was quite the talent when it came to romance, if one may judge by his poetic expressions. But he’s not the only one.

Christopher Morley had this to say, in his poem “To a Post-Office Ink Well”:

HOW many humble hearts have dipped
In you, and scrawled their manuscript!
Have shared their secrets, told their cares,
Their curious and quaint affairs!

Your pool of ink, your scratchy pen,
Have moved the lives of unborn men,
And watched young people, breathing hard,
Put Heaven on a postal card.

Lovely. Simply lovely. What man in our time would even think such thoughts, let alone write about them? And how many people now would find romance from an ink well? SIGH!

Even one of the masters of horror couldn’t escape it:

Eulalie

by Edgar Allen Poe

I dwelt alone
In a world of moan
And my soul was a stagnant tide
Till the fair and gentle Eulalie
became my blushing bride-
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie
became my smiling bride.

Ah, less– less bright
Are the stars of night
Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
And never a flake
That the vapor can make
With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,
Can vie with the modest Eulalie’s
most unregarded curl-
Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie’s
most humble and careless curl.

Now Doubt– now Pain
Come never again,
For her soul gives me sigh for sigh
And all day long
Shines, bright and strong,
Astarte within the sky,
While ever to her dear Eulalie
upturns her matron eye-
While ever to her young Eulalie
upturns her violet eye.

Who cares what’s really in that cask of Amontillado, or what lingers underneath the floorboard, when such wonderful lines exist!

But my most favorite of all has to be this one, by William Butler Yeats, called “He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven”:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Now this is the stuff that true Romance is made of. The stuff that makes your heart sing, and your soul rejoice. It’s what makes the love that makes the world go round.

Despite the fact that this form of romance seems to be dead, I am not despairing entirely. I do have hope that one day the Poets of old will somehow lend their long lost talents to a deserving few, and we will witness the rebirth of true Romance, rising like a phoenix from the ashes. But, until then, I suppose I shall have to be content with my flowers and chocolates being accompanied by verse á la Hallmark and try bear it. I just hope that the chocolates aren’t forgotten, or else bearing it may be too much to ask.

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