Sweetnessheart, o darling mine,
won’t you be my Valentine?
If your sweet heart shall prove contrarian,
I’ll be valetudinarian.
For my love, be a Roman saint
(who maybe is and maybe ain’t,
and was not one but really two,
martyred for what? – we never knew;
the basis for romantic glory
is a much-later-made-up story).
Gelasius I (a pope) et alia,
to put an end to Lupercalia
(a pagan fest whose prime utility
was the promotion of fertility),
placed something meant to be contrary
upon the ides of February:
a day for saints of deeds unknown.
But, my oh my, how it has grown.
A.D. four-ninety-six, it’s chaste;
by fifteenth century we’re faced
with drawing sweethearts’ names by lot:
your Valentine is who you’ve got.
And now it’s chocolates, roses, cards,
inducing girls to let down guards…
The letter V sure plays its part:
the bottom half of every heart.
Why not? It revs some words of love:
vivacious, violet, velvet glove,
voluptuary, va-va-voom,
the divan in the living room…
The vale recalls the veil of wedding,
the lent the linen of the bedding;
the tine rhymes well with wine and dine
and pretty please will you be mine
(although a fork has tines as well,
and Valentine, in miscast spell,
could leave you with a venal nite:
from V to nine to late you fight.
Elative? nn-no; she won’t yield –
her vital navel stays concealed…
Your Valentine’s Day is nothing classic or
wondrous; you find it comes with massacre).
This name, so often serving Venus,
comes down to us from Valentinus,
which in its turn used to belong
to valens: “powerful” or “strong.”
And if that valens makes you itchy,
you’re probably thinking Ritchie,
the teenage lad whose hit La Bamba
made swooing girls cry Ay, caramba.
His plane went down, you may have heard,
in fifty-nine – February third.
But now it’s fourteenth – where was I?
Oh, yes: Our music shall not die…
please let me fill your valence here.
If you want love, I Valen-teer!

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