Chaucer’s valentine birds, artist: Celia Hart –
Since we are a literary magazine, it is impossible for us to ignore the one topic that drives so many people to create sonnets, songs, and stories: love. Although V day can be a day filled with pressure and loneliness for some, on Writer’s Block we believe that love comes in all forms. Even if you don’t have a bae or best friend, you can still feel inspired by all the love present in literature. In order to assist you, we present you a brief literary history of Valentine’s Day and the art of love letters. Plus, we have gathered great submissions from our readers. We hope you enjoy it! Sending much love!
History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th of February honoring (surprise, surprise) the Saint Day of Valentine, a third-century Roman saint. However, what most people do not know is that this saint had no association whatsoever with love. Thus, most scholars attribute the origin of Valentine’s Day to the father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem, The Parliament of Fowls, he tells the story of some birds that attempt to choose their mates during “Seynt Valentynes day”. Since Chaucer was such an influential figure, soon people followed his lead and started using this day to celebrate love. By the time love sonnets were at their peak (1600), Saint Valentine’s was already a well-established day. For instance, Shakespeare mentions Saint Valentine’s Day as a day when people get married in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Below, we will present our favorite love poems so that, maybe, just like Chaucer’s birds, you can use them in order to court a special someone:
Sonnet 31 – William Shakespeare
Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead;
And there reigns Love, and all Love’s loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stol’n from mine eye,
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things removed that hidden in thee lie!
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give,
That due of many now is thine alone:
Their images I loved, I view in thee,
And thou (all they) hast all the all of me.
The Sun Rising- John Donne
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
She’s all states, and all princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus.
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.
NOTHING TWICE – WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA
ORIGINAL- POLISH VERSION
Nic dwa razy się nie zdarza
i nie zdarzy. Z tej przyczyny
zrodziliśmy się bez wprawy
i pomrzemy bez rutyny.
Choćbyśmy uczniami byli
najtępszymi w szkole świata,
nie będziemy repetować
żadnej zimy ani lata.
Żaden dzień się nie powtórzy,
nie ma dwóch podobnych nocy,
dwóch tych samych pocałunków,
dwóch jednakich spojrzeń w oczy.
Wczoraj, kiedy twoje imię
ktoś wymówił przy mnie głośno,
tak mi było, jakby róża
przez otwarte wpadła okno.
Dziś, kiedy jesteśmy razem,
odwróciłam twarz ku ścianie.
Róża? Jak wygląda róża?
Czy to kwiat? A może kamień?
Czemu ty się, zła godzino,
z niepotrzebnym mieszasz lękiem?
Jesteś – a więc musisz minąć.
Miniesz – a więc to jest piękne.
spróbujemy szukać zgody,
choć różnimy się od siebie
jak dwie krople czystej wody.
Nothing can ever happen twice.
In consequence, the sorry fact is
that we arrive here improvised
and leave without the chance to practice.
Even if there is no one dumber,
if you’re the planet’s biggest dunce,
you can’t repeat the class in summer:
this course is only offered once.
No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way,
with precisely the same kisses.
One day, perhaps some idle tongue
mentions your name by accident:
I feel as if a rose were flung
into the room, all hue and scent.
The next day, though you’re here with me,
I can’t help looking at the clock:
A rose? A rose? What could that be?
Is it a flower or a rock?
Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow
It’s in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.
With smiles and kisses, we prefer
to seek accord beneath our star,
although we’re different (we concur)
just as two drops of water are.
@AKAPOETA (João Doederlein)
é quando a sua boca faz cócegas na minha alma e nós dois gargalhamos de amor. é quando você me convidou pra dormir na sua casa pela primeira vez (e todas as vezes depois). é quando você lembra de mim durante o dia e me conta. é quando você deita e diz “esse é o seu lado da cama”. é andar de mãos dadas na rua. é cozinhar pra você e me esforçar mais do que qualquer coisa antes na vida. é ser um presente inesperado na rotina de alguém.
é um jeito pequeno e diário de dizer
“eu me importo. eu te quero. você me faz feliz”
that’s when your mouth tickles my soul and we both laugh with love. that’s when you invited me to sleep over for the first time (and every time afterwards). that’s when you remember me during the day and tell me. it’s when you lie down and say “this is your side of the bed”. is walking hand in hand down the street. it’s cooking for you and trying harder than anything before in life. is to be an unexpected gift in someone’s routine.
is a small, daily way of saying
“i care. i want you. you make me happy”
We also asked our readers to submit their own love poems, so here they are:
poem to @wieke_db
Oh how my eyes shine at her sight,
As her beauty is an intense delight,
Her hair being the happiest of gold,
The sight of a goddess foretold,
Her eyes a mix of smoke and sky,
Oh how their beauty makes me cry,
Her smile with crevices of love,
Bringing my mind a peaceful dove,
How the sun praises her heart,
Creating eternal art,
As her beauty will be immortal,
Like a statue made of marble.
Por meio deste soneto
Digo-lhe por um folheto
que não sei o que escrever
Para me aproximar de você
Mas saiba por esta minha composta
Mesmo sem saber lhe dizer
Só quem realmente gosta
Sabe o quê escrever
Tuas feições divinas
A mais bela obra prima
A tão imaginada tronie de Vermeer
Mesmo sem serem alexandrinos
Esses versos escritos com esmero
Foram feitos para transformar em mais do que caso repentino
Through this sonnet
I tell you by a leaflet
That I don’t know what to write
To get closer to you
But know that through my composition
Even without knowing how to tell you
Only those who really like
Know what to write
Your divine features
The most beautiful masterpiece
Vermeer’s much-anticipated tronie
Even without being Alexandrians
These verses written with care
Were made to turn into more than a sudden affair
Although love letters haven’t gained the same critical reception as poems, they are still a very important medium through which people have expressed their most profound and intimate feelings—and very often in the most artistic way. Take Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West’s love letters for instance. Their written exchanges are intensely intimate and personal, thus, the style of both of these women take on different dimensions, resulting in a compelling reading. Likewise, Emily Dickinson’s letters to Sue contain her most beautiful lines reflecting a hidden side of her personality, while maintaining her poetic genius. Take one of her letters written to Sue in 1852, asking her to meet at the church:
Come with me this morning to the church within our hearts, where the bells are always ringing, and the preacher whose name is Love — shall intercede for us!
This could easily be a stanza. See why we insist on the power of love letters? They allow us to be profound and honest, while also permitting most writers to also practice their writing skills.
We asked our readers to send us love letters (platonic or romantic) so that their Valentines can see. Here are the results:
Há alguns dias atrás eu estava olhando meu Instagram e de repente apareceu um post com a frase “A amizade é um amor que nunca morre”, do autor brasileiro Mário Quintana. Isso me deixou reflexiva por alguns instantes e me fez pensar nas minhas próprias amizades.
Durante toda a minha vida passei por vários lugares onde criei laços com várias pessoas, sejam eles passageiros ou não, e tudo que vivi me fez abrir os olhos para aprender a valorizar mais cada momento e cada pessoa verdadeira na minha vida. Hoje sei que meus verdadeiros amigos nem sempre estarão comigo a todo instante, dificilmente vamos conversar todos os dias, nem nos veremos sempre, mas eu sei que sempre estarão ali quando eu precisar, e claro, sempre estarei aqui por eles, e não importa o tempo que passe, o encontro sempre será único, algo inexplicável, que nunca muda, é verdadeiramente o amor que nunca morre.
Meu desejo é um lindo e feliz Valentine’s Day para os meus amigos. Que todos saibam que terão sempre meu coração e o meu amor.
A couple of days ago I was scrolling through Instagram when suddenly a post with the quote “Friendship is the type of love that never dies” from the Brazilian author Mário Quintana. This made me reflective for a few moments and made me think about my own friendships.
Throughout most of my life I have been in situations where I created bonds with several people, whether they were fleeting or not, and every experience I have lived through has opened my eyes to learn to value each moment and each genuine person in my life. Today I know that my real friends are those that might not be with me all the time, rarely we will talk daily, and we won’t see each other frequently, but I know they will be there if I need them and, of course, I will always be here for them. It does not matter how much time has gone by, being reunited is always a unique moment, something inexplicable that never changes. It is truly a love that never dies.
I wish all of my friends a wonderful Valentine’s Day. I hope they all know they have my heart and my love.
Valentines is overrated en ik ben meer into galentines anyways, vandaar deze love letter aan jou. In de afgelopen korte tijd ben je echt super bijzonder voor mij geworden, precies de soort vriendin die iedereen zou willen. Je bent lief, loyal en je luistert altijd naar waar ik echt mee zit. Ik ben super blij dat ik the honour heb gehad van jou ontmoeten en ik hoop dat je jezelf gaat zien zoals ik je zie! You’re so bright and loving.
Dikke dikke kus van mij en ik hoop dat ik je snel weer zie
Valentines is overrated and I’m more into galentines anyways, hence this love letter to you. In the past short time you have become really special to me, exactly the kind of girlfriend everyone would want. You are sweet, loyal and you always listen to what really bothers me. I am super happy to have had the honor of meeting you and I hope you will see yourself as I see you! You’re so bright and loving.
Big big kiss from me and I hope to see you again soon
There’s honestly a lot of people I could write a Valentine’s day letter to because this past year has been one hell of a ride, but it has brought so many amazing people into my life that I can only look back at it with joy. Anyway, since I can’t write 10+ love notes, here are two.
To: Manon (@manon.kersten)
You’ve been here for me through thick and thin this past year and I honestly cannot thank you enough. We’ve made some great memories from hour-long, stomach-aching-from-laughing phone calls to laughing irl as I fell on the ice for the second time in five minutes. You’re the person I wish I had had by my side throughout my life, and I’m so happy I finally have you! I can’t wait to travel places (and watch our first GP together!!) with you and make even more memories with you. Here’s to another great year together 🙂 And you better get back here asap because I miss you!
To: Femke (@femvdhulst)
I honestly can’t believe we’ve only been ‘really’ talking for the past three months. I think we both feel the same in this when I say that I feel like I’ve known you my whole life, and I had never expected us to get along this well, but you always were someone I looked up to and even more so now. You’ve taught me a lot about loving who you are and being at peace with the universe and everything that comes your way. Thank you for that, you’re such an amazing and inspiring person! Can’t wait to see you soon!!
Dear Soraya (@bookswithsoraya),
That time for cheesy Valentine’s lines has come again! So, I will try not to disappoint:
O my guiding constellation,
My radiant light-
Well, perhaps I should save my poetry for a private setting and stick to prose for now.
Think it is fair to say this last year has not been easy on you, yet you’ve been there for support and comfort and I want you to know that I appreciate your love and friendship more than I know how to express. Being with you is an absolute joy. Honestly, there’s nothing that beats snuggling up with you on the couch, except for snuggling up with you on the couch with some pizza.
And on that note, let’s order pizza tonight?