>

MARIETA MAGLAS

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 2/15/2017 |





The St. Valentine day has been specified in the writings belonging to the Middle Ages as an English courtly tradition. It is, in fact, a Christian feast that during the 14th century became also a love feast. There was a supposition that Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), the poet who had written the marriage poem entitled Canterbury Tales, had also associated this St. Valentine's Day with the romance. This poem was dedicated to Richard II and to Anne of Bohemia. For this love story, he used birds like the fowls (''The Parliament of Fowls”).
To read this poem follow the link:
http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/English/Fowls.htm

In this poem entitled so beautifully '' The Parliament of Fowls'', he suggested the idea that the old books bring a new wisdom. More specifically, it is about “The Dream of Scipio” which has been written by Marcus Tullius Cicero. Scipio was a young Roman general and also a senator. After meeting his friend, the King of Numidia, he fell asleep and his grandfather, the great general Scipio Africanus, came to him, in the dream, to tell him that his true life came after passing the death to go to heaven.

''Then showed him how small our Earth appears

Compared to the heavens’ quantity;

And then he showed him the nine spheres,

And after that the melody heard he

That comes from those spheres thrice three,

The source of music and of melody

In this world here, and cause of harmony.''

This part of the poem is a Stoic philosophical discuss between  Africanus and Scipio and it is about the heavenly happiness. Africanus taught Scipio to believe in the immortality of the soul while dwelling in heaven and also helped him to reject the idea of being an evil soul while having to whirl around the earth in torment during the process of purification. Also, this Africanus came to the poet’s dream. This poet asked the goddess of love named Venus or "Cytherea" to help him describe this dream in a poem that would have good rhymes.

In fact, Geoffrey Chaucer admired the Stoic philosophy of Cicero. His work entitled ''De re publica'' containing six books and being written between 54 and 51 BC is like a Socratic dialogue, or like a '' skeptical method of setting opposing arguments against one another'' (Wikipedia). Also, Cicero ‚’had in mind the title of Plato's celebrated dialogue Republic’’ (Wikipedia).

This way, Chaucer ''had become adept at the popular genre of the dream-poem.''
Being a Latin Stoic, he needed to understand the medieval Christians that have been focussed on the values belonging to a spiritual world rather than on some materialistic values. Cicero was a pagan, but Chaucer followed the example of St. Augustine and tried to change the Cicero's wisdom into a Christian one, and this change has been a way to find the real way, the truth, and the life.

But breakers of the law, he did explain,

And lecherous folk, after they are dead,

Shall whirl about the Earth ever in pain

Till many an age be past, and then indeed

Forgiven for their every wicked deed,

Then shall they come unto that blissful place,

To come to which may God send you his grace!’’

In ''The Book of the Duchess'', Chaucer referred to the Ovid's Metamorphoses.
In1477, the English lovers have made this Valentine Day a feast. On this day "every bird chooses him a mate." This day, the men and the women write love letters and let the bay leaves fall on the pillow to see the future mate in a dream during the night.

On the Christian calendar, February, the 14th was a day dedicated to honoring the martyrs Valentine of Rome, Valentine of Terni, and the African saint Valentine. ''The three discussed here were all martyred for their faith and have been recognized by the Catholic Church.’’

In Rome, St. Valentine was a priest. He lived in Interamna or Terni of Italy during the second half of the Third Century. It is not clear whether he became a bishop or not, but for sure, he was a Physician.

In his epithalamium on the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Frederick Count Palatine of the Rhine, the poet John Donne dedicated a stanza to the Bishop Valentine because this marriage took place on St. Valentine's Day, in 1614. The poet wrote:

''Hail, Bishop Valentine! Whose day this is:
All the air is thy diocese,
And all the chirping choristers
And other birds are thy parishioners:
Thou marryest every year
The lyric lark and the grave whispering dove:
The sparrow that neglects his life for love,
The household bird with the red stomacher:
Thou mak'st the blackbird speed as soon
As cloth the goldfinch or the halcyon--
This day more cheerfully than ever shine,
This day which might inflame thyself, old Valentine!''


Together with  Saint Marius, Saint Valentine married the Christian pairs and the Roman soldiers who wanted Christian women as wives. During this time, all the marriages had been canceled because the men had to join the military leagues.  Saint Valentine was imprisoned in a jail of Interamna because he rejected the idea of converting to Paganism. In this prison, he continued to be a missionary priest while sending letters to his parishioners. There he gave an aid to the martyrs and made a miracle while curing the blind Julia, the jailer's daughter. This way, he converted Asterius, the jailer, to Christianism. In Rome, Valentine was stoned and, then, executed by being beheaded during the reign of Claudius II, the Goth, and the Cruel. This saint was buried on the Flaminia Consular Way. Now, the ancient Flaminian Gate is called the Gate of Saint Valentine or Porta del Popolo. A small church dedicated to this saint was built in the closed vicinity.

Some believe that Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni haven't been two different persons. It is known that the third Saint Valentine has been a missionary person in Africa prior to his martyrdom.

In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared February 14 to be the Feast Day of Saint Valentine...Patron Saint of Lovers and Engaged Couples, with particular jurisdiction over the quarrels which arise between sweethearts’’ and the  ‚’ representations include: birds, roses, a bishop with a crippled or epileptic child at his feet; a bishop with a rooster nearby; a bishop refusing to adore an idol; a bishop being beheaded; a priest bearing a sword; a priest holding a sun; and a priest bestowing sight upon a blind girl. ‚’- Ranker

In 753 B.C., during the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th days of February, Lupercalia was a method to purify the life, in spring. In this rite, the drunken men ran around their naked women while hitting them in a marital process. During the year 490, Lupercalia was interdicted by Pope Gelasius and became a ''concurrent Feast of Purification''. It is thought that it is a coincidence the fact that Lupercalia and Valentine’s Day are celebrated both on the 14th day of February.
Mr.  Francis Douce wrote in his ''Illustrations of Shakspeare'':

''It was the practice in ancient Rome, during a great part of the month of February, to celebrate the Lupercalia, which were feasts in honour of Pan and Juno. whence the latter deity was named Februata, Februalis, and Februlla. On this occasion, amidst a variety of ceremonies, the names of young women were put into a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. The pastors of the early Christian church, who, by every possible means, endeavoured to eradicate the vestiges of pagan superstitions, and chiefly by some commutations of their forms, substituted, in the present instance, the names of particular saints instead of those of the women: and as the festival of the Lupercalia had commenced about the middle of February, they appear to have chosen St. Valentine's Day for celebrating the new feast, because it occurred nearly at the same time.''

In the 15th century, while being imprisoned in the Tower of London, Charles, Duke of Orleans, composed a Valentine’s Day poem and dedicated it to his wife, Bonne of Armagnac. He wrote:

''I am already sick of love
My very gentle Valentine…''
Elizabeth Barret Browning wrote in her poem ''How Do I Love Thee?''
''I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old grief’s, 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,''
William Shakespeare wrote in his poem ''Love Sonnet 18'':
''Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;''
Phillip Pulfrey wrote in the poem ''Beyond Me'':
''Love is no respecter of age or practicality
Neither morality: unabashed
She enters where she will
Unheeding that her immortal fires
Burn up human hearts...''

The King Henry VIII made this day be an official holiday in 1537. Also, some people believed that the first unmarried persons of the opposite sex who met each other the morning of February 14th would be destined to be husband and wife.

John Gay wrote:

'Last Valentine, the day when binds of kind
Their paramours with mutual chirping', find,
I early rose just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chased the stars away:
A-field I went, amid the morning clew,
To milk my kine (for so should housewives do).
Thee first I spied—and the first swain we see,
In spite of Fortune shall our true love be.'

The year 1800 is the first commercial year in which people started to buy Valentine cards.

References :
The Parliament of Fowls by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Book of the Duchess and Other Poems Summary and Analysis of The Parliament of Fowls, Proem (Lines 1-119) –GradeSaver
De re publica (On the Commonwealth) by Cicero –wikipedia
The Book of the Duchess by Geoffrey Chaucer
Metamorphoses by Ovid
Valentine's Day Started as a Holiday for Lovers – Ranker
''How Do I Love Thee?'' by Elizabeth Barret Browning
''Valentine’s Day poem'' by Charles, Duke of Orleans
''Love Sonnet 18'' by William Shakespeare
''Beyond Me'' by Phillip Pulfrey
"Illustrations of Shakespeare, and of Ancient Manners"  by  Francis Douce  (1807)
AN EPITHALAMION, OR MARRIAGE SONG ON THE LADY ELIZABETH AND COUNT PALATINE BEING MARRIED ON ST. VALENTINE'S DAY by John Donne
The Words are Those of a Rural Woman by John Gay.



MARIETA MAGLAS

Comments
0 Comments

No comments:

Blogger Widgets
Powered by Blogger.