Alternative Valentines

I love getting flowers and chocolates as much as the next person, but I’m as happy to get them on the 14th December as the 14th February and equally convinced of the affection of the person giving them to me. This is useful, since I live with someone who is often not aware of the month, or the day of the week, never mind the date!
In a city like London, you can’t help but be reminded of Valentine’s Day. There are glittering red hearts everywhere and you trip over buckets of red roses in cafes, supermarkets, tube stations, in the street – anywhere someone thinks they might be able to sell them to you. They are also twice as expensive as they were last week, but anyone who forgets to send the cards and the flowers, or take their loved one out to lunch/dinner, is likely to be labelled Unromantic for the rest of the year.
I guess that’s me because I haven’t sent anything. If my Loved One doesn’t know he’s loved by now, then a card isn’t going to fix it!
I hate this commercialisation of love, this stereotyping of affection. Millions of people love each other in millions of different ways. A kiss or a hug costs nothing. And we shouldn’t be expected to pay money to prove it.
Now, just to prove that I am, after all, a Closet Romantic, here’s a poem from an author who once won the Nobel Prize for Literature but has recently fallen out of favour.

On the Nature of Love
Rabindranath Tagore
Written on a boat journey in 1896

The night is black and the forest has no end;
A million people thread it in a million ways.
We have trysts to keep in the darkness, but where
Or with whom, of that we are unaware.
But we have this faith, that a lifetime of bliss
Will appear any minute, with a smile upon its lips.
Scents, touches, sounds, snatches of songs
Brush us, pass us, give us delightful shocks.
Then peradventure there is a flash of lightning;
Whomever I see that instant I fall in love with.
I call that person and cry: ‘This life is blest!
For your sake such miles have I traversed!’
All those others who came close and moved off
In the darkness, I don’t know if they exist or not.


  1. I have to agree that as a general principle I frown on commercialisation of love or for that matter any festive event.
    Now I feel like a sell out because I went for a Valentines day lunch (albeit a day early).
    Ah well, I'll just have to console myself by refusing to give anyone Easter eggs.

    I love the imagery in Tagore's poem. I read it as saying more about illusion than about love.

    By the way I have only just now properly read your February poem. Odd really, I usually look forward to when you post the new month's poem. Is it a new composition, based on your time in Italy?

  2. Sorry to disappoint, Al, but I wrote it last spring, which was a very strange one, weather-wise in England. But I have only recently edited it. I often do this - write something in response to the moment and then let it lie for a while before I take it out and get going with the secateurs!
    On the Valentine's thing - this year my other half remembered and sent me a really funny E-card that had me giggling for ages. Others in the Internet Cafe must have wondered what I was looking at!


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