A not so stupid Cupid!

A topical blog today (I do try!)… Happy Valentine’s day! That can mean whatever you choose. I think it is experienced in¬†three different ways: the completely insufferable loved up couples who completely embrace the commercialism of it all; the single people who also then stem into two groups of the cynical and the ‘couldnt give a damn’ ones; and the people who just use it as an extra excuse to appreciate and spend time with loved ones (well just the one ūüėȬ†)

I fall into the the¬†latter category. I didn’t always, as my boyfriend and I used to buy presents, go out for dinner and all that smoochy¬†stuff. I think when you have been together so long then you go from the that category to just appreciating each other. My boyfriend, incidentally, is with his true love¬†tonight (he does happen to have more than one!)… his rowing boat! No we haven’t spent the eve opening¬†loved up pressies¬†and having¬†a romantic meal¬†– he has at rowing and me? Well, I am sitting here writing about it! ūüėČ But, he is going to finish early – as to me ‘time’ is a more valuable gift than jewellery¬† – not that I wouldn’t happily¬†accept that too ūüėČ

Yes, a lot of people hate Valentine’s day because they think it another occasion that they have to remember, spend money and conform to. But as I say, it can just be an extra excuse to spend quality time together. I say ‘extra’ excuse because it should be in addition to other special evenings. You shouldn’t need Valentine’s day to arrive in order to have a ‘date’ or to spend some romantic time together….. love shouldn’t be an annual event! But you can receive the day with a hug and a kiss and feel blessed to have a loved one. Even if you don’t have a romantic loved one, you can still feel lucky and grateful to have loved ones in your life. Or just stick on the chick flicks/get drunk with other single friends/eat chocolate¬† – as you don’t have to share ūüėČ

Let’s remember¬†how Valentine’s Day began. Interestingly, it wasn’t associated with romantic love until the middle ages. Before this, it was a¬†date to celebrate¬†numoerous Christian¬†saints called ‘Valentinus’.¬† The 14th of February was the day they were ‘honoured’.¬† Then one particular ‘Saint Valentine’ was¬†focussed on when we look back to history¬†and he was¬† thought to be imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted¬†under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius and before he was executed he left a note saying ‘From your Valentine.’ Which could explain why it is typical to sign your cards as that now.

But yes the romantic love idea came more into play during the time of Chaucer, where ‘courtly love’ was popular. By the 15th century, this date became a day to present loved¬†ones with confectionary, flowers and¬†hand-made¬†cards. It was from¬†the 19th Century that mass-produced cards replaced the ‘hand made cards’.¬†Sad really, but I am sure there are still some people out there that do make their own personalised Valentine’s.

Also, don’t forget Cupid, who is a symbol or icon¬†of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was the god of desire, erotic love and affection. Cupid carries an¬† arrow with a golden, sharp¬†tip and who ever gets hit with it, experiences¬†uncontrollable desire. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he also had a second arrow with a lead point and this was for negative purposes – it would cause the person to run away. I didn’t realise this until it was mentioned in Romeo and Juliet where Romeo says that Rosalind¬†won’t be hit by the right arrow and return his love. I love this idea about Cupid as it has a dual effect and shows that love is two-sided. It can be¬† lovely and amazing but also painful and hurtful¬† – reflected by his two arrows!

I have to share you my favourite love poem with you today to finish off. I have mentioned it in a blog before so that may be why it seems familiar (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/). I think it shows what should be important about Valentine’s Day and realising the reality of love:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

So there you have it. You may have flowers today. Or a necklace. Or some chocolate. But it doesn’t have all that emotion and meaning¬†to it like an onion does it?! I love this poem as it shows that love starts and stops like the stanzas and the lines. Love clings to you, whether you want it to or not, like the stench of an onion onto your skin. It is honest about love and a brilliant metaphor for love.

There you go, we have the history of Valentine, cupid and how the day has changed, all for a modern poet to say that love is a vegetable! ūüėČ

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day in which ever way you choose ūüôā

XSXS

That Stinging Feeling

Afternoon everyone.

I was reminded of two of my favourite poems today and it got me thinking how great literature (obviously depending on opinion) comes into our everyday life all the time. I’ve told you how I write some of my own poetry and my whole ‘system’ of writing is to simply think of something I have done that day, something that had cropped up or something I like or feel strongly about. I will, in future posts, share some more of my own poetry with you but for today I am going to stick with two poems; one by Carol Ann Duffy and one by Vernon Scannell.

I went for a walk today.. .over 4 miles.. again with my boyfriend’s mum and his brother’s girlfriend. I know, I know, I’ve still not taken my own advice of avoiding exercise. Turns out I’m one of those people who says, ‘Do what I say, not what I do!’ But again I paid for it… nasty nettles this time (another piece of evidence that exercise is just oh so dangerous!). It was muddy in the wooded area that we walked due to all the lovely summer rain we have had. I slipped down this slushy, muddy slope and what did I grab onto? Nettles! Ouchie. One of the dogs didn’t learn from my painful mistake and sniffed a bed of nettles later… oh did he whimper!

Anyway, I’m getting off track…. as we did frequently on our walk! You may have¬†guessed the poem I want to mention if you are a) a fan of poetry b) a year nine pupil (as we have studied this with them lots at school) c) or if you are a great friend of mine and actually listens when I ramble on and on about poetry and school life. Nettles by Vernon Scannell is a great poem and portrays the beautiful relationship between father and son. The extreme length the father will go to to¬†stop his son being hurt by the physical pain of the nettles. It is also hinted at that there is a point that parents can’t stop their children from being hurt; physically or emotionally. Oh dear, I’m starting to feel like I’m back at school… ‘Let me read the poem!’ I hear you cry.. well here we go:

Nettles

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
‘Bed’ seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest.  With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my billhook, honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more.  And then I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.

I won’t go into analytical mode don’t worry but you can appreciate it any way you wish. I just love how something that happens to us¬†on a daily basis can remind us of a poem or a story or a book or even something we read in the newspaper last week. My hand still hurts from the nettles… and I know I will feel sharp wounds again…

Talking of stinging, I was reminded of my favourite poem just as I was preparing dinner. It also ties in nicely with Nettles. My eyes, like my hands, began to sting. I was chopping an onion for our chicken fajitas! Stinging eyes and finely chopping the small, brown onion, I thought of Valentine¬†by Carol Ann Duffy. I first studied this poem at GCSE¬†and I think I used it for assignments¬†at University and occasionally¬†I just like to read it. I still always think of it every time¬†I chop an onion and also every time¬†I think of Valentine’s Day and how love shouldn’t be about presents, alcohol and commercial things. If you don’t already know this poem then I bet you’re thinking ‘Onions and love, whattt?’ Take a read:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Again, I won’t get my analytical head on but I will say that I love how Duffy experiments with form. Her stanzas stop and start with irregular lines and enjambment¬†used frequently… just like love is so unpredictable and not regular. So ladies, if your man comes home tonight and gives you an onion… don’t be offended and think it is his hint for you to cook dinner… think of it as a moon and a much more meaningful present than anything else. Have I convinced you?? Haha, didn’t think so… flowers are just so much prettier aren’t they?
But next time your eyes sting from chopping an onion or your skin stings with pain from nettles then think of these two poems. It is all about taking that everyday, ordinary object/thing/feeling/situation and making it extraodinary…..which is kind of what my blog is all about!

Tonight, avoid nettles along with that evil exercise and consider that onion as you chomp through your chicken fajitas… I know I will ūüėČ

See you tomorrow,

XSXS