February 14

By David Walsh

Those Roman Catholics
Observe a feast
On the fourteenth of February.
Three St Valentines at least
Died that day
And joined the hagiography.
The reason why we personify
Romantic liaisons by some obscure
Third century martyr isn’t clear
But later eleven hundred years
Geoffrey Chaucer
Suggested birds of every breed
Sort a mate to sow their seed
On that date.
So thanks to Chaucer
Or an anonymous predecessor
In America and now Australia
Many people feel compelled
To rouse a love with blood red rose
Or card with dopy doggerel.
Mostly those can’t show they care
Apart from on one day a year
That seems a rather dumb idea

These reformed sinners squealing
Sanctimonious sentiment
It makes me squeamish to see them selling
Self-satisfied penitence

How then, could I not despise
A chocolate consolation prize?
Based on an ancient fantasy
Delivered on the anniversary
Of a day when some men died
Called Valentinus then, in Latin
Now, in English, Valentine.

And anyway why should I buy
Something I already own
I’ve always thought that if I try
Too hard, I’ll wind up alone
‘Treat ’em mean to keep ’em keen’
Always made some sense to me
Now I see how wrong I’ve been
I’ll say sorry with hypocrisy

The sorry won’t be hypocritical
But lovelorn lines on Valentine’s
Writing those most surely will-

My darling, if I can call you mine
As though one can own another
Will you be my Valentine
And let me be your lover?