Off Topic

I think, therefore I harm

Oh! It’s Valentine’s Day!

heart-hands-featureI don’t need to remind anyone, today is Valentine’s Day. I realized that my Thursday’s Main would fall on that day and I had no choice but write something about it. In the most traditional spirit of this blog, I could have written something about the origin of Valentine’s Day. But the fact is, nobody knows, so I won’t go about it.

The Myth

In Rome, Valentinus was a common name. Of all the people known by that name, three of them are considered early Christian martyrs. They were all executed, two of them on February 14th.

Among them, however, one is known as Saint Valentine of Rome. He was a priest around 270 AD and provided the sacraments such as marriage, which was outlawed at that time. Remember Christianity was only adopted as Rome’s state religion in 325 AD. Saint Valentine is reported to have illegally performed Christian weddings for soldiers, which were not allowed to marry. He was executed after he attempted to convert Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. Probably something about Jesus’ long hair, I’m not sure.

Today, it is generally well accepted that the story behind many of the saints were in fact invented to make them likable. Story became legend and legend became myth. Though February 14th have long been on the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints as a day of celebration for Saint Valentine, the day was removed in 1969 in recognition that nobody knew who he really was.

It is unclear when February 14th became a day associated with love and romantic deeds, but it is thought that it was not originally meant to be. Sadly, it has never been made into a paid holiday.

So since nobody knows the origin of Valentine’s Day, I am not going to talk about this. I’ll share a poem with you instead.

The Poem

Charles d'Orléans

Charles d’Orléans

Charles d’Orléans lived during the 15th century. He was Duke (the king’s second son) of Orléans, France. He was taken as prisoner in England for 24 years. During this period, he wrote several poems, mostly in French.

He is attributed the first Valentine written in any language, a letter sent to his wife in the form of a poem. The original poem is in Old French, thus harder to understand, but it is always accompanied by an English translation. When comparing both versions, I soon realized the official English translation was incorrect and impossible to understand. Thus, let me have my take on translating the very first Valentine from Old French to understandable modern English. Please note that no attempt was made to keep the original form and rhymes of the poem.

Old French Tom’s English

Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée,
Car pour moi fustes trop tart née,
Et moy pour vous fus trop tost né.
Dieu lui pardoint qui estrené
M’a de vous, pour toute l’année.
Je suis desja, etc.
Ma tres doulce, etc.

Bien m’estoye suspeconné,
Qu’auroye telle destinée,
Ains que passast ceste journée,
Combien qu’Amours l’eust ordonné.
Je suis desja, etc.

I am already tired of love,
My sweet Valentine,
Since you were born too late
And I was born too soon.
God forgives the one who estranged me
From you the entire year.

Though I suspected
Such a destiny,
It happened that day,
No matter how much Love would have commanded.

Despite the official story, I suspect this might have been written for his younger mistress, but was inadvertently delivered to his wife. But let’s not break the romance. You are up to your own interpretation.

The Picture

Before I leave, here is a picture which represents what most of you will be doing tonight. Because the picture is very sensitive, I had to hide it behind a warning sign. Please, click only if you are old enough for nudity, violence and coarse language.

Viewer Discretion Advised


5 comments on “Oh! It’s Valentine’s Day!

  1. heretherebespiders
    February 14, 2013

    Ha! No, I won’t be doing that. IDJ has his weekly radio show tonight. I got to clean cat boxes, woot!

    Oh and you have a typo – sweet, not sweat. Unless the old poet was really a dirty old man? Heheh

    • Tom Duhamel
      February 14, 2013

      Oh thanks for the typo, I wonder how I did not notice.

      Cleaning litter boxes is exactly what I planned for tonight. That, and probably watch TV or play video games.

      But, have a good time *after* the radio show 🙂

  2. lahgitana
    March 28, 2013

    Bonjour M. Compound Words! Here’s how I feel about Valentine’s Day: they were all executed! Thank you for making me bark with laughter this matin!

    • Tom Duhamel
      March 28, 2013

      No problemo. Esta mixing langues common where you vivre? 😛

      Who was executed, the Valentine’s Day, or the different St-Valentines?

      • lahgitana
        March 29, 2013

        Shr-de (a little Mandarin for you!)! Dans ma tête carré, beaucoup des langues sont mixed up! (agggggh! j’ai oubliez beaucoup, so I make it up!)

        The way my head translated that bit about execution was to put a deadly poetic spin on Valentine’s Day. Erm … !! >:-D

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This entry was posted on February 14, 2013 by in History, Holidays and tagged , , , .
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