Faded Valentines


Paper lace and golden rings,
Doves and darts and dainty things,
Verses traced in letters quaint,
As the psalter of a saint.
Tucked away in dusty nooks,
As the leave of moldy books,
Where the moth in darkness dines,
Lie the sweet old valentines.

Ghosts of girls of olden times
Haunt the Cupids and the rhymes,
Winsome maids in combs and curls,
Scarlet heels and strings of pearls,
Gallants, too, in buckled shoes,
Jeweled swords and ribboned queues,
What romances one divines
From the yellow valentines!

All the hearts that fluttered so
Are in ashes long ago,
But I fancy belles and beaux,
Sweet with lavender and rose,
From the shadows reappear
In their places once a year,
And together read the lines
Of their faded valentines.

— Minna Irving, in Criterion

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Feb 17, 1899

MILAN, Ohio, Feb. 16, 1852.

FRIEND HADLEY — As this is the anniversary of that illustrious and widely honored personage, Saint Valentine, and delicately worded verses, on pretty little bits of sweet scented paper, so soft and velvety, and all bright as California round the edges, are just now “the rage,” perhaps a duplicate of one of these poetic effusions just drawn from a tender section of your friend and correspondent’s heart, as an offering to the shrine of its worships, may be an acceptable “item” for a corner of your paper.

To _____, of Chestnut Hill, Ohio.


St. Valentine’s day! indeed, ’tis very true,
And here I’m minus — really ’tis too bad!
Not one verse written — Oh, I’m, I’m glad,
For ’tis begun, a Valentine to you.

‘Tis not in fancy nor in jesst I write;
My words have meaning if you take them right —
Embellished not with language — but for sound,
Deep in their thoughts an affluence may be found.

Once on a time — it was not long ago —
No matter when — although you really know —
I met — don’t, I beg your pardon — ask me what
A lady, Georgie, close resembling you.

With eyes of lustre, bright as the gazelle’s,
I felt at once their glance and owned their spell.
Her form was light and agile as the roe;
In motions graceful as the willows grow.

Around her brow sweet auburn curls entwined,
Befitting Venus or a Josephine’s,
While o’er her face the graces did impart
A charm of beauty borrowed from no art.

But not in beauty had that face its charm,
Nor sylph like motions of that lovely form;
‘Twas more than this that had such magic spell,
And made the bosom with emotions swell!

‘Twas more than this that kindled hopes like mine,
Round which the joys of brighter days entwine;
‘Twas more than this that woke my silent lyre,
And warmed my heart with its celestial fire.

‘Twas mind, its treasures radiant with a glow,
Sparkling like pearls through waters deep below,
That gave to all like summer to the sky,
Those features charms, and brightness to the eye.

‘Twas heart — such hearts as few have known;
Oh, how I’d prize its affluence to own,
Kind to a fault, and noble as ’twas true;
(Here the resemblance makes me think of you.)
United to those cultured gifts so rare,
That crowned her queen among the jeweled fair.

Now all that’s left in semblance or in form,
Of that fair lady, bright as dewy morn,
By thee’s possessed; yes, Georgie’s thine,
And, I can’t but own it, am your Valentine.

Watertown Chronicle (Watertown, Wisconsin) Mar 3, 1852

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