A Valentine's Day Sketch & Poem
Hello, young lovers, wherever you are, to borrow a phrase from Frank - but this is for everyone, so being young and/or a lover is not really a requirement. In honour of today, I thought I'd post something very old but hopefully amusing.
I wrote the following poem and sketch-style prologue back in 2008, when out of sheer curiosity I decided to research the origins of St. Valentine's Day celebrations. While I always thought the sketch would be best performed, I've never had the occasion or opportunity - maybe you'd like to do it? All you need is a lyre, some bandages, and a pub... A Valentine Prologue A saint, an emperor, a young Roman woman and Geoffrey Chaucer walk into a bar. The saint spots the emperor and immediately goes and cowers in a corner. The emperor spots the saint and turns a deep shade of crimson. Chaucer and the woman regard the situation with interest. "What are you doing here?" sputters Claudius II (for he the emperor is). "I could ask you the same question," replies the saint, his courage returning at seeing the emperor unarmed and rather ancient-looking. At this point, Chaucer steps in. "Ekskews me if I be inne the wronge," he supplicates, "but maye it nat be that ye two be - dead?" There is a long pause. The young woman notices that the saint has cuts all over his body, and his garments are smoky and charred. The emperor is no longer crimson but ashen, and his arms and legs are heavily bandaged. "Why, my man," beams the saint, "you are right!" He offers his hand to Chaucer. "Valentine, late of the year 270, martyr to love." "To love!" interjects the young woman. "How, indeed!" she scoffs, regarding his decrepit body with disdain. "Not mine," the saint explains, "other people's." "And I had you executed for it!" exclaims Claudius. "Valentine..." muses Chaucer. "But, forre sure, I did ryte aboot ye!" Chaucer strums a lyre he happens to have in his hand (he has taken it from the young woman) and sings: "For this was on seynt valantynys day When every bryd comyth there to chese his mate." The young woman puts her hands over her ears and adopts a pained expression, for, though Chaucer writes well, he cannot sing. He looks around in hopes of his work being recognised, but none of them has read the Parliament of Fowls. "Did you say 'Saint' Valentine?" queries the saint, scratching his head. "But of corse!" exclaims Chaucer. "Why, every febreury the fourteenth, we do celebrayte yore daye with feestyng and songes of love!" Claudius sinks into a chair, his hands clasping his head, muttering, "Ye Gods, what have I done? Made a saint of him! Stupid man with his stupid insistence on performing marriages. All I wanted were single men for my army..." Chaucer puts a sympathetic arm around the emperor and indicates for the young woman to fetch him a pint. She, however, is growing pinker, and refuses to do Chaucer's bidding. "Why should I fetch a pint for you," she addressed the emperor, "when you never put a stop to our absurd February customs?" The emperor looks up, confused. "The festival of Lupercalia...?" she adds. A dim light of recognition enters Claudius' face. "Ah, yes! The ancient pagan custom! February 15th, when the dancing maidens were drawn at random by the bachelors. Fabulous custom; every man got a girl for a year, but didn't actually have to marry her. Ah, I only wish I..." Claudius trails off as he sees the young woman again suffused pink. "I didn't think it was quite so fabulous," she forces through compressed lips. "I ended up with - " Chaucer sees this as the perfect time to cut in. He turns to the woman, gallantly declaring, "Lady! Come withe me, and be ye introdysed unto the Frenche coort, wither theye do go whom true love seeke, and where since ay while ago they do holde the Cour Amoreuse, in which ye laydies judge poesie of love, and golden crownes do gif unto the bolde man who writeth it beste." The woman's face lights up. Chaucer gives her his arm, and the two walk out of the bar. Claudius is left with Valentine. "Oh well," the emperor says, lifting his head. "Couldn't stop it. Probably shouldn't have tried. No one can really, it seems." He offers his hand to Valentine. "No hard feelings then?" The saint hesitates, and then grasps Claudius' hand firmly. "No hard feelings," he replies. "After all, what's a little martyrdom in the face of the enduring power of love?" He breaks off, starry-eyed. Claudius groans. "If you're going to carry on like that, at least fetch me a pint first." "Sorry, emperor, I can't. I've got a meeting with Hallmark, and then a personal appearance to make - I'm chocolate-signing at Thornton's." Valentine exits the bar, leaving Claudius II to get his own beer. *** Martyrs though we may forget (Of death we've not bethought us yet) And Emperors in robes of gold Remain to us mere tales of old, And France's court of lovers gay Are flick'ring remnants in a day Of chocolates fine and roses tall, Mass manufactured Cards of Hall - Forget not, love; love won't forget, Amid the tales of Capulet, Fair dancing maidens picked by boys And teddies holding gimmick toys: There's faith enough in Valentine For me to smile and name you mine.