tisdag 14 februari 2012

A suggestion

 In case you’re without something to read today — I have a most appropriate suggestion. Old Valentines A Love Story by Munson Aldrich Havens.

"May I call you Phyllis?" asked John, breaking the silence suddenly.
"Why, yes; if you wish—and if you think you ought, you know."

"Well, then,—Phyllis. Your name has become to me the one name worth saying in the world. Ever since I met you for the first time, four months ago, I have been saying it, Phyllis; but I wanted to say it to you. So with your face: I know every mood of you by the lights and shadows of it. I can see it in your absence, almost as well as when I am with you. Your dear, sweet face, Phyllis, and your crown of gold, and your loyal eyes, I know by heart, as well as your name. Dear Phyllis. And I know, too, your quick and beautiful mind; its clear, wise judgment of the true and the false. I know its freedom from selfishness, and all littleness. I know its purity and its steadfastness I know your capable hands, Phyllis, and your eager, pitying heart,—for I have seen them at work day after day, and week after week. I love you, my dearest, and I must tell you so. I think I have loved you longer than I have known you, but I know I have loved you as long. Perhaps you can care for me, and perhaps you can't. Sometimes I have dared to hope you might, but almost always I have known it was too high a hope. For I am only a poor poet, with nothing but faith in myself and love for you to offer. I know you have everything; a beautiful home, and beautiful clothes, and beautiful jewels, probably, though I haven't seen them. Every wish of yours is answered almost before you know it is yours. Life's promise to you is the earth and the fullness thereof; and I offer you only love. But in the end I shall win, Phyllis, I am perfectly certain of that. I shall never, never be rich; possibly never even well-to-do; but I love you, Phyllis; I love you. I want to ask you to wait for me—and be my wife."

måndag 13 februari 2012

Valentine Eve

It was Sarah Chauncey Woolsey’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. She is probably better known as Susan Coolidge, the author who wrote the books about Katy and her siblings. As I wrote a short post about her, I couldn’t resist looking through some of her books. In “What Katy Did”, they have a Valentine party — I did remember that, but I didn’t remember that they it was held on “Valentine Eve”. Thinking of it, I can’t recall that I ever heard, or read, about celebrating Valentine on any other day than the 14th .

Valentine's-Day was the next Friday. When the children came home from school on Thursday afternoon, Aunt Izzie met them, and, to their great surprise, told them that Cecy was come to drink tea, and they must all go up stairs and be made nice.

"But Cecy comes most every day," remarked Dorry, who didn't see the connection between this fact and having his face washed.

"Yes—but to-night you are to take tea in Katy's room," said Aunt Izzie; "here are the invitations: one for each of you."

Sure enough, there was a neat little note for each, requesting the pleasure of their company at "Queen Katharine's Palace," that afternoon, at six o'clock.

This put quite a different aspect on the affair. The children scampered up stairs, and pretty soon, all nicely brushed and washed, they were knocking formally at the door of the "Palace." How fine it sounded!
The room looked bright and inviting. Katy, in her chair, sat close to the fire, Cecy was beside her, and there was a round table all set out with a white cloth and mugs of milk and biscuit, and strawberry-Jam and doughnuts. In the middle was a loaf of frosted cake. There was something on the icing which looked like pink letters, and Clover, leaning forward, read aloud, "St. Valentine."

"What's that for?" asked Dorry.

"Why, you know this is St. Valentine's-Eve," replied Katy. "Debbie remembered it, I guess, so she put that on."

Nothing more was said about St. Valentine just then. But when the last pink letter of his name had been eaten, and the supper had been cleared away, suddenly, as the children sat by the fire, there was a loud rap at the door.
"Who can that be?" said Katy; "please see, Clover!"

So Clover opened the door. There stood Bridget, trying very hard not to laugh, and holding a letter in her hand.

"It's a note as has come for you, Miss Clover," she said.

"For me!" cried Clover, much amazed. Then she shut the door, and brought the note to the table.

"How very funny!" she exclaimed, as she looked at the envelope, which was a green and white one. There was something hard inside. Clover broke the seal. Out tumbled a small green velvet pincushion made in the shape of a clover-leaf, with a tiny stem of wire wound with green silk. Pinned to the cushion was a paper, with these verses:

  "Some people love roses well,
    Tulips, gayly dressed,
  Some love violets blue and sweet,—
    I love Clover best.
  "Though she has a modest air,
    Though no grace she boast,
  Though no gardener call her fair,
    I love Clover most.
  "Butterfly may pass her by,
    He is but a rover,
  I'm a faithful, loving Bee—
    And I stick to Clover."
This was the first valentine Clover had ever had. She was perfectly enchanted.
"Oh, who do you suppose sent it?" she cried.

But before anybody could answer, there came another loud knock at the door, which made them all jump. Behold, Bridget again, with a second letter!

"It's for you, Miss Elsie, this time," she said with a grin.

There was an instant rush from all the children, and the envelope was torn open in the twinkling of an eye. Inside was a little ivory seal with "Elsie" on it in old English letters, and these rhymes:

  "I know a little girl,
  She is very dear to me,
  She is just as sweet as honey
  When she chooses so to be,
  And her name begins with E, and ends with E.
  "She has brown hair which curls,
  And black eyes for to see
  With, teeth like tiny pearls,
  And dimples, one, two—three,
  And her name begins with E, and ends with E.
  "Her little feet run faster
  Than other feet can flee,
  As she brushes quickly past, her
  Voice hums like a bee,
  And her name begins with E, and ends with E.
  "Do you ask me why I love her?
  Then I shall answer thee,
  Because I can't help loving,
  She is so sweet to me,
  This little girl whose name begins and ends with 'E.'"
"It's just like a fairy story," said Elsie, whose eyes had grown as big as saucers from surprise, while these verses were being read aloud by Cecy.

Another knock. This time there was a perfect handful of letters.
Everybody had one. Katy, to her great surprise, had two.
"Why, what can this be?" she said. But when she peeped into the second one, she saw Cousin Helen's handwriting, and she put it into her pocket, till the valentines should be read.

Dorry's was opened first. It had the picture of a pie at the top—I ought to explain that Dorry had lately been having a siege with the dentist.
  "Little Jack Horner
  Sat in his corner,
    Eating his Christmas pie,
  When a sudden grimace
  Spread over his face,
    And he began loudly to cry.
  "His tender Mamma
  Heard the sound from afar,
    And hastened to comfort her child;
  'What aileth my John?'
  She inquired in a tone
    Which belied her question mild.
  "'Oh, Mother,' he said,
  'Every tooth in my head
    Jumps and aches and is loose, O my!
   And it hurts me to eat
   Anything that is sweet—
     So what will become of my pie?'
  "It were vain to describe
  How he roared and he cried,
    And howled like a miniature tempest;
  Suffice it to say,
  That the very next day
    He had all his teeth pulled by a dentist!"
This valentine made the children laugh for a long time. Johnnie's envelope held a paper doll named "Red Riding-Hood." These were the verses:

  "I send you my picture, dear Johnnie, to show
    That I'm just as alive as you,
  And that you needn't cry over my fate
    Any more, as you used to do.
  "The wolf didn't hurt me at all that day,
    For I kicked and fought and cried,
  Till he dropped me out of his mouth, and ran
    Away in the woods to hide.
  "And Grandma and I have lived ever since
    In the little brown house so small,
  And churned fresh butter and made cream cheeses,
    Nor seen the wolf at all.
  "So cry no more for fear I am eaten,
    The naughty wolf is shot,
  And if you will come to tea some evening
    You shall see for yourself I'm not."
Johnnie was immensely pleased at this, for Red Riding-Hood was a great favorite of hers.
Philly had a bit of india-rubber in his letter, which was written with very black ink on a big sheet of foolscap:

  "I was once a naughty man,
    And I hid beneath the bed,
  To steal your india-rubbers,
    But I chewed them up instead.
  "Then you called out, 'Who is there?'
    I was thrown most in a fit,
  And I let the india-rubbers fall—
    All but this little bit.
  "I'm sorry for my naughty ways,
    And now, to make amends,
  I send the chewed piece back again,
    And beg we may be friends.

"Just listen to mine," said Cecy, who had all along pretended to be as much surprised as anybody, and now behaved as if she could hardly wait till Philly's was finished. Then she read aloud:


  "If I were a bird
  And you were a bird,
  What would we do?
  Why you should be little and I would be big,
  And, side by side on a cherry-tree twig,
  We'd kiss with our yellow bills, and coo—
  That's what we'd do!
  "If I were a fish
  And you were a fish,
  What would we do?
  We'd frolic, and whisk our little tails,
  And play all sorts of tricks with the whales,
  And call on the oysters, and order a 'stew,'
  That's what we'd do!
  "If I were a bee
  And you were a bee,
  What would we do?
  We'd find a home in a breezy wood,
  And store it with honey sweet and good.
  You should feed me and I would feed you,
  That's what we'd do!

"I think that's the prettiest of all," said Clover.

"I don't," said Elsie. "I think mine is the prettiest. Cecy didn't have any seal in hers, either." And she fondled the little seal, which all this time she had held in her hand.

"Katy, you ought to have read yours first because you are the oldest," said Clover.

"Mine isn't much," replied Katy, and she read:

  "The rose is red the violet blue,
    Sugar is sweet, and so are you."
"What a mean valentine!" cried Elsie, with flashing eyes. "It's a real shame, Katy! You ought to have had the best of all."

Katy could hardly keep from laughing. The fact was that the verses for the others had taken so long, that no time had been left for writing a valentine to herself. So, thinking it would excite suspicion to have none, she had scribbled this old rhyme at the last moment.

"It isn't very nice," she said, trying to look as pensive as she could, "but never mind."

"It's a shame!" repeated Elsie, petting her very hard to make up for the injustice.

onsdag 1 februari 2012


Still lie the sheltering snows, undimmed and white;
And reigns the winter's pregnant silence still;
No sign of spring, save that the catkins fill,
And willow stems grow daily red and bright.
These are the days when ancients held a rite
Of expiation for the old year's ill,
And prayer to purify the new year's will:
Fit days, ere yet the spring rains blur the sight,
Ere yet the bounding blood grows hot with haste,
And dreaming thoughts grow heavy with a greed
The ardent summer's joy to have and taste;
Fit days, to give to last year's losses heed,
To reckon clear the new life's sterner need;
Fit days, for Feast of Expiation placed!
                From "A Calendar of Sonnets" by Helen Hunt Jackson (1891)