"TELL me, gentle youth, I pray thee,
What in purchase shall I pay thee
For this little waxen toy,
Image of the Paphian boy?"
Thus I said, the other day,
To a youth who pass'd my way:
"Sir," (he answer'd, and the while
Answer'd all in Doric style,)
"Take it, for a trifle take it;
'Twas not I who dared to make it;
No, believe me, 'twas not I;
Oh, it has cost me many a sigh,
And I can no longer keep
Little gods who murder sleep!"
"Here, then, here," (I said with joy,)
"Here is silver for the boy:
He shall be my bosom guest,
Idol of my pious breast!"
Now, young Love, I have thee mine,
Warm me with that torch of thine;
Make me feel as I have felt,
Or thy waxen frame shall melt:
I must burn with warm desire,
Or thou, my boy -- in yonder fire.
Anacreon (c. 572-488 BC)
Valentine's Day is experienced differently every year by every one. While it’s sad to see disappointment among some, one tradition is taking for a walk around 5 PM to see all the lovers bringing home heart decorated balloons and flowers filling; sometime spilling out of their cars. Most of the time it is a great joy to celebrate anonymously with them, calm, in the face of adversity. February has long been a month of romance with elements derived from both Roman and Christian ways of life. One researcher recounts:
Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure.
This ode was written by the Greek lyric poet Anacreon; well known for satires and short poems on love and wine. Distinctive for their urbanity and effortlessness they posses a quality of subtle airiness, his form became readily identifiable that eventually his style has been given over to the classification of poetry called anacreonic.
Since antiquity February 14th has been a special day related to the Feast of Lupercalia and it’s mythological figures. One such is the son of Aphrodite or Venus, Eros or Cupid to the Romans. Born on the island of Paphis Cupid is occasionally called the Paphian. Only a few fragments of Anacreon poems survive today. The Irish poet of the romantic movement, Thomas Moore translated the Odes of Anacreon catapulting him to fame in 1800. This is the eleventh verse, which waxes joyfully over the many metaphorical powers of the Paphian cherub, possibly the best-known retelling of these ancient Greek verses.
Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, "Moore, Thomas" Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.
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Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner: