This Valentine’s Day, Use Your Words!

What truly says “I love you” to your Valentine? A fancy dinner out? Good luck getting a table, or avoiding romantic indigestion as you navigate the desperate crush of other romance seekers. A box of chocolates? Hardly original, and not exactly helpful with our New Year’s resolutions. Do diamonds speak louder than words? Nope – not even close:

          Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
          Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme…

sonnetsWhen it comes to expressing your feelings, use your words. Or… borrow someone else’s! For millennia poets have spilled out their hearts on papyrus, parchment and paper, and into the air itself. From Sappho to Shakespeare, Ovid to Neruda, Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Mary Oliver, our shelves groan, sigh and sing with love’s burden, heavy as the heaviest heart, lighter than air. Here’s a list of just some of the books at your library packed with moving love poetry from all over the world, and all throughout the ages.

Poetry longs to be heard and read aloud, the be literally inspired with breath and passion. Sweeten your atmosphere with the sounds of poetry by partaking of our many poetry recordings, the Poetry Foundation’s audio Poem a Day, poems at, the Academy of American Poets, or many other sites that share poetry aloud. Or allow me to read you a wry short story about Valentine’s Day: Love Poems, by Lon Otto.


I have always loved the miraculous eloquence of Elizabethan and Cavalier verse by such poets as Shakespeare, John Donne, Thomas Campion, Andrew Marvel and Queen Elizabeth herself  -the first, that is. Back in the early 1990s, I assembled a romantic comedy out of their poems, putting their words in the mouths of four lovers. Produced by the Seattle Shakespeare Company, the play was called When Love Speaks, its title taken from the following passage from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost:

And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods 

          Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony. 
          Never durst poet touch a pen to write 
          Until his ink were temper’d with Love’s sighs; 
          O, then his lines would ravish savage ears 
          And plant in tyrants mild humility. 

Much to my surprise and delight, Thalia’s Umbrella has decided to revive this play for the first time in over twenty years for their 2017 season. As a special treat for poetry lovers – and just plain lovers – they are offering up a free taste of the play at our Greenwood branch this coming Saturday, February 11 at 4 p.m. Actresses Alyssa Kay and Katherine Jett will share some delightful scenes of wooing, and winning via stunningly good – and hilariously bad – love poetry. Join us this Saturday afternoon for a scrumptious, guilt-free treat sure to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day.


     – posted by David W.

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