It’s Valentine’s Day!

And you know what that means.

Yes, friends, it’s time for another round of Victorian Valentine’s verses from my two favorite sources: Hymen’s Rhapsodies (for gentlemen), and The Lady’s Own Fashionable Valentine’s Writer (for the ladies, obviously).

I realize I’ve been neglecting the blog for a while–I should probably just admit that winter depresses me and I can’t blog until spring and have done with it. But today it’s Valentine’s Day, and spring isn’t far off, so things are looking up.  Today, in honor of this uncharacteristic optimism, I am featuring only happy verses. We’ll start off with a short and sweet one:

Valentine’s Day Card, 1899

To Abel.
Always to me you have been very kind,
Believe in kindness I don’t lag behind,
Eager I seek such feelings to repay,
Love you I must,—to marry won’t say nay.

Aww. I hope he says yes.

To Alfred.
Are you inclined to join in Hymen’s throng,
Leave other strains, make me your only song,
For better or for worse a wife to take,
Resigned to love, resolved no more to rake;
Eftsoons, in that case, with you I combine,
Delighted much to be your Valentine.

(Eftsoons, by the way, means “soon afterwards.”)


Valentine Card, c1840-1880

To Daniel.
Dear youth, believe my heart’s long been your own,
As all my actions have too clearly shown;
No secret of my love I wish to make,
Indeed, ’tis your advice I wish to take,
Early or late your wishes still are mine,
List:–I announce you as my Valentine.

One hopes Daniel is equally ready to announce…

To George.
Guess, if you can, who sends this letter,
Early or late you’ll find few better;
One thing I’m ready to admit,
Receive the news as you think fit
Great love for you I entertain,
Either return it, or life’s vain.

It’s never a bad idea to start a romance with an ultimatum, right?

To Lewis.
Long have I wished that I your love possest,
Expose I must the secret of my breast,
With hand and heart I fain would be your wife,
Inclined to think we’d live without much strife,
Secure to pass a happy, merry life.

Valentine, 1862

And on to the gentlemen:

To a Lady with a Fortune
SINCE fortune on thee, fair, has smil’d,
Be not puff’d up and vain!
Let not my offer be revil’d,
Nor treated with disdain.
Thy hand I seek, and not thy purse,
Then prove thyself divine;
Oh, take, for better or for worse,
Thy humble Valentine.

A for effort, but no.

To a Lady of Distinction.
MY Valentine ne’er shall have cause to regret
The conduct which true love enforces;
No pains and no penalties ever shall threat,
And nothing but Death shall divorce us.
All titles and treasures I’d gladly resign,
To be my dear charmer’s approv’d Valentine.


Victorian Valentine, c. 1840-1899. Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

To a Lady who had been lately Visited.
I HAD a dream last night,
When soft repose was mine—
I saw, with my mind’s sight,
A lovely Valentine.
That Valentine did seem
To be thyself divine—
Then realize the dream,
And be my Valentine !

Realize the dream!

And finally,

‘Tis customary on this day,
For us a compliment to pay;
I therefore do to thee assign,
The title of my Valentine.

This seeming liberty I take,
Believe me not for custom’s sake;
Still doth my constant heart incline,
To thee my dearest Valentine.

It is the language of that heart,
Which now I candidly impart;
No formal words, precise and fine,
Unworthy of my Valentine.

Believe me, oh, thou charming fair,
The language of the heart’s sincere;
Then do not love for love decline,
But be my faithful Valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.