Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Rose and Poem for Valentine's Day

I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day pass without a mention, so as an unashamed romantic, I’m dedicating this post to all my lovely followers, whether romantic or not!

Valentine’s Day is the traditional time for flowers, especially roses, and preferably red. Of all flowers, the rose is perhaps the most symbolic, often representing purity, perfection, love, marriage or death. Its essence has been well used in love potions, perfumes and cosmetics. And, of course, legends abound.

According to a charming medieval legend, the first roses made a miraculous appearance in order to save a ‘fayre maiden’ who had been sentenced to death by burning. Falsely accused, she prayed for deliverance and the fire subsequently went out. The logs which were already burning became red roses and the unlit logs became white roses.

The red rose evidently was the sacred flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and is a symbol of love and beauty. A dozen red roses epitomizes romantic love, especially on St Valentine’s Day, while a single red rose usually means “I love you.” The 18th century Scottish poet, Robert Burns, talks of constant love in his song, My Love is like a Red, Red Rose. In some countries, the red rose means marriage, and in Christianity it is sometimes symbolic of Christ’s shed blood.

Often a symbol of purity and secrecy, the white rose represents water and is the flower of moonlight. In parts of Scotland, a white rose blooming in autumn was thought to herald an early death, but a white rose bud symbolized a girl too young to love. In a lovely custom in Saxon times, red and white petals were showered on newly weds to represent their union of passion (red roses) and purity (white roses).

This is one of the medieval poems in an old collection I have, and it sums up that wonderful closeness a man and wife (hopefully) retain over long years together.


To His Wife

Love, let us live as we have lived, nor lose
The little names that were the first night’s grace,
And never come the day that sees us old,
I still your lad, and you my little lass.
Let me be older thank old Nestor’s years,
And you the Sibyl, if we heed it not.
What should we know, we two, of ripe old age?
We’ll have its richness, and the years forgot.


Jean Bull said...

A lovely post on Valentine's Day and I loved the poem. I hope you have a very romantic day!

Joanna said...

A lovely, romantic post, Rosemary. I love the legend of the 'fayre maiden' and the poem is beautiful.

We have just been to the local shop and saw an elderly man clutching flowers. My daughter was entranced by how sweet he looked with his bouquet and tried to imagine his wife's joy.
My husband is away in Dublin and the postman brought nothing in red envelopes for me or any of my daughters. They are all single at the moment and apparently have no admirers! So I have promised a chick-flick and a takeaway for tonight instead of romance!

Anonymous said...

A lovely romantic post Rosemary. I wanted to write an acrostic poem for today, but didn't give myself enough time. I was stuck on the very first letter V. Maybe next year!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Jean - I don't think we'll be doing anything special!

Thanks, Joanna - what a lovely romantic story about the old man! Your planned girls' evening sounds great.

Thanks, Maggie - an acrostic poem would be lovely. Hope you get it written!

Frances Garrood said...

Beautiful poem, and not too sentimental.

Red roses are lovely if they're the garden sort. But the supermarket/garage kind seem artificial, refuse to open, and smell of nothing. Sometimes I wonder whether they're real. Or am I doing something wrong? Sigh.

Teresa Ashby said...

Happy Valentine's Day, Rosemary - lovely post and what a beautiful poem x

Diana said...

I always learn so much from your blogs. :)

Great poem, too.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Frances - It's meaningful in a real way. I know what you mean about manufactured roses - garden flowers are always best.

Thank you, Teresa - hope yours was romantic enough!

That's kind, Diana - thank you!

Talli Roland said...

What a wonderful post. Hope you had a fantastic day!

Debs Carr said...

What a wonderful post. I love the poem too, beautiful.

Patsy said...

Aaaw, thanks for the flowers and poem!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Talli!

Thank you, Debs, glad you liked the poem!

You're welcome, Patsy!