Sunday, 15 February 2015

Valentine tradition!

Valentine Day celebration goes back many years. Already in the Medieval Ages the saint Sankt Valentine was celebrated. Nobody really know which Valentine is referred to, but the Catholic church started to celebrate a saint by that name, already in the 5th century. According to one of the several legends, Valentine was a christian living in Rome in the 3rd century. He was put in prison by emperor Claudius II, because he had ignored a law that forbade anyone to wed young couples. Before his execution he managed to smuggle a card to the prison keeper's daughter, whom he was in love with. According to legend this is the first Valentine card. He also is said to have picked flowers to give to the lovers that he wed, and from there comes this tradition.

During the Medieval times the Valentine day was a feast for young people in love, especially in France and England. There the custom of writing love letters was established. From 19th century and onwards there existed pre-printed Valentine cards. They were often decorated with silk and laces. The oldest Valentine card is from 1477 when Margery Brew sent a greeting to her beloved John Paston.

Classical love stories

Love is always worth attention, and in this time of love, I have looked at some famous love stories, from literature, and the real world. The first classical love story we find in the bible, and I suppose Adam and Eve has to be seen as the first love story ever. History has enriched ourselves with famous love stories like Cleopatra/Marcus Antonius, Lord Nelson/Mrs Hamilton, George Sand/Frédéric Chopin, Napoleon/Josephine, Marie and Pierre Curie, Queen Victoria/Prince Albert, Maria Callas/Aristoteles Onassis and Ingrid Bergman/Roberto Rossellini among a lot of others. Some ventured into death for each other, like Marie Vetsera and Austrian crown prince Rudolf.

In literature and film we also find a number of immortal love stories; Tristan/Isolde, Paris/Helena, Jane Eyre/Rochester, Elizabeth Bennet/Mr Darcy, Miss Julie/Jean, Anna Karenina/Prince Vronskij and Eliza/Professor Higgins. Some deserves a chapter of their own.

Romeo and Juliet

One of the most immortal love stories of all times. Their love took them to death. Shakespeare's drama has somehow become the archetype for immortal love.  

"O! she dot teach the torches to burn bright
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear."

"My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite."

”For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo”

Catherine and Heathcliff

One of my own favourites of immortal love stories is the one about Catherine and Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Their love is as wild and immortal as the wind pined moor where the story takes place.  

"He's more myself than I am. Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same." (Catherine)

"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger." (Catherine)

"My love for Linton is the the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nell, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." (Catherine)

"Two words would comprehend my future - death and hell - existence, after losing her would be hell." (Heathcliff)

"I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" (Heathcliff)

Scarlett and Rhett

Gone with the Wind is one of the greatest classics of love stories, and tells the tragic story about Scarlett and Rhett, who love each other, but not at the same time. Rhett Butler's classical end statement, 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn', was chosen by the American Film Institute to be the best film line ever. 

Scarlett: Rhett, how could you do this to me, and why should you go now that, after it's all over and I need you, why? Why? 
Rhett Butler: Why? Maybe it's because I've always had a weakness for lost causes, once they're really lost. Or maybe, maybe I'm ashamed of myself. Who knows?
Scarlett: Rhett, don't. I shall faint. 
Rhett Butler: I want you to faint. This is what you were meant for. None of the fools you've ever known have kissed you like this, have they? Your Charles, or your Frank, or your stupid Ashley.
Scarlett: I only know that I love you.
Rhett Butler: That’s your misfortune. 
Scarlett: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do? 
Rhett Butler: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. 

Ilsa and Rick

Casablanca, another classic film, where the two lovers, whose story takes place in the shadow of the Great War, are forced to leave each other for events they can not control. 

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine. (Rick)

Ilsa: Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake. 
Sam: I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa. 
Ilsa: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By." 
Sam: Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Ilsa. I'm a little rusty on it. 
Ilsa: I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum...  Sing it, Sam. 
Sam: You must remember this/A kiss is still a kiss/A sigh is just a sigh The fundamental things apply/As time goes by./And when two lovers woo,/ They still say, "I love you"/On that you can rely/No matter what the future brings-... 
Rick: Sam, I thought I told you never to play-... 

Ilsa: I can't fight it anymore. I ran away from you once. I can't do it again. Oh, I don't know what's right any longer. You have to think for both of us. For all of us. 
Rick: All right, I will. Here's looking at you, kid. 
Ilsa: I wish I didn't love you so much. 

Bella and Edward

One of the latest in the long line of immortal love stories, is the one between Bella and Edward in the Twilight Saga. Here we can really talk about immortal love, since the two of them are vampires. 

Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something. (Bella)

His fingers were ice-cold, like he’d been holding them in a snowdrift before class. But that wasn’t why I jerked my hand away so quickly. When he touched me, it stung my hand as if an electric current had passed through us. (Bella)

Do you truly believe that you care more for me than I do for you? (Edward)

You are my life. You’re the only thing it would hurt me to lose. (Bella)

Bella: Mostly I dream about being with you forever.
Edward: I will stay with you — isn’t that enough?
Bella: I love you more than everything else in the world combined. Isn’t that enough?
Edward: Yes, it is enough. Enough for forever.

...and a Valentine quote:

So are you going to be my Valentine? Since you didn’t get me a fifty-cent box of candy, it’s the least you can do.
Jacob Black, New Moon

Claire and Jamie

Another late addition to the list of immortal love stories. Claire and Jamie from the Outlander series. Claire is transferred from Scotland in the 1940 to the Scotland of 1743! There she meets Jamie and soon her need to go back to the 1940s vanish in the background. 

“When the day shall come that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you'-ye'll ken it was because I didna have time.” 

“You are my courage, as I am your conscience," he whispered. "You are my heart---and I your compassion. We are neither of us whole, alone. Do ye not know that, Sassenach?” 

“Your face is my heart Sassenach, and the love of you is my soul” 

Quotes for cards

Now it might be a little bit too late to send card, but maybe for next year, these quotes might inspire.  Somebody wrote: "I have been in love many times...always with you!" That is as good a start as it gets, I would say! Robert Browning said: "Grow old with me! The best is yet to be." Albert Einstein approached love in a scientific way: "Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love." Pablo Picasso thought: "Love is the greatest refreshment in life." Aerosmith will end with a quote on the practical dilemmas of love: "Falling in love is so hard on the knees."

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