Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne..

From The Parlement of Fowlys by Geoffrey Chaucer - image via Plantagenet

 A familiar line, penned by Geoffrey Chaucer as the opening lines of The Parliament of Fowls, written in 1382. Life is short - so much to learn, especially about love. Although Saint Valentine, the Christian martyr dates back to the fifth century, it is generally believed that Chaucer's work was the first to link St. Valentine with love, lovers and all things smoochy.

The poem states:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day (For this was on Saint Valentine's Day)
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make. (When every bird came there to choose his mate).

Unlikely, then that this was originally celebrated on 14th February - not usually the bird-mating season - but the poem clearly links the saint with love. And it stuck. Whilst to many now, it may seem like nothing more than commercial hype, specifically designed to get us to buy some over-priced card, box of chocolates, piece of jewellery or more to demonstrate our love to our chosen one, it would seem that this tradition - and our desire to learn the craft of love -  has seen excesses of sentimental expressions for many centuries.

From the Middle Ages on, through Shakespeare's drama, the poetry of John Donne (love him!) to the overwhelmingly sugary Victorian Age - St. Valentine's Day has been the day to think of our loved ones with more than usual attention. My own FR - resistant to advertising - swears he loves me with passion every day and I believe him.We rarely do more than apologise for not capitulating to marketing pressures, have a big hug and continue as normal.

This year, looking for themes on which to base my English teaching classes, I have combined two things - one being St. Valentine's Day - it's a good one for learning new vocabulary about emotions and feelings.
Last week, in my most difficult challenging class, we had a modicum of success in acting out 'The Little Gingerbread Man' - attention spans were less deficit for at least half our time together and some good work on pronunciation was made. So, building on this, I decided to make some gingerbread men to take with me this week.

 And yesterday, Romy and I set to and made both men and hearts (plus a butterfly and a couple of unidentified things.) So today, as a token of how very special everyone is, the children have set off to school with a gingerbread heart in their 'tuckbox'. And for FR, some of my gingerbread men have little hearts - just for today. He knows he has mine always.

Happy Valentine's Day - how do you spent it?  With lots of love, I hope.


  1. I find today a bit emotional...for various reasons....reading this has hit the spot....tears ( good tears) already. I'm sure you and yours will have a love filled day. Thanks for a powerful start to me day Annie. x

  2. I, of day !

  3. I like the idea of you saying 'me day', Janice! Loved your post too. Thanks and big hugs. Axxx

  4. An interesting post indeed. Kind of ties in with thoughts I have. You know that a flower is a very inexpensive way for a man to show a woman he loves her. What is an inexpensive way for a woman to show a man she loves him?
    Gingerbread men with hearts?
    Blessings to you and your's, Geoff.

  5. John Donne is my favourite! We had 'I wonder by my troth what thou & I did til we lov'd' read at our wedding. What I love about him is that he is romantic but not sentimental. Rather he is positively sexy. Have you read 'on my mistress going to bed'? Phew! Loved this post Annie. Happy Valentine's Day x

  6. What Karen said ... I'm another Donne fan. I married at 21 - seems like a looooong time ago - but I still love my hubby as much as ever and will be making hearts for him all day ... it's just a thing we do! The gingerbread men are brilliant :D

    Have a great Valentine's Day

  7. Thank you Geoff! I shall make more gingerbread men soon - and I think from now on, I shall always give them hearts! Ax

  8. Oh Karen and Annie - I am sure I understand exactly what you like about John Donne. He really does it for me in a big way. There's something so contemporary about him and yes, he's utterly sexy!

  9. Beautiful post, Annie and I love the gingerbread men with hearts. Another John Donne fan here, by the way. :-) DH and I are very like you and FR in refusing to give in to commercial pressure, but I've just sent him a rather nice e-card.....

  10. Hi Perpetua - I spent yesterday telling my Spanish students how old this tradition was and ended up feeling a bit mean for not making or sending FR a card... I never thought of an e-card! What a good idea. Hope you had a happy one. Axxx


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