Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

A Valentine from “Victor”

French Valentine Postcard2

Dear Readers,

Last year, I posted a series of “Valentines” from British authors.  This year, I am reading the masterpiece, Les Miserables, and I share these quotes from the book:

You may read about Victor Hugo, by clicking the link below.

Coram Deo,



Victor Hugo biography: Wikipedia

  • “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.  The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness.  We pardon to the extent that we love.  Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again and great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.  Loved for ourselves and even loved in spite of ourselves.” 


  • “To love or have loved is all-sufficing. We must not ask for more.  No other pearl is to be found in the shadow folds of  life.  To love is an accomplishment.” 


  • “He said to himself that he really had not suffered enough to deserve such radiant happiness, and he thanked God, in the depths of his soul, for having permitted that he, a miserable man, should be so loved by this innocent being.”  [Jean Valjean about Cossette]


  • “Love partakes of the soul itself.  It is of the same nature. Like it, it is a divine spark.  Like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable; it is the point of fire which is within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can limit and nothing can extinguish.” 


  • “What a grand thing it is to be loved!  What a far grander thing it is to love!  The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion.” 


  • “The soul falls into contemplation before this sanctuary, where the celebration of love is held.”


  • “I encountered in the street a penniless young man who was in love.  His hat was old and his jacket worn, with holes at the elbows; water soaked through his shoes, but starlight flooded through his soul.”


  • “You look at a star for two reasons, because it is luminous, and because it is impenetrable. You have beside you a sweeter radiance and a greater mystery, woman.” 




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A Valentine from “Currer”

On Love:

Love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the wellbeing of one’s companion.

If you don’t love another living soul, then you’ll never be disappointed.

On Life:

But life is a battle: may we all be enabled to fight it well!

I try to avoid looking forward or backward and try to keep looking upward.

Better to try all things and find all empty, than to try nothing and leave your life a blank.

On Happiness and Cheerfulness:

There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.

Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.

On Friendship:

If we would build on a sure foundation in friendship, we must love friends for their sake, rather than for our own.

Friendship, however, is a plant which cannot be forced — true friendship is not a gourd, springing up in a night and withering in a day.

On Forgiveness:

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.

On Courage:

I remembered that the real world was wide and that a varied field of hopes and fears,

of sensations and excitements, 

awaited those who had the courage to go forth into its expanse,

to seek real knowledge of life, amidst its perils.

“Currer Bell” was the nom de plume — not the nickname — of the British author, Charlotte Bronte.  

Charlotte Brontë (21 April 1816 – 31 March 1855)

was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards.

Margot’s Commentary:

Charlotte Bronte was an extraordinary woman of her time:  She published her book, Jane Eyre, under the pen name of “Mr. Currer Bell,” because of prejudice against woman authors.  Her two sisters also adopted nom de plumes:  Ann was “Acton Bell” and Emily was “Ellis Bell.”

Here is a question for you:  How would you describe the heroine of the book, Jane Eyre, in twenty-five words or less?  Here is my attempt:

“Jane is bravely willing to suffer any loss in life, in order to retain her integrity, honor, self-respect and independent spirit.”

Jane is a unique woman of virtue, substance, depth, wisdom,  intelligence, honesty, dignity, and imagination.  She understands and demonstrates, through her life, one of those most essential and vital truths about authentic, solid, and everlasting love between a man and a woman:  With clarity and without sentiment, she understands that love must be built upon a foundation of  mutual respect and trust between two equals.

Read the book, Jane Eyre, and read a biography on the author.  Discover the points at which their lives intersect.  Discover why Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels and why Charlotte Bronte is one of my favorite authors.

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A Valentine from “Will”

For Sunday Morning:

It is rather busy around our home on Sunday morning so I am posting this “Valentine” on Saturday night . . .

It will be easy for you to guess the full name of this famous British author, whose family gave him the nickname of “Will.”   He wrote 154 Love Sonnets, each of which would be perfect as the “sentiment” inside of a Hallmark card.  However, I only chose one for today.  Below the sonnet, I have included some keys to interpretation.

If you saw the film, “Sense & Sensibility,” with Emma Thompson, this sonnet will be very familiar to you.   Before the film [1994] I had never heard the poem:  When I heard Marianne [Kate Winslet] recite the sonnet, at the word, “bark,” the image of a dog floated before my eyes.  I hope at least one of my readers will assure me that I am not alone in this . . .

Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come.

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


Here are some clues to the interpretation of this sonnet, from The Top 500 Poems, Edited by William Harmon, Columbia Anthology:

“Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar claims to be as ‘constant as the northern star’ – that is, the Pole Star that seems not to move, while all other stars revolve around it and which can still be used in informal navigation.  Ink has been spilt over the reading of Line 8, which probably refers to the star [whose elevation or celestial altitude can be known by instruments] but may refer to the bark [ship].”

William Shakespeare (baptized 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.  He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon.”  His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. [Wikipedia]

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A Valentine from “Boz”

A loving heart is the truest wisdom.

Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.

To conceal anything, from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature.  I can never close my lips, where I have opened my heart.

 Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried, with all my heart, to do it well.  Whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely.   In great aims and in small, I have always thoroughly been in earnest.

A silent look of affection and regard, when all other eyes are turned coldly away — the consciousness that we possess the sympathy and affection of one being, when all others have deserted us — is a hold, a stay, a comfort, in the deepest affliction, which no wealth could purchase or power bestow.


Charles John Huffam Dickens [7 February 1812 — 9 June 1870] was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period.  Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature’s most iconic novels and characters.  [Wikipedia]

Here are two slightly different explanations for the “Boz” nickname of Charles Dickens:

In December 1833, Charles Dickens’ first literary effort was published.  It was a sketch or essay entitled, ‘A Dinner at Poplar Walk.’  Other sketches soon followed.

Dickens wanted a memorable way of identifying the sketches as his.  He finally picked a nickname for himself.  One of his favorite characters in Goldsmith’s ‘Vicar of Wakefield’ was called Moses.  Moses became ‘Boses,’ which became ‘Boz.’  In 1836, a collection of the essays, entitled  ‘Sketches by Boz,’ was published and was a great success.  []

Dickens said:  ” ‘Boz‘ was the nickname of a pet child, a younger brother, whom I had dubbed Moses, in honour of Goldsmith’s ‘Vicar of Wakefield,’ which, being pronounced ‘Bozes,’ got shortened into ‘Boz.’ “

The real name of the brother was Augustus.  Dickens’ own son was christened Charles Culliford Boz Dickens.

Dickens used a pen name for his first stories because he was, at the time, a serious political columnist, and the lightweight sketches and stories he first published might have damaged his credibility.”   []

Notes from Margot:

I assume that ‘Boz’ rhymes with ‘nose.’ 

For more information about Charles Dickens and other famous authors and their works of literature, see:  The creator of the blog, Dr. Elliot Engel, is entertaining AND scholarly.  Order books and CD’s, containing the lectures of Dr. Engel.


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A Valentine from “Gil”

On Love:

Why be something to everybody when you can be everything to somebody?

Life exists for the love of music or beautiful things.

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

To love means loving the unlovable – or it is no virtue at all.

Forgiveness, Faith, and Hope:

To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.

Faith means believing the unbelievable.

Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

On Charity and Hope: 

Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible.

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.

It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope.

The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse.

It is true that there is a thing crudely called charity, which means charity to the deserving poor; but charity to the deserving is not charity at all, but justice.

It is the undeserving who require it and the ideal either does not exist at all or exists wholly for them.

For practical purposes, it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man and the virtue either does not exist at all or begins to exist at that moment.

Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (29 May 187414 June 1936) was a British writer whose prolific and diverse output included works of philosophy, ontology, poetry, play writing, journalism, public lecturing and debating, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. He has been called the “prince of paradox.” [Wikipedia]

Note:  I do not know the preferred nickname for G. K. Chesterton but I hope he does not mind that I gave him one.   I thought “Gil” fitted him better than did “Bertie.”  I hope you agree.  [MBP]


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Two Valentines from “Tollers”

“Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes:

in the sense that almost certainly

(in a more perfect world,

or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one)

both partners might be found more suitable mates.

But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.”

~~J. R. R. Tolkein, “Tollers,”

from a letter to his son, Michael Tolkien, March 1941.

And here is an excerpt from a letter, written by J. R. R .Tolkien to his son, Christopher Tolkien.  In the letter, the father explains to the son why he wishes to include the name “Luthien” on the tombstone of his wife, Edith:

“She was (and knew she was) my Luthien.  I will say no more now.  

But I should like ere long to have a long talk with you.

For if, as seems probable, I shall never write any ordered biography — it is against my nature, which expresses itself about things deepest felt in the tales and myths — someone close in heart to me should know something  about things that records do not record:

The dreadful sufferings of our childhoods,  from which we rescued one another, but could not wholly heal wounds that later often proved disabling;  the sufferings that we endured after our love began — all of which (over and above personal weaknesses) might help to make pardonable, or understandable, the lapses and darknesses which at times marred our lives — and to explain how these never touched our depths nor dimmed the memories of our youthful love.

For ever (especially when alone) we still met in the woodland glade and went hand in hand many times to escape the shadow of imminent death before our last parting.”

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien,  [3 January 1892 — 2 September 1973]

He was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The HobbitThe Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

P. S.

My son-in-law, Daniel, was born on Tolkien’s birth day, 01.03.1985.

My Professor and I were married on the exact day and year of Tolkien’s death:  09.02.1973.

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A Valentine from “Jack”

What if Hallmark commissioned famous British authors to write the “sentiment” inside Valentine’s Day greeting cards?


We will start with this quote, from Clive Staples Lewis, called “Jack” by his friends and family:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.  

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.

Wrap it carefully ’round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.

Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.

It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

To love is to be vulnerable.” 

~~C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

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It Began with Roses

For St. Valentine’s Day

Dear Readers,

My husband, Stephen, and I poke fun at each other a lot, which is one of the secrets to a long and happy marriage:  Be willing and able to make fun of yourself first and then learn to make fun, kindly, of each other.  But I digress . . .

I have previously mentioned, in My Funny Valentine,  that my husband is a professor, a Ph. D. in Statistics, a consultant, and an INTP, according to the Myers-Briggs Temperament Type Indicator.  When I make fun of him, I sometimes refer to him as, “Mr. Excitement,” or “Dr. Adventure,” or I might say, “ I Married Romance.”  Yes, I tease him but the truth is that, over 40 years ago, our relationship began with Romance:

At the high school [circa 1970] which Stephen & I both attended, it was opening night for “How to Succeed In Business,” the Spring Musical:  I was performing in the musical and was backstage, in the Women’s Dressing Room, applying stage make-up, when one of my girlfriends popped her head in the door, telling me that a male visitor was waiting outside in the hallway.

I know exactly how Fanny Brice felt, when she opened her dressing room door and saw the elegant Nicky Arnstein for the first time:  For I was absolutely mesmerized and speechless, when I opened the door and the very handsome and dignified Stephen Payne appeared, with a gift:  a vase, with a dozen American Beauty, long-stemmed, red roses — for me!

In one moment, the [painful] memory of my Previous Boyfriend [PB] was swept away and the tonic, the cure, the panacea for that previous troubled relationship was Stephen with those red roses.

I recognized in an instant, “Oh, yes, this is for me!  This is what I want!  This is how I want to be treated!”  

And, the next day, when PB stopped by my house, the roses were on prominent display in the living room.  I ignored the flowers yet I suspected that PB  was eager to negotiate a way to surreptitiously read the card attached to the floral arrangement.  If he had been successful, he would have read, “Dear Margot:  To me, you are already a star, so best of luck on your opening night.  SincerelyStephen.”


I suppose it is possible  to order up and personally deliver flowers and yet still be a cad.  However, Stephen was a gentleman and he knew how to treat a young woman as a lady.  He invited me to attend the Junior-Senior Prom, when the event was still a month away.  [I admit that it was with suppressed glee that I said “No, thanks; I already have a date,” when PB invited me to the same prom, only one week before the event.]

Stephen always arrived early for each of our dates and came inside to greet my parents.  He respected my curfew and insisted on returning me home early, to visit, once again, with my parents.

One day, he heard me speak unkindly to my mother and, privately, he took me aside and told me, in no uncertain terms, that I should never do that again.  I was filled with shame because, of course, he was correct.

He treated each member of my family [my grandfather, father, mother, and siblings] with respect and taught me to do the same.

Stephen invited me to his home for family dinners, holidays, and special occasions.  He was respectful toward all the members of his family.  He admired his hard-working mother, a single parent.

Stephen and his two sisters lived with their mother, their grandmother, and their step-grandfather.  I liked them all immensely.  His family — the positive dynamics and the mutual respect –was a huge draw for me.

After all, a young man who, without embarrassment, kisses his mother good-night, in front of his girlfriend, is a rare gem, indeed.

Before graduation from high school, Stephen told me that he intended to marry me one day.  But that fall, I went to Florida State University [FSU] and he went to the University of California at Berkeley [UCB].

For three years, we stayed busy with our respective classes and jobs and visited each other during the summer and winter breaks. We kept in touch almost daily with letters [paper, pen, envelopes, stamps] and I still remember the excitement of opening up my mailbox at the FSU Post Office, to find inside a letter from Stephen.



I jumped up whenever I heard the sound of the buzzer in my dorm room, alerting me that I had a telephone call waiting.  I ran like a shot, down the hall, to sit in the “booth” and talk on the hall telephone, which I shared with about 24 other young women [but not at the same time!].  Stephen told me recently that those once-a-week long-distance phone calls cost him about $100 a month.

Three years later, in April, 1973, Stephen left UCB and moved to Tallahassee.  On September 2, 1973 we were married and moved into an efficiency apartment.  He transferred to FSU and we each graduated during the years 1974-1975.

And now we have been married for almost 40 years.

I am friends with many young women, in college and in graduate school, and this is what I tell them:  Do not fall in love with a selfish man.  It will most certainly lead to sorrow.  And I will remind them of a quote from C. S. Lewis:  “Selfish people are so difficult to love — for so little love flows out of them.”

Since my husband rarely reads this blog, I can safely tell you this:  It began with roses, it flourished into friendship, and matured into married love.

My statistician husband — generous, unselfish, kind, hard-working, respectful, and wise — does not observe  St. Valentine’s Day; yet, now you know the truth:  I Married Romance.

Coram Deo,



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My Funny Valentine


Dear Readers:

Today is St. Valentine’s Day, a day fraught with the potential for disappointment and disillusionment.  And that is a real shame — because it is a contrived and artificial Special Occasion, seeming to bear little relationship to its origins.  My question is:  Who was St. Valentine, anyway?  

Here is the result of my pitiful and paltry research:

“Until the late fourteenth century, St. Valentine, who suffered martyrdom on February 14, was remembered as just another of the church’s many saints.  In the early 1400’s, Valentine began to be associated with romantic love and courtship; and eventually, he became the patron of lovers.  Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with the exchange of cards and candy among schoolmates, friends, and family.  Society appears to have little interest in remembering St. Valentine himself, preferring to maintain an emphasis on romantic love.” *

My husband, Stephen, a Ph. D. in Statistics, is a retired university professor, software developer, and classic INTP [Myers-Briggs Personality Type].  He sees absolutely no correlation between Hallmark and Romance.  So, in advance, I know that today there will be no greeting cards, candy, flowers, jewelry, or dining out.  The day will pass without notice.

However, do not feel sorry for me.  On the contrary:  Try not to be envious of me when I tell you that, only last week, I received this love-note:

You see, Stephen often gets up at “dark-thirty” in the morning and goes to work before I stumble into the kitchen.  Last week, he left the above “love-note” for me, attached to the espresso maker, where he was positive I would find it.  I put on my glasses and examined the note more closely.

Wait a minute,” says I, “isn’t that the same love-note he left for me last week?”  For I had saved that love-note and attached it, with a magnet, to the refrigerator, where the ever-efficient Dr. Payne had spied it and re-employed it.

I returned the note to the refrigerator and placed it on top of a gold-foil heart-shaped doily.

You can have your fancy Hallmark Valentine . . . . 

 . . . . I’ve got my recycled love-note.


*Quote is from All Through the Day, All Through the Year:  Family Prayers and Celebrations, by David Batchelder.


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