Tag Archives: love

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.  [www.perryweb.com]

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.”   [www.Wiki.answers.com]

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: www.AuthorsInk.com.  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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Where Beauty and Grace Reside

One of the things I appreciate most about having adult children is the opportunity to learn from them, especially about thoughtful books and films.  A few years ago, our son, Garrett, introduced us to the sleeper film, The Painted Veil.  Ironically, only a few days later, our daughter, Haley, telephoned me from Texas and said, “You and Dad have to see this film!”  

During September, our wedding anniversary month, I think about weighty quotes, on the nature of love and marriage, that are substantial enough to ponder and to share with you, my Faithful Readers.  While re-watching The Painted Veil, I found them.

The Painted Veil film is based upon the same-titled novel, by W. Somerset Maugham [pronounced, “Mom”], English dramatist & novelist (1874 – 1965).  The title, in turn, is based upon the Sonnet, Lift Not the Painted Veil, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822.

Here is the sonnet, since it is very short:

Lift Not the Painted Veil

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread,—behind, lurk Fear
And Hope, twin Destinies; who ever weave
Their shadows, o’er the chasm, sightless and drear.
I knew one who had lifted it—he sought,
For his lost heart was tender, things to love,
But found them not, alas! nor was there aught
The world contains, the which he could approve.
Through the unheeding many he did move,
A splendour among shadows, a bright blot
Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove
For truth, and like the Preacher found it not.

Here is a very brief summary of the book:  The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham, 1925:

“A quiet, uncluttered, straightforward book in its rendition of the pitfalls of adultery. When Walter Fane discovers his wife Kitty’s involvement with another man, Charles, he takes her to Mei-tan-fu, a far off place in China during a cholera epidemic. Kitty, brought up never wanting, raised to marry well, shallow and ignorant of sacrifice and devotion discovers what and how it is to be compassionate as she faces unimaginable poverty, hardship and death in this ‘painted veil called life.’ ” [From A Thousand Books and Quotes, a blog]

I hope the following quotes [from the book] will encourage you to read the book and watch the film, in whichever order you prefer.  As for me, I watched the film first and  I read the book later and, as I recall, the two were slightly different.  Watch the film because it is visually  stunning.  Read the book because the language is masterful.

Proviso:  The film is achingly beautiful but it is intense.

The Painted Veil may challenge your assumptions about the nature of love and marriage.  It will certainly provide “food and drink” for hours of rich conversation with one, two, three, or more persons.

I would love to read your thoughts on the book and/or film.  Submit a Reply to me and we can converse!

Quotes from the book:

‘One cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one’s soul.’

‘Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.’

‘Beauty is also a gift of God, one of the most rare and precious, and we should be thankful if we are happy enough to possess it and thankful if we are not, that others possess it for our pleasure.’

‘I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.’

‘Each member of the orchestra plays his own little instrument, and what do you think he knows of the complicated harmonies which unroll themselves on the indifferent air? He is concerned only with his small share. But he knows that the symphony is lovely, and though there’s none to hear it, it is lovely still, and he is content to play his part.’

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