Contrary to the tone of this post’s title, I’m not really that bitter about being single for (yet another) Valentine’s Day. In fact, I think I might prefer it. It’s a lot less work, that’s for sure. I fully intend to carry on the tradition that I’ve had for the past five years. If all goes according to plan, this is my rough sketch of the things I want to do tomorrow.
First off, I will read. Now, this is the most elongated/complicated of the day’s plans, but these are the people I plan to spend time with.
1) Marie de France
As part of Medieval Literature this semester, I am required to read The Lais of Marie de France. Marie de France was a female writer in the 1100’s who wrote medium-lengthed poems, or lays, that dealt with courtly
love. I’ve been reading them since I finished Beowulf a few days ago, and my favorite lay so far has been “Bisclavret: the Werewolf.” In this story, Bisclavret is a lord who disappears every so often for a few days at a time. His wife nags him about where he goes until he finally tells her, “Lady, I become a werewolf.” What’s more, if his clothes get taken while he is transformed, he can’t transform back. So his wife (who doesn’t love him and has a secret lover) nags him until he tells her where he leaves his clothes while he is a werewolf. The wife sends her lover to retrieve them, and suddenly there’s no more Bisclavret. While in his wolf-like shape, Bisclavret runs into the king in the woods. Because the animal appears tame, they bring him back to the castle (of course). After a year and a day (which is a important stretch of time in medieval society), the wife’s lover comes to the king’s castle, and Bisclavret the wolf attacks him. The people all bug out because their pet has never behaved that way to anyone, so they assume the wolf must have something against him. Then later, the wolf accompanies the king hunting in Bisclavret’s area. The king stops at the missing lord’s house, and when the wife comes out, Bisclavret the wolf lunges at her and bites off her nose. After they torture her, she finally admits that the wolf is Bisclavret. He’s given back his clothes, and when he transforms, he has his wife banished with her lover. You can tell her children to this day because they’ve all been born without noses. The moral of this story is that you should not double-cross your husband when he has done nothing wrong to you (although if he imprisons you in a tower, you’re free to take a lover and escape with him, as to be noted in Guigemar).
2) Geoffrey Chaucer
Yes, I will be spending time with the inventor of Valentine’s Day himself, notably his poem which started it all. The Parliament of Fowles, Chaucer’s poem about the celebration of romantic love, started all of the hubbub that we have today every February 14th. In this poem, all of the birds gather together to get married “for this was on seynt Valentynes day/whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make” (lines 309-310). We read it last year in Literature in English I (basically Medieval lit) and had a few class discussions about how the celebration of St. Valentine’s day as a holiday of love was in effect created by Geoffrey Chaucer by writing this poem. Recently I was reading about this theory and learned that the typical story of St. Valentine, who allegedly married Christians in the Roman empire when marriage was made illegal, has no historical backing. In fact, V-day’s patron may not have even existed. Valentine’s day is a farce created by everyone’s favorite 14th century cynic, Geoffrey Chaucer.
3) Jane Austen
So if I finish The Lais of Marie de France and The Parliament of Fowles, I will most likely start in on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. By now you’re probably dying to ask, “But Maggie, if you’re going to be single on Valentine’s Day, why would you put yourself through the emotional torture of reading all of this romantic stuff? I don’t understand!” Just because I don’t have a beau doesn’t mean I can’t treat myself and enjoy fine literary works. That said, I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility yet, so I hope I get time to start it tomorrow. I’ve only ever read Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Austen, both of which I absolutely loved when I read them.
Now, what’s going to accompany me and my literary dates for the day? Firstly, I have my “Heroic Minstrel Songs” playlist on iTunes, which includes songs like “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, “Martha My Dear” by the Beatles, “Me Enamora” by Juanes, and “Beautiful Love” by the Afters. All of the songs on this list (save maybe one or two really good ones that made it on for the heck of it) have love themes ranging from the early stages of love through breakup and getting back together. Three of the songs on the list are tragedies, with lovers who die of broken hearts (“En El Muelle de San Blas”, “Mariel y el Capitán”, and “The Lighthouse’s Tale”). All three of those songs take place along the sea… Anyway, the list has 41 songs on it and lasts about two and a half hours. I’ll have it playing while I read and consume…
Ice cream. I have both Edy’s Vanilla and Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean. A tub and a third of ice cream. I will demolish them throughout the course of the day, and then my soul will be satisfied.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. I prefer being single on Valentine’s Day. How about you?