February 14, 2012

Hoffman: let me see the blush divine

Though the New York poet/editor Charles Fenno Hoffman never married, and seemingly never had a significant lover in his life, he did write a poetic tribute simply titled "St. Valentine's Day," published in 1842. The poem is more of a celebration of loving nature than loving another person and notes that the date is often a transitional tease between the end of winter and the beginning of spring:

The snow yet in the hollow lies;
   But, where by shelvy hill 'tis seen,
In myriad rills it trickling flies
   To lace the slope with threads of green;
Down in the meadow glancing wings
   Flit in the sunshine round a tree,
Where still a frosted apple clings,
   Regale for early Chickadee:

And chestnut buds begin to swell,
   Where flying squirrels peep to know
If from the tree-top, yet, 'twere well
   To sail on leathery wing below—
As gently shy and timorsome,
   Still holds she back who should be mine;
Come, Spring, to her coy bosom, come,
   And warm it toward her Valentine!

Come, Spring, and with the breeze that calls
   The wind-flower by the hill-side rill,
The soft breeze that by orchard walls
   First dallies with the daffodil—
Come lift the tresses from her cheek,
   And let me see the blush divine,
That mantling there, those curls would seek
   To hide from her true Valentine.

Come, Spring, and with the Red-breast's note,
   That tells of bridal tenderness,
Where on the breeze he'll warbling float
   Afar his nesting mate to bless—
Come, whisper, 'tis not always Spring!
   When birds may mate on every spray—
That April boughs cease blossoming!
   With love it is not always May!

Come, touch her heart with thy soft tale,
   Of tears within the floweret's cup,
Of fairest things that soonest fail,
   Of hopes we vainly garner up—
And while, that gentle heart to melt,
   Like mingled wreath, such tale you twine,
Whisper what lasting bliss were felt
   In lot shared with her Valentine.

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