Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2010
ROMANTIC LITERATURE CAN INSPIRE YOUR OWN WORDS OF WOO FOR VALENTINE'S DAY
MANHATTAN -- Roses may be red and violets may be blue, but there are passages in literature that bring Valentine's Day inspiration, too, according to two Kansas State University professors of English.
Daniel Hoyt, assistant professor of English, said one poem that has been labeled a touchstone of romance is "Brown Penny" by William Butler Yeats.
"This poem helps us think about the cycles of love and the risk of it," Hoyt said. "Also the fun of love, the mooniness of it and all of love's complexities. After all, our speaker is tangled up by love and his beloved: He's 'looped in the loops of her hair.'"
Hoyt also recommends any of Jane Austen's novels, which he says are a continual wellspring for romantic imaginations.
Literature has always been a popular medium for expressing one's love, although the way it gets expressed has changed, according to Kimball Smith, associate professor of English. During the Middle Ages the rules of courtly love connected romance to feats of knightly valor, he said.
"Within the medieval ideas of courtly love, in order to win the affection of your beloved you might find yourself in battle with an ill-tempered giant, a fire-breathing dragon or a whole host of evil knights with blood in their eyes and swords in their hands," he said.
During the Middle Ages, Smith said love was largely about courage and courtesy; great outfits and smooth talking; beautiful women; and a great deal of swordplay.
Later in the Renaissance, tales of swordplay give way to some of the finest love poetry in the English language in the works of William Shakespeare, John Donne, Robert Herrick and many others, according to Smith.
Regardless of who's words are being spoken this Valentine's Day, Hoyt said nothing can compare to your own detailed words that display unique connections with a significant other.
"The written word remains such a powerful tool of memory and imagination, and I would urge people to exploit this," he said. "I'm suggesting people write love letters, and I mean real letters: not e-mails, not texts, not sticky notes. Sit down and write. Get real."
Some other passages of literature that are associated with romance, according to Smith, include:
* "Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate," by Shakespeare.
* "Dear love, for nothing less than thee would I have broke this happy dream," by Donne.
* "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," by Shakespeare.
* "Whenas in silks my Julia goes, then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows, the liquefaction of her clothes," by Herrick.