valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day from William Shakespeare! This love sonnet is one of his greatest, not only eloquent and beautiful, but it speaks so wisely to the quality and temperament of true love.

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-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering 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 even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

What is love? A marriage of true minds. It never alters. The vagaries of life–tempests–will not shake it. It guides us, like a star guiding a vessel (a ‘bark’ is a boat). It’s timeless, not subject to hours and weeks. True love stays with us until the ends of our lives–the edge of doom. And the Poet attests that all this is true, or ‘I never writ’ and no man ever loved.

The image is of one of Shakespeare’s most successful romantic pairings–and certainly a pairing of true minds: Beatrice and Benedict from Much Ado About Nothing. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof from Joss Whedon’s 2012 film version.

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