The First Valentine Poem, circa 1415

The First Valentine Poem, circa 1415

A Poem by Michael R. Burch

The first Valentine poem was written in 1415 by Charles d'Orleans, a truly great poet who is undervalued today.

The First Valentine Poem

Charles d’Orleans (1394-1465), a French royal, the grandchild of Charles V, and the Duke of Orleans, has been credited with writing the first Valentine card, in the form of a poem for his wife. Charles wrote the poem in 1415 at age 21, in the first year of his captivity while being held prisoner in the Tower of London after having been captured by the British at the Battle of Agincourt. The Battle of Agincourt forms the centerpiece of Shakespeare’s historical play Henry V, in which Charles appears as a character with a number of lines. At age 16, Charles had married the 11-year-old Bonne of Armagnac in a political alliance, which explains the age difference he mentions in his poem. (Coincidentally, I share his wife’s birthday, the 19th of February.) Unfortunately, Charles would be held prisoner for a quarter century and would never see his wife again, as she died before he was released. Why did Charles call his wife “Valentine”? Well, his mother’s name was Valentina Visconti ...

My Very Gentle Valentine
by Charles d’Orleans (c. 1394-1465)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My very gentle Valentine,
Alas, for me you were born too soon,
As I was born too late for you!
May God forgive my jailer
Who has kept me from you this entire year.
I am sick without your love, my dear,
My very gentle Valentine.

Keywords/Tags: Valentine, Valentine's Day, love, poem, poetry, poets, romance, romantic

Valentine Poems for the Ultimate Lovers: Mothers

Mother’s Smile
Michael R. Burch

There never was a fonder smile
than mother’s smile, no softer touch
than mother’s touch. So sleep awhile
and know she loves you more than “much.”

So more than “much,” much more than “all.”
Though tender words, these do not speak
of love at all, nor how we fall
and mother’s there, nor how we reach
from nightmares in the ticking night
and she is there to hold us tight.

There never was a stronger back
than father’s back, that held our weight
and lifted us, when we were small,
and bore us till we reached the gate,
then held our hands that first bright mile
till we could run, and did, and flew.
But, oh, a mother’s tender smile
will leap and follow after you!

Michael R. Burch

Your love is as delicate
as a butterfly cleaning its wings,
as soft as the predicate the hummingbird sings
to itself, gently murmuring

“Fly! Fly! Fly!”
Your love is the string
soaring kites untie.

This is another poem suitable for mothers, especially for those with children who are growing up and learning to fly on their own.

Sweet Poems for Sweethearts

Passionate One
Michael R. Burch

Love of my life,
light of my morning

arise, brightly dawning,
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence,
Passionate One.

don’t forget ...
Michael R. Burch
(after e. e. cummings)

don’t forget to remember
that Space is curved
(like your Heart)
and that even Light is bent
by your Gravity.

This may be a good Valentine poem for someone who "centers" a household or relationship with their love.

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
Michael R. Burch

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
the bees rise
in a dizzy circle of two.
Oh, when I’m with you,
I feel like kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ too!

I dedicated this Valentine's Day poem to the love of my life, but you are welcome to dedicate it to the love of yours.

The One True Poem
Michael R. Burch

Love was not meaningless ...
nor your embrace, nor your kiss.

And though every god proved a phantom,
still you were divine to your last dying atom ...

So that when you are gone
and, yea, not a word remains of this poem,

even so,
We were One.

The Poem of Poems
Michael R. Burch

This is my Poem of Poems, for you.
Every word ineluctably true:
I love you.

Sudden Shower
Michael R. Burch

The day’s eyes were blue
until you appeared
and they wept at your beauty.

This is a "rainy day" Valentine poem that might come in handy when the weather interferes with other plans.

Let Me Give Her Diamonds
Michael R. Burch

Let me give her diamonds
for my heart's
sharp edges.

Let me give her roses
for my soul's

Let me give her solace
for my words
of treason.

Let the flowering of love
outlast a winter

Let me give her books
for all my lack
of reason.

Let me give her candles
for my lack
of fire.

Let me kindle incense,
for our hearts

the breath-fanned
flaming perfume
of desire.

This is an "apology" poem that may come in handy when trying to make up, and perhaps make out!

© 2021 Michael R. Burch

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Added on February 15, 2021
Last Updated on February 15, 2021