The Obligatory St. Valentine’s Day Post

St. Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite of holidays, but I tolerate its existence for the chocolate it provides. Still, though, I think it’s important to take a day to celebrate those we love most–it doesn’t even have to be a significant other; it can (and should) include family and friends as well (although St. Valentine still wants his feast day back).

This year I decided to post something different for the occasion. I’m currently re-reading Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, and in the course of reading, I found a song that Quasimodo would occasionally sing, which Esmeralda would overhear as she fell asleep in the bell tower of Notre Dame. Since it’s been a couple of years since I’ve read Hunchback, I’d forgotten about the existence of this poem, but I realized I liked it and decided to share it here with you.

Look not at the face,
Young maiden, look at the heart:
The heart of a handsome man is often deformed.
There are hearts that cannot hold love for long.

Young maiden, the pine tree is not handsome
Nor fair like the poplar;
But it keeps its leaves in wintertime.

Alas, why say that?
Beauty loves only beauty–What is not fair ought not to be–
April turns her back on January.

Beauty is perfect;
Beauty can do all.
Beauty is the only thing that does not live by halves.
The raven flies only by day,
The owl, only by night,
The swan flies night and day.

“But, Emerald,” you say, “it doesn’t rhyme; how can you call it a poem?” Well, in the book Hugo comes out and says that the poem had no rhyme “such as a deaf man might make.” Quasimodo was deaf, which would explain why it didn’t rhyme. Of course, considering how this is a translation from French, I wouldn’t be surprised if the original did rhyme in French but can’t rhyme in English without completely reworking how the poem is structured.

I’m not sure why this captured my attention, especially since I’m not a poem person–maybe it has something to do with the fact that Victor Hugo was simply a good writer.

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2 Comments

Filed under Random Things of Randomness

2 responses to “The Obligatory St. Valentine’s Day Post

  1. I really like that poem. It has a great message to it. No wonder you were captured by it, ,especially around Valentine’s Day.

  2. HealthyEmily

    How lovely – and how true. Thanks for sharing it!

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