Old Valentine again has come –
With joy to most, tho’ grief to some;
And we who are young and gay should be,
Free to receive him merrily.
So I, most humble though I be,
Would raise my voice in praise of thee;
And bowing lowly at thy shrine,
Become thy faithful Valentine.
Oh! had I but the magic art,
To express the feelings of my heart,
I’d bid my muse to plume her wings,
To soar above all earthly things.
But he who would praise excellence,
That’s true, and free from all pretence;
Must raise his thoughts afar above,
All else on earth except true love.
And I with wings unused to soar;
To realms so far above the sky
Could offer but a tribute poor,
To her whose praise I place so high,
To do thee justice well I see,
Would need a favoured Poet’s pen;
And I, not brave, but rash, would be,
To make the attempt: what can I then:
I needs must leave the tack undone,
Until some far more favored son,
Of song, shall raise in after days
Aided by Jove to sing thy praise.
Yet lest I fail entirely,
To win the heart I love so well;
I’ll write a few more lines, & try,
My heart’s best wishes even to tell.
Twas love first taught the birds to use,
This day, their annual mates to choose;
And shall not we my lady fair,
Follow the sweet birds of the air?
In all excepting one respect,
I’ll let them teach me to select;
They keep their mates but one short year,
While I through life would hold mine dear.
Then, by the magic power of love,
Or by those beaming eyes of thine;
I promise faithful e’er to prove,
If you’ll make me your Valentine
Feb: 14th 1848
Valentine poem excerpted from Mary Maillard, ed., The Belles of Williamsburg: The Courtship Correspondence of Eliza Fisk Harwood and Tristrim Lowther Skinner 1839-1849 (January 2015). Available at Kindle, Kobo, iBooks.