Shakespeare at St. Valentine

A sample of St. Valentine words for cards, dinner date, any romantic occasionMany, or at least the overwhelming majority of St. Valentine traditionalists, will acquire one or more cards from sundry stationery stores or franchises. Nothing wrong, of course, except that the pre-printed messages on St. Valentine cards are often more soft than crisp, more sniveling than elegant and more ridiculous than romantic. All good grist, along with flowers and chocolate, for the money-making St. Valentine machinery.

But with cards, why not strive for independence? Following are a few random Shakespearean suggestions, some for hand-written messages and some for St. Valentine (more-or-less) related situations or occurrences.

Conscious of running the risk of shameless promotion, all suggestions in this article are extracted from “Your Daily Shakespeare – an Arsenal of Verbal Weapons to Drive Your Friends into Action and Your Enemies Into Despair.” The book is actually heavy, 3.5 pounds and close to 1400 pages printed in double columns, more than ten thousand entries. But there is no escape, if you wish to locate a cutting Shakespearean line for (almost) all events.

You can order the book with a virtual walk into the book store (in the menu line). And there is one added benefit of “Your Daily Shakespeare”, usually overlooked by buyers. If you cannot use it as a book, it doubles as a literary paperweight. Which, it has been said, was the use found by George W. Bush for the works of Shakespeare, available in the presidential library.

Enough of a preamble…. now to the words.

One of very many answers to “Do you like me?”
“I am so fond of you that I will not beteem
The winds of heaven
Visit your face too roughly”

If you sense that she has some doubts as to your reliability, given your somewhat turbulent past,
“Read not my blemishes in the world’s report:
I have not kept my square; but that to come
Shall all be done by the rule”
(Antony and Cleopatra)


“In truth, fair (name of lady), I am too fond,
And therefore thou mayst think my behavior light:
But trust me,
(name of lady), I’ll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange”
(Romeo and Juliet)

If she asks you whether you like her new make-up or similar,
“Your skin is as soft as sinews of the newborn babe” (Hamlet)

Patching up an argument – hence the reference to the thorn,
“… This thorn
Doth to our rose of youth belong:
Our blood to us, this to our blood is born;
It is the show and seal of nature’s truth,
Where love’s strong passion is impressed in youth .”
(All’s Well That Ends Well)

When asking for something,
“I conjure thee by your bright eyes,
By your high forehead and her scarlet lip,
By your fine foot, straight leg and quivering thigh
And the demesnes that there adjacent lie”
(As You Like It)
You may stop at the thigh, depending on your degree of familiarity with her.

On justifying your failed marriage(s),
“(I am) one that loved not wisely but too well” (Othello)
The statement may sound cryptic, but you can continue with whatever explanation you find appropriate.

On declaring love by way of a hypothetical dialog,
TRANIO I pray, sir, tell me, is it possible
That love should of a sudden take such hold?
LUCENTIO O Tranio, till I found it to be true,
I never thought it possible or likely”
(Taming of the Shrew)
It may work, especially if she is fond of Broadway musicals.

Undisputable love symptoms.
“Is whispering nothing?
Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses?
Kissing with inside lip? stopping the career
Of laughing with a sigh?– wishing clocks more swift?
Hours, minutes? noon, midnight?”
(Winter’s Tale)

Some ladies are skeptical about overly fervent declarations of love.
“… men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” (As You Like It)
This entry is intended as an aside, not as words for a card.

Confirming the strength of the relationship,
“And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony”
(Love’s Labours Lost)

When your date is an undocumented alien and you admit your inability to speak her language.
“I shall never move thee in (name of language), unless it be to laugh at me .” (King Henry V)

When you are ready to make your intentions clear with the undocumented alien lady, whose English, in turn, is tentative,
“… if you will love me soundly with your Azerbaijani heart, I will be glad to hear you confess it brokenly with your English tongue.” (King Henry V)
Change “Azerbaijan” to any other nationality applicable to your date.

Here is a classic,
“Being thy slave what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do till you require .”
(Son 57)

If she is afraid that your love is reduced due to age issues.
“Age cannot wither you, nor custom stale
Your infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetite they feed, but you make
Hungry, where most you satisfy.” (Antony and Cleopatra)

If she is upset with you, for whatever reason,
“How wonderful when angels are so angry.” (King Richard III)

At dinner tell the waiter to avoid garlic and onions in whatever fare is offered,
“…no onion, nor garlic, please, for we are to utter sweet breath.” (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Especially in a direct, spoken-exchange situation, be prepared to not being understood. I remember when, at a store counter, the (attractive) cashier lady asked me, “Cash or credit?”  Inattentively I replied,
“(I pay cash) as far as my coin would stretch; and, when it does not, I use my credit.” (King Henry IV, part 1)
Unimpressed, the girl said, “What?”
“Never mind, I replied, it’s Shakespeare, here is the card”. She smiled but it was easy to read her expression, “Odd guy”.

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