Rabbit Trails: Second Saturday in February

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so I’ve chosen links that offer a more romantic rabbit trail than usual. 

First –  There is no question, that the letter written to Anne Elliot by Captain Frederick Wentworth, in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, must be counted among the most romantic letters ever penned. It is sincere, it is passionate, it offers forgiveness and love after years of painful separation.  It is not trite, it does not mention hair or eyes or body parts or anything else atrociously 21st century.  It is instead utterly believable and the love it offers is the eyes-wide-open sort that will bloom, and sparkle, and dance through the years ’til death.

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”


“But,” you say, “but that’s a fictional letter, no real man, especially a military man, would bare his soul on paper like that.” I offer this shorter, but no less beautiful, Love Letter from General George Washington.

Second – If you are one of those men, or women, who turn lily-livered at the thought of writing a letter, much less a romantic poem, well, there’s an app for that.  Seriously, the Best Love Letter Writer will draw your feelings out of your head in five minutes.  Sounds painful.  Pro-Flowers is also here to help with their Love Poetry Generator… I feel compelled to warn you that neither effort is likely to possess the power of Captain Wentworth’s letter, but it will probably be more than she (or he) was expecting.

Third –  Ella Fitzgerald’s velvety-voiced, luscious and unhurried recording of classic American standard, My Funny Valentine, by Lorenz Hart is one of the best.  Put her whole album on your Valentine’s Day playlist…

Fourth –  One of my favorite Valentines Day traditions is to pop a cork on a sparkling wine and sit in front of the fireplace and listen to music.  Mr. Garner is great at picking Best Buys. Here are the Top Ten Sparkling Wines from Total Wine.  We particularly like #4 Rondel Brut (and the bottle is so pretty!) Not in this list, another favorite of ours is Nino Franco Rustico.

Fifth –  So, you’ve picked up some bubbly, you’ve set up a Valentines playlist, you’ve written your love letter or love poem.  Don’t blow it by burying your face in social media. I continue to be horrified by the effect of social media, especially phones, on children, youth, and families. We’ve all seen it ~ kids and youth hunched over phones, utterly checked out from what’s going on around them.  Some of us have seen adults doing the same thing ~ at meetings, at dinner, at church.

While the obvious solution is to simply put the phone away, such an action requires those calling or texting to realize that they will not receive the speedy response to which they’ve become accustomed. Anyway, How to Be Loving in the Age of Twitter suggests that maybe for Valentine’s Day, you should put your phones away.

Sixth –  The Daughter and I are working our way through a collection of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – America’s premiere poet of the 19th century and the only American poet to have enjoyed a European following that matched his tremendous popularity in his native country. We are currently reading the Song of Hiawatha, and we found Part X Wooing of Hiawatha quite romantic, although The Daughter mentioned that a poem would be more than adequate, and a slaughtered deer was not necessary. I’ve excerpted just a few stanzas, and not the one about the deer. Click the link below to read all of Part X, or the link to librivox to listen to the entire work.

The Song of Hiawatha, Part X The Wooing of Hiawatha

“As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman;
Though she bends him, she obeys him,
Though she draws him, yet she follows;
Useless each without the other!”

and later:

Pleasant was the journey homeward!
All the birds sang loud and sweetly
Songs of happiness and heart’s-ease;
Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa,
“Happy are you, Hiawatha,
Having such a wife to love you!”
Sang the robin, the Opechee,”
Happy are you, Laughing Water,
Having such a noble husband!”

From the sky the sun benignant
Looked upon them through the branches,
Saying to them, “O my children,
Love is sunshine, hate is shadow,
Life is checkered shade and sunshine,
Rule by love, O Hiawatha!”

From the sky the moon looked at them,
Filled the lodge with mystic splendors,
Whispered to them, “O my children,
Day is restless, night is quiet,
Man imperious, woman feeble;
Half is mine, although I follow;
Rule by patience, Laughing Water!”

Read all of Part X Hiawatha’s Wooing.  
Listen to a Librivox recording.


The very romantic and beautifully photographed (by Todd and Candice Dailey) bronze statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, is cast from the original plaster work by Jacob Fjelde, and is situated by Minnehaha Creek in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis.  Read more about the work. 

Thank you for stopping by Garner Goings On ~   


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