"...Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is forward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you forward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband's foot:
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready; may it do him ease."
I've been reading some Valentine Blogs and wondering.
Everyone around here seem so romantically inclined that I started to think that Dan and I have been kind of restrained all these years. The thing is that although I love to get little reminders of Dan's love for me - I don't really need them. I know he loves me.
It's in every tangible moment of our lives together.
The brush of fingers; the meeting of eyes across a room; the smile of contentment; our concurrent reflexibility.
I do have my memories. Of course I do. I often think we've been together for so long that we are symbiotic. A joining of two souls.
One of the first Valentine Cards Dan sent me was of a caveman with a large club, tugging his girlfriend (who had a big smile on her face) along by her hair. I put it on my desk in my office, and all day people passing through could hardly contain themselves for laughter. My boss included. Strangely, I loved it. Maybe it was an indication of how things would be.
Over the years I've had cards with hearts and flowers, and cards that said he loved my dangly bits; big cards and small cards; pretty cards and funny cards.
And never once has he forgotten.
We don't celebrate in any particular way. These days we just seize the moment and make a decision at the time. We are often away on holiday, so that tends to take some of the decision-making out of our hands. Last year we drank cocktails in Barbados, and one year we celebrated with a walk up a hill in the Cotswolds in the rain.
Perhaps our most memorable Valentine's was cruising down the Nile and watching a string of water buffalo swimming alongside us as we passed - the early morning sun all pink and pearly as it rose over the desert.
This year we are moving house, so tomorrow will be a family lunch. There won't be many more Sunday lunches in this house, so each one is precious. We love to observe how our own offspring choose to celebrate Valentines. Both our son and our son-in-law are very romantic in their given ways. It is a joy to us.
And now I am off to bake my Valentine's Cake. It is a little custom when we are at home on February 14. I always bake a heart-shaped chocolate cake for everyone to enjoy. It doesn't last long.
Have a lovely Valentine's Day everyone! Enjoy it to the full, however you choose to celebrate it - quietly or noisily (giggle!).
And the prose? It is taken from Kate's speech near the end of The Taming of the Shrew - one of my favourite plays by William Shakespeare.