Amos Russel Wells (1862–1933) was an American scholar and Christian activist. He authored numerous works, including poetry, essays, young adult fiction and devotional writings.
In this post we’ll read his poem “Some Questions for Saint Valentine’s Day.” You can tell that Wells was a classicist: addressing Cupid rather than the venerable Christian saint and martyr, the poet employs some of the language reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman poetry (rosy June and dainty fingered May sound rather Homeric).
Wells makes a lot of the fact that St Valentine’s Day is celebrated in winter, during the shortest and bleakest month of the year. Is that supposed to be symbolic of the short and fleeting nature of love? Read on and find out!
Why Sir Cupid do you choose For your happy festival Just the bleakest month of all? Rosy June why don't you use, Or the dainty fingered May, Or some jocund August day? "It's because I want to show How against dear Love's sweet reign Harshest seasons rage in vain; Ice and sleet and blinding snow But the blustering captives are, Chained to her triumphal car." Then, Sir Cupid, prithee tell Why your merry day should fall In the shortest month of all? Is your wonder-working spell As distinctly fugitive As the month in which you live? "Stay in shame your slanderous tongue! It is I, and none but I, Make this month so quickly fly. Lovers' time is ever young; And this month, were I not here, Were the longest of the year!"
VOCABULARY EXERCISE FOR ESL STUDENTS
Find the words in the poem with the following meaning:
- merry, jolly, cheerful (adj.)
- small and delicate (adj.)
- partly frozen rain (n.)
- fierce and noisy (adj.)
- prisoner (n.)
- please (interj.)
- clearly, obviously (adv.)
- a runaway (n.)
- false, defamatory (adj.)
Click here to check your answers.