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Feb 12 2010   2:55PM GMT

The first Valentine

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

“For this was on Seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh theere to chese his make…”

(For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate)

The first Valentine verse, above, was written by Geoffrey Chaucer, as part of his 700-line poem The Parliament of Fowles, circa 1380.

From the Virtual Museum of Canada:

Geoffrey Chaucer (1342/43–1400) brought together the imagery of blooming spring and the tradition that birds choose their mates in spring to describe the courtship of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. In The Parliament of Fowles Chaucer also chose Saint Valentine as a patron for that marriage, which is the first mention of Saint Valentine in a love poem.

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