He who watches the mainstream news, or alternative sources, with videos showing beheadings by Isis, and the slaughter of civilians in Novorussia by the army of democracy, has reasons for pessimism. The news may prompt a mood where this goodly frame the earth seems a sterile promontory, and this most excellent canopy, the air, this brave overhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, may appear altogether but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
Still, as we are closing in on this year’s St. Valentine festivity – it is time for a respite from the recurrent considerations on the multifarious aspects of individual and collective madness. This blog will focus on some alternative (and of course Shakespearean) lines for a Valentine card, printed or electronic, with or without graphics.
The reference to printed cards is prompted by the sudden and rapid closures of so many Hallmark stores throughout the United States. Hallmark stores are the traditional purveyors of greeting cards of all types, including St Valentine’s.
For most effects there are dissenting theories on their causes. One theory has to do with Hallmark itself. Hallmark is a franchise – that is, by buying the franchise and the associated fixtures, the franchisee commits himself to sell only Hallmark products. If he does otherwise, he loses his status, as a reference point and target for advertising. But the range of Hallmark products, according to feedback from store owners, is too limited to enable the franchisee to make a living.
Another theory is that customer traffic to Hallmark-type outlets is often driven by the close presence of large retail stores, which also have been closing, all across the nation. There is a remarkable difference between the optimistic statistics about economic recovery and the economic reality, as perceived by the proverbial man in the street or, as Shakespeare would say, by the indifferent children of the earth.
But the main reason for reduced retail business (for stores big and small) is, of course, online purchasing.
For the St. Valentine’s card buyer, I do not think it is a major loss. Personally, I generally found the pre-printed, Valentine messages, depressingly syrupy, with sopping prose styled to appear poetry. Reminding me of the school-boy who, when asked what is poetry, replied that poetry is when the words do not reach the end of the line.
Nevertheless, given that there are a few Wordsworths in this world, Shakespeare is a reliable source. Here are some possible options, out of various dozens.
A few potential answers to the fatidic question, “Do you love me?”
“…she loves him with an enraged
affection: it is past the infinite of thought” (MAAN.2.3)
Suggestion. Answer to “Do you love me?” “…it is past the infinite of thought.”
In the play. Leonato referring to Beatrice’s presumed love for Benedick. ‘Presumed’ as Leonato’s statement is part of a ploy to cause Benedick and Beatrice to fall in love with each other.
“’Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love” (H.2.2)
Suggestion. ‘Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; But never doubt I love.
In the play. Polonius reads to King and Queen from a letter sent by Hamlet to Ophelia.
“I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.” (MAAN.4.1)
In the play. Beatrice to Benedick after they engage in a witty exchange on protestations of love.
“(Cupid), that wicked bastard of Venus, that was begot of thought, conceived of spleen, and born of madness… let him be judge how deep I am in love.” (AYLI.4.1)
Suggestion. Answer to ‘How much are you in love?’ or similar. You can shorten it to: ‘Cupid, let him be judge…’ – considering that “wicked bastard of Venus” are not words suitable to a romantic mood.
In the play. Orlando has left and Rosalind confides the depth of her passion for Orlando, who is equally besotted with Rosalind. Rosalind attempts to measure the depth of her love but on second thoughts she thinks that Cupid is better qualified for the measurement.
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite” (RJ.2.2)
Suggestion. Be prepared that, when you say that “your bounty is as boundless as the sea..” she may think you are a hyper-millionaire, which I hope you are. If not, you may add that you are referring to images.
In the play. Juliet from her window to Romeo in her garden.
ROSALIND. But are you so much in love as your rhymes speak?
ORLANDO. Neither rhyme nor reason can express so much. (AYLI.3.2)
Suggestion. Answer to ‘How much do you love me?’ – Neither rhyme nor reason can express so much
In the play. Rosalind (in disguise as a boy) exchanges some banter with Orlando.
CLEOPATRA. If it be love indeed, tell me how much
ANTONY. There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned (AC.1.1)
Suggestion. Particularly skillful answer if you are a love-economist and wish to hedge your bets.
In the play. Antony and Cleopatra in romantic conversation.
OLIVIA. How does he love me?
VIOLA. With admirations, with fertile tears, with groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire. (TN.1.5)
Suggestion. Suitable for the frequent gossip about other people’s romantic business. When someone doubts of the strength of his attachment, or similar. Answer ‘I am sure, he loves her with admirations …of fire.’ Also alternative answer to ‘How much do you love me?’ ‘With admiration… etc.’
In the play. During a time before pre-gay rights, Viola, dressed as Cesario, is sent by the Duke to woo Olivia on his behalf has declared the Duke’s love for her. Olivia asks a generic question.
“They are but beggars that can count their worth;
But my love is grown to such excess,
I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.” (RJ.2.6)
Suggestion. Use the quote in its entirety or just the last two lines. The first line can also be an answer to the question, ‘How much money do you make? The third line may leave the recipient somewhat puzzled. It means, ‘My love has made me so rich that I cannot even count half of my wealth.’ In other words, when it comes to love you belong to the 1%. See also ‘Financial Status. “Are you rich?” or “How much money do you make?”
In the play. Romeo has declared his overwhelming happiness at the shortly to be celebrated wedding with Juliet, and Juliet gives an account of her own love.
“And I am one that loves Bianca more
Than words can witness, or your thoughts can guess.” (TOS.2.1)
Suggestion. Answer to ‘How much do you love me?’ Change ‘Bianca’ to the name of the applicable lady.
In the play. Tranio, one of Bianca’s competing suitors, claims he loves her more than all the others.
“…I love you more than words can wield the matter
A love that makes breath poor and speech unable
Beyond all manner of so much I love you.” (KL.1.1)
Suggestion. Answer to ‘How much do you love me?’ Try it when you are not afraid of going overboard.
In the play. The scheming Goneril knows that the more outlandishly she declares her love towards her father Lear, the more land she will get as he retires and parses out his possessions.
“… that thou didst know how many fathom deep am I in love! But it cannot be sounded; my affection hath an unknown bottom, like the bay of Portugal” (AYLI.4.1)
Suggestion. Answer to “How much do you love me?” You may acquaint yourself beforehand as to the actual water depth of the Bay of Portugal, should you perceive that she has a penchant for statistics. You may shorten the first line to, ‘How much I am in love? It cannot be sounded… Portugal.’
In the play. Orlando has just left the scene and Rosalind expresses to Celia the depth of her passion for Orlando, who is just as much in love with Rosalind. ‘Fathom’ = a unit of measure equal to six feet, used to measure depth’.
…… Finally, should you go out to dinner with your Valentine, remember…
“…… eat no onion, nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath” (MND.4.2)
In the play. The actor Bottom addresses his amateur acting companions before the play begins.
AC = Antony and Cleopatra, AYLI = As You Like it, H = Hamlet, KL = King Lear, MAAN = Much Ado About Nothing, MND = Midsummer Night’s Dream, RJ = Romeo and Juliet.
NOTE. All entries extracted from the book “Your Daily Shakespeare” – see menu line for details