16 FEBRUARY 1991, Page 43





in Competition No. 1663 you were asked for a heartfelt Valentine.

There are two Saint Valentines, both very faint historical figures and neither even remotely connectable with our com- petition. As The Oxford Dictionary of Saints Gibbonianly remarks, 'The connec- tion of lovers with St Valentine, with all its consequences for the printing and retailing industries, is one of the less likely results of the cult of the Roman martyrs.' There was a large, sometimes painfully heartfelt en- try. In choosing the winners I went for sincerity allied with grace, permitting the wry smile but not the tongue in the cheek. The prize-takers printed below earn a

tenner each, and the bonus bottle of Chivas Regal 12-year-old de luxe blended whisky goes to Frank Mullen.

I never wore patched trousers, never learned To coax sweet strains from the harmonica, Never stood by a country window framed By such beguiling flowers — japonica?

I never saw you in a dress like that, With smudged face and lank ringlets hanging low, Holding in your right hand a jar of fat,


And smiling to be serenaded so, bought the card late, last man in the queue, Hence its irrelevance, but don't repine: What matters is the love it brings to you, Your faithful, if forgetful, Valentine.

(Frank Mullen) The days we share hold quiet breath, Niagara thinned to small Welsh fall; Our walks are rambling, like our talk; Brass bands give way to madrigal.

The great and gorgeous dreams we shared Harvest their small reality; Debates, world-shaking in their theme, Shrivel to gossip over tea.

Summer's less warm and skies less blue; Great sunflowers dwarf to celandine. And as our frames grow smaller too, Will you still be my Valentine?

(Vicky Cornford) I love you in your longjohns. I love you in your socks, But we may as well admit it: We're just two dear old crocks.

We have travelled the world together And the years have left their mark. Do your think from now, my darling, We ought to undress in the dark?

The wrinkles are here to stay But, as the bard reminds, 'Love is not love which alters When it alteration finds.' (Phyllis Fountain) Marry me, Mary, I long for your touch, The tenderness of your caress; Marry me, Mary, I love you so much That I'll share with you all I possess.

I've a dog and a cat and a budgerigar, An out-of-work son and an invalid Ma, So company plenty should tempt you my way, And I'm doing quite well on a chimney-sweep's pay.

Marry me, Mary, you're all I desire, And my goods shall be yours in my will; Marry me, Mary, I will not require That you give up your job at the till.

(Gina Williams) You were the Queen, I was Attendant Page, Walking on nightly with self-conscious stride, A youth who had a crush on you backstage. Then suddenly, in mid-career, you died. Bright star extinguished, how it all comes back! Only in dreams I ever made you mine; Today, an old man in a dirty mac Sends your indifferent ghost this Valentine.

(Stanley J. Sharpless) I'm what you will: a whetstone for your wit; Salt for your porridge; tonic for your gin; The story for your punch-line; shoes that fit; Change for the phone; gut for your violin.

While you're my compass point, my map's direction; The choreography when I'm the dancer; The index to the guide-book's vital section; A promise kept; a target hit; the answer; All argument's best side; dawn after night; Fire in the winter's hearth; the other glove; The riddle solved, the resolution right; My past; my end; my here-and-now; my love.

(D. A. Prince) Versify, distant Muse, my formless pain And gild the common malady with tropes; Let me not beg your midwife skills in vain: Enter the labour room locked in my brain, Nudging the weak-willed womb whdse burden gropes Towards the light. 0 guide it, and sustain Its wavering life, lest it retreat again, Nor e'er articulate my poor dumb hopes, Except to rouse her well-deserved disdain.

(Mary Holtby) Sadly I wander throughout the metropolis, Wishing that I were as powerful as Zeus; All my reward for approaching you properly's Courteous thanks that are worse than abuse.

Will you not see that this Valentine's beautiful, See that I'm not just proposing a drink? Please don't be cool with me, think me undutiful, Call me a lecher, or send me to clink.

Pictures of you fill my dreams and my memory; You are the limit of all my design; Shake me or kick me or rub me with emery, Only accept I'm a true Valentine.

(Paul Griffin)