James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

February 13

Saint Valentine’s Eve

By Ernest McGaffey (1861– )

FAIR maiden, thou didst wait for me;

I saw thee over leagues of snow.

Set forth the plumy cedar-tree,

Weave holly and the mistletoe—

Green holly with its berries red,

And let an ample board be spread;

Bring kisses and the elder wine

To usher in Saint Valentine.

Lift not again the flaxen skein

And put aside the spinning-wheel;

Such task this night I deem is vain

For hand so shapely, heart so leal.

Touch yonder ancient harpischord

And reap my praise as thy reward,

And let the winter back-log shine

In honor of Saint Valentine.

What sculptor carved thy lissom form?

From lilies tall has caught thy grace?

Thou, with a wavering, dusky storm

Of tresses blown about thy face—

Thy face, as some lone jewel rare

Framed deeply in its crown of hair.

Thy voice is music’s self divine

And well might charm Saint Valentine.

Look! far down the ashen skies

See how yon star descending slips.

Gray was it once as thy clear eyes;

Red, when it fell as thy curved lips.

Turn, turn again; the shadows fall,

And fancifully on the wall

The mistletoe and holly twine

To greet the good Saint Valentine.

The pale moon wanes, and I must go.

Up, up and speed the parting guest!

What if thy heart is chill as snow,

More bitter still is my unrest,

For I must fly who fain would wait.

Yea! fate is love, and love is fate.

Clasp hands and kiss, for thou art mine

And I am thy Saint Valentine.