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The Tale of St. Valentine

by Mary Stewart

I’ll take you back to centuries past the year is 269
And you will hear the sorry tale of good St. Valentine.

The emperor then was Claudius who fancied much more land
And so he needed many men to get the upper hand.

The young men, though, were well content, reluctant to enlist
They’d rather go off to the pub and there get truly inebriated.

So empie Claudie got quite cross and sent out a decree
That all the men who were not wed must come and bend the knee
And toddle off to war with him and be his war-time fodder
But if perchance they’d marri-ed, well then they needn’t bodder.

A spate of weddings followed and then Claudius went mad
He knew they’d made a fool of him and that he had been had
And so a further note went out, no weddings could take place
‘Cos Claudius the emperor had felt he had lost face.

The youngsters had to go and sign and do as they were bidden
For notices were everywhere, on tree and post and midden.

Now one young pair had jumped the gun and she a bairn did carry
They wet to Valentine the priest and begged that they could marry.

A secret rendezvous agreed, the wedding could be planned
The boy and girl just tiptoed in and met Val, hand in hand.

The deed was done, the pair were wed, and with the service over
The youngsters, oh so much in love, just felt they were in clover.

But then disaster, footsteps heard and soldiers did descend
They tried to grab the naughty pair but they sped round the bend
For they were young and nimble and of foot were fleet
They ran away with clas-ped hands, their union complete.

But Valentine, the goodly priest, well he was getting onner
He couldn’t move as fast as them and knew he was a goner.

Poor Valentine was overcome and thrown into a cell
The emperor, who was furious, said “Let him rot in hell”.

He felt he couldn’t contemplate a priest who’d disobeyed him.
He did a rant, he did a rave, and then he cruelly made him
Stay within a stinking cell and wait his deadly fate
And Claudius himself would choose the execution date.

A swell of indignation ran thro’ the young folks’ breasts
They sent Val food and notes and flowers and made him woolly vests
So he could be quite comfy until his d-day came
And he in turn forgave the pair who’d put him in the frame.

The gaoler at the prison ad a lovely fair-haired daughter
He let her visit Valentine, tho’ he knew he didn’t orter.

And when he knew his date was due Val dropped the girl a line
To thank her for her company – and signed it Valentine.

The date was fourteenth February and on that day he died
Proclaiming as he met his fate that love can’t be denied.

So on that one day every year he’s looking from above
On February the fourteenth
Priest Valley’s day of love.

Mary Stewart February 2016
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