The World’s Most Catholic Valentine
Robert Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) was a Catholic convert, husband, father, man of letters, poet and faithful son of New Jersey. He died in World War I. He wrote this Valentine for his wife Aline. I challenge you to find a more Catholic Valentine.
A Blue Valentine
Right Reverend Bishop Valentinus,
Sometime of Interamna, which is called Ferni,
Now of the delightful Court of Heaven,
I respectfully salute you,
And I kiss your episcopal ring.
It is not, Monsignore,
The fragrant memory of your holy life,
Nor that of your shining and joyous martyrdom,
Which causes me now to address you.
But since this is your august festival, Monsignore,
It seems appropriate to me to state
According to a venerable and agreeable custom,
That I love a beautiful lady.
Her eyes, Monsignore,
Are so blue that they put lovely little blue reflections
On everything that she looks at,
Such as a wall
Or the moon
Or my heart.
It is like the light coming through blue stained glass,
Yet not quite like it,
For the blueness is not transparent,
Her soul’s light shines through,
But her soul cannot be seen.
It is something elusive, whimsical, tender, wanton, infantile, wise
She wears, Monsignore, a blue garment,
Made in the manner of the Japanese.
It is very blue —
I think that her eyes have made it more blue,
Sweetly staining it
As the pressure of her body has graciously given it form.
Loving her, Monsignore,
I love all her attributes;
But I believe
That even if I did not love her
I would love the blueness of her eyes,
And her blue garment, made in the manner of the Japanese.
I have never before troubled you with a request.
The saints whose ears I chiefly worry with my pleas
are the most exquisite and maternal Brigid,
Gallant Saint Stephen, who puts fire in my blood,
And your brother bishop, my patron,
The generous and jovial Saint Nicholas of Bari.
But, of your courtesy, Monsignore,
Do me this favour:
When you this morning make your way
To the Ivory Throne that bursts into bloom with roses
because of her who sits upon it,
When you come to pay your devoir to Our Lady,
I beg you, say to her:
“Madame, a poor poet, one of your singing servants yet on earth,
Has asked me to say that at this moment he is especially grateful to you
For wearing a blue gown.”
I have an article entitled “The Catholic Vision of Joyce Kilmer” coming in the next issue of The St. Austin Review.