Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I’m Composing this Cliché, Just For You

And here we are: in 2019 with all its potential just waiting to unfold. There will events beyond our control, dreams we will try to realise and memories to be made. That is where Waterfront Charters come into the picture. Part of our raison d’être is to add magic to special occasions: our range of boats make the exotic obtainable, and we can create adventure, romance, excitement and wonder at the raising of a sail or the push on a throttle.

It’s the romance we focus on now. Valentine’s Day is a few weeks away, and if ever there was a day that just begged for memories to be made, this is it. Although Valentine’s Day is not recognised as an official holiday in any country, it is celebrated by lovers throughout the world. There was no single St Valentine to give his name to the day; there were numerous early martyrs named Valentine, but two in particular who are honoured on February the 14th – Valentine of Rome (martyred in 269 CE) and Valentine of Terni (martyred in 273 CE.) Oddly, the are both buried near each other on the Via Flaminia, an ancient Roman Road leading from Rome over the Apennines to modern day Rimini on the Adriatic Sea. The path from martyrdom to patron saint of lovers is complicated, and has been embellished over time. Suffice it to say that Valentine of Rome was reputed to have written the first Valentine’s Day card on the eve of his death: it was addressed to the daughter of his jailer Asterius, who he had cured of blindness, and he signed it: “Your Valentine.”

But it’s English author Chaucer who is credited for adding the romantic touch to the day, when he wrote his poem ‘Parlement of Foules’:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make".

Sharp eyed readers will note that Chaucerian spelling was rather random; in modern parlance: “For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."

As with all historical speculation, nobody is too sure of the first provenance of the actual day in mid-February, but Valentine’s Day greetings date back to at least the 15th Century, in a surviving rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. Shakespeare made some rueful references to Valentine’s Day in Hamlet (and if it’s in Shakespeare you can consider it part of ongoing folklore); and Edmund Spenser in his 1590 epic poem ‘Faerie Queene’ started the ongoing Valentine doggerel with his lines:

“She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.”

(The spelling was improving with time, but still had some way to go…)

The ‘roses are red, violets are blue’ cliché is recorded as far back as 1784, in Gammer Gurton’s Garland, an anthology of English nursery rhymes.

And so it grew until today, with bad poetry combining with outpourings of emotion to create the modern version of Valentine’s Day; a day for hoping that the love of your life feels the same way about you, a day for celebrating long-lasting love, a day to rejoice in the love of another.

Waterfront Charters Valentine’s Day Champagne Cruises have become synonymous with the 14th February in Cape Town, and each year our yachts head out into the Atlantic on that romantic evening, loaded to the gunnels with happy couples. A sunset at sea, with lashings of sparkling wine, soft music and perfect company: what better way to show that special person how you feel. Add a complimentary red rose on boarding the luxury yacht, and the scene is set…

We suggest that you book early – it is an understandably popular cruise.

Gammy Gurton said it first, so let’s quote her in full:

"The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you."