Hearts and Flowers




Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. A time of hearts and flowers.

Hearts and Flowers is the name of a song composed in 1893 by Theodore Moses-Tobani. It was frequently played as an accompaniment to silent movies and was later associated with melodrama, In 1954 Johnny Desmond referred to it in the title of his hit “Play Me Hearts and Flowers (I want to Cry).” The song was also referenced in Noel Coward’s “Family Affair” and in Amazing Spider Man #45. A sweetly sentimental song, at least one actor requested that it be played for her in order for her to be able to generate real tears!  There are many versions of the song on the internet, and I think this one is especially engaging in a poignant sort of way. Check it out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnXOr8GvKcQ

People frequently give flowers to loved ones on Valentine’s Day. I have a potful of mixed spring bulbs coming into bloom in my living room — a very nice thing on a snowy February day. Flowers lift our spirits and are sometimes seen as a symbol of romantic love. Because of this, florists often advise people to “say it with flowers.”

Hearts and flowers, hearts and love. I’ve been thinking about hearts lately, not just because of Valentine’s Day but also because I have a few friends who have been dealing with matters of the heart that required surgery. Thankfully, heart surgery is being performed expertly in our hospitals. Our hearts are in good hands in this province.

The association between hearts and love has a long history going back centuries to the Greeks and Romans. Marilyn Yalmon’s book, The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love, traces that history from ancient times through to the appearance of the heart emoji in 1973. Yalmon concludes that “The continued global popularity of the heart as a symbol for love offers us a small dose of hope, serving as a reminder of the ageless assumption that love can save us.”:

https://ideas.ted.com/how-did-the-human-heart-become-associated-with-love-and-how-did-it-turn-into-the-shape-we-know-today/

At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw a great many hearts on doors, windows and balconies as a symbol to recognize the dedication of our health care workers. Lately, I have seen far fewer. We’re all getting accustomed to the pandemic and are less panicky about it than we were at the start. But, a year later, the nurses, doctors and other essential workers are still risking their health as they turn up for work every day.

There have been many reports of just how deeply nurses and doctors are feeling the strain of the pandemic as they keep battling the virus day after day, month after month. I think we’re all conscious of the sacrifices that are being made by all our essential workers, but I’d like to see a greater appreciation being kept at the forefront. It was good to read in the Toronto Star that a new initiative of appreciation was initiated two weeks ago in several Ontario communities:

Hearts for Healthcare Workers initiative comes to Tudor and Cashel | The Star

I’m looking at hearts differently these days because I think if there is one message that has come from the pandemic, it’s about love. I find myself thinking about Dylan Thomas’s poem, And Death Shall Have No Dominion: https://poets.org/poem/and-death-shall-have-no-dominion

P K Page, in Hologram (Brick Books, 1994), used Thomas’s poem as the basis for her wonderful glosa “Love’s Pavilion” and concludes

Though lovers be lost, love shall not.

Hand in hand we shall say Amen

And we shall dance and we shall sing

With Love, with Love for companion.

 

Page also refers to love at the end of her prescient story, Unless the Eye Catch Fire, when she says “We share one heart.”

 

That may be one of the lessons we are now learning.

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