Poem – A Blue Valentine – Joyce Kilmer

(For Aline) 

Right Reverend Bishop Valentinus, 

Sometime of Interamna, which is called Ferni, 

Now of the delightful Court of Heaven, 

I respectfully salute you, 

I genuflect 

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, 

Only translucent. 

Her soul’s light shines through, 

But her soul cannot be seen. 

It is something elusive, whimsical, tender, wanton, infantile, wise 

And noble. 

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.”

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