(written in 1975)

Rudolph Valentino lives
behind his sexy mustache
in a gone, gone world.

All day he plays the uke
upon a lake, in a canoe
for his fair lady Valentina

as she lies so languidly
in lacy petticoats,one finger
dipped into the drink
and gaily decorates the boat

for him. Her eyes make
treaties with the moon
as he rhymes ditty after ditty,
croons, spoons, swoons….

and then you come, my own,
my real rude Valentine
to capsize the canoe—

sans heart or flower
with a raw and heavy hand
you drown the song.

“Rhyme doesn’t pay,” you say,
you guffaw the scene to grey.
Love, O how you take
the breath away! My heart

must split in two:
one half must go to Rudolph,
only half can go to you.

58 responses »

  1. Were you grumpy ? – can you remember ? Stringer and I had been together only a year at this point; and I was more often grumpy with him back then than in the later years … πŸ™‚

    • I don’t think grumpy was part of my repertoire in those days, M-R. Obnoxious, yes, and a bit spacey, maybe. I know you remember that era of “anything goes”. Unlike your great friendship with Stringer, there were no later years with this Valentine, though I do occasionally wonder what became of him

  2. Beautiful illustration of an era where fantasy was reality in the movie theaters.Rudolph Valentino the Sheik will remain a legend of the silence era .Warm regards. Jalal

  3. Fascinating Cynthia: written in 1975, itself “a gone, gone time”, but taking us back to the 1920s. His singing would have been silent, unlike the guffaws of the eminently-present Valentine!

    • The past is fun to think about, isn’t it, Mary, and what it would be like—especially in advanced age—to meet up with those we once knew, but who have walked into the sunset never to be seen again.
      Speaking of again…it’s snowing here AGAIN…banks getting as high as an elephant’s eye.

      ( PS. I changed your “rhythm” to “rhyme”, which is what you said you meant πŸ™‚ )

      • Yes I have to agree, although what we’d probably find is that many would still be who they were – personalities and traits. I think few change from their base/foundation of personalities over the years. But to share some time and see what came of the many folks who are the threads of my past, yes I think that would be fun.

        I saw on the news yesterday that you all were expecting incredible amounts of snow again – now is the time when enough, is enough already. Did I tell you my daffodils are 4″+ high already – Spring is in the air!

        Thanks for the change ~ have a wonderful day.

      • Cynthia, just for you today – homemade roasted tomato soup w/basil and homemade artisan crusty bread (don’t forget the butter, as the warm will be right out of the oven). Just a little something to forget the snowy cold weather you can’t seem to get away from. Okay I’m off to paint or draw.

  4. Yes, the seventies, I remember them well: Cassini discovers Rhea, Racine’s IphigΓ©nie, Bacon’s Rebellion–what laughs we had. Oh, that’s the 1670s. Still, a marvelous time to be alive. And Rudolf Valentino was not even a twinkle in either Auguste or Louis LumiΓ¨re’s eye.

    • My Dear Prospero, you do get around, don’t you! One of the perks, I suspect, of your longitude. I would have loved to have hung around the court of Louis Quatorze with you guys and have Cassini calculate the ephemerides for my weekly horoscope. Although, when it comes to Racine, I. remember him from Sophomore French Lit.,, and I doubt I would still have the sitzfleish for a multi-act mythological play written totally in alexandrines. Age does take its toll—-but you wouldn’t know about that.

      • Getting around–it’s one of the burdens of omniscience, something that I bear with grace and humility (speaking as a megalomaniac– the only voice that seems to soothe the fits and starts of my gerontic circumambulations ).

        Saint Valentine’s Day is soon upon us and the age-old ritual of sublimating desire will be unleashed–like some sort of virus or hematological fever.

        • Ah…if only the sublimations were more sublime …

          Two valentinian memories from childhood:

          Dad used to refer to those bouquets of flowers you can easily pick up at the supermarket as “mad flowers”. (He always brought some to soften Mum when she was angry with him.)

          Mum, on the other hand, never liked receiving roses, “..because they just die.”

          Good early training for an anti-sentimentalist.

          • Roses die, unless the petals–oh that vaunted vermilion–are of silk or a good quality plastic. Hardcore unsentimentalists get good at rebutting weekend unsentimentalists.

            • Ah..but does vermiliΓ³n de plastique, or even vermiliΓ³n de soie smell as sweet?

              (And once, I kid you not, when visiting my adult home and seeing a vase of fresh, real roses on my table, her remark was: “those look so beautiful you’d think they were fake!”)

              Despite all early attempts to scramble my brain, today I still see clearly what you are saying, Prospero, and stand in awe of your unsentimentality. Happy Valentine’s!

              • My unsentimentality: just a pesky talent of mine (one of many, naturally). And speaking of talent, I see you are fondly, expertly, and redolently alluding to my Romeo and what’s-her-face. I’m honored. Such an original Valentine’s gift (much better than those boxes of assorted candy, which always seem to resemble little coffins)–not that I put much stock in such empty rituals…

  5. Ah, Cynthia – you were writing gems even then, back in the mid-70’s! I love this, of course. πŸ™‚ It brings to mind my summer of ’67 – and my own “Valentine” who rocked the boat – and the splitting of that heart into two (three maybe?) And I was literally in a canoe, out on a lake with this one. It wouldn’t have lasted, but oh – the memories! And the divided heart which finally came together – but not completely. I think the late 60’s and all the 70’s were one of those times that will forever be a part of us. Thank you for an enjoyable poem!

    • It’s fun to share generational memories and have some good laughs with those who were actually there. There are some among us, though, who never got over it, and take some kind of odd pleasure in being “a sixties person”. I encountered quite a few academic colleagues like that in so-called “higher” education…still with an aroma of Woodstock about them, still getting their ( now-grey) ponytails in a twist over whatever substitute for the Vietnam War they can cook up…they live in a sad time warp.. But I digress…glad you enjoyed the poem!

  6. *smiling very broadly* πŸ˜€ Excellent poem, especially written so long ago! I love the lines ‘and then you come, my own, my real rude Valentine to capsize the canoe’ – mm… I think I’ve met one of those capsizing men, more than one actually! πŸ˜‰ Fantasy is so much more controllable – and in some ways appealing.

    I remember my Grandmother (who’d be in her 100’s now if she was still alive) talking quite lovingly about her memories of Rudolph Valentino. I think he was one of idols to swoon over in her young girl days. It must have been amazing at that time, even without sound, watching those fascinating movies. I remember getting to see a lot of them in the 70’s, often Saturday morning TV. And of course Charlie Chaplin, and Laurel & Hardy – I loved those two, and still do. And now, I can watch them whenever I want on You Tube. Stop and start, play again – much better than 70’s TV! πŸ˜€

    • Oh those canoe capsizers! πŸ™‚ amazing, isn’t it, how not so long ago the audio and video possibilities which are now so taken for granted by us didn’t exist at all. And, as I mentioned to Jalal above, some great stars of silent movies lost their luster when “talkies” came along because they had such poor speaking voices. Now we can see and hear it all, in the comfort of our own homes, as often as we like. (I enjoy Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy too! In grammar school a classmate and I used to perform some of their typical routines. I was Stan Laurel. It was goofy fun) With so much electronic tech at our fingertips, we’d better hope someone doesn’t suddenly pull the plug! πŸ™‚

      • I went see Singing In The Rain at a cinema with my Dad many years ago, it was lovely to finally see it on a big screen. The reality for those silent stars that had terrible voices fading away really stayed in my mind after seeing that film. It must have been a real horror for them, not to mention the financial ruin. 😦

        That sounds great fun playing Stan Laurel, should have thought of that myself all those years ago! I always felt terribly sorry for poor Stan – not the brightest spark! πŸ˜‰ That is the only problem with this internet world, the plug does kind of get pulled a little here and there anyway, not good if you’re right in the middle of something!!

  7. This starts as such a romantic idyll, being broken by the capsized canoe and your broken heart.
    Very moving poetry Cynthia, and thank you for your follow! I shall enjoy reciprocating. ❀

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