herald

Monday 18 December 2017

A click in the letter box? This week it could mean a lover's letter.

A click in the letter box? This week it could mean a lover's letter.

In a cocktail of religion and paganism, the feast day we know as St Valentine's Day has survived. Thousands of poems have been written but I think the best is that of Wilfrid Blunt.

He was a handsome Englishman who in the late 19 Century devoted himself to the release of Egyptian patriots and condemning British atrocities in India.

He had become a well-known figure in the political world when he came on a visit to Ireland in the 1880s and was delighted to meet again with Lady Gregory, having met her in Egypt when she was 19 and whom he had an affair with.

Inevitably he became involved with the Land League, and ended up doing a hefty stretch. Lady Gregory used to visit him in Galway jail, and take back with her the proofs of Blunt's poems.

His last message to Lady Gregory sent shortly before he died was: "Tell the people of Ireland I'm ill and I am sorry not to be able to do more for them."

His sonnet, St Valentine's Day, provided ideal fodder for Wilfred Blunt. Get on your horse and take off with Wilfrid.

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