Cedar Waxwing Bird.jpg

In one of the earliest of valentines by Geoffrey Chaucer, all the birds, the whole parliament of fowls, are gathered in the Garden of Love:

For this was on seynt Valentynes day
When every foul comyth there to chese his make

(For this was on Saint Valentine’s day
When every bird came there to choose his mate)

"By analogy, this was when human couples would, well, you know.

In truth, February 14th was actually a little early for birds to start mating in 14th century England. But Chaucer didn’t mind; nature was a mirror of Creation to be mined for its symbolism. He was writing a fable, using the “foules” to make moral and political points (the contractual engagement of Richard II and Anne had been a strictly diplomatic affair in the midst of the Hundred Years’ War). Of course, Chaucer was also basing this symbolism on the reality of springtime. This, after all, is when the birds do start to sing, pair off, and nest".

[From Bird Lore and the Valentine's Day Tradition in Chaucer's "Parlement of Foules" by Nicolai von Kreisler; The Chaucer Review, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Summer, 1968), pp. 60-64; Penn State University Press]

Art Credit:

Original Cedar Waxwing drawing by Dale Bruner (CO)

(20 x 16 Colored pencils on paper)

The above drawing is currently on display at the 

“UNCHAINED ARTISTS” exhibit in Mill Valley, CA 

through March 27, 2018