With the approach of Valentine’s Day, it seems everyone is happy to tell you the best way to express your love and adoration for your partner. Most of the time it’s the traditional fare – flowers, chocolate, jewelry – and the essence of the most romantic holiday is lost. What about those who aren’t in love this Valentine’s Day? Where is the sympathy and understanding for the single and content, or the lonely and looking? While everyone else is telling you how to spend your Valentine’s Day, let us help you get over love altogether. One of the best literary explanations for how to kick that loving feeling, can be found in Ovid’s Art of Love. Included in this fine tome is one part dedicated to fixing a broken heart, Remedia Amoris, which has pretty much all the advice you would ever need on the subject. Comprised of sixteen parts, the Remedy of Love is given as doctor’s orders – a prescription for heartache and moving on. Translations are taken from A.S. Kline, and a link to his website is provided at the end of this post.
Take this bit, from Part II- Treat it Early: Fill your Time with War or Law
"Medicine requires the art of timing: given at the right time
Wine may help, at the wrong time it may harm.
Indeed you may even inflame and provoke the disease
By denying it, if it’s not applied at the proper moment.
So when you’re ready for my medical arts,
First ban idleness, on my advice."
Or this one, from Part X – Forget Her, and Don’t Be Alone
"You who love, beware lonely places, lonely places are harmful!
Why flee? You can be safer in a crowd.
You don’t need secrecy (secrecy nurtures passion):
In future it’s the crowd that will assist you.
If you’re alone, you’ll be sad, and the form of the girl you’ve left
Will be there before your eyes, so like herself.
Because of that, night’s sadder than the daylight:
Your crowd of friends missing, who might ease the gloom.
Don’t shun conversation, or let your door be closed,
Don’t hide your tearful face in the shadows."
And haven’t we all been here?
Part XIII – Get Rid of all Reminders
"Don’t re-read the letters you’ve kept from your sweet girl:
Re-reading letters shakes the steadfast heart.
Put them all in the fierce flames (you’ll hate to do it),
And say: ‘Let this be the funeral pyre for my passion.’
…Remembering reopens love, the wound’s newly re-opened:
Trifling errors damage the weak-minded.
Consider how, if you touch ashes that are almost dead
With sulphur, they revive, and a tall flame comes from nothing.
So, if you don’t avoid whatever reawakens love,
The flames will light again that once were quenched."
Hopefully, everyone can learn something from Ovid’s Remedy, and at the very least these words illustrate the commonality of heartbreak. The Redwood Library wishes everyone a great Valentine’s Day, however you choose to spend it!
Want to see more translations by author A.S. Kline? Click here: Poetry in Translation