Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


All You Need Is …

Happy Valentine’s Day

Print Email
Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell at the Grammys Sunday night.(Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

OK, so Paul’s new Valentine’s Day-themed song, the less said about it the better. And the reports that he converted for new wife Nancy Shevell remain unsubstantiated. But ever since the Aronofsky-Weisz split, whose picture were we going to use?

(Surely the most brilliant Jewish use of Valentine’s Day was Billy Wilder’s harnessing of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to kick off Some Like It Hot, a subversion of the comedic archetype not completed until we learn that, even when everyone lives happily every after, “Nobody’s perfect.” End aside.)

Anyway, today is not the official Jewish day of love: That would be Tu B’Av, which falls in late summer (August this year). But we can play along, and so for the sappy among you, after the jump are selections from one of the great love poems by a Jew: Karl Shapiro’s “V-Letter,” originally published, in a 1943 New Yorker (while Shapiro was stationed in the South Pacific) as “Love Letter (By V-Mail from Australia).” Happy Valentine’s Day!


I love you first because your face is fair,
Because your eyes Jewish and blue,
Set sweetly with the touch of foreignness
Above the cheekbones, stare rather than dream.
Often your countenance recalls a boy
Blue-eyed and small, whose silent mischief
Tortured his parents and compelled my hate
To wish his ugly death.
Because of this reminder, my soul’s trouble,
And for your face, so often beautiful,
I love you, wish you life.

I love you first because you wait, because
For your own sake, I cannot write
Beyond these words. I love you for these words
That sting and creep like insects and leave filth.
I love you for the poverty you cry
And I bend down with tears of steel
That melt your hand like wax, not for this war
The droplets shattering
Those candle-glowing fingers of my joy,
But for your name of agony, my love,
That cakes my mouth with salt. …

As groceries in a pantry gleam and smile
Because they are important weights
Bought with the metal minutes of your pay,
So do these hours stand in solid rows,
The dowry for a use in common life.
I love you first because your years
Lead to my matter-of-fact and simple death
Or to our open marriage,
And I pray nothing for my safety back,
Not even luck, because our love is whole
Whether I live or fail.

Earlier: Hot Wives Break Up With Prominent Nebbishes

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

All You Need Is …

Happy Valentine’s Day

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.