This month it’s St Valentine’s Day once again, and so much has been written about romantic love, in stories, poetry and song, that you might think there is nothing left to say. But it seems that we never tire of the romantic dream, which after all makes the world go round. Love will never go out of fashion and it’s still the main subject of pop songs, with just about every angle covered, from love at first sight, to unrequited love, passion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Some of the famous song titles we have used in our crossword clues display disillusion with love: Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again and Where Did Our Love Go?
The phrase ‘Head over heels’ is a good example of how language can communicate meaning even when it makes no literal sense. It means to be ‘very excited’, however the reality of our heads being over our heels is a baffling one. After all, our head is normally over our heels. The phrase originated in the 14th century as ‘heels over head’, meaning doing a cartwheel or somersault. The first mention of it relating to love came in the 1830s where several newspaper articles (from both the US and Ireland) mention someone falling ‘head over heels’ for their partner.
Falling in love sounds physically dangerous. For a start, you’re falling, you’re going to hit the ground, you’re out of control. The ‘head over heels’ somersault doesn’t always go to plan. What about the phrase ‘you take my breath away’? So now you can’t breathe. ‘You make my heart skip a beat’ – now you’re in trouble – call the ambulance. ‘You set my heart on fire’ – call the fire brigade too. ‘I love you to pieces’ – now you’re disintegrating, is it really worth it?
Apparently it is, according to Charles Darwin: “Much love, much trial, but what an utter desert is life without love.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!