If you’re looking for music to play this Valentine’s Day, forget the romantic classics, what you need is Mexico’s national anthem.
Okay, the music isn’t exactly something you can dance close to, and the lyrics are a bit inappropriate (“Let other nations’ banners be soaked in waves of blood”), but the story behind it is a perfect fit.
Francisco González Bocanegra was a young poet when the Mexican government launched a competition for an anthem in 1853.
He had no interest in entering. His days were filled with gazing at his fiancée, Pili, and writing her poems. Francisco was sure his words were so beautiful, they’d become known worldwide: men would read them to wives, boys use them to chat-up girls, even priests read them to congregations.
He didn’t have time to write a song for Mexico, he told Pili. Plus, Mexico had just lost half its territory to America. It was hardly a place to be romantic about.
But Pili believed that if anyone could write a poem for her country, it was Francisco. And so one day, she whispered in his ear at the kitchen table in her parents’ house, dragged him upstairs and along a corridor to a secluded bedroom.
There the couple paused at the door and Pili leaned up to Francisco, kissing him more passionately than she’d ever done. She reached to unbutton his shirt but then suddenly pushed him into the room, slammed the door shut and locked him in. “You can come out when you’ve written me an anthem,” she shouted, and went back downstairs.
Francisco looked around to find himself in the least romantic room imaginable; Pili had plastered it with paintings of Mexican military victories, of soldiers with bayonets and piles of dead Spaniards.
Four hours later, he slipped ten bloodthirsty verses under the door. They were chosen as the anthem within days.
I don’t have the faintest idea how long Francisco and Pili’s marriage lasted. But there’s a lesson here for you, dear readers; if any of you have someone you truly love, lock them in a room whenever you want something.*
* Please do not take this seriously!