Ah, Valentine’s Day. The holiday when hopeless romantics – moved by love and panic – bust out candies, candles and cards filled with sweet talk for our significant others, crushes and flames.

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

The holiday when hopeless romantics – moved by love and panic – bust out candies, candles and cards filled with sweet talk for our significant others, crushes and flames.

Yes, Romeos and Juliets. Chill the Champagne and stop and smell the flowers – for Feb. 14 is a national day woo your true love.

Because love is like oxygen. You can’t buy it. It is a many splendored thing, and if you abuse it you’re gonna lose it.

It has been described as a “battlefield” and other B-words. According to popular lyrics, love hurts, and occasionally stinks.

It can strike under the boardwalk, on Blueberry Hill or in an elevator. It can feel like a rollercoaster. And it makes the world go round. It has even been suggested that love is all you need.

Certainly it has inspired words of wisdom (and advice for the lovelorn) from history’s greatest hearts and minds.

Jesus suggested I love my neighbor, but turns out I only liked my neighbor as a friend.

Next we check in with Gandhi. After all, throughout the span of humanity, who looks more dapper in a diaper than Mahatma and Cupid?

Throughout the span of humanity, nobody has looked more dapper in a diaper than Gandhi and Cupid.

“Where there is love there is life,” said he.

Ah, leave it to Gandhi. So deep and yet so sexy.

However, some have expressed a more cynical take.

For example, Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher/bon vivant, let it rip from the hip when he said: “Love is a serious mental disease.”*

(*Full disclosure: I got these “quotes” from the “Internet” and did not actually witness nor hear the speakers make the comments attributed to them herein.)

But for true Valentine’s Day cynicism, you’ve gotta go straight to early 19th century American man of letters, H.L. Mencken.

“Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence,” said he, adding, “Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop.”

“Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species.” Ouch! There’s a witty love tap from British writer W. Somerset Maugham.

“A pair of powerful spectacles has sometimes sufficed to cure a person in love.” Boom! Friedrich Nietzsche weighs in with a twist on the old “he/she so ugly” joke.

Mencken, Maugham and Nietzsche. These are gentlemen who, history has shown, did not do particularly well on Valentine’s Day.

As someone who is partial to the humorous side of life, I often seek wise counsel from the wisecrack community.

“Love thy neighbor — and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier,” said Mae West, the sharp-tongued silver screen philosopher/sex symbol.

“You can’t blame gravity for falling in love,” said smoldering Nobel Prize comic Albert Einstein, admitting that physics cannot explain why people get physical.

“Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who’ll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you’re in the wrong house, that’s what it means.” Henny Youngman, what can I say? Ya still got it, buddy.

Comedy queen Lily Tomlin sums up the madness, the rapture, the confusion, the sheer inscrutability of love with her Zen-like observation: “If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question?”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., noted 1960s love doctor hailed for his famous “I Had a Smokin’ Hot Dream” speech, once observed: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Can’t argue with that. And don’t let the haters tell you that hate is the new love.

Take it from one of ancient Rome’s pre-eminent poets, who died at age 50 in the year 19 B.C. (Before Chocolate) and is said to have been the Austin Powers of his time.

“Love conquers all,” said the 40-year-old Virgil.

Yes, and it is some powerful stuff. So observed the old-school Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses.”

Let’s conclude with words of wisdom from a glamorous Hollywood movie star and a humble cartoonist.

“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other,” said Audrey Hepburn.

“All you need is love,” said Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz. “But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

John Breneman writes for the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald.