I’m a sucker for a great romance. Just last night, I sighed when married Olympic Skating couple, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim kissed at the end of their short program. I rewatch romantic scenes from TV and movies, or reread them in books. And of course, I like to write swoonworthy romantic scenes.
On Valentine’s Day, thoughts of love and devotion are expressed through gifts and a card or letter. Today, with email and text being the most common form of written expression, Valentine’s Day might be the only time people receive handwritten notes from an admirer. To get into the spirit of putting your emotions on paper, I thought I’d share excerpts of famous love letters.
My favorite love letter of all time is from fiction. It’s the letter Captain Wentworth writes to Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.
“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”
However, you don’t have to look to literature for love letters. Throughout history, men and women have been writing love letters. What’s more, because writing was so different, even just 50 years ago, real-life love letters have a beauty and depth that I’m not sure will be found when today’s love letters are viewed upon in the future.
But even with the beautiful language, many love letters of yore have an erotic element. Below are a few real-life love letters. The first section includes letters of deep love and devotion. Below that are a few filled with desire and lust.
Beethoven to his Immortal Beloved
Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, Be calm – love me – today –yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all–farewell. Oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.’
John Keats to Franny Brawne
My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again – my Life seems to stop there – I see no further. You have absorb’d me…I would be martyr’d for my Religion – Love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you…
Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Robert Browning
And now listen to me in turn. You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me — my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything….
Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash
You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence.’
Nathaniel Hawthorn to Sophie Peabody
But if I am worthy of it you will always love me; and if there be anything good and pure in me, it will be proved by my always loving you.
Abigail Adams to John Adams
…should I draw you the picture of my heart it would be what I hope you would still love though it contained nothing new. The early possession you obtained there, and the absolute power you have obtained over it, leaves not the smallest space unoccupied.
Here’s a few that might make you blush…
Napoleon writing to Josephine (Archive.org has a manuscript of Napoleon’s love letters)
I am going to bed with my heart full of your adorable image… I cannot wait to give you proofs of my ardent love… How happy I would be if I could assist you at your undressing, the little firm white breast, the adorable face, the hair tied up in a scarf a la creole. You know that I will never forget the little visits, you know, the little black forest… I kiss it a thousand times and wait impatiently for the moment I will be in it. To live within Josephine is to live in the Elysian fields. Kisses on your mouth, your eyes, your breast, everywhere, everywhere.
Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe
“I will kiss you and hold you close to me and sensational things will then happen. All sorts of slides, rollings, pitchings, rambunctiousness of every kind. And then I will sigh. And when you rest your head on my shoulder, then slowly I will get HUNGRY. I will come again to the kitchen, pretending you are not there and discover you again. And as you stand there cooking breakfast, I will kiss your neck and your back and the sweet cantaloupes of your rump and the backs of your knees and turn you about and kiss your breasts and the eggs will burn.”
Gustav Flaubert to Louise Colet
“I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy. I want to gorge yu [sic] with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die. I want you to be amazed by me, and to confess to yourself that you had never even dreamed of such transports… When you are old, I want you to recall those few hours, I want your dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them.”
Warren G. Harding to Carrie Fulton Phillips (note that Jerry was the pet name for his penis)
“Wish I could take you to Mount Jerry. Wonderful spot.”
Laurence Olivia to Vivien Leigh
“I woke up absolutely raging with desire for you my love … Oh dear God how I did want you. Perhaps you were stroking your darling self.”
“I am sitting naked with just my parts wrapped in your panties. My longing for you is so intense…I’m loving and adoring and want you so.”
James Joyce uses some choice erotic words that I don’t feel comfortable re-posting. If you like that sort of thing, do a search on it.
Do you think writing love letters (or regular letters for that matter) is a lost art? Have you written or do you write your thoughts of love and devotion to the person you admire?