In this age of emails and text messages, some of the romance is bleeding out of our interactions.
I refuse to refer to myself as a hopeless romantic. I prefer to define myself as an incurable romantic, and I have no intention of finding a cure for a part of my personality that leaves me charmed and enchanted by beauty, generosity and thoughtfulness.
People use the word romantic like it is a flaw in our character, synonymous with unrealistic or impractical. But the romantics of the world see the beauty and possibility in life. We’re the ones who believe in magic long after our peers have dismissed it as childish nonsense. We retain that purity of self even when it’s unpopular.
The truth is, few of us get our fill of the romance we need, particularly when we’re living the single life. Even coupled romantics often go without, especially when one’s partner doesn’t share that need.
So for all of us incurable romantics, here are excerpts from famous love letters to spark that sense of magic and wonder:
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 Fanny 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 have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving—I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you…
I would be martyr’d for my Religion—Love is my religion—I could die for that—I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet—You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist.
Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash.
We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other one wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.
But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. 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. I love you very much.
Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning.
It seems to me, to myself, that no man was ever before to any woman what you are to me—the fullness must be in proportion, you know, to the vacancy…and only I know what was behind—the long wilderness without the blossoming rose…and the capacity for happiness, like a black gaping hole, before this silver flooding. Is it wonderful that I should stand as in a dream, and disbelieve—not you—but my own fate?
Was ever any one taken suddenly from a lampless dungeon and placed upon the pinnacle of a mountain, without the head turning round and the heart turning faint, as mine do? And you love me more, you say? […] How shall I ever prove what my heart is to you? How will you ever see it as I feel it?
Leo Tolstoy to Valeria Arsenev.
I already love in you your beauty, but I am only beginning to love in you that which is eternal and ever previous—your heart, your soul. Beauty one could get to know and fall in love with in one hour and cease to love it as speedily; but the soul one must learn to know. Believe me, nothing on earth is given without labour, even love, the most beautiful and natural of feelings.
Eleanor Roosevelt to Lorena Hickok.
Ah, how good it was to hear your voice. It was so inadequate to try and tell you what it meant. Funny was that I couldn’t say je t’aime and je t’adore as I longed to do, but always remember that I am saying it, that I go to sleep thinking of you.
Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera.
Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or listen, or love. To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your great anguish, and within the very beating of your heart. All this madness, if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion. I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth. I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors, because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love.
Tsarina Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
Off you go again alone and it’s with a very heavy heart I part from you. No more kisses and tender caresses for ever so long—I want to bury myself in you, hold you tight in my arms, make you feel the intense love of mine.
You are my very life Sweetheart, and every separation gives such endless heartache… Goodbye my Angel, Husband of my heart I envy my flowers that will accompany you. I press you tightly to my breast, kiss every sweet place with tender love…
Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Darling—I love these velvet nights. I’ve never been able to decide… whether I love you most in the eternal classic half-lights where it blends with day or in the full religious fan-fare of mid-night or perhaps in the lux of noon. Anyway, I love you most and you ’phoned me just because you phoned me tonight—I walked on those telephone wires for two hours after holding your love like a parasol to balance me.
Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf
I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this—But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it.
May these words be of benefit to the incurable romantic in all of us.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Toby Israel