Love demands everything and that very justly – thus it is to me with you and you with me.
If only love letters weren’t a thing of the past…if only people still expressed their love for one another in words that were birthed in the soul…if only declarations of undying commitment were not reduced to emoji-laden texts (sometimes, not even amounting to 140 characters)…if only people understood the invaluable treasure a piece of one’s heart poured on paper is…if only…
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Since times immemorial, famous writers and artists have taken to the written word to express their feelings to their beloved…from a love lived at a distance to a love lived in secret, from a love that’d never be to a love the beloved shall never feel, history has seen love cover the entire spectrum of form and intensity. Needless to add, the process has birthed some of the greatest love letters we have ever seen. As 2016 rolls away, we wish to fill our pens anew with the ink of love- so that the coming year, too, is full of all things love! As a special gesture, we’ve collated some of the greatest love letters of all time in a short series to celebrate love even before the ball drops, hoping that they shall inspire you to pen a line or two for the one your heart beats for…
Suggested read: A letter to my future husband – things I’d do to for you always
Check out the greatest love letters of all time, right here:
1. Honore de Balzac to Polish Countess Ewelina Hanska
“MY BELOVED ANGEL,
I am nearly mad about you, as much as one can be mad: I cannot bring together two ideas that you do not interpose yourself between them. I can no longer think of nothing but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me. As for my heart, there you will always be — very much so. I have a delicious sense of you there. But my God, what is to become of me, if you have deprived me of my reason? This is a monomania which, this morning, terrifies me. I rise up every moment say to myself, ‘Come, I am going there!’ Then I sit down again, moved by the sense of my obligations. There is a frightful conflict. This is not a life. I have never before been like that. You have devoured everything. I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you. I whirl round in a delicious dream in which in one instant I live a thousand years. What a horrible situation! Overcome with love, feeling love in every pore, living only for love, and seeing oneself consumed by griefs, and caught in a thousand spiders’ threads. O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talked to you as if you were here. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful. Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself ‘She is mine!’ Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!”
2. Zelda Sayre to F. Scott Fitzgerald
Please, please don’t be so depressed – We’ll be married soon, and then these lonesome nights will be over forever – and until we are, I am loving, loving every tiny minute of the day and night – Maybe you won’t understand this, but sometimes when I miss you most, it’s hardest to write – and you always know when I make myself – Just the ache of it all – and I can’t tell you. If we were together, you’d feel how strong it is – you’re so sweet when you’re melancholy. I love your sad tenderness – when I’ve hurt you – That’s one of the reasons I could never be sorry for our quarrels – and they bothered you so – Those dear, dear little fusses, when I always tried so hard to make you kiss and forget –
Scott – there’s nothing in all the world I want but you – and your precious love – All the material things are nothing. I’d just hate to live a sordid, colorless existence – because you’d soon love me less – and less – and I’d do anything — anything — to keep your heart for my own – I don’t want to live – I want to love first, and live incidentally – Why don’t you feel that I’m waiting – I’ll come to you, Lover, when you’re ready — Don’t don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me — You’ve trusted me with the dearest heart of all — and it’s so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had —
How can you think deliberately of life without me – If you should die – O Darling – darling Scott – It’d be like going blind. I know I would, too, – I’d have no purpose in life – just a pretty – decoration. Don’t you think I was made for you? I feel like you had me ordered – and I was delivered to you – to be worn – I want you to wear me, like a watch – charm or a button hole boquet – to the world. And then, when we’re alone, I want to help – to know that you can’t do anything without me.
All my heart –
I love you”
3. John Keats to Fanny Brawne
“25 College Street
My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else – The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life – 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. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love – You note came in just here – I cannot be happier away from you – ‘T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion – I have shudder’d at it – I shudder no more – I could 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: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.” I can do that no more – the pain would be too great – My Love is selfish – I cannot breathe without you.
Yours for ever
Suggested read: Dear future me, don’t be surprised to receive this letter…
4. Beethoven to his mysterious beloved
Good morning, on July 7
Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us – I can live only wholly with you or not at all – Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits – Yes, unhappily it must be so – You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart – never – never – Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life – Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men – At my age I need a steady, quiet life – can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mailcoach goes every day – therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once – Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together – 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.
5. Napoleon Bonaparte to Joséphine de Beauharnais
Dec. 29, 1795
I awake all filled with you. Your image and the intoxicating pleasures of last night, allow my senses no rest.
Sweet and matchless Josephine, how strangely you work upon my heart.
Are you angry with me? Are you unhappy? Are you upset?
My soul is broken with grief and my love for you forbids repose. But how can I rest any more, when I yield to the feeling that masters my inmost self, when I quaff from your lips and from your heart a scorching flame?
Yes! One night has taught me how far your portrait falls short of yourself!
You start at midday: in three hours I shall see you again.
Till then, a thousand kisses, mio dolce amor! but give me none back for they set my blood on fire.
6. 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 defenses. And I don’t really resent it.
However I won’t bore you with any more.
We have re-started, and the train is shaky again. I shall have to write at the stations – which are fortunately many across the Lombard plain.
The stations were many, but I didn’t bargain for the Orient Express not stopping at them. And here we are at Venice for ten minutes only, — a wretched time in which to try and write. No time to buy an Italian stamp even, so this will have to go from Trieste.
The waterfalls in Switzerland were frozen into solid iridescent curtains of ice, hanging over the rock; so lovely. And Italy all blanketed in snow.
We’re going to start again. I shall have to wait till Trieste tomorrow morning. Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.”
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7. Franz Kafka to Milena Jesenka
“No, Milena, I beg you once again to invent another possibility for my writing to you. You mustn’t go to the post office in vain, even your little postman — who is he? — mustn’t do it, nor should even the postmistress be asked unnecessarily.
If you can find no other possibility, then one must put up with it, but at least make a little effort to find one.
Last night I dreamed about you. What happened in detail I can hardly remember, all I know is that we kept merging into one another. I was you, you were me. Finally you somehow caught fire.
Remembering that one extinguished fire with clothing, I took an old coat and beat you with it.
But again the transmutations began and it went so far that you were no longer even there, instead it was I who was on fire and it was also I who beat the fire with the coat.
But the beating didn’t help and it only confirmed my old fear that such things can’t extinguish a fire.
In the meantime, however, the fire brigade arrived and somehow you were saved.
But you were different from before, spectral, as though drawn with chalk against the dark, and you fell, lifeless or perhaps having fainted from joy at having been saved, into my arms.
But here too the uncertainty of transmutability entered; perhaps it was I who fell into someone’s arms.”
8. Lord Byron to Teresa Guiccioili
“My dearest Teresa,
I have read this book in your garden;–my love, you were absent, or else I could not have read it. It is a favourite book of yours, and the writer was a friend of mine. You will not understand these English words, and others will not understand them,–which is the reason I have not scrawled them in Italian. But you will recognize the handwriting of him who passionately loved you, and you will divine that, over a book which was yours, he could only think of love.
In that word, beautiful in all languages, but most so in yours–Amor mio–is comprised my existence here and hereafter. I feel I exist here, and I feel I shall exist hereafter,–to what purpose you will decide; my destiny rests with you, and you are a woman, eighteen years of age, and two out of a convent. I love you, and you love me,–at least, you say so, and act as if you did so, which last is a great consolation in all events.
But I more than love you, and cannot cease to love you. Think of me, sometimes, when the Alps and ocean divide us, – but they never will, unless you wish it.”
9. 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.
Suggested read: 8 unexpected pleasures of writing a love letter to your beloved
10. And Napoleon Bonaparte to Joséphine de Beauharnais (again- because who’d have thought Napoleon could express his love so…)
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.
Those are out top ten picks from a large selection…is your favorite on it? Tell us which, among these, do you like best? Or is there another that speaks to your soul better? There’s a comments section right below.
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