To renounce your individuality completely, to see with another’s eyes, to hear with another’s ears, to be two, and yet, but one, to so melt and mingle that you no longer know you are you or another, to constantly absorb and constantly radiate, to double your personality in bestowing it – that is love” – Theophile Gauter.
“Few things”, said Alain, a chronic romantic; “can rival stumbling bleary-eyed on the morning mail and finding a letter bearing the handwriting of your beloved. I imagine tearing open the envelope and being caressed by a flow of prose, full of tender compliments, unambiguous sentiment and courageous displays of affection. He misses you; he can think of nothing else or no one else but you. He stumbles to find the right words. He could never bring himself to say it before, but yes, you are his flower, his Venus, his honey pie. He longs to hold you in his arms to kiss the nape of your neck and caress your eye-brows till the end of time…”
My God! Can this be the same tongue tied character who yesterday would rather have climbed Everest than say, “I missed you?” Who would have thought that beneath this exterior lurked a most passionate and sensual wordsmith?
It’s St. Valentine’s season once again dear readers. Yes, romance ought to be in the air. This hasn’t been a particularly happy year so far. What with the aftermath of political and non-political shenanigans, the ASUU six-month strike actions and your stress over how you’re going to pay that huge over draft you wheedled but of your disapproving bank manager to pay yet another batch of school fees? But optimistic we should be and the year is not ended yet. Who knows what pleasant surprise these adventures that are our leaders have up their sleeves for us?
So cheer up then! I’ve gone through my archives with a tooth comb to bring you few of the best passionate letters that spanned three centuries. So, sit back and enjoy them! Should take your mind off the seething rage you now feel!
Remember the French warrior, Napoleon Bonaparte and his Waterloo fiasco? Beneath his warring heart apparently beat a very romantic and passionate one: In 1776, he wrote the love of his life, Josephine: “I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you; I have not drunk a single cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain separated from the moving spirit of my life. In the midst of my cities, whether I’m at the head of my, army or inspecting the camps, my beloved Josephine stands alone in my heart, occupies my mind, fills my thoughts. If am moving away from you with the speed of the Rhone torrent, it is only that I may see you again more quickly.
“Dear Nora”, wrote James Joyce, the author of classics like Ulysses and The Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, in 1904: “I came in at half past eleven, since then I have been sitting in an easy chair like a fool. I could do nothing. I hear nothing but your voice… I am like a fool, hearing you call me “dear”.
“When I am with you, I leave aside my contemptuous, suspicious nature. I wish I felt your head on my shoulder. I think I will go to bed…”
Zelda Sayre, fiancé of Scott Fitzgeralf wrote in 1919 before they got married:
“Sweetheart, please don’t be so depressed. We’ll be married soon and then these lonesome nights will be over for ever – Scott, there’s nothing in all the world I want but you and your precious love… I would do anything to keep your heart for my own. I don’t want to live, I want to love first, and live incidentally. Don’t ever think of the things you can’t give me; you have trusted me with the dearest heart of all and it is so damn much more than anybody else in all the world has ever had…”
Franz Liszi, whose lover Marie d’ Agoult, left her husband to elope with him wrote her this:
“My heart overflows with emotion and joy! I do not know what heavenly languor, what infinite pleasure permeates it and burns me up. It is as if I have never loved!!!. Tell me, whence these uncanny disturbances spring, these inexpressible foretastes of delight, these divine tremors of love… All this can only be, is surely nothing less than a gentle ray screaming from your fiery soul, or else, some secret pregnant tear-drop which you have long since left in my breast.
“Marie! Marie! Oh, let me repeat that name a hundred times over; for three days now, it has lived within me, oppressed me, set me afire … Oh! Leave me free, to rave in my delirium. Drab, tame, constricting reality is no longer enough for me. We must live our life to the full, living and suffering to extremes! This is to be! To be!!!”
Another literary giant, John Keats in 1819, wrote his heartthrob, Fanny Brawne: “Even when I’m not thinking of you, I receive your influence and tenderer nature stealing upon me. All my thoughts, my unhappiest days and nights have I found not at all cured of my love of beauty, but made it so intense that I am miserable that you are not with me or rather I breathe in that dull sort of patience that cannot be called life. I never knew before what such a love as you have made me feel was; I did not believe in it, my fancy was afraid of it lest it should bum me up… I would never see nothing but pleasure in your eyes, love on your tips, and happiness in your steps…”
Our last letter is from an unknown housewife who could compete with the best wordsmith any day. She wrote her husband. “It’s been fifteen years now since I became your wife. I never got a diamond, but I got a wonderful life. I’ve become a wealthy woman, have riches without price. You’ve given me beautiful children, not just once, not twice, but thrice.
“You’re there to boost my ego, and help my confidence grow. I’ve become a better person, with your love for me, I know. Yes, I’m a wealthy woman. I’ve riches beyond measure. I don’t need valentine present. You are my greatest treasure”.
Still deliberating on St. Valentine’s Day, do you know that Valentine card originated through St. Valentine, a third-century Christian who was martyred on 14th February in AD270? During imprisonment, he restored the sight of his gaoler’s daughter, and on the eve of his execution, sent her a farewell note, signing it ‘From your Valentine.’
The custom of sending Valentine cards was later revived in 1926 by Lady Jeanette Tuck, the wife of the greetings card planner, Sir Adoph Tuck. She realised that the Victorian lady, no longer young and a little unhappy with the pace of the twenties, would welcome the opportunity to send a courtly token of affection to someone she loved. The custom has since gone from strength to strength!
So, this is hoping that you will all have a lovely celebration of love, (and life, come to think of it!). With naughty smiles on your face remembering that: “Nature couldn’t make us perfect, so, she did the best thing – she made us blind to our faults, just as love is blind to the faults of the one upon whom it is bestowed”.