From artists to writers to musicians, everyone included in this selection of love letters had something passionate and beautiful to say to their beloved.
From Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet, 1846
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.
From Franz Kafka to Milen Jesensk, 1921
No, Milen, 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 trans mutability entered, perhaps it was I who fell into someone’s arms.
From Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, 1893
My Own Boy,
Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red-roseleaf lips of yours should be made no less for the madness of music and song than for the madness of kissing. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days. Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury? Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely place and lacks only you; but go to Salisbury first.
Always, with undying love,
From Edith Wharton to W. Morton Fullerton, 1908
There would have been the making of an accomplished flirt in me, because my lucidity shows me each move of the game – but that, in the same instant, a reaction of contempt makes me sweep all the counters off the board and cry out: – “Take them all – I don’t want to win – I want to lose everything to you!”
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