I will not waste time after telling you how writing a letter is one of the most romantic things you can do for someone. I am sure most of you have held a letter in your hand at least once in your life. A letter of love, of passion, and of conviction.
I am sure you also remember what it felt like. The desperate attempt at good handwriting, the visible hesitation in promises, the occasional slip of the pen because someone must’ve entered their room while they were writing, are some things that make a letter as good as listening to the other person speak, and in some cases, even better.
So I thought, on this beautiful day, what would be better than to grace your feed with some of the most beautiful love letters ever written.
1. Mary Haskell and Kahlil Gibran
We have gone back to Kahlil Gibran time and again to express the unspoken. We have used his quotes to express the rarest of thoughts and the brightest of joy. The Lebanese-American poet and philosopher is still a relevant figure in our cognizance, we keep going back to him, come rain or war.
However, it is important that we acknowledge the role of love, the role of Mary Haskell’s presence in his life, which made him the person whom we adore and respect today.
What Mary and Kahlil shared was beyond the means of mortals to comprehend – and their letters bear the proof of this transcendental relation.
Kahlil writes to Mary from Paris:
Each and every one of us, dear Mary, must have a resting place somewhere.
The resting place of my soul is a beautiful grove where my knowledge of you lives.
And if you thought the duo was awesome sauce from Day 1, you got it absolutely right! They called off their marriage because Mary held this relation as non-possessive, so much so that she believed there was a girl meant to be with Kahlil – in her words ‘because I know she is growing somewhere for him, and that he is growing for her.’
And months after this magnanimous decision, Kahlil writes to Mary from New York:
Just came from the museum. O how much I want to see these beautiful things with you. We must see these things together someday. I feel so lonely when I stand alone before a great work of art. Even in Heaven one must have a beloved companion in order to enjoy it fully.
Good night, dear. I kiss your hands and your eyes.
It is exactly this concept of companionship that should drive us even today. We can go on about this wonderful duo, but we will draw a closure with this epic statement from Kahlil:
I love to be silent with you, Mary.
2. Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric
Einstein wrote love letters too! This man once famously stated – How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. He is not exactly what your science teacher told you, you see!
And this is where we will talk about Einstein’s exchange of words via letters, words dipped in earnest tenderness, yet foiled in utter respect for the beauty and intellect that Mileva had in her in full.
My aunt from Genoa is coming, a veritable monster of arrogance and insensitive formalism. I’m nevertheless enjoying each and every day of my vacation in this wonderfully peaceful place. If only you could be here with me for a while! We understand one another’s dark souls so well, and also drinking coffee and eating sausages etc…
Imagine your partner confessing in you how you understand his / her dark side too, which if true, deserves a huge pat on the back.
Einstein goes on to write:
The people here and their way of life are so hopelessly empty… Every meal lasts one hour or more — you can imagine what hell that is for me…
If only I could be with you again soon in Zurich, my little treasure! A thousand wishes and the biggest kisses from your
Apart from the fact that they were already calling each other by their nicknames, notice the tone in that letter. We can almost imagine a 16-yr old, locked up in his attic because the schools are closed for the summer hols, writing a letter to his partner. Oh the melancholic taste of love!
And if the above reminded us of school days, the following was pure college romance:
When I’m not with you I feel as if I’m not whole. When I sit, I want to walk; when I walk, I’m looking forward to going home; when I’m amusing myself, I want to study; when I study, I can’t sit still and concentrate; and when I go to sleep, I’m not satisfied with how I spent the day.
…tender kisses from your
They got married in 1903, had their first child named Hans Albert, and though the relation ended in divorce, we refuse to believe this separation would anyhow affect the legacy-filled love.
3. Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas
Lord Alfred Douglas to the world, but to Oscar Wilde, he was ‘Bosie’! And some difference did that make. The letters, indeed historic, but filled with exquisite love and passionate longs for the partner as we would come to note.
Wilde met Douglas in 1891, and the relation would go on to become anti-society, achieve epic proportions and yet continue to hold its fort against the strong tides.
However, the epic size that their relation achieved, got reflected not through the letters that they wrote to each other – Wilde wrote to Leonard Smithers, his publisher post his prison years about Bosie:
How can you keep on asking is Lord Alfred Douglas in Naples? You know quite well he is — we are together. He understands me and my art, and loves both. I hope never to be separated from him. He is a most delicate and exquisite poet, besides — far the finest of all the young poets in England. You have got to publish his next volume; it is full of lovely lyrics, flute-music and moon-music, and sonnets in ivory and gold. He is witty, graceful, lovely to look at, lovable to be with. He has also ruined my life, so I can’t help loving him — it is the only thing to do.
He understands me and my art, and loves both – no one can express love in this way how Wilde once chose words to describe their relation. We are still in awe of this stupendous letter describing love as we know of.
4. John Keats and Fanny Brawne
“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
― John Keats, Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne
This quote, shared umpteen numbers of times, as we grew up, and yet, here it is, standing tall even to this day. Keats was not the person who would fall in love, he once wrote to his brother and sister-in-law – Notwithstand[ing] your Happiness and your recommendation I hope I shall never marry.
And then along came Fanny Brawne – sounds like a Bollywood movie? Fret not, it was similar. A rather not-so-charming lady, but someone with an intense pair of eyes, Fanny Brawne was beautiful beyond the conventional definitions of beautiful. This is where Keats took refuge in words to express his undying love towards her. Keats chose to write letters.
“You are always new. THe last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was fill’d with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time…Even if you did not love me I could not help an entire devotion to you.”
On another occasion, Keats expressed his wonder about the whole concept of love and how Fanny’s arrival made me sit up and take notice of this beautiful feeling:
“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 burn me up. But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, ’twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures.”
And like the love struck teenager that we often come across in our neighbourhood, Keats writes:
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.
They stayed in love and as a couple till tuberculosis took Keats away at twenty-four. Those 3 years were his most productive years as a poet as noted by many. The power of love!
5. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
No compilation is complete without the mention of this astounding couple – a power couple you may call them. A Mexican painter and reconstructionist, Frida fell in love with the famous painter (and her mentor) Diego Rivera. And thus started a timeless relation, a relation that would transcend all moral and tangible aspects of love – both would indulge themselves in multiple affairs, yet would find themselves together for twenty-seven long years.
….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.
…The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. my fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.
…You are all the combinations of numbers. life. My wish is to understand lines form shades movement. You fulfill and I receive. Your word travels the entirety of space and reaches my cells which are my stars then goes to yours which are my light.
Each of these letters, each of these words, surrounded us like a giant squid, dragging us to the bottom of an endless ocean of love. We however, fail to gasp for breath, for a whiff of air, for we know nothing like this when it comes to love.
History has been shaped and reshaped by various forms of love, various stories of love – yet such letters (and many more) continue to inspire us, mould us into seeing love in a new light, every passing day.
Here’s to more love, here’s to more ishq.
Beloved prophet by Virginia Hilu.
Albert Einstein, Mileva Marić : the love letters by Albert Einstein; Jürgen Renn; Robert J Schulmann; Mileva.
Einstein-Marić; Shawn Smith.
Oscar Wilde: A Life in Letters by Merlin Holland.
Selected Letters (Penguin Classics) by John Keats.
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes.