15 February 2013

Love Letters...

I sat in the old wing chair last night, poring through three volumes.
I take them out each year at this time and marvel
at the ways and means people have said  
"I love you..." to one another.

Love Letters: An Anthology of Passion
With facsimiles of real letters and quotations from
lovers' correspondence throughout the ages
[Michelle Lovric — Shooting Star Press]

 Each page is beautifully illustrated with ephemera,
and most have a facsimile letter folded into a tiny envelope,
or sealed with wax, waiting to be opened.... 
Sir Richard Steele to Mary Scurlock 1707

There are declarations of felicity and love from Shelley, Keats,
Dylan Thomas, Pushkin, Balzac... Hawthorne...

Nathaniel Hawthorne to Sophia Peabody 1839

...and revelations from Isadora Duncan...

Isadora Duncan to Gordon Craig 1905
The illustrations and typeface are like a Victorian collage,
whirling with romance and capturing your heart with every turn of the page.

Even the endpapers are luscious!

A beautiful book to leaf through and make new discoveries.
And its companion volume is equally evocative...

Passionate Love Letters: An Anthology of Desire
With facsimiles of real letters and quotations from
lovers' correspondence throughout the ages
[Michelle Lovric — Shooting Star Press]

The illustrations are more sensuous, and full of promise...

... with chapter headings like Breathless, Beguiled, Intoxicated...

  Sacrificial, Tormented, Penitent, Ravished..


 With letters from Brontë, Wordsworth, Proust and Flaubert... and Shelley...

Percy Bysshe Shelley to Mary Godwin 1814

Poets and playwrights, dukes and novelists...

George Bernard Shaw to Beatrice Campbell 1913

 even Kings...

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn 1529

 And for those letters too difficult to read,
the editor provides transcripts for the facsimiles.

The endpapers are whirls of passion, emissaries of what you'll find inside.

 The third volume stands on its own and was compiled
by one of my favorite historians, Antonia Fraser.

There are fewer illustrations...

merely photos, etchings, paintings or drawings of the lovers.

Because the words—and the feelings behind, around and within them—
are the most important feature in this book.  

Do you have a box of love letters, tied with a ribbon,
saved in a wooden chest or siken box?
. . .
Have you picked up a pen lately
and written down words of love to someone?
. . .
If your love letters were found, years from now,
would they warrant being included in books like these?

Here's to rapturous, beguiling Valentine Days....
and to expressing yourself.

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