to warm us up

You almost have to appreciate the way cold hangs in the air in this part of the country, so that beyond blowing snow and low clouds, you feel as though you can see the crisp air. Over the icy North Saskatchewan River, swimming around the Hotel Macdonald, sinking into Jasper Avenue.

January. (Yes, I took the picture above in December. Believe me, it still looks like this. I imagine it will stay this way until about... March? April?)

As we wait for spring, I offer excerpts of love letters from Ursula Doyle's collection.

Robert Browning to his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, on their wedding day in 1846:
".... When the heart is full it may run over; but the real fullness stays within... Words can never tell you... how perfectly dear you are to me -- perfectly dear to my heart and soul. I look back and in every one point, every word and gesture, every letter, every silence -- you have been entirely perfect to me -- I would not change one word, one look. My hope and aim are to preserve this love, not to fall from it --" (p. 106)

Lord Byron to his married lover (1813?):
".... if all I have said and done, and am still but too ready to say and do, have not sufficiently proved what my feelings are, and must ever be, towards you, my love, I have no other proof to offer....
"I care not who knows this, what use is made of it -- it is to you and to you only, yourself. I was, and am yours, freely and entirely, to obey, to honour, love and fly with you, when, where, and how, yourself might and may determine." (p. 65)

Oscar Wilde to his lover, 1891:
".... What wisdom is to the philosopher, what God is to his saint, you are to me. To keep you in my soul, such is the goal of his pain which men call life. O my love, you whom I cherish above all things, white narcissus in an unknown field, think of the burden which falls to you, a burden which love alone can make light. But be not saddened by that, rather be happy to have filled with an immortal love the soul of a man who now weeps in hell, yet carries heaven in his heart. I love you, I love you, my heart is a rose which your love has brought to bloom...." (p. 128)

Yes, yes, yes, saccharine, saccharine, saccharine.

But what better day to contemplate love and loss and beautiful prose than one so cold and blowy that you don't wish to leave your house?


erin said...

Is there a 21st century equivalent to the love letter? In our world of instant messaging, tweeting, and texting, is there, somewhere out there, some intrepid writer who continues to use such figurative language and describe at such length their love for someone?
And how would the 21st century female (or male) respond? I have to admit, my response would range somewhere between thinking they were playing some sort of joke, or perhaps were so lacking in social skills that they took all their social cues from 18th century literature, and thus not worthy of my attentions. In short, I'm pretty sure my reaction would be rather dismissive and judging of such writing, and I don't think I'm alone here... so leaves me to wonder, why are we (and I think I mean women here) still so enthralled by the idea of love letters that we will even buy books about such things??
It's beyond me...

Trish said...

In defense of Robert Browning -- if no one else -- his and Elizabeth's love was born of letters. Apparently he wrote her fan mail before they met, and she sort of thought he was too into her, and it took years for her to come around. So, by the time he wrote this lovely wedding day letter, they had an entire relationship built in the ability to communicate in writing....

Call me hopelessly gushy and romantic, but I would love to receive such words from someone I knew and loved -- and keep in mind all the excerpts are from people who knew their subjects well. So it's not like some creepy creepo on the LRT passed them a note full of purple prose.

erin said...

Not to use any names or anything, but I can't actually conceive of being in a relationship with someone who used such flowery and figurative language... what would they really be like as a partner?? Nope, I'm okay with getting something along the lines of "You're awesome... don't think I could live without you." Does that make me less of a romantic?(cause I always thought I was a pretty dopey romantic... you've heard me go on about Anne of Green Gables...)

Trish said...

hahaha -- You're right, Erin, context here is everything. Not to name names :)

TSS said...

I draft and write notes that, though not this degree of sweet, certainly have their share of dopey, flowery language. I also think it would be fair to say we started our relationship on email. Certainly we sustained it.

Am I a romantic? You'd have to ask A.