WASHINGTON, February 13, 2013 — Valentine’s Day will arrive with roses and chocolate. Perhaps Cupid’s arrow will strike.
Or, perhaps you’ll be alone, and, if so, will celebrate an evening in thought.
Love is the answer we are told, particularly on this cold day in February.
I know from life experience that people make mistakes, that love fails us or we fail love. I know, as Robert Hass wisely says in his poem “Privilege of Being” that “life has limits, that people/ die young, fail at love,/ fail of their ambitions.”
If love is the answer, then a letter, not a printed card, is in order. Love is worthy of words written in your own hand. T.S. Eliot said, “Good poets borrow, great poets steal.” Whether you steal or borrow, there’s a way to make any one of these your own.
Here are seven love letters. Choose, use, save, make love. And if you are alone, comfort may come through memory and hope. Some of these, not the best ones, come from my pen; some, various poets wrote; and some I joined my words to in order to create a letter.
I also comment on why you might choose to save, rewrite, or make any one of these your own. Or give to another special someone.
Love letter #1: Use when love drives you crazy and we all know it can and will—or has:
“The poet says,
‘To all those driven berserk or humanized by love
this is offered, for I need help
deciphering my dream.
When we love our lord is LOVE.’
Frank Bidart, my source, but you, my love, are lord.”
Love letter #2: He told you it was over with the other love. He lied or failed at what he thought was true. Let him know that you’ve moved on:
“It is true, when we first met, I said I didn’t care about Irene. But I am inexperienced with affairs, my lover. I was relieved when you said you would not see her anymore. I could let go and have.
But honesty does not have its price; it has its place, my dear. And now that you have told me you will be with her again, I let go. I let go. I let go …”
Love letter #3: Your lover is not with you, but memory remains. Fill in your own details: What you ate, what the beloved said. But do recall. Memory soothes and heals:
“Remember when we made love over the lunch hour, shared a pear? You ate a bran muffin. It was nearly three when we talked on the phone and neither of us had eaten lunch. Remember when I said, ‘I think you need to eat’? You said, ‘Your kiss. No need.’ Remember when I said, ‘Your mouth, like no other mouth, like no other kiss, like no other touch?’ Remember …”
Love letter #4: I wrote this for the man I love. You may use it. My lover knows this is so:
“The way we hear that space crafts lock on to a star to orient themselves on journeys through the solar system—that, my love, is how I lock on you.”
Love letter #5: I once gave this poem to a man I loved who betrayed me. It has mixed messages for me, but the poet knows:
The poet is W.B. Yeats: the dream is my open heart:
“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
Love letter #6:
We’re often star-crossed in love. And Shakespeare knows why. This exchange from the play Romeo and Juliet is actually a sonnet. Send this to the one who seems unattainable.
Before their first kiss (rhyming as all Shakespeare’s sonnets do in this manner: abab, cdcd, efef, gg), Romeo and Juliet joust in poetry:
“Rom. [To Juliet] If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Jul. Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much
Which mannerly devotion shows in this.
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Rom. Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Jul. Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
Rom. Oh then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do.
They pray. Grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Jul. Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Rom. Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.”
Thus, from my lips by thine my sin is purged. [Kissing her]”
If you are blessed—and I hope you are—then love will come to you as a blessing. John L. Hitchcock, physicist and Jungian analyst, in his book At Home in the Universe: Re-envisioning the Cosmos with the Heart, says:
“This book is a declaration of love. It is not a declaration of my love, but of the fact that love is the heart of the universe … [I]t is we who submit to the bonds of love. And since love sets its object free—since love is the very basis of our freedom—in submitting to its bonds, we also set free whomever or whatever is the object of our love. In a profound sense … submitting to the bonds of love can help release even God. We can love reality as it is, though it seems to throw obstacles in our way and wound us.”
If this is true, Love letter #7 is for you:
T. S. Eliot tells us,
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
In numerology the number 7 represents the search. And so I stop at seven love letters with this admonition: The search must never end.
If you are lost, you will be found.
Mary L. Tabor is the author of the novel Who by Fire, the memoir: (Re)Making Love: a memoir and The Woman Who Never Cooked. She says, “I ferret out the detail, love the footnote, am never bored and believe it all leads to story. Best advice I ever got? ‘Only connect …’ E.M. Forster.” Find out more at http://www.maryltabor.com
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