Okay, except for the chocolate. SO MUCH CHOCOLATE.
One of my classes is at a Liberal Arts building (well okay I’m a lib major as well, so…) and they had a display of V-day related literature. I loved all three, surprisingly, so I had to include them here:
Jane Austen’s character Wentworth, in her romance Persuasion:
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”
This has echoes of Darcy, who is definitely one of the sexiest literary characters ever, but besides that, this is sort of awesome. I’m sorry, but someone who writes “You pierce my soul” absolutely needs to be taken seriously. In the context of the 18th century, of course.
John Keats, to his girl
My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else – The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you again[s]t the unpromising morning of my Life – My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again – my Life seems to stop there – I see no further. You have absorb’d me. 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. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love – You note came in just here – I cannot be happier away from you – ‘T is richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion – I have shudder’d at it – I shudder no more – I could be martyr’d for my Religion – Love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet – You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.” I can do that no more – the pain would be too great – My Love is selfish – I cannot breathe without you.
Yours for ever
Forget the “My sweet Fanny”, because Keats is not responsible for the linguistic winds of change. Forget also the abuse of the dashes. He actually sounds deranged. His “I cannot exist without you” sounds not cliched, but breathtakingly earnest.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 130
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
This is one my favourite Shakespeare works, actually. I don’t believe this is a joke. I think old Bill was trying to tell us, in his own excellent way, that beauty really is a subjective sort of thing.
Why am I so moved by these bits of literature? I’m not a mushy person, as anyone who’s met me for more than three seconds will attest. Maybe it’s because they’re history now, or maybe because I’m a sucker for good English (instead of a texted “i luv u”, for instance), but I think it’s because they’re just absolutely genuine. I know Austen’s work is actually a letter written by a character, but for all that, it’s beautiful.
In any case – Happy V-Day, gentle readers.