Love Letters

Through the ages!

We’re all captivated by a love story. Tales of tragic, forbidden love still dominate the literary world, from the doomed romance of Romeo and Juliet to modern day Arab-Israeli love stories. Long distance love affairs, stories of women who wait years for their man to return from the war and the love letters they wrote to each other – all these are the stuff of myths and legends, films, books and theater productions. Throughout history, men and women have been falling in love and searching for ways to tell the object of their affection how they feel, and a book recently published by the British Library in England contains inspiring love letters from 25 historical figures, handwritten over a 2,000-year period.

Love Poems

One of the world’s best-known poetic declarations of love was the sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which begins with “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Dedicated to her husband and published in 1850, the sonnet is one of a collection entitled “Sonnets from the Portuguese.” As lovers have done since the beginning of time, Elizabeth overcame tremendous difficulties and incurred her father’s rejection by following her love for Robert Browning. Shakespeare, too, used poetry to describe his love, and in modern times songwriting has become an accepted form of announcing your love.

Love Letters Found

A February 2012 discovery at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, England, turned up a batch of love letters that are believed to have been written around 150 years ago. Found among a collection of correspondence and personal papers, they were written by explorers on botanical expeditions to discover plants. One letter was written in 1877 by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, the public director of Kew who was also a friend of Charles Darwin. In his empassioned outpourings to his wife, Hooker wrote: ‘I do long to see you again and stroke your face. I am as anxious to be back as you can be and begin to count the days. I am most anxious to hear of you.’

Civil War Love Letters

For four years the Civil War raged across the United States. From 1861 to 1865, Confederate soldiers battled Union forces in a struggle for dominance, and many wives waited anxiously for letters from their husbands at the front. A special collection of love letters held by Virginia Tech’s university library shows how soldiers would grab every opportunity to write, waiting until an injured man was discharged to take their letters home. In one letter, Harvey Black, located at Brandy station, writes to his wife Mary reminiscing about their courtship and remembering the first time he met her when she was only 8 years old. The letter is tender and loving, and details how he felt when she accepted his proposal, and how their love has grown since then.

Modern Love Letters

Few lovers have Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry writing skills; however, love usually finds a way to express itself. In modern times, it’s far easier to send a communication to your loved one that it was in the past. Text messages, emails, and social media posts are common ways of telling someone how you feel about them, but in this technology-addicted environment many lovers still prefer to send custom greeting cards or hand-written love letters. Valentine’s day is just one of many opportunities during the year when lovers can express their feelings.

There are lots of different ways to express yourself to the one you love. Find the medium that works best for you and use it. Life is too short to spend it wondering whether it might have worked, so take the opportunity today to tell someone you love them, and make this the first day of the rest of your life.

Sources:

http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/152
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news/676.htm
http://spec.lib.vt.edu/cwlove/black.html
http://pressandpolicy.bl.uk/Press-Releases/2000-Years-of-Romance-the-British-Library-celebrates-Love-Letters-through-the-ages-564.aspx
http://halifax.openfile.ca/halifax/text/love-letters-through-ages

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