Sunday, September 21, 2014


The wonderful thing about love letters is they don’t need to be well-written. No need for fancy language or literary niceties. They don’t really need good grammar, although bad spelling can kill the mood. They can be wild and illogical and barely need to be legible. Written with passion and emotion, they have the power to evoke the same emotions they were written with, even years later. The written word powered by love is the mightiest form of communication. Nothing else comes close.

The one thing a love letter does need to be, however, is hand-written for maximum impact. So that, even when crumbling into bits, it still has the power to make your heart soar and reduce you to tears.

Even great writers use quite simple language to express love in a letter:

Mon cher amour, ma petite fleur,
on n'a fait qu'un, n'est-ce pas?
Je vous aime si fort, si fort et je le sens bien.

- Jean-Paul Sartre à Simone de Beauvoir

Personne ne vous a aimé, ni ne vous aimera comme je vous aime.
- Simone de Beauvoir à Nelson Algren

While art in a love letter is charming, it rarely, if ever, packs the wallop of words. A pressed flower, though, sometimes can.

Beautiful poetry can affect many readers but it's not as potent as a clumsier but personal love letter. Quoting poetry in a love letter may seem elegant but is actually expressing second-hand emotions so it's not as touching. Even Auden and Larkin, who use ordinary words to hit you in the heart, may have spoken and written letters less dramatically than this:

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest, 

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; 

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
- W.H. Auden

On me your voice falls as they say love should,
Like an enormous yes.
― Philip Larkin