Classic Books · Literary Lists · Seasonal Reading

5 bookish expressions of ardent affection, or love

On love day a few years ago, I got a hearty chuckle reading an article in which Hugh Grant pronounces the prepackaged romance of Valentine’s Day “repugnant.” I mean, that’s a bit hyperbolic, isn’t it? I would have gone with “revolting,” personally. Oh, I kid. I kid … sort of.

We have a day to celebrate our love of hamburgers, yoyos, books, and every last thing under the sun, moon, and stars. So I can’t really hate on the idea of setting aside a day to honor our capacity to love—our romantic partners, sure, but also our friends, children, neighbors, the authors we’ll probably never meet but whose books opened our worlds, our mail carrier that day she gamely trudged up our icy driveway and still delivered our package with a smile, the baker whose almond croissants make Monday mornings less Monday morning-ish, the barista who gets exactly what we mean when we ask for a dry cappuccino.

Book loveLove is everywhere, or at least it could be. Of course one day isn’t anywhere near enough time to honor it. We ought to be doing so every day, and not with stale, hackneyed pre-printed sentiments. So how about hand-crafted ones? Here are five expressions of love suitable for sharing on a hand-crafted card any day of the year, no matter who (or what) is the object of your affection.

Colin Firth as Darcy
What’s with the obsession over the lake scene? He looks perfectly adorable completely dry, with his ruffled collar and giant hair.

Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Good old “unfortunately, I’m in love with you” Darcy. He sure knew how to make a lady feel special, eh? However, if you just focus on the last sentence, this would make a kind of sweet expression of restrained affection that is neither repugnant nor revolting. Also, I’m pretty sure I have said this to an almond croissant once or twice:

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Nothing like a tragedy about murder and revenge for culling Valentine’s Day sentiments.

Hamlet
WTF kind of Valentine’s Day sentiment is this?

Still, I like this as a personal vision statement that speaks to each human’s capacity to love, especially if you’re a Valentine’s Day hater who wants to demonstrate that just because red isn’t your color doesn’t mean you don’t know from love.

“Doubt thou the stars fire; / Doubt that the sun doth move; /  Doubt truth to be a liar; / But never doubt I love.”

Winnie-the-Pooh. If whimsy is your jam, you can’t go wrong with Winnie-the-Pooh (who celebrated an anniversary recently). He was quite a little philosopher and poet, when he wasn’t cramming honey down his gaping maw and getting his over-stuffed tummy stuck in an entryway. Also, when I was on page 849 of David Copperfield and had to accept that eventually I would finish the novel and our journey together would be over, this:

Pooh
Loves that honey.

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I’ll stay there forever.”

And more of the wisdom of Pooh:

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s Sonnet 43. For the lovey-dovey romantic types, here ya go.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Rainer Maria RilkeThese beautiful words create a vision in my mind’s eye of not only romantic love but of love in all its forms, and they remind me to appreciate each treasured soul who walks through life with me.

“Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky.”

I originally posted this on February 14, 2016. 🙂