"I do not know which to prefer, the beauty of inflections
or the beauty of innuendoes,
the blackbird whistling,
or just after.“

:: Wallace Stevens ::

This page is given in tribute to the spirits of
Sarah and Blaise. On this page, their flame
lives on.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Voltaire to Olympe Dunover, 1713

The Hague 1713

I am a prisoner here in the name of the King; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to I'd put my head on the block to do it.

For heaven's sake, do not speak to me in such disastrous terms as you write; you must live and be cautious; beware of madame your mother as of your worst enemy. What do I say? Beware of everybody; trust no one; keep yourself in readiness, as soon as the moon is visible; I shall leave the hotel incognito, take a carriage or a chaise, we shall drive like the wind to Sheveningen; I shall take paper and ink with me; we shall write our letters.

If you love me, reassure yourself; and call all your strength and presence of mind to your aid; do not let your mother notice anything, try to have your pictures, and be assured that the menace of the greatest tortures will not prevent me to serve you. No, nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives. Adieu, there is nothing that I will not brave for your sake; you deserve much more than that. Adieu, my dear heart!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sullivan Ballou to Sarah Ballou, 1861

July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt . . .

Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . .


Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the first Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Henry Miller to Anais Nin, 1932

Chez les Vikings, Taverne Scandanave
29 et 31, rue Vavin, Paris VI
March 4, 1932

Dear Anais:

Three minutes after you have gone. No I can't restrain it. I tell you what you already know - I love you. It is this I destroyed over and over again. At Dijon I wrote you long passionate letters - if you had remained in Switzerland I would have sent them - but how could I have sent them to Louveciennes?

Anais I can't say much now - I am in fever. I could scarcely talk to you because I was continually on the point of getting up and throwing my arms around you. I was in hopes you wouldn't have to go home for dinner - that we might go somewhere to dine and dance. You dance - I have dreamed of that over and over again - I dancing with you, or you alone dancing with head thrown back and eyes half shut. You must dance for me that way. That is your Spanish self - your Andalusian blood.

I am sitting in your place right now and I have raised your glass to my lips. But I am tongue-tied. What you have read to me is swimming over me. Your language is still more overwhelming than mine. I am a child compared to you, because when the womb in you speaks, it enfolds everything - it is the darkness I adore. You were wrong to think I appreciate the literary value alone. That was my hypocrisy talking. I have not dared until now to say what I think. But I am plunging - you have opened the void for me - there is no holding back.

Without you realizing it, I have been living with you constantly. But I have been afraid to admit it - I thought it would terrify you. Today I had planned to bring you to my room and show you the water colors. But it seemed so sordid, leading you to my miserable hotel. No, I can't do that. You will lead me somewhere - to your shack as you call it. Lead me there so I may put my arms around you.

And, I lie Anais, when I tell you I do not want to worship you. Did you expect me to tell you these things? When I saw "Marius" , I was dreaming of you - you are like the boat going out to sea, and your sails are full spread, and the sunlight is playing all over you. And like Marius, I have joined the boat at the eleventh hour - I have jumped out the back window and raced to the wharf.

Still, I don't know how much I dare write to you in spite of your permission. I have a feeling I may be committing sacrilege, but then can't be. My instincts must be right. Nevertheless, I await hungrily some word from you. Yes, you have told me over and over again, in a hundred different ways, but I am slow, Anais, slow perhaps because it is such delicious torture. It is like waiting to see you rise from your throne.

And about Hugo - Anais, I can't think of Hugo. It is impossible to think of him and of you. Please don't lie to yourself now. Not before me!

I may call you tomorrow and let you know that this is waiting for you. I would call you immediately, only that Hugo will be there.

There is a telephone at my hotel, but I don't know the number, and I'm afraid it is not listed in the book. At any rate, if you should succeed at calling, the number of my room is 40.

Then I won't see you Sunday. That is hard, too. But it is better - you are right.


Anais Nin to Henry Miller, 1932

March 2, 1932


The woman will sit eternally in the tall black armchair. I will be the one woman you will never have . . . . excessive living weighs down the imagination: we will not live, we will only write and talk to swell the sails.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Gustav Flaubert to Louise Colet, 1846

August 15, 1846

I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy. I want to gorge you with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die. I want you to be amazed by me, and to confess to yourself that you had never even dreamed of such transports. When you are old, I want you to recall those few hours, I want your dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Juliette Drouet to Victor Hugo, 1835

If only I were a clever woman, I could describe to you my gorgeous bird, how you unite in yourself the beauties of form, plumage, and song!

I would tell you that you are the greatest marvel of all ages, and I should only be speaking the simple truth. But to put all this into suitable words, my superb one, I should require a voice far more harmonious than that which is bestowed upon my species - for I am the humble owl that you mocked at only lately, therefore, it cannot be.

I will not tell you to what degree you are dazzling and to the birds of sweet song who, as you know, are none the less beautiful and appreciative.

I am content to delegate to them the duty of watching, listening and admiring, while to myself I reserve the right of loving; this may be less attractive to the ear, but it is sweeter far to the heart.

I love you, I love you, my Victor; I cannot reiterate it too often; I can never express it as much as I feel it.

I recognise you in all the beauty that surrounds me in form, in colour, in perfume, in harmonious sound: all of these mean you to me. You are superior to all I see and admire - you are all!

You are not only the solar spectrum with the seven luminous colours, but the sun himself that illumines, warms, and revivifies! This is what you are, and I am the lowly woman that adores you.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine Beauharnais, 1795

Paris, December 1795

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.