Saturday, 14 February 2015

Famous Love Letters

It's the 14th of February again and there seem to be red roses and hearts everywhere - even Virgin Rail were giving away 'Love Hearts' with the coffee on board the train!  So I thought I'd share this love letter from writer Katherine Mansfield to her lover John Middleton Murry. They lived together pretending to be married for several years before Katherine gained a divorce and they were able to be legally married.  It wasn't a happy relationship - John was inhibited and emotionally damaged; Katherine was seriously ill with tuberculosis.  They lived apart most of the time - often in different countries.  Katherine's letters are full of longing 'for a home, for a little baby. . .' and most of all for John's affection and presence in her life.  This letter, which she scribbled in his private journal while he was out, was written just a year before they were able to marry.  She died on January 9th, 1923 aged 34.

18 May 1917: Katherine Mansfield to John Middleton Murry
My darling,
Do not imagine, because you find these lines in your private book that I have been trespassing. You know I have not – and where else shall I leave a love letter? For I long to write you a love letter tonight. You are all about me – I seem to breathe you – hear you – feel you in me and of me …

When you came to tea this afternoon you took a brioche broke it in half & padded the inside doughy bit with two fingers. You always do that with a bun or roll or a piece of bread – It is your way – your head a little on one side the while …

When you opened your suitcase, I saw your old Feltie & a French book and a comb all higgledy-piggedly. “Tig, I’ve only got 3 handkerchiefs.” Why should that memory be so sweet to me? …

Mansfield and Murry in 1918
Last night, there was a moment before you got into bed. You stood, quite naked, bending forward a little – talking. It was only for an instant. I saw you – I loved you so – loved your body with such tenderness. Ah, my dear! And I am not thinking now of “passion”. No, of that other thing that makes me feel that every inch of you is so precious to me – your soft shoulders – your creamy warm skin, your ears, cold like shells are cold – your long legs & your feet that I love to clasp with my feet – the feeling of your belly – & your thin young back. Just below that bone that sticks out at the back of your neck you have a little mole. It is partly because we are young that I feel this tenderness – I love your youth – I could not bear that it should be touched even by a cold wind if I were the Lord.

We two, you know, have everything before us, and we shall do very great things – I have perfect faith in us – and so perfect is my love for you that I am, as it were, still, silent to my very soul. I want nobody but you for my lover and my friend and to nobody but you shall I be faithful.

I am yours forever.

Tig.


Katherine Mansfield - The Story-Teller




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