17 Love-Letter Lines To Steal For Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day can be a tough time for the more literary of love birds among us; after all, slogging through aisle after aisle of hackneyed Hallmark cards can hardly provide adequate inspiration for a truly daring declaration of love. I'll admit that some of those cards are pretty cute (seeing Snoopy lying on a bed of roses always gets me), and from time to time they have the perfect missive. But when you've got some truly, epic, star-crossed, eternal love-type feelings swirling around inside you, a packaged greeting simply will not do.

So what's a besotted book-lover to do this time of year? Well, you could sit alone at your window, struggling night after night to eek out even a single solitary phrase that wholly captures the depth of your devotion. Or, you could do what I always do — head straight for the shelves, and look for inspiration among the words of the world's great writers.

There are some passages in Pride and Prejudice I crib regularly when I'm in trying to convey true romance; for pure, white-hot passion you can be hard to do better than D.H. Lawrence; but for genuine emotional honesty, I not look beyond the fictional and take inspiration from the love letters of literature's luminaries. As Picasso once said, good artists borrow, but great artists steal. So, don that ski mask and gloves, because these 17 love-letter lines from the correspondence of famous writers are simply to good not to nab.

O Heart O Love everything is suddenly turned to gold! Don’t be afraid don’t worry the most astounding beautiful thing has happened here!

Allen Ginsburg to Peter Orlovsky

Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days.

Oscar Wilde to Lord Alred “Bosie” Douglas

Funny was that I couldn’t say je t’aime and je t’adore as I longed to do, but always remember that I am saying it, that I go to sleep thinking of you.

Eleanor Roosevelt to Lorena Hickok

I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way.

English poet Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf

Tonight I love you on a spring evening. I love you with the window open.

Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvoir

In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me.

Honoré de Balzac to Coutness Ewelina Haska

Nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives.

Voltaire to Olympe Dunover

I already love in you your beauty, but I am only beginning to love in you that which is eternal and ever previous — your heat, your soul.

Leo Tolstoy to Valeria Arsenev

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.

Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet

I look back to the early days of our acquaintance and friendship as to the days of love and innocence, and, with an indescribable pleasure.

Abigail Adams to John Adams

You fear, sometimes, I do not love you so much as you wish? My dear Girl I love you ever and ever and without reserve.

—John Keats to Fanny Brawne

There would have been the making of an accomplished flirt in me, because my lucidity shows me each move of the game — but that, in the same instant, a reaction of contempt makes me sweep all the counters off the board and cry out: — "Take them all — I don't want to win — I want to lose everything to you!”

Edith Wharton to W. Morton Fullerton

I’m so glad you came — like Summer, just when I needed you most — and took me back with you. Waiting doesn’t seem so hard now. The vague despondency has gone — I love you Sweetheart.

Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald

I don’t know what is the matter with me. I am so exulted. I am almost mad, working, loving you, writing, and thinking of you, playing your records, dancing in the room when my eyes are tired. You have given me such joys that it does not matter what happens now.

—Anaïs Nin to Henry Miller

We’ll go to … dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads.

—Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West

My whole desire was to live in love, absorbing passionate devotion to one person.

Harriet Beecher Stowe to her husband

You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me — my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Robert Browning

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