Thursday, May 13, 2010
a love letter
Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet
Croisset, midnight, 8-9 August 
My deplorable mania for analysis exhausts me. I doubt everything, even my doubt. You thought me young, and I am old. I often spoke with old people about the pleasures of this earth, and I have always been astonished by the brightness that comes into their lackluster eyes; just as they could never get over their amazement at my way of life, and keep saying 'At your age! At your age! You! You!' Take away my nervous exaltation, my fantasy of mind. the emotion of the moment. and I have little left. That's what I am underneath. I was not made to enjoy life. You must not take these words in a down- to- earth sense, but rather grasp their metaphysical intensity. I keep telling myself that I'll bring you misfortune, that were it not for me your life would have continued undisturbed, that the day will come that we shall part (and I protest in advance). Then the nausea of life rises to my lips, and I feel immeasurable self-disgust and a wholly Christian tenderness for you.
At other times - yesterday, for example, when I had sealed my letter - the thought of you sings, smiles, shines, and dances like a joyous fire that gives out a thousand colours and penetrating warmth. I keep remembering the graceful, charming, provocative movement of your mouth when you speak - that rosy, moist mouth that calls forth kisses and sucks them irresistibly in. What a good idea I had, to take your slippers. If you knew how I keep looking at them! The bloodstains are fading: is that their fault? We shall do the same: one year, two years, six, what does it matter? Everything measurable passes, everything that can be counted has an end. Only three things are infinite: the sky in its stars, the sea in its drops of water; and the heart in its tears. Only in that capacity is the heart large; everything else about it is small. Am I lying? Think, try to be calm. One or two shreds of happiness fill it to overflowing, whereas it has room for all the miseries of mankind.
By the way, - so we'll christen the blue dress together. I'll arrive some evening about six. We'll set the night ablaze! I'll be your desire, you'll be mine, and we'll gorge ourselves on each other to see whether we can be satiated. Never! No, never! Your heart is an exhaustible spring, you let me drink deep. it floods me, penetrates me, I drown. Oh! The beauty of your face, all pale and quivering under my kisses! But how cold I was! I did nothing but look at you; I was surprised, charmed. If I had you here now... Come, I'll take another look at your slippers. They are something I'll never give up; I think I love them as much as I do you. Whoever made them, little suspected how my hands would tremble When I touch them. I breathe their perfume, they smell of verbena - and of you in a way that makes my heart swell.
Adieu, my life, adieu my love, a thousand kisses everywhere. Phidias has only to write, and I will come. Next winter there will no longer be any way for us to see other, but if Phidias writes between now and the beginning of the winter I'll come to Paris for at least three weeks. Adieu, I kiss you in the place where I will kiss you, where I want to; I put my mouth there, je me roul sur toi, mille braisers. Oh! donne-m'en, donne-m'en!