Hello Good-bye: Shakespeare’s Birthday, Deathday, and Lasting Legacy

23 April, 2018

         Today marks the 454th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday and the 402nd anniversary of his death. To mark the day and continue to celebrate Poetry Month, I was reading a few of my favourite bits and pieces from the oeuvre of the Man from Stratford, fragments that remind us how much we can learn from someone who lived and wrote over four hundred years ago and that I shall share here, with you.

Issues of friendship (usually complicated) pervade Shakespeare’s work. Hermia and Helena; Hamlet and Horatio; Rosalind and Celia; the Prince, Claudio, and Benedick; Beatrice and Hero; Anthony and Enobarbus; Hal and Falstaff; Paulina and Hermione (not Granger) — these friendships have trials and separations, misunderstandings serious and silly, but throughout his plays and poems, Shakespeare recognizes that friendship is essential to humanity. Sonnet 29 describes the way a steady and loyal friend can save us from the depths of despair and self-loathing.

Sonnet XXIX

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
    For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

While sometimes we need to look to others for support or inspiration, Shakespeare also urges us to examine ourselves to find what qualities lie within that we can, that we mustshare with others. Our awareness of how we depend on others becomes balanced by the realization of what we owe the world:

Thyself and thy belongings
Are not thine own so proper as to waste
Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee.
Heaven doth with us as we with torches do,
Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues
Did not go forth of us, ‘twere all alike
As if we had them not.

 Measure For Measure I.i.29-35

Of course, it’s all fun and games until somebody is looking to be the next king of England. In Henry IV, Part 1, Hal contemplates how his companions use him and how he intends to use them in turn to solidify his claim to the throne that his father usurped (though I will say, I think with good reason) from Henry’s cousin Richard.

I know you all, and will awhile uphold 
The unyoked humour of your idleness: 
Yet herein will I imitate the sun, 
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds 
To smother up his beauty from the world, 
That, when he please again to be himself, 
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at, 
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists 
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. 
If all the year were playing holidays, 
To sport would be as tedious as to work; 
But when they seldom come, they wish’d for come, 
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. 
So, when this loose behavior I throw off 
And pay the debt I never promised, 
By how much better than my word I am, 
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes; 
And like bright metal on a sullen ground, 
My reformation, glittering o’er my fault, 
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes 
Than that which hath no foil to set it off. 
I’ll so offend, to make offence a skill; 
Redeeming time when men think least I will.

Henry IV, I. ii

We could pause here to debate whether Hal is a clever politician or a rotten blackguard, if his companions deserve such a reversal, whether Hal is reluctant to do what he knows must be done or gleefully anticipating pulling the rug out from under Poins, Bardo, and especially Falstaff (“No, my good lord; banish Peto, banish Bardolph, banish Poins: but for sweet Jack Falstaff, kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack Falstaff, valiant Jack Falstaff, and therefore more valiant, being, as he is, old Jack Falstaff, banish not him thy Harry’s company, banish not him thy Harry’s company: banish plump Jack, and banish all the world”), but if anyone wants to have that discussion, let’s save it for the comments.

Back to the sonnets for a finish. In the thirty-third fourteener (that’s for any mountain climbers who might be reading), Shakespeare employs much of the same imagery he put into the mouth of Hal. The imagery works differently in the sonnet. We could, I suppose, maintain that 33 makes an argument for the benefits of recycling, but besides that important lesson, this poem also provides us with a thought-paradigm that can lead us to being forgiving of others and maybe even of ourselves.

Sonnet XXXIII

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride 
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine
With all triumphant splendor on my brow; 
But out, alack! he was but one hour mine;
The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now.
    Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
    Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth.

None of us is perfect, but all of us are connected. Shakespeare lived a long time ago, but his works remain to make us think, to question, to push ourselves to become better people with broader minds and more expansive souls.

Happy birthday, Bill, and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

 

P.S. Because Shakespeare and Cervantes share a death-day, here’s a sonnet from Don Quixote, one that touches on many of the same themes as the passages above:

When heavenward, holy Friendship, thou didst go
 Soaring to seek thy home beyond the sky,
 And take thy seat among the saints on high,
It was thy will to leave on earth below
Thy semblance, and upon it to bestow
 Thy veil, wherewith at times hypocrisy,
 Parading in thy shape, deceives the eye,
And makes its vileness bright as virtue show.
Friendship, return to us, or force the cheat
 That wears it now, thy livery to restore,
   By aid whereof sincerity is slain.
If thou wilt not unmask thy counterfeit,
 This earth will be the prey of strife once more,
   As when primaeval discord held its reign.

 

Sonnet Starvation

“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.

“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

        Poetry has indeed acquired a reputation for being a conduit of romance and rhyme (moon, June, tune, spoon, loon), but it isn’t always pretty pictures and cajoling cadences. Sometimes it’s just plain nasty, and can be impressively so, as in this sonnet by William Shakespeare:

SONNET CXLVII

My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly express’d;
    For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,
    Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.*

      Shakespeare uses sick-room imagery similar to that Drayton employs, but where Drayton maintains a playful, lightly melodramatic tone, Shakespeare’s speaker is bitter and vitriolic. Both the body and mind of the lover have been poisoned and infected, though the poem gives no indication that the beloved has done anything worse than reject the speaker. For that, the object of the speaker’s desire is reviled. 

I suspect that if the person to whom this poem was addressed had any lingering affection for the speaker, this one sonnet would starve it entirely away.

 

* https://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/sonnets/sonnet_view.php?Sonnet=147

The Poetry of April

       April is Poetry Month and I have been reading through some of my favourite poems. April is a fine time to remember the power of poetry. (So are all the other months.) The best poems are packed with significance; they can change our perspectives, our minds, and our lives. But poetry need not be serious and portentous to convey meaning. It can make us laugh or smile in recognition of our own foibles, as does this wry sonnet by Michael Drayton:

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part.
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath,
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies;
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes—
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!*

       The poem quickly takes us through the stages of bluff bravado in the face of rejection. There’s a bit of sour grapes (“glad with all my heart,/ That thus so cleanly I myself can free”) thrown in for good measure.

       The third quatrain seems to promise a turn to a more heartfelt farewell, one that will acknowledge that, despite the “Fine-I-don’t-like-you-anyway” attitude of the first eight lines, the speaker feels some regret at the breakup. The style is, especially in comparison to the opening quatrains, a little over-blown, but the poem is a snapshot of a moment when passions are running high, so we readers may be excused if we are inclined to be indulgent. Perhaps the speaker will tell us that our failed relationships make us the people we are today and will accept the parting graciously.

       What we get instead in the final couplet is a sort of Hail-Mary attempt to get the beloved to change her or his mind and resume the romance. I think it a humourous and rather sweet admission of hope, of vulnerability, but one that does not really convey any expectation that the person addressed with react with more than a smile and a wave.

       Much of the pleasure in reading the poem comes from the recognition that whether we existed in the sixteen-hundreds or live in 2018, whether we are inclined to make light of it or to take to our beds in despair, heartache is painful and often unavoidable. To sum up, we can quote the words of a more contemporary (contemporary for me anyway) word-smith, Neil Sedaka:

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.

 

 

 

*https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44153/idea-61-since-theres-no-help-come-let-us-kiss-and-part

“To the Letter” – A Meditation on Love Letters Across Time

AMonthOfLetters2016-Stamp For anyone who’s interested, here’s the guest blog/ review I wrote for the Month of Letters Journal:

 

 

14 February, 2016
St. Valentine’s Day

My dear Ms. Bradford,

            Greetings and enthusiastic wishes for a Valentine’s Day alight with loads of loving letters! I write you today not only to send greetings, but also to thank you for giving me the singular honour of writing the Valentine’s Day post — and to tell you with immense regret that I can’t possibly write such a piece.
            IMG_8352Allow me to explain. You asked that I focus on the love-letter sections of the book I have been reading, To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing by Simon Garfield.* If only you had asked me for a general review of the book! In that case, I could have extolled its wit and the wide range of historical examples it provides. I would have offered up moving passages, such as the one in the introductory chapter, “The Magic of Letters,” in which Mr. Garfield writes eloquently about what we are in danger of losing:

Letters have the power to grant us a larger life. They reveal motivation and deepen understanding. They are evidential. They change lives, and they rewire history. The world used to run upon their transmission — the lubricant of human interaction and the freefall [sic] of

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and provided instances of the author’s humour, such as when, in an aside to his discussion of Seneca’s instructional correspondence, he gently pokes fun at academics who study epistolary matters. In this note, Mr. Garfield informs us that

Seneca’s letters were longer than the norm, ranging from 149 to 4,134 words, with an average of 955, or some 10 papyrus sheets joined on a roll. Philological scholars with time on their hands have calculated that a sheet of papyrus of approximately 9 x 11 inches contained an average of 87 words, and that a letter rarely exceeded 200 words (note, p. 55),

an observation that betrays the author’s own interest in such minutiae. He also spares not the Fathers of the Church. He points out that during the millennium when “Literacy was not encouraged among the populace” (p. 81), letter-writing declined and “theological letters are all we have.” Mr. Garfield finds these letters uninspiring and cautions his readers that we “may prefer death to the lingering torture of reading them” (p. 82).
         I shall say nothing at all about Mr. Garfield’s three chapters reviewing historical advice on “How to Write the Perfect Letter,” about the heated debates regarding whether letters should mimic informal conversations, about the importance of addressing recipients as befits their stations, about where to place one’s IMG_8177 copysignature, nor about how leaving wide margins was a sign of wealth and status. Epistolary silence shall envelope the fascinating descriptions of the evolution of the modern postal system; not a word will there be from my pen about the incredible fact that postage used to be paid not by the sender of a letter but by the person to whom it was addressed, nor shall I mention anything about the invention of the postage stamp, despite Mr. Garfield’s engaging description of its conception.**
          But love letters! You must see how this will never do. Love letters can leave us open to terrible embarrassment. Mr. Garfield acknowledges that

Love letters catch us at a time in our lives where our marrow is jelly; but we toughen up, our souls harden, and we reread them years later with a mixture of disbelief and cringing horror, and — worst of all — level judgement. The American journalist Mignon McLaughlin had it right in 1966: ‘If you must re-read old love letters,’ she wrote in The Second Neurotics Notebook, ‘better pick a room without mirrors.’ (p. 336)

Reading the love letters of others can be almost as cheek-reddening as reading our own. Shall we really subject our LetterMo companions to such blushing?
           Moreover, we all know the power of a love letter. Think how we are charmed when Hamlet, that most articulate of Shakespeare’s creations, writes awkwardly to Ophelia:

‘Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
‘O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.
‘Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to 
him, HAMLET. ***

And never let us forget that it is a letter, and not even an intentional love letter, but merely a letter of explanation, that finally wins Mr. Darcy the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Do we wish to tempt our friends to deploy such power wantonly and without discretion? ****
            But these are fictional examples, created strictly for our amusement or even for our edification. I really don’t know whether we should intrude upon the privacy of people who actually lived — though Mr. Garfield patently feels no such compunction. He

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shamelessly lays out for us not only the ecstatic feelings of historical couples, he even brings up — and we’re both adults, so I’m just going to write the word straight out — SEX. I fancy you don’t believe me. Permit me, for veracity’s sake, to share some examples.
           If you were to glance at page seventy-three, you would find Mr. Garfield’s account of

The letters between Marcus Aurelius and Fronto [which] track the rise and fall of a courtship from about ad 139, when Aurelius was in his late teens and his teacher in his late thirties, until about ad 148. The heart of their correspondence is ablaze with passion. ‘I am dying so for love of you,’ Aurelius writes, eliciting the response from his tutor, ‘You have made me dazed and thunderstruck by your burning love.’

All I will say is that, with all the conjugating the Romans had to learn, it’s a wonder there was time for such extra-curricular activity.
            Mr. Garfield follows this Latin love affair with the tragic, even more explicit tale of Heloise and Abelard, those misfortunate, twelfth-century lovers. Theirs is another pupil-pedant passion, and Abelard writes that

‘With our lessons as our pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love.’ There followed ‘more kissing than teaching’ and hands that ‘strayed oftener to her bosom than the pages’ (p. 76).

The story culminates in pregnancy, a secret marriage, Abelard’s castration by Heloise’s relatives, and the retreat of both lovers into monastic life. Heloise’s love and desire for her husband remain unabated; during Mass, ‘“lewd visions of the pleasures we shared take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that my thoughts are on their wantonness instead of on my own prayers”’ (p. 78).
           In a later chapter, Mr. Garfield treats us to a discussion of the romance of Napoleon and Josephine, and compares the market worth of their letters to the arguably more valuable missives of Admiral Lord Nelson. “In letters,” our author confides, “as everywhere else, sex sells: the Nelson [letter] went for Ł66,000, a fair sum but less than a quarter of a Bonaparte” (p. 192). Mr. Garfield puts before us the affaire de cœr of Emily Dickinson and her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. He quotes ‘a letter which echoed the steamy transactions of Abelard and Heloise …: “When [the pastor] said Our Heavenly Father,” I said “Oh Darling Sue”; when he read the 100th Psalm, I kept saying your precious letter all over to myself, and Susie, when they sang … I made up words and kept singing how I loved you”’ (p. 248). **** In another letter, Dickinson breathlessly confides to Gilbert that if they were together, “we need not talk at all, our eyes would whisper for us, and your hand fast in mine, we would not ask for language” (p. 248).

            To be sure, there are genuinely moving examples of great love to be found in the book. We are reminded that passionate romances need not be defined by tragedy. Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett fell in love through their letters, and their correspondence describes a “swift 20-month crescendo from endearing fandom to all-consuming craving” (p. 345). The two poets eloped and lived happily for the duration of their marriage. Browning was “the man who swept her [Barrett] away and liberated her passion” (p. 347) — and married her.
            While the concerns of the famous hold a particular fascination for the masses — as Shakespeare writes, “What great ones do the less will prattle of”****** — the most touching and poignant letters are those of Chris Barker and Bessie Moore. Mr. Barker was a British signalman during the Second World War, Miss Moore an acquaintance from Mr. Barker’s time working in the Post Office. When they began to write, Ms. Moore was involved with someone IMG_8455named Nick, but three months into their correspondence Ms. Moore has shed Nick and is trying to persuade Mr. Barker that they are friends, and not mere acquaintances. She succeeds admirably, and soon Mr. Barker is assuring her of his interest in having “fun at a later date” while warning her “not to let me break your heart in 1946 or 47” (p. 145), and stoking her interest by wondering what she’s like “in the soft, warm, yielding, panting flesh” (p. 147). But before long Miss Moore’s unwavering admiration and epistolary dedication have complicated Mr. Barker’s desire and he is writing “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” (p. 202).
           Miss Moore waits for her signalman throughout the war and his time as a POW. In the epilogue, we learn that they were married in October 1945 and had two sons. It is to the elder, Bernard, that we owe thanks for the preservation of their letters. The younger Mr. Barker says of his parents that “Their love for each other was so complete, always, that it was difficult for my brother and I in childhood and adolescence to relate to each of them as a single person” (p. 425). In the last letter of the war, Mr. Barker writes his by-now wife, “I can never be as good as you deserve, but I really will try very hard … We shall be collaborators, man and woman, husband and wife, lovers” (p. 426). The Barkers’ letters cannot be read without becoming involved in their growing affection and in the history Mr. Barker includes in his letters to the steadfast woman who would become his partner. The letters are tender and grateful and passionate, and we learn a great deal from them about Mr. Barker’s experiences as a signalman, about how to lay the foundation for a lasting, loving relationship, and about how thoroughly Victorian sexual mores had been trampled into the dust.
           I cannot but think that you are as shocked as I am. You have not read the book and are innocent regarding its contents. I am sure, in my heart of hearts, that you didn’t understand what you were asking me to do. But I am equally sure, Ms. Bradford, that you agree these matters ought not be laid out before the Month of Letters community, that none of our letter-writers could ever have the slightest interest in reading about affairs of the heart (and of the body) of other people. Our reputation as an Internet society devoted to promoting the respectable art of epistolary composition would suffer dreadfully, and neither of us wants to be complicit in bring such a judgement to pass.
           I do hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me for letting you down so. To make up for the lack of a post, I offer you a poem to run in its place instead, one more suitable for our impeccable epistolary society, to run in place of the piece I should have given you:

But For Lust
Ruth Pitter

But for lust we could be friends,
On each other’s necks could weep:
In each other’s arms could sleep
In the calm the cradle lends:

Lends awhile, and takes away.
But for hunger, but for fear,
Calm could be our day and year
From the yellow to the grey:

From the gold to the grey hair,
But for passion we could rest,
But for passion we could feast
On compassion everywhere.

Even in this night I know
By the awful living dead,
By this craving tear I shed,
Somewhere, somewhere it is so.

            I trust you understand my reasons for writing you this letter and do assure you that I remain

Your honoured and admiring epistolary confederate,

Ruth E. Feiertag2016 lettermo 600X600

 

———————————————————————————

* Gotham Books, Penguin Group, 2014
** Those familiar with Terry Pritchett’s Going Postal will already have an inkling of the early history of stamps.
*** (Hamlet, II. ii. 1212-20. Opensource Shakespeare, [http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/search/search-results.php], accessed 3 February 2016).
****Garfield irresponsibly provides no advice for the proper composition of a love letter. For that we must look to John Beguine of The Atlantic. His article, “A Modern Guide to the Love Letter,” reminds us to choose “100 percent cotton paper,” that may “suggest to your beloved those other cotton sheets you hope to share.” He also cautions us not to “succumb to the temptation to employ your own personal stationery imprinted with your name and address. Such handsome lettering makes identification appallingly easy for your lover’s attorney.” Beguine covers other topics such as Ink, Elegance (“Elegance prompts wit rather than comedy, sentiment rather than sentimentality” and “Long-winded elegance is oxymoronic. So length does matter, but in writing, less is more”), Salutation, Body (“even if you have a knack for them, no pornographic drawings”), Metaphors, Grammar, Complimentary Close, Signature (“If you can’t bring yourself to close without a signature, limit yourself to your first initial. And try to be illegible here. There’s no reason to make the job easier for a lawyer someday [sic]”), Delivery (“bribe whomever you must to have the letter placed directly upon the beloved’s pillow”), and Accepting an Answer. ([http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/a-modern-guide-to-the-love-letter/385370/])
***** One might also ponder Dickinson’s 1722 poem, “Her face was in a bed of hair”:
Her face was in a bed of hair,
Like flowers in a plot —
Her hand was whiter than the sperm
That feeds the sacred light.
Her tongue more tender than the tune
That totters in the leaves —
Who hears may be incredulous,
Who witnesses, believes.
****** Twelfth Night, I. I. 33. [http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/twn_1_2.html]

 

 

How to Write a Love Letter and Get Away with It

         IMG_2006

        Happy Valentine’s Day! I have been reading “A Modern Guide to the Love Letter” by John Biguenet, an article that appeared in The Atlantic last year. I recommend this article to everyone who is desperately trying to compose a last-minute declaration of devotion; Biguenet reminds us that “to inscribe your love upon the human heart, you must attend carefully to every detail of the letter with which you convey your affection.” His article will assist one in constructing an effective letter and prevent one, in one’s haste, from making what could be disastrous errors.

         Biguenet encourages us to choose “hand-pressed, deckle-edged 100 percent cotton paper,” that may “suggest to your beloved those other cotton sheets you hope to share.” He also cautions us not to “succumb to the temptation to employ your own personal stationery imprinted with your name and address. Such handsome lettering makes identification appallingly easy for your lover’s attorney.” We must be grateful for such level-headed advice; under the influence of our primitive emotions, we are likely to overlook such nice possibilities.

IMG_8354

         Biguenet covers other vital topics with similar aplomb, though I cannot agree with his views on Ink. Here he tells us that “Henry Ford’s position on the color of the Model T should guide your choice. You can write a love letter in any color you like, so long as it is black.” Black suits some people but not everyone; to me it can indicate a lack of imagination. Woo me in Technicolor, thank you.

         Elegance, “that style toward which all other styles aspire to be reduced,” gets Biguenet’s ringing endorsement. To him, “Elegance prompts wit rather than comedy, sentiment rather than sentimentality”; as he explains, “Long-winded elegance is oxymoronic. So length does matter, but in writing, less is more.”

         The article covers proper Salutation before plunging into the Body. Here diction rules. Biguenet admonishes us to “Remember, it’s ‘scent,’ not odor.’ Your beloved doesn’t ‘smell’ good; her ‘fragrance’ is enchanting.” In addition, “even if you have a knack for them, no pornographic drawings” (though see Biguenet’s comments under “ink” regarding blue ink).

         We get sound advice on the deployment of Metaphors. We must abstain from goofiness and the financial and use food cautiously. Flowers are safer ground, but as Biguenet cautions us, we should be aware that some flora “are associated with love in part because of their physical resemblance to a particular part of a the female anatomy.”

         There are wise words on Grammar (“Make subjects agree with verbs, and pronouns, with their antecedents” and “Proofread. Then proofread again”) and the Complimentary Close (either “Be extravagant” or “Be bold. Skip it”). On the Signature, Biguenet employs the succinctness he recommends under Elegance: “If you can’t bring yourself to close without a signature, limit yourself to your first initial. And try to be illegible here. There’s no reason to make the job easier for a lawyer someday [sic].”

         Biguenet waxes positively devious when it comes to Delivery. He writes, “bribe whomever you must to have the letter placed directly upon the beloved’s pillow” rather than using mundane means such as the postal service.

         Biguenet finishes up with the etiquette of Accepting an Answer. This last courtesy should, our author tells us, bring the letter writer to “what ancient poets called, not without reason, the bower of happiness.” The article is thorough and witty and eminently profitable for anyone engaged upon an act of epistolary seduction.

Version 2

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         For more on the topics of letters, see my guest post that will appear in the Month of Letters Journal on Valentine’s Day! (http://lettermo.com/category/journal/)

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