Step Up Your Valentine’s Love Letter Game With These Tips From Mark Twain And Other Legendary Writers

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You already have the perfect gift lined up ( you’re welcome), but that’s only half the win. To truly marginally improve your chances of getting laid this Valentine’s Day, you need to put some words behind that sentimental token of your love. Fortunately, the ace correspondence collectors at Letters Of Note can provide your own personal Cyrano from their near-bottomless trove of letters written by guys who did this sort of thing for a living. Take it from relationship savant Esther Perel: Every schmuck gets his sweetheart a gift. The letter is what matters.

“The Ring Of Fire Still Burns Around You And I.” -Johnny Cash On this pinkest of days, channel the Man In Black. Just make sure you stick with this line that embodies Cash’s ability to walk the line between badass and tender (sorry, had to), and avoid, say, “Hurt.” Yes, even the Muppet version. Especially the Muppet version.

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“The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.” -John Steinbeck The Nobel Prize-winning author wrote this in a 1958 letter to his son, who told Steinbeck he’d fallen for a girl at boarding school. Crib from it now and stash it away for the eventual “love talk” with your kid. In either case, it’s better than anything you’ll come up with on your own.

“I love you utterly, so have you now become the whole world of my spirit.” -Rockwell Kent In this letter to his wife, the legendary painter and illustrator notes how completely lonely he feels being away from her, but how glad he is that his loneliness has taught him just how much he loves her. There’s nothing in there about asking to stay a few more days wherever he is, so presumably he wrote it before they had any kids.

“Can our love persist otherwise than through sacrifices, than by not demanding everything?” -Ludwig van Beethoven Written to his never-revealed Immortal Beloved, Beethoven’s most famous writing that doesn’t involve musical notes is usually parsed for clues to who the hell he was writing it for. But you’re going to use it as a cheat sheet, you erudite bastard. “Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.” will get her every time.

“A true Lovers Knot to thee my Dear I send, An Emblem of true Love without an end.” -Hugh Pugh The “True Lover’s Knot” was a half-love-letter-half-hedge-maze painstakingly hand made by a randy 19th Century Quaker school teacher for one of his students. It’s crammed full of intricate geometric shapes and poems readable in any order by rotating the paper. Figure out how to recreate it and you’ll never have to do Valentine’s Day again.

“Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and their gray hairs without fear and without depression.” -Mark Twain Twain wrote this letter to his wife on the occasion of her 30th birthday, which at the time actually was as old as the average 30-something with kids feels today. Stick by each other and you’ll make it through alright, no matter how many gray hairs your kid gives you.

“I only thought I loved you before; it was nothing like this certainty that’s in me now.” -Henry Miller Pretty much every line in this one is worth stealing: “Still smouldering with passion, like wine smoking”? “I am in love, blind, blind. To be blind forever!” You assumed Miller had game, but this is ridiculous. Just try don’t let the missus find out he was writing to his mistress.

“There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.” -Ronald Reagan
Whatever your politics, you have to hand it to the Gipper: the guy can turn a phrase when it comes to summarizing what this whole marriage thing is all about. This one comes from a master class on the keys to happy union, which he wrote to his son (presumably after saying all of it to Nancy).

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