Emily Dickinson's Love Letter to Her Sister-in-Law Will 'Pummel' Your Heart on Valentine's Day

Letters of Note, a site dedicated to finding and publishing anything from postcards to telegrams to faxes that contain captivating material, has dedicated their Twitter feed to Valentine’s Day 2016 by posting love letters via Twitter that are meant to “pummel you”—into enduring hope for everlasting love or into a Netflix romcom binge is anyone’s guess.


All typical Valentine’s Day rhetoric aside, their February 14 feed is a digital trove of love notes made all the more intimate due to their sincerity, with transcripts exchanged between Hollywood icons like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Bloomsburgy literatis like Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, and even cartoon characters from The Simpsons (nothing says true romance like “maybe it’s the beer talking Marge but you got a butt that won’t quit”).

Among them, perhaps the most inspiring and most poignant of the lot comes from—who else?—a poet.

In a letter written in 1852 to her sister-in-law Susan Huntingdon Gilbert, poet Emily Dickinson confessed her “one thought...one prayer, only...that is for you.” As Letters of Note pointed out, while Gilbert was married to Dickinson’s elder brother Austin, letters between the two indicate that Susan was “a person now thought to have been the inspiration for much of her passionate material”—AKA her girlfriend. (The fact that they wrote each other letters even though they lived mere yards from each other as next-door neighbors might also lend credence to this theory.)

One of the most heart-swelling (and throat-welling) passages in the letter stands as a concise image for what love means: how Dickinson’s “biggest heart” is not her own, but “Susie’s”:

“I need you more and more, and the great world grows wider, and dear ones fewer and fewer, every day that you stay away — I miss my biggest heart; my own goes wandering round, and calls for Susie — Friends are too dear to sunder, Oh they are far too few, and how soon they will go away where you and I cannot find them, dont let us forget these things, for their remembrance now will save us many an anguish when it is too late to love them! Susie, forgive me Darling, for every word I say — my heart is full of you, none other than you in my thoughts, yet when I seek to say to you something not for the world, words fail me.”


Considering that this Valentine’s Day marks the first after a year filled with the likes of Kim Davis and, most recently, Oklahoma’s record-breaking attempts to repeal equality marriage in the state, the pertinence of this letter rings more true than ever.

If anything, Letters of Note has succeeded in what they set out to do: make us all lovesick, in every sense of the word.


Image via Twitter.