After Ludwig van Beethoven’s death in 1827, some passionate love letters were found amongst the composer’s personal papers, penned by Beethoven himself over the course of two days in July of 1812 while staying in Teplice. The letter’s unnamed recipient — Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” — remains a mystery, and continues to generate debate. – [Source]
Author’s note: This post differs from my earlier ones and is composed entirely of letters. The letters in purple are written by Beethoven himself while the letters in blue are those of the Immortal Beloved(?).
My angel, my all, my own self — only a few words today, and that too with pencil (with yours) — only till tomorrow is my lodging definitely fixed. What abominable waste of time in such things — why this deep grief, where necessity speaks?
Can our love persist otherwise than through sacrifices, than by not demanding everything? Canst thou change it, that thou are not entirely mine, I not entirely thine? Oh, God, look into beautiful Nature and compose your mind to the inevitable. Love demands everything and is quite right, so it is for me with you, for you with me — only you forget so easily, that I must live for you and for me — were we quite united, you would notice this painful feeling as little as I should . . .
. . . We shall probably soon meet, even today I cannot communicate my remarks to you, which during these days I made about my life — were our hearts close together, I should probably not make any such remarks. My bosom is full, to tell you much — there are moments when I find that speech is nothing at all. Brighten up — remain my true and only treasure, my all, as I to you. The rest the gods must send, what must be for us and shall.
L – ,
Last night, I dreamt about you, about us. I woke up with a faint cry, heavy eyes and an insurmountable yearning to be with you. It was then that I knew – I had to see you, to be near you, to make up for all the time we spent away from one another. I took the first train from V[enedig] and arrived at P[rag] in the midst of frightening temperatures and an impending gloom. I am now another step closer to you……so near! so far!
Is it possible to live with this uncertainty, knowing that we might not see each other in the foreseeable future ? L – , you suffer at W[ien]. I suffer in your absence. Every night, I pray and hope against hope for the merciful powers to ease our pain – to put an end to the sacrifices that Love demands of its helpless victims. Like two desperate souls in love, we have destroyed ourselves time and again, trapped in the evil snares of anticipation, negligence and distance. So many hours of daylight and hours deep into the night, in both crowded and forlorn places and at times when I have been both joyful and weary, I haven’t stopped loving you – or believing that we will meet – or that Fate has a better plan for us.
L-, how powerful are the memories we’ve woven over time that the mere thought of them brings fresh tears to my eye? They say that time heals and yet, the passing of days and months bring no comfort to my troubled senses; the wait is endless. Are we then, fighting a lost battle? Put me out of this misery, dear God! I’d rather be with L or perish in the fight.
Yours to the last,
L – ,
Today, I don’t feel so well. My heart races and there is madness in my blood, driving me to the point of insanity from where there is no way back. L -, this is not the life we had promised to one other. A juxtaposition of rage, anxiety and hopelessness envelops me in a thick blanket of despair, desolation and hatred towards anything that is alive and moving. The monstrous screams of a hysterical woman ring in my ears; her terrifying shrieks gets louder and wilder; dear God, set her free! I find no solace even in my dreams. I close my eyes and my inner eye conjures horrific visions of being trapped in between sharp and deathly knives, waiting to wound me if I dare take a single step forward or backward. I wake up to find my reality no different from the recurring series of cataclysmic nightmares. My feeling of numbness gets the better of me and I feel nothing. I love and hate no one. Spiritually, I am dead. Physically, I am weak and dying.
I seek no physician, no kin, no divine intervention – I only seek you – my life – my all. If this is the beginning of my end, will not the one they call most high – grant me permission to see you for one last time? For now, we cannot do anything but wait. Pray for me Love. Your absence deprives me of every last strength that is in my body. Tonight, I feel overcome by a fierce sense of coldness and will retire to bed early.
Your beloved – yesterday, today and tomorrow.
You suffer, you, my dearest creature. Just now I perceive that letters must be posted first thing early. Mondays — Thursdays — the only days, when the post goes from here to K. You suffer — oh! Where I am, you are with me, with me and you, I shall arrange that I may live with you. What a life!
So! Without you — pursued by the kindness of the people here and there, whom I mean — to desire to earn just as little as they earn — humility of man towards men — it pains me — and when I regard myself in connection with the Universe, what I am, and what he is — whom one calls the greatest — and yet — there lies herein again the godlike of man. I weep when I think you will probably only receive on Saturday the first news from me — as you too love — yet I love you stronger — but never hide yourself from me. Good night — as I am taking the waters, I must go to bed. Oh God — so near! so far! Is it not a real building of heaven, our Love — but as firm, too, as the citadel of heaven.
Today was one of those stranger days. The Sunday mass finished earlier than usual. I was not in my usual self and without saying a word to anyone, I walked out of the large wooden doors of the church at N[amesti Miru]. My carriage stood at a distance; I quickened my pace towards it only to be stopped short by a figure in black. L – , I could have sworn that it was you! In the past, my eyes have conjured various imitations of phantoms, ghosts, angels, demons, – always tailoring to the incoherent, tempestuous and flickering state of my mind. And even though, many a times my senses fail to grasp the reality for what it is, they do not and will not err when it comes to you. I went towards you as fast as my frozen feet and hysterical senses could take me. I could no longer feel the piercing wind and heavy snow that intensified my landscape and with it, my burning desire of seeing you… of being with you, after all this time and all the wait…. You say the Gods of time are cruel, I blame it on the Fates, on Chance, on each and every celestial body that steers the course of two mortal souls, deeply in love……..unhappy in love. You were only a few steps away when the unsettling universe sent a sudden blast of snow from the easterly direction and forced my eyes shut. A few seconds of momentary chaos and you were gone! L -, yet again, you left me……left me to my incomplete, forsaken and isolated self……..left me in the middle of the abandoned square with warm tears streaming down my cold and hardened face…..
Good morning, on 7 July
Even in bed my ideas yearn towards you, my Immortal Beloved, here and there joyfully, then again sadly, awaiting from Fate, whether it will listen to us. I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all. Yes, I have determined to wander about for so long far away, until I can fly into your arms and call myself quite at home with you, can send my soul enveloped by yours into the realm of spirits — yes, I regret, it must be. You will get over it all the more as you know my faithfulness to you; never another one can own my heart, never — never! O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W – as it is now is a miserable life. Your love made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time. At my actual age I should need some continuity, sameness of life — can that exist under our circumstances? Angel, I just hear that the post goes out every day — and must close therefore, so that you get the L. at once. Be calm — love me — today — yesterday.
What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart.
Of your beloved.
L – ,
Does every love story come with a happy ending ? My thoughts rush towards you – to those last few moments when I looked into your eyes from the carriage window – your profound gaze piercing through my soul – asking the same questions over and over again. On my arrival at B[onn], I hastily descended down the steps and came running to my room, shut myself like an outcast and wept! Oh how I wept for you! L -, if only you knew how much I longed for your presence! Come back, come back to the one who stays faithful and true. And even if our separation is the beginning of a demanding affair with no respite, I will soothe my nerves with blissful memories – of you – of us – of the peaceful summer afternoons spent under the leafy glades and by the gentle lake – heart to heart and hand in hand. Only then will my wishes be fulfilled – my prayers answered – to have you by my side – so near! never far!
Love me always – for I shall go on loving you – till the end of time – farewell. Take heart – Good night – and think fondly of your immortal beloved.