I spent some time this Easter weekend reading the mournful letters of Eloise to her forbidden beloved, Abelard. Her letters are great monuments to yearning, as Eloise pines for Abelard, who has relinquished all physical love for her and retired to a monastery. These are history’s most abject love letters and quite something to read on a sunny Sunday morning. Love Susie x
But if I lose you, what is left to hope for? What reason for continuing in the pilgrimage of life, for which I have no support but you, and none in you except the knowledge that you are alive, now that I am forbidden all other pleasures in you and denied even the joy of your presence which from time to time could restore me to myself? O God - if I dare say it - cruel to me in everything! O merciless mercy! O fortune who is only ill-fortune, who has already spent on me so many of the shafts she uses in her battle against mankind that she has none left with which to vent her anger on others. She has emptied a full quiver on me, so that from now on no one else need fear her onslaughts, and if she still had a single arrow she could find no place in me to take a wound. Her only dread is that through my many wounds death may end my sufferings; and though she does not cease to destroy me, she still fears the destruction, which she hurries on.
Eloise, Early 12th Century