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We can’t write love

On Valentine's Day don't send a card, write a letter. But don't include the most rhythmically unsatisfying phrase in the English language: I love you

By Helen Stevenson   February 1999

Love is a difficult material. Write is a difficult verb. We can draw love, sculpt love, make love and send it. We can write many things, but we can’t write love. At best we can only write about it.

This is not to say that it is not worth the attempt. At the least, a love letter can be stowed in a breast pocket (or stuffed into a private orifice, as James Joyce instructed Nora Barnacle to do with his), fondled, smelled and dwelled upon, memorised when the ink grows old and pale, returned to when the lover does the…

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