This is the first in a series of blogs I intend to post, where I can share some of my favourites words written by other people. As a writer, I am fascinated by words and the uses they are put to. Inspirational, arousing, convincing, shocking, moving, profound…Words touch us all in different ways. There are certain words, whether it be quotations, sayings, passages from literature, or song lyrics that I find especially wonderful and which I sometimes call to mind as I write. I want to share them.
My first quotation is from a short story, ‘Carmilla’, written by J. Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872 and published in a collection of Gothic stories called ‘In A Glass Darkly.’ It is the story of a female vampire, Carmilla, and her victim, Laura. Despite the dubious equation of lesbianism with female hysteria and vampirism (this is a Victorian story after all), the story contains some particularly well written passages, which convey very evocatively the love that is growing between Carmilla and Laura, without shying away from the darker undertones, which only serve to increase the passion. To me, as a lesbian reader, they seemed especially meaningful, but they are such perfect words, that I think everyone should read them.
I think the line “I live in your warm life, and you shall die—die, sweetly die—into mine” is one of the most beautiful in literature. Yes, on a literal level, they are the words of a vampire. But as a metaphor for the process of falling in love, these words are evocative and wonderful.
From Chapter 4 of ‘Carmilla’ by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, 1872.
She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my ear, “Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die—die, sweetly die—into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love; so, for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me with all your loving spirit.”
And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she would press me more closely in her trembling embrace, and her lips in soft kisses gently glow upon my cheek.
(You can read the whole of ‘Carmilla’ online here)