Let’s Get Sentimental: Romantic Lines in Literature

Celebrating Valentine’s Day is a tricky thing when your Intended is overseas, and they don’t even observe it on the same day there. It’s our first long-distance February 14th in what I assure you is an obnoxiously happy-sappy love story. You don’t want to hear about it.

But thinking about Kiersten, I happened upon a list of what Brits voted to be the most romantic lines in English literature. Few surprises here: William Shakespeare, once again, is on it. Joseph Conrad, once again, is not. But the #1 entry? A tidbit from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Personally, I find the winning line generic, and not even in the way many classic quotes eventually feel generic:

“Whatever souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

To borrow a word from that sentence– Whatever. I feel its victory owes more to the general reverence toward the literary work than the line itself. You might say the same for the “Juliet is the sun” line’s appearance (#3).

I judge a romantic line by whether or not it instills that tingle of recognition, and in the heart rather than the brain. The entry belonging to Dr. Seuss, of all authors, does just this thing for me:

“You know you’re in love when you don’t want to fall asleep, because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

Of course a list like this inspires entries of one’s own. For me, here are some of the most romantic literary quotes I can call to mind:

– “Thy firmness makes my circle just/ And makes me end where I begun.”— “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne

– “You were made perfectly to be loved– and surely I have loved you, in the idea of you, my whole life long.” — a love letter by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

– “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” —The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

(As a kid I always thought of that book as a metaphor for romantic love in addition to love in general.)

– “One must learn to love, and go through a good deal of suffering to get to it… and the journey is always towards the other soul.”D.H. Lawrence

– “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.” — Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare

– “You’re going to have us both.” — “Love Me, Love My Dog” by P.G. Wodehouse

(Actually, that one requires context. Read the the short story here, all the way to the last line of it, which this is. It’s Wodehouse, just do it.)

So how about it? What are some literary lines you’ve come across that go all plickity-plick on your heartstrings to this day?

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One thought on “Let’s Get Sentimental: Romantic Lines in Literature

  1. Nice entry! I really love your quote from the Velveteen Rabbit. To me it’s kind of analogy for Christians – we get old and broken down but we are always Real and have meaning in God’s eyes. He loves us because he made us Real. I love that story but I never really think about it much anymore, so thanks 🙂

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