October 17, 1946
I adore you, sweetheart.
I know how much you like to hear that — but I don’t only write it because you like it — I write it because it makes me warm all over inside to write it to you.
It is such a terribly long time since I last wrote to you — almost two years but I know you’ll excuse me because you understand how I am, stubborn and realistic; and I thought there was no sense to writing.
But now I know my darling wife that it is right to do what I have delayed in doing, and that I have done so much in the past. I want to tell you I love you. I want to love you. I always will love you.
I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead — but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you. I never thought until just now that we can do that. What should we do. We started to learn to make clothes together — or learn Chinese — or getting a movie projector. Can’t I do something now? No. I am alone without you and you were the “idea-woman” and general instigator of all our wild adventures.
When you were sick you worried because you could not give me something that you wanted to and thought I needed. You needn’t have worried. Just as I told you then there was no real need because I loved you in so many ways so much. And now it is clearly even more true — you can give me nothing now yet I love you so that you stand in my way of loving anyone else — but I want you to stand there. You, dead, are so much better than anyone else alive.
I know you will assure me that I am foolish and that you want me to have full happiness and don’t want to be in my way. I’ll bet you are surprised that I don’t even have a girlfriend (except you, sweetheart) after two years. But you can’t help it, darling, nor can I — I don’t understand it, for I have met many girls and very nice ones and I don’t want to remain alone — but in two or three meetings they all seem ashes. You only are left to me. You are real.
My darling wife, I do adore you.
I love my wife. My wife is dead.
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.
Via Wikipedia, the infamous “Immortal Beloved” letters:
The entire letter is written on 10 small pages, in Beethoven’s rather inconsistent handwriting. The first section occupies four pages. In the following, the dashes and underlined words are as in Beethoven’s manuscript, crossed-out parts are enclosed in “<…>”.
6th July, in the morning.
My angel, my everything, my very self. – only a few words today, and in pencil (with yours) - I shall not be certain of my rooms here until tomorrow – what an unnecessary waste of time - why this deep grief, where necessity speaks - can our love exist but by sacrifices, by not demanding everything. Can you change it, that you are not completely mine, that I am not completely yours? Oh God, look upon beautiful Nature and calm your mind about what must be – love demands everything and completely with good reason, that is how it is for me with you, and for you with me - only you forget too easily, that I must live for myself and for you as well, if we were wholly united, you would not feel this as painfully, just as little as I would – my journey was terrible. I did not arrive here until 4 o’clock yesterday morning. As there were few horses, the mail coach chose another route, but what a dreadful one this was! At the last stage but one I was warned not to travel at night; attempts were made to frighten me about a forest, but that only made me more eager. – I was wrong. The coach broke down on the awful road, a road without a proper surface, a country one. If the two coachmen had not been with me, I would have remained stranded on the way. Esterhazi travelled the usual road here and had the same fate with eight horses that I had with four. – Yet I did get some pleasure out of it, as I always do when I successfully overcome difficulties. – now quickly to the interior from the exterior. We will probably see each other soon, only, today I cannot convey to you my observations which I made during these few days about my life – If our hearts were always close together, I would have no such thoughts. my heart is full with so much to tell you - Oh - There are moments when I feel that language is nothing at all - cheer up - remain my faithful only darling, my everything, as I for you, the rest is up to the Gods, what must be for us and what is in store for us. –
your faithful ludwig -
The following section continues on pages 5 and 6 through half of page 7. The struck-out portion below is heavily crossed-out in the manuscript.
Monday evening, 6th July.
You are suffering, you my dearest creature – only now do I realize that letters have to be posted very early, on Mondays – Thursdays – the only days when the mail is delivered to K. - you are suffering - Oh, wherever I am, you are with me, I talk to myself and to you[,] arrange [it] that I can live with you, what a life!!!! as it is!!!! without you – Pursued by the goodness of mankind here and there, the goodness that I wish to deserve as little as I deserve it. – Man’s humility towards man – this pains me – and when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am I and what is the man who is called the greatest? – And yet, – therein lies the divine element in man. I weep when I think that you will probably not receive first news of me until Saturday. However as much as you love me - I love you even more deeply, but - but never hide yourself from me - Good night – as I am taking the baths I must go to bed. <oh go with me, go with me> Oh God - so near! so far! Is not our love a true edifice in Heaven - but also as firm as the firmament. –
The final section of the letter resumes after a horizontal line on page 7. The handwriting on the last page is much larger and more difficult to decipher, showing a marked difference from the relatively more orderly page 9. The entire tenth page is thus taken up by only a small amount of text (beginning with “life - my everything” in the translation below).
Good morning, on 7th July.L.
While still in bed my thoughts turn towards you my Immortal Beloved, now and then happy, then sad again, waiting whether fate might answer us - I can only live either wholly with you or not at all, yes I have resolved to stray about in the distance, until I can fly into your arms, and send my soul embraced by you into the realm of the Spirits - yes unfortunately it must be - you will compose yourself all the more since you know my faithfulness to you, never can another own my heart, never – never – O God why do I have to separate from someone whom I love so much, and yet my life in V[ienna] as it is now is a miserable life - Your love makes me at once most happy and most unhappy - at my age I would now need some conformity[,] regularity of my life – can this exist in our relationship? – Angel, I have just heard that the mail coach goes every day – and thus I must finish so that you may receive the letter immediately. – be patient – only through quiet contemplation of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together – Be calm; for only by calmly considering our lives can we achieve our purpose of living together.- be calm - love me - today - yesterday - What yearning with tears for you - you - you my life – my everything - farewell - oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your Beloved
Dear [name redacted],
I miss you so much. I was thinking earlier how I would respond if you were to write me a letter saying you wanted to come home, that you were done with this and couldn’t handle it anymore. Of course I knew I’d have to tell you to stay, that [what you’re doing] is worth it. I would tell you to not expect a girlfriend when you came back if you did so prematurely. I would say all the things [I’m supposed to], that it’s good for you, that you’ll learn and grow and be a better person. I couldn’t think of specifics, though.
I wish you had, even for a second, considered not going because of me. I wish that I could have helped. I wish I made any difference whatsoever. I don’t. You’re gone, and I still won’t see you for 23 months and even though it keeps getting closer, until I’m halfway done with this, that’s more days and weeks and months farther away from when I was last able to see you and hold you in my arms and hear your voice. Until 11 more months have passed, I’m getting farther and farther away from you, and then I’ll be getting closer, but a whole year will have passed and I don’t know if I’ll feel any closer or if I’ll be so far away that it won’t matter.
Here it is: the short version I’ve already told you, and that is that I’m crazy about you. Completely, probably certifiably, nuts over you. Just holding your hand makes my heart race (and you know I’m not making that up. You’ve heard it) and my temperature rise ten degrees. If I’m hard to read sometimes it’s that I’m afraid because when I’ve felt even a fraction of this way in the past, things rapidly go horribly wrong (and I feel like maybe they already have, because I’m struggling with myself to keep from texting or e-mailing constantly and I’m terrified that I’m not going to get to kiss you again, which of course leads to a self-fulfilling destructive loop where I get paranoid and crazy and then you don’t want to speak to me anymore and then I’m back to where I was two years ago: introverted and angry and completely given up on ever finding a girl who’ll have me, in any capacity).