Romantic Love Letters by Franz Kafka

A Romantic love letter written by Franz Kafka to Milen Jesensk

unknown date but believed to be written in 1921

No, Milen, I beg you once again to invent another possibility for my writing to you. You mustn’t go to the post office in vain, even your little postman — who is he? — mustn’t do it, nor should even the postmistress be asked unnecessarily.

If you can find no other possibility, then one must put up with it, but at least make a little effort to find one.

Last night I dreamed about you. What happened in detail I can hardly remember, all I know is that we kept merging into one another. I was you, you were me. Finally you somehow caught fire.

Remembering that one extinguished fire with clothing, I took an old coat and beat you with it.

But again the transmutations began and it went so far that you were no longer even there, instead it was I who was on fire and it was also I who beat the fire with the coat.

But the beating didn’t help and it only confirmed my old fear that such things can’t extinguish a fire.

In the meantime, however, the fire brigade arrived and somehow you were saved.

But you were different from before, spectral, as though drawn with chalk against the dark, and you fell, lifeless or perhaps having fainted from joy at having been saved, into my arms.

But here too the uncertainty of trans mutability entered, perhaps it was I who fell into someone’s arms.


My notes

I liked the way this letter writer was expressing his love for his sweetheart going to the post box and finding no letter there.  The disappointment when your sweetheart is away can be heartbreaking.  The way he dreamed about his love being with him while he slept can be interpreted in different ways.  I take it from his later words that writer of this love letter was dreaming of him and his girlfriend being so close their lives and bodies merged together as one person.

Maybe the fire was an expression of the way his heart was aflame with love and desire. I would like to think that even through they had parted badly his heart was still burning for her and no matter how he tried to extinguish that flame of desire he had there was nothing he could do to stop it.

We may never know what he really meant whilst writing this romantic love letter but lets look for the good. The linking of fire and burning hot desire appears in a lot of of love letters and poems I think this is one of the few love letters I have read about someone dreaming about actually being on fire and needing to call the fire brigade to douse it.

Do you ever write to your lover about dreams you are having? Are you prepared to share them with us even anonymously (although we would like to use your name if possible).


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