Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 – 1864) was forty-six years old before he obtained his first literary success. Hawthorne would repeatedly credit his wife, Sophia, as his muse. Shy and reclusive, Hawthorne first met Sophia Peabody in 1838, when he was still a struggling and largely unimpressive writer. In this letter, the newly married Hawthorne struggles to find the proper words of love to offer his wife.
5 December, 1839
Dearest, – I wish I had the gift of making rhymes, for methinks there is poetry in my head and heart since I have been in love with you. You are a Poem. Of what sort, then? Epic? Mercy on me, no! A sonnet? No; for that is too labored and artificial. You are a sort of sweet, simple, gay, pathetic ballad, which Nature is singing, sometimes with tears, sometimes with smiles, and sometimes with intermingled smiles and tears.
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