“I pray that one day the magic of an African evening, the glory of a reflection in some small stream will be yours . . . “
Is there anything more divine than a delicious love letter? Does anyone still write love letters or have we all been reduced to a bunch of email writing, text sending, immediate gratification droids? Generations past, our grandparents and great grandparents were marvelous letter writers.
My most treasured love letter was not intended for me as recipient but for my great grandmother, Susana. Her secret finacée, Leslie, an officer in the British army penned it 99 years ago. It has sailed through time and landed here upon my lap, devestating in its beauty, tragic in its ending.
This letter could be written by the Knight of Cups himself and I’ll tell you why . . .
Leslie, author of this lettre d’amour, was a poet and writer. Leslie’s upper crust family insisted he satisfy a military career before retiring to the country to write.
The Knight of Cups can represent the heart and soul of an artist who is forced into a “practical” profession. Cups represent the arts, creativity and emotions. Knights represent movement and action.
Look at the Knight of Cups, he embodies the soul of an artist yet, he is forced to wear a warrior’s armor. Does this knight look like he could hurt a fly? Does this man belong in battle? Note the wings of Hermes upon his helmet and heels. Does he gain speed through his artistic vision or his brawn?
Find yourself in the Knight of Cups. Have you ever harbored a passion for a subject others deem “silly” “wasteful” or “extravegant?” Have you ever been told not to quit your day job? Have you made life choices to satisfy the demands of others, not your true self? Have you ever settled for something that felt like a big heavy suit of armor, a suit that just doesn’t fit?
There is an additional attribution to the Knight of Cups and a juicy love letter. That is the element of longing . . . sweet aching, painfully delicious, toe curling, never satisfied, deep inside your bones longing. That’s what makes a love letter sing. It’s what also makes the Knight of Cups so dreamy. The potential of a love never fully realized.
The emotional thrust of a love letter is desire. The emotional thrust of art is also desire. Sex and art are both emotions in motion. Sex is expressed via our bodies while art is expressed via brush strokes, musical notations, etc. It is impossible to distinguish between the two. They cannot be separated. This is why love and art are both expressed by the suit of Cups.
There is a moral to this interpretation of the Knight of Cups and this particular love letter. . .
World War One breaks out. Subsequent love letters to my great grandmother, equally eloquent, are scribbled from fresh dug dirt trenches, exploding gunfire surrounding our Knight of Cups.
Leslie is killed in 1914. Their love is never culminated.
What is the moral for you? If you happen to be wearing a suit of armor that just doesn’t seem to fit, remove it at once before you get your ass blown to bits.
December 23, 1911
You must envy me. It is the 23rd of December and the sunshine is pouring into my room in a glorious stream. Across the bay, the delicate perfume of orange blossoms and jasmin. My princess, if only you were here with me I should be content.
I have been thinking of a glorious trip which I hope to take this year. Starting from Tangier and riding with guides, cooks, tents, etc. down the western coast of Morocco, past Soartel to Taffi, Magazan and Mogodor.
Now would you enjoy a trip like that? One has to camp out every night, do one’s own cooking, pitch our own tents – do everything, in fact, and the reward is a glorious country, everything quiant – untouched by civilization and the pure delight of ebbing next to nature with her sunsets, her colors and her love – to rest at night – a wonderful African night – the faintest breeze, the intoxicating richness of perfumes, the stillness of stars . . . I could live forever like that.
I wonder, Princess, if we shall ever make a trip like that? But you would not care for the riding, the fierceness of the Moors, the hardship of living a picnic life – would they appeal to you? I do wonder. Tell me.
One day I will teach you what gifts freedom in an open country can shower on one. I pray that one day the magic of an African evening, the glory of a reflection in some small stream will be yours . . .
I want to know how you have done in your exams. Mind you tell me. Now you ask me about going to Germany and France. Well dearest, it is not for me to say, but nevertheless I think if you were to leave college at the end of 1912, spend one year in Germany and one in France and that will make you nineteen years.
After you have been clear of schooling, I will send you my ring. I hate promises but you know dear, how I love you. We both know and our lives, God willing will be lived together.
Ever and always my princess. A thousand kisses on your lips.