Marius’ love letter to Cosette, from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1802-1885).

Translated by Charles E. Wilbour and edited by Paul Bénichou, pp. 318-320.

The reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a single being even to God, this is love.

God is behind all things, but all things hide God. Things are black, creatures are opaque. To love a being is to render her transparent.

Love partakes of the soul itself. It is the same nature. Like it, it is a divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire which is within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can limit and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burn even in the marrow of our bones, and we see it radiate even to the depths of the sky.

O love! Adorations! Light of two minds which comprehend each other, of two hearts which are interchanged, of two glances which interpenetrate! You will come to me, will you not, happiness? Walks together in the solitudes! Days blessed and radiant! I have sometimes dreamed that from time to time hours detached themselves from the life of the angels and came here below to pass through the destiny of men.

God can add nothing to the happiness of those who love one another but to give them unending duration. After a life of love, an eternity of love is an augmentation indeed; but to increase in its intensity the ineffable felicity which love gives to the soul in this world is impossible, even with God. God is the plenitude of heaven; love is the plenitude of man.

You look at a star from two motives: because it is luminous and because it is impenetrable. You have at your side a softer radiance and a greater mystery: woman.

If you are a stone, be loadstone; if you are plant, be sensitive; if you are man, be love.

“Does she still come to the Luxembourg?” “No, monsieur.” She hears mass in this church, does she not?” “She comes here no more.” “Does she still live in this house?” “She has moved away!” “Whither has she gone to live?” “She did not say!” What a gloomy thing, not to know the address of one’s soul!

You who suffer because you love, love still more. To die of love is to live by it.

What a grand thing, to be loved! What a grander thing still, to love! The heart becomes heroic through passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests upon anything but what is elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more spring up in it than a nettle upon a glacier. The soul, lofty and serene, inaccessible to common passions and common emotions, rising above the clouds and the shadows of the world, its follies, its falsehoods, its hates, its vanities, its miseries, inahbits the blues of the skies, and only feels more the deep and subterranean commotions of destiny, as the summit of the mountains feels the quaking of the earth.

Were there not someone who loved, the sun would be extinguished.