Selected entries from actress Billie Burke's regular column in the Fort Wayne Sentinel
Billie Burke on Love
25th July, 1912
Billie Burke on Love (1)
The First Word: DON'T POUR ALL YOUR GLORIOUS LOVE UPON ONE OBJECT
Among my numerous letters recently was one which interested me greatly. It was from a woman who said she had a husband and two beuatiful children and who complained that her husband was neglecting her; that while he gave her enough money to take care of the house and children comfortably he seemed to care nothing for her sociey. She asked me what she should do.
As I have never been married my advice would be more or less thoretical, but I believe that if I found my husband cared little for my society I would immediately try to interest myself in the other affairs of my life. It has always seemed to me one of the greatest mistakes for a woman to pour all the great wealth of love of which she is capable out upon any one person; or to allow her interests to become completely bounded by one person.
I am not advocating fickleness nor free love, but I am pretty sure that love in my life will be an incident, just as it is in the life of any other busy person of many responsibilities - a very beautiful incident which may color the entire fabric of my every-day life, but still if it should be taken out I could turn my attention to the building up of other interests and other loves.
First however I think I should look to myself and see if I had made myself as interesting as possible to my husband or had allowed myself to become stolid and uninteresting, with little originality of thought or desire. If he still persisted in neglect then I would not allow him to make me unhappy.
I would fill my life so full with the love of children, the care of the home and the interests of my friends and relatives that I would not miss the thing that he did not care to offer.
Just One Last Word: MANY A WOMAN HAS LOVED A MAN DEVOTEDLY AND BORED HIM TO DEATH BY DOING IT
30th July, 1912
Billy Burke on Love (2)
The First Word: LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND.
So runs the old song, but we must remember that it is not romantic love, as we Know it, which turns this staid old sphere. The world circled many thousand of centuries before romantic love came into existence. The love we read about in novels, see pictured upon the stage and think we feel is only about one thousand years old.
Not until Vita Nuova was written was the love of one man for one woman put into definite language. It was in the soul of Dante that romantic love was conceived. Even then the emotion was idealistic and it remained for Shakespeare to combine thin idealism of thought and imagination with romantic episodes, tragic agonies and wild delight.
I have played at love for years upon the stage and I have, of course, read its beautification in the modern novels, and I think we are building up in the mind of the young man and woman of today a false ideal; we are practically telling them that if they fall in love they enter a heaven of never-ending delights made possible by continuous emotion of the most ecstatic kind. It seems to me that one with any sense would know this was absolutely impossible, and that every emotion that the human soul can conceive must have its rise, its pinnacle and its fall. Love is no different from the rest.
Just as sure as you fall in love in the modern acceptance of the term, you will fall out of it. True, the first question a girl asks her lover is "Will you love me always?" and he ansers with perfect sincerity: "Forever, and then some." Yet this wonderful emotion, we are told by those who have made a study of it, rarely lasts longer than two years and according to taht great lover. Sainte Cere, it can never outlive five years. Heine, another expert on this subject, calls love "a flickering flame between two darknesses," and he "marvels that such a raging fire can come from sparks increditably small and sink again into nothing."
There would not be so many sighs over lost illusions if mothers would teach their sons and daughters that romantic love is but the foundation upon which to rear a more beautiful and stronger edifice, the home, harmony, pervaded with an atmosphere of sympathy.
Today our lovers dream only, when they enter into marriage blindly, that wedded life will be a prolnged courtship under the approbation of the church and state. When it becomes impossible to keep within this beatific boundary with the affairs of life always calling, they are filled with unrest and instinctively seek to find what they think they have lost. This is, perhaps, one of the great reasons why we see so many romantic episodes chronicled in the daily papers and why we also so often see reiterated that falsity, "marriage is a failure."
Don't think, dear girl, that there are not phases of love just as beautiful as the exciting emotion which you are perhaps now enjoying. And remember that this high altitude of emotion cannot last. Be satisfied to take the calmer and more livable definition of love and make it your own, otherwise a very sad, middle age will be yours, and as you grow older you will become synical and pessimistic.
Just One Last Word: THERE ARE AS MANY KINDS OF LOVE AS THEIR ARE ENTHUSIASTS WHO THINK THEY KNOW ALL ITS RAPTURES, ALL ITS AGONIES.
28th January, 1913
You Need Not Be Old Nor Married to Know Love — says Billie Burke
I tell you I am sure at least of one good time each day. Every morning when my secretary opens my mail she lays aside the letters which are more humorous or interesting than others, and we go over them very carefully.
Yesterday a man said to me. "What do you know about love, my dear Billie? You are very young. At least you look so to me. You have never been married and I have never heard a rumor of an engagement. Aren't you taking a good deal upon yourself to advise lovers when, from experience, you know nothing about the tender passion?"
One does not need to be old nor married to know about love. Every man, woman and child in the universe must know about it as soon as they know anything. Some, alas! only know it because they miss it, for love is the only thing that makes life worth living, the only civilizing instinct that we human beings know.
LOVE IS EVERYWHERE; we see it in the budding flowers and the stars of heaven. and death in life has come to us if we cannot feel it.
LOVE CLASPS the mother's breast with baby fingers.
LOVE BRUSHES the cheek of youth with sweet caress.
LOVE ILLUMINED the rugged face of Lincoln as he affixed his name to the paper that liberated the souls of four million people from the bonds of slavery.
LOVE CAME to Joan of Arc and straight way she followed with steps that did not falter, whether they led to the victor's crown at Orleans or the burning stake at Rheims.
LOVE TOUCHED the pen of Shakespeare and set the whole world of poetic fancy aflame with rose and gold.
LOVE SANG in the ear of Mozart and music trembled down time's pathway.
LOVE RESTED for a moment beside the canvas of Raphael and left behind the semblance of motherhood divine.
LOVE SILENCED the cruel, raucus tongues of the beasts in Rome's arena, for, in the ears of the dying martyrs, still echoed the words of the Greatest Lover of All, who, when his brimming cup of sorrow overflowed, still loved so much that He could lift His face to heaven and whisper: "Father, forgive them; they know not what they do."
14th February, 1913
"I LOVE YOU!" - A Valentine from Billie Burke
The whole world is contained in those words, and from the time speech was known someone has been whispering them in longing and listening ears. And here at last I say them, hoping you will understand what they may mean to me.
I looked around with open eyes but never saw the glory that turned the gray of life to gold: I listened vainly of the lost chord that would complete the melody. To my halting tongue, the words of joy and bliss were strange. I could not understand the reason for it all. I said. "We are born, we die and that is all."
Then all at once from out my waking heart the words, "I LOVE YOU," came and kissed my trembling lips, and about my soul was strung a radiance unspeakable.
Now, because I LOVE YOU, I walk apart from all life's woe. Grief cannot touch me if I repeat the magic words, and Discontent hides her face before the dear, dear thought is coined into speech.
I LOVE YOU.
All day long the words sing in my heart. No matter how hard or sordid the word with which each hour is filled, it cannot make me wish to change my lot with even the earth's favored ones, for they perhaps will never know the bliss of saying, "t LOVE YOU."
And so, beloved. I want to be to you THE WOMAN who satisfies all that your mind, soul and body craves; who is loyal as a friend through good and ill; who can clasp your hand in closest comradeship or set your blood tingling to love's sweetest measures.
I would have my face fair that you may love to gaze; my brain big to cope with yours; my soul broad that you may know that truth and sympathy and perfect truth are always there; but I would have my heart so soft and tender that, at your slightest touch I drop all other attributes, all other thoughts, all other words, save those of love.
Earth can hold no more for me than that "I LOVE YOU," and the very gates of Paradise will open it if you LOVE ME.