From time to time I receive a long and handwritten letter from one of my brothers and I am long overdue in responding to him. I think this comment from the German poet Hölderlin to his sister is as good a prompt as I could hope for.
How lovely that he took her letter with him to re-read on his walk, then finding he didn’t need to take it out of his pocket as it had already been committed to memory.
And what, I wonder, was the present she sent? Answers, on a postcard please …
Dearest Sister, I have all kinds of things to thank you for: the present you sent, your long letter and all that it contains. After I’d received it and read it I went for a walk and took it with me, wanting to read it again, but I kept it in my pocket because I knew it by heart.
Source: Friedrich Hölderlin, letter to Heinrike Breunlin, 4 July 1798, Essays and Letters, trans. and ed. by Jeremy Adler and Charlie Louth (London: Penguin Books, 2009), p. 100
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