Star-Crossed Lovers

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of Love! Just saying the word “Valentine” can trigger a flood of images synonymous with lovers: wine, chocolate, red roses, and romantic candlelit dinners. All the world, it seems, loves a lover–especially this time of year. But not every love story is a tale of wine and roses. In fact, it’s often the stories of star-crossed lovers that capture our hearts and whose memory stays with us long after their tales have been told.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite star-crossed lovers:

1.  Catherine and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. A heart-wrenching tale of love, loss, and vengeance on the lonely moors of northern England. Heathcliff’s fervent prayer when faced with Cathy’s untimely death sets the tone for the whole novel. “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living! You said I killed you–haunt me, then! Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss where I cannot find you.”

2.  Hellelil and Hildebrand from a poem by William Morris. A young knight is assigned to guard the daughter of a Danish king, but falls in love with her instead. When their clandestine love affair is discovered, Hildebrand is killed while fighting the king’s men outside the doors of her bedchamber. Hellelil dies later from grief after being sold by her mother and brother to a foreign court.

3.  Tristan and Isolde. Tragic tale of a young knight sent to bring an Irish princess back to Cornwall to wed his king. En route, the young couple falls hopelessly in love. The story of Tristan and Isolde is considered by many to be a precursor to the Arthurian legend of Lancelot and Guinevere. (another pair of star-crossed lovers)

4.  Annabel Lee, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. So grief-stricken is the young poet that he will not be parted from his true love even after her death.

5.  Beren and Luthien from Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s classic tale of a noble warrior without title or fortune who braves any task to win the hand of his lady love . . . and of the elf-maiden who gives up her immortality for love of a mortal man.

6.  Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Quintessential love triangle played out against the backdrop of World War II. Stellar performances–and a rock solid theme of love and loss–makes this movie one of the best Hollywood films of all times.

There are others, of course. Romeo and Juliet. Antony and Cleopatra. Bonny and Clyde. Nothing sucks us in quite like a tragic love story. So, what are your favorite star-crossed lovers?

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