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No Valentine For The Inspiration of Verona’s Winning Love Letter

February 13, 1993

ROME (AP) _ Words of love won Chiara Cabassi the prize. A lack of them got her boyfriend the boot.

Ms. Cabassi wrote her sweetheart a letter complaining that he didn’t know how to tell her of his love. The missive won a love-letter contest sponsored by the city of Verona to honor Juliet Capulet, whose romance with Romeo Montague, as portrayed by Shakespeare, set the standard for eloquent passion.

Although she wrote of romance, Ms. Cabassi clearly is no swooning softy.

″Marriage? I don’t even talk about it, I don’t believe in it. Children? They bother me. My boyfriend? I dumped him after he inspired me to write the letter for the contest,″ Ms. Cabassi told Italian journalists after the award was announced.

If Ms. Cabassi’s unidentified boyfriend had heeded Romeo’s words, he may not have fallen to the status of insignificant other.

″How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by/ night,/ like softest music to attending ears,″ said Shakespeare’s swain.

Putting it another way, Ms. Cabassi wrote: I would like to teach you, as best I can, not to love me, my love, but to tell me.

″In another life I would like to be the woman of a poet,″ she wrote. ″No, not Shakespeare. Too perfect. Too total. I would like a poetry of small things, phrases closely tied to our history.″

″But you don’t know how to tell me of love. ‘I love you.’ No, it’s not enough,″ she admonished.

Despite the fate of the romance, her letter was judged the best of 1,800 entries mailed from four continents. The jurors were led by actress Giulietta Masina.

Ms. Cabassi won a specially designed fountain pen so she can continue to write about love, perhaps to a more receptive reader.

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