July 14, 1931 – letter to A.D.R.

Norwich, Vermont
July 14, 1931

Dear Mate:

The Meserveys brought over your letter yesterday, and I was very glad to have it, even if it was a rather sad sort of letter. Although I still doubt whether the gods are “equal to anything,” I know they are equal to a hell of a lot, and I’ve been worrying about “you-all” a great deal. I’m awfully glad that E. is getting better. Doctors, I think, are generally pessimistic. They are rather interested in their infernal fees, and they are quite pleased when somebody springs a strange new disease or combination of diseases that nobody has ever heard of before.

I do hope Phoebe won’t crash up next. Or you. I don’t see how you manage to avoid it, with all the mental and physical stress you must be under. Of course, if one can keep from losing one’s head, that’s the main thing.

I suppose you are right about B. R., if he really is that way. I hadn’t thought of it in just that light before. Still, I think he’s wrong; but if that’s how he is he can’t help it of course. I wish, for the sake of all the R.’s,… Read more

August 20, 1931 – letter to A.D.R.

Norwich, Vermont
August 20, 1931

Dear A.D.R.:

I was glad to have heard from you at last. Of course, I realized that you couldn’t be writing letters; the only trouble being that I worry about you.

After reading your letter three or four times, I felt pretty sure that you were feeling better about B.R. You didn’t dare to say so in so many words, and I don’t blame you—but still, there it is, isn’t it? I was also awfully glad to realize, by your quotations from his letters, that he still has plenty of his own sense of humor, and that nothing can alter that.

As for you, you don’t have to worry about old ladies’ almshouses, or anything of that sort!

When I turned the page of your letter and read the “further happenings of this horrible summer,” I said to myself: “This is more than the limit. It can’t be true.” And I laughed a little, it seemed so utterly far-fetched, if you know what I mean. Well, what can I say? Ye Gods!

Thanks for the clippings. Yes, I sympathize very much with that poor chap who wanted to be let alone and to have a row-boat.… Read more

September 28, 1931 – letter to A.D.R.

Sept. 28 [1931]
Mon. night

Dearest ADR:

Do let me tell you how sad I was to hear about your mother. It must have been terrible for you, when everything else in the world is wrong at the same time. Did she keep on writing that pleasant poetry of hers right through? A life-saver it was, for her, I should think.

Oh, I do crave so to hear some good news from you! Of course, it is good that you have been able to stand up so well under these catapultations, and keep on composing wholesome young men and healthy-minded virgins. It seems nothing short of miraculous. I think you’re a grand scout, and I’m behind you somewhere in the east, with all my strength.

Your husband’s words about Gabriel and the empty belt were glorious, even in their sadness. I love people like him and you. “Like,” I say. Well, there aren’t any, that’s about the size of it. But I love him and you.

Do give Phoebe and E. my love, too. I feel much for the trapped nymph. Being trapped by life, in her case school, is not good for one’s wings. I admire her. As for E.,… Read more

October 5, 1931 – letter to A.D.R.

Oct. 5 [1931]

Dear Alice:

Your letter comes at the end of a day so atrociously busy and hustled that I simply cannot tap a key on the dratted machine; but I want to answer it right away, because I liked it so much; furthermore, since I don’t ever have air-mail envelopes on hand, it behooves me at least to be more or less prompt with my ordinary ones! Forgive the ___________ [line drawn in the shape of a shallow bell curve] effects: I am unspeakably tired, and my handwriting, as you know, doesn’t amount to much at the best of times.

First I want to mention Phoebe’s poem. I adored it. It is inexpressibly passionate and wistful, with a depth and a wildness to it—also, a preciseness of technique and structure (to be prosaic)—that convinces me that P.A.R. is rapidly growing up. What do you think?

I haven’t written a poem for __ years. I guess the fountain has gone rusty, and gotten choked up with stale moss. Pleasant thought, isn’t it? But at the best, I could never produce a poem like that of Phoebe’s. If I have any ability at all, it lies in prose, I think.… Read more

October 19, 1931 – letter to A.D.R.

150 Claremont Ave.
October 19 [1931]

Dear ADR:

Just a vibration from yours in New York, to let you know that I’m still quite alive, strange as it may seem.

I’ve been doing some thinking about Phoebe’s poem. Would you like me to try peddling it around a bit? Have you, for instance, sent it to Harper’s? I think it’s gorgeous, and she might make a small handful of pebbles out of it. It’s worth trying, I think; though I’ve never had any luck in that way myself.

The only development here in New York of any great interest is pertaining to Helen’s manuscript, which is trying hard to put itself across on the radio. I think it may. If it does———! Oh, but I’ll talk about that when it happens—and IF.

Another development there is that she’s put salt on the tail of a perfectly magnificent illustrator—a shy little man who has been down to the tropics himself, and knows, who has an adorable sense of humor, and who can play the ukulele and sing Tahitian songs in a simple sweet way which makes me weep—me! He’s caught, I think, better than anyone else could have done, the spirit of our trip—its gaiety, its colors.… Read more

Nov. 1931 (approx.) – letter to A.D.R.

Thursday night
[ca. November, 1931: between the Oct. 19 and Dec. 22 letters, anyway.]

Dear Adr:

Really, you are too unsubtle for words! As if I could write out such an event! As if there were any words that could convey the tiniest fraction of it! Oh, well, we dense human beings must have words, I suppose.

In words, then, know that he has returned, and all’s well. He has been writing to me in his usual clear, faithful way, and between us we’ve just had the Airmail-envelope presses going to their full capacity. He is one of the world’s best, I think—and if other people don’t think so, they needn’t, and you can tell that to the farents, and be damned to them!

I’m very happy over it all, of course, but not so much so that I didn’t read with something akin to rapture the letter which seemed to say that things are brighter for you in several ways. I am so glad, and may it keep on! All your little items of information were absorbed and treasured. Of course, I was sorry that the editor (damn the black hearts of editors!) couldn’t leave your story in peace. I really can sympathize, too, because Helen’s editor has been something of a nuisance, too.… Read more

Dec. 22, 1931 – letter to A.D.R.

150 Claremont Avenue
New York
December 22, 1931

Dear A.D.R.:

I’m not sending any cards, either, so that’s all right. Christmas doesn’t really exist this year, anyhow. Six to ten million human beings unemployed and suffering, and the weather messy and warm and rainy, and nobody with you whom you love—well, it just isn’t, that’s all. I’m damned if I’ll send any cards!

You ask for a pleasant chatty intimate sort of letter. You have me stumped, A.D.R. I don’t know where to begin. We don’t go for walks, much of any. One soon exhausts the possibilities of the neighborhood, you know. There isn’t any pleasant little hill…. Ouch! Idiot! Fool! Sabra is well enough, only I don’t see very much of her, and when I do see her usually neither she nor I are at our best. My best goes into the job, which isn’t where it should go; and her best goes into school, which she really loves. Besides, she’s rather outside my pale, you know (or is it pail? I hardly know).

I’m glad to hear the hopeful sound in your words when you mention B.R. Also it’s good to know that E. is writing. Painting? And how is the business-in-the-desert?… Read more

March 1932 – letter to A.D.R.

Saturday
March 1932

Dear A.D.R.:

You really needn’t feel so ashamed of yourself in the matter of correspondence, since you surely didn’t owe me much of a letter, judging by my last two or three!

You are right when you surmise that I have been rushed and busy—more so than ever, since the beginning of 1932. My life is getting almost crowded, in fact. The job, of course, takes eight hours a day straight out, and everything else has to be jammed into the fringes. Since I can’t satisfy mind, soul, or body with the job, I have to jam into the fringes almost as much as another person would put into an entire day.

You want TALK. Well, I’ll try my best, and as there are a few more news items now than usual, maybe I can fill the bill a bit.

First, Helen’s book is getting to that thrilling point. She has received proof of the illustrations—great illustrations they are, looking like very clever woodcuts—and Macmillan has done a surprisingly good job of the reproductions. But since she will doubtless tell you all about this herself, maybe I’d better concentrate on other things.

The more important thing I have to contribute is that Lost Island creepeth onward, in spite of God and the Devil (represented by various personages, of course!).… Read more

May 23, 1932 – letter to A.D.R.

150 Claremont Avenue
New York
May 23, 1932

Dear A.D.R.:

There has been a terrific long gulf, hasn’t there? It is hard,when all’s said and done, to keep in touch with people who live thousands of miles away, no matter how much you love them. I do want ever so much to know the news—whether anything is wrong, or anything right, or whatever there is and has been.

Spring! That means leaves and fragrances and warm winds and—an Arctic-bound schooner.

The only really exciting piece of news is that this summer I and three very good genial friends are going to tramp down the Appalachian Trail, which runs over mountains clear from Maine to Georgia, a matter of twelve or fifteen hundred miles. Maybe I told you about that before, though. I can’t seem to remember—it’s all been so deathly long, anyhow.

Helen’s book comes out on June 7; mine is in second draft form at last, and I hope to thrust it bodily under Mr. Saxton’s nose sometime in June. It will be interesting to watch the reaction. It may turn straight up in the air—the nose, I mean.

I have decided that there are a good many big and fundamental things wrong with the world, and that nothing can be done about it; furthermore, that one must revolve quietly along with the world instead of trying vainly to buck it.… Read more

May 31, 1932 – letter to A.D.R.

150 Claremont Avenue
New York
May 31, 1932

Dear ADR:

I’m relieved about You, at least, through your last grand letter, although the news about B.R. is anything but good, certainly. I don’t know what to say about that, so I won’t say anything.

And there WAS some good news, wasn’t there? It sounds to me as if the little gods were smiling for a change on the desert. I’m quite thrilled over that. Also, it’s good—damn good—to hear that P. is nearly through. What happens after that? “And Life Goes On,” I suppose. Funny old life, isn’t it? A very devil of a complex circular affair.

The book—this time I mean mine—has suddenly sprung a disconsolate discovery. I find, much to my disgust and up-noseishness, that I shall have to write another chapter to round out the thing properly. My nose is still so much turned up that I can’t get after the chapter yet. Of all exasperating things to find out after you’ve written a book—to think it’s All Done, and then to see some untucked frazzles hanging out the tail end! However, that’s but a temporary set-back. I expect to have the whole thing done before I go away for the summer.… Read more