Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16

Today we will go back to 1844 when Miss Barrett writes another charming letter to Mr. Westwood:

"Oh, and I should say also that Mr. Home, in his kindness, has enlarged considerably in his annotations and reflections on me personally. My being in correspondence with all the Kings of the East, for instance, is an exaggeration, although literary work in one way will bring with it, happily, literary association in others.... Still, I am not a great letter writer, and I don't write 'elegant Latin verses,' as all the gods of Rome know, and I have not been shut up in the dark for seven years by any manner of means. By the way, a barrister said to my barrister brother the other day, 'I suppose your sister is dead?' 'Dead?' said he, a little struck; 'dead?' 'Why, yes. After Mr. Home's account of her being sealed up hermetically in the dark for so many years, one can only calculate upon her being dead by this time.'"

Okay, so she doesn't write verses in Latin and she doesn't correspond with Kings of the East. I will give her that. But "I am not a great letter writer". Please. And we get to see her brother George giving her the needle in the death struggle.

Browning writes April 16, 1845 to say:

"Monday—last night when I could do nothing else I began to write to you, such writing as you have seen—strange! The proper time and season for good sound sensible and profitable forms of speech—when ought it to have occurred, and how did I evade it in these letters of mine? For people begin with a graceful skittish levity, lest you should be struck all of a heap with what is to come, and that is sure to be the stuff and staple of the man, full of wisdom and sorrow,—and then again comes the fringe of reeds and pink little stones on the other side, that you may put foot on land, and draw breath, and think what a deep pond you have swum across. But you are the real deep wonder of a creature,—and I sail these paper-boats on you rather impudently. But I always mean to be very grave one day,—when I am in better spirits and can go fuori di me [outside myself].

And one thing I want to persuade you of, which is, that all you gain by travel is the discovery that you have gained nothing, and have done rightly in trusting to your innate ideas—or not rightly in distrusting them, as the case may be. You get, too, a little ... perhaps a considerable, good, in finding the world's accepted moulds everywhere, into which you may run and fix your own fused metal,—but not a grain Troy-weight do you get of new gold, silver or brass. After this, you go boldly on your own resources, and are justified to yourself, that's all. Three scratches with a pen, even with this pen,—and you have the green little Syrenusa where I have sate and heard the quails sing. One of these days I shall describe a country I have seen in my soul only, fruits, flowers, birds and all."

Browning being sage and wise and full of imagination. The poet in prose. In another month a page will turn and all the casual musing will end.

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