Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17, 1845

We hear just from Miss Barrett today after their meeting on October 16th. The last we had heard he had asked her to look at the proofs of his new book of poems. But even before she gets to the proofs, she has questions:

"Do tell me what you mean precisely by your ‘Bells & Pomegranates’ title. I have always understood it to refer to the Hebraic priestly garment—but Mr Kenyon held against me the other day that your reference was different, though he had not the remotest idea how– And yesterday I forgot to ask, for not the first time. Tell me too why you should not in the new number satisfy, by a note somewhere, the Davuses of the world who are in the majority (‘Davi sumus, non Œdipi’ [We are Davusis, not Œdipuses]) with a solution of this one Sphinx riddle. Is there a reason against it?"
Davus was a dim-witted character who could not solve the riddle of the Sphinx as Oedipus did. She teazes him about his obscurities with good humor.

"Occy continues to make progress—with a pulse at only eighty four this morning. Are you learned in the pulse that I should talk as if you were? I, who have had my lessons? He takes scarcely anything yet but water, & his head is very hot still—but the progress is quite sure, though it may be a lingering case.

Your beautiful flowers!—none the less beautiful for waiting for water yesterday– As fresh as ever, they were; & while I was putting them into the water, I thought that your visit went on all the time. Other thoughts too I had, which made me look down blindly, quite blindly, on the little blue flowers, .. while I thought what I could not have said an hour before without breaking into tears which would have run faster then. To say now that I never can forget, .. that I feel myself bound to you as one human being cannot be more bound to another .. & that you are more to me at this moment than all the rest of the world,—is only to say in new words that it would be a wrong against myself, to seem to risk your happiness & abuse your generosity. For me .. though you threw out words yesterday about the testimony of a 'third person', .. it would be monstrous to assume it to be necessary to vindicate my trust of you– I trust you implicitly—& am not too proud to owe all things to you– But now let us wait & see what this winter does or undoes—while God does His part for good, as we know– I will never fail to you from any human influence whateverthat, I have promised—but you must let it be different from the other sort of promise which it would be a wrong to make. May God bless you—you, whose fault it is, to be too generous. You are not like other men, as I could see from the beginning—no–"
It must have been quite an afternoon. No wonder she forgot to ask him what "Bell and Pomegranates" meant. It sounds like he was trying to give her a reference. Sounds like she doesn't want one.

Shall I have the proof tonight, I ask myself.

And if you like to come on monday rather than tuesday, I do not see why there should be a ‘no’ to that– Judge from your own convenience. Only we must be wise in the general practice, & abstain from too frequent meetings, for fear of difficulties—. I am Casandra you know, & smell the slaughter in the bathroom. It would make no difference in fact,—but in comfort, much.

Ever your own–"
She ends her letter on rather a blood thirsty note. She is referring to Casandra in Aeschylus's 'Agamemnon' who foretold the assassination of Agamemnon in his bath by his adulterous wife Clytemnestra. Miss Barrett loved her blood thirsty Greeks.

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