You are a dear, Margaret!
Here are two nice letters from you almost at once. If only you were here to walk with me, it would be so much nicer than this pen and ink business. You don’t know the mountains! That is a great pity. The Catskills are the oldest range in America, and very beautiful with their old soft curves, and dense woods over all the summits. I would show you some of the loveliest scenes in the East, within an eight or ten mile walk from here—from here and back, I mean.
I am glad you have got yourself a fit place to write and think and do histories.1 But me! How could you do me, if you have never seen the Catskills, where I have spent most of every summer for years and years, nor the Adirondacks where I have wintered and cured, nor the Canadian Rockies, nor the Sierras in California, nor the Santa Catalina range in Arizona, nor the great plateau where is the old City of Santa Fe and the Indian pueblos, nor Grand Pré nor Connecticut! You’ll have to travel, Margaret, and hurry, hurry, Margaret, to catch up to me. It is a long trail. And the time is short. Here I am until about 15 September, then New Canaan in the glory of October, then beginning the writer’s tour of the South West and California until—God knows when.2 You should hurry, Margaret!
The Ryerson Press should give you a roving commission—to hunt down Canadian bards and bardlings. Biographies are next to impossible, but you might become an anthropologist of the living.
All this is not so flippant as it reads. As I say biographies are parlous things. Facts and dates mean so little. A true photograph of the exterior person is what is needed. The pose, the bearing, the motion, the stride, the voice and tone, a trick of the eye, a habit of the hand, all mean so much, and cannot be recorded without observance and skill. In addition there must [be] subtle insight such a[s] a novelist should have, and a poetic or artistic appreciation such as most critics never have. There are few good photographers, and fewer competent writers. That is why nearly all interviews and most personal sketches are dire failures.
But from the only thing of yours in prose I have ever read, I judge that you have the unusual gift that should make these histories you propose worthwhile. Is this impudent or worse—condescending? No, not at all, I mean to offer you a compliment. Fill your fountain pen. I have no terrors.
Well, $25.00 isn’t much but it is a good deal for an oyster stew, and about as much as I ever got on the average for a poem.3 Publishers are given to grand gestures, and one must endure them. The "Sleeping Beauty" is four or five years old.4
I am away on a new tack in verse now. Cannot say how it will go.
I also wish there could be an edition of my work, of any kind, so it were complete. Alas!
I am glad you have fine new vesture.
When you come to the mountains with me, either East or West, you shall melt in tears and cry all you want to, my dear.
Finally, I wish I could suggest something to promote our old friends [sic] hymn.5 You say it is in the hymnals. But what any national anthem needs is adequatemusic. Most of them are impossible. Couldn’t young Finn6 do it?
I spent a year in an Advertising agency not long ago, in the "Copy" department.7 I enjoyed it, but fear I did not develop any genius for publicity.
Allah does not advertise, you may have noticed.
Few creators do, whether they are masters, or only apprentices like your
What is your new address?