One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Monday, July 24, 2017

Keats's Letters + Hemingway's Michigan

Finished Keats somewhere in the UP and started Hemingway's short stories in Boyne City, not far from Horton Bay.

*

To  Richard Woodhouse

Wentworth Place, Friday Morn [December 18, 1818].

     My dear Woodhouse — I am greatly obliged to you. I must needs feel flattered by making an impression on a set of ladies. I should be content to do so by meretricious romance verse, if they alone, and not men, were to judge. I should like very much to know those ladies — though look here, Woodhouse — I have a new leaf to turn over: I must work; I must read; I must write. I am unable to afford time for new acquaintances. I am scarcely able to do my duty to those I have. Leave the matter to chance. But do not forget to give my remembrances to your cousin.

Yours most sincerely John Keats.

*

If what I have said should not be plain enough, as I fear it may not be, I will put you in the place where I began in this series of thoughts — I mean I began by seeing how man was formed by circumstances — and what are circumstances but touchstones of his heart? and what are touchstones but provings of his heart, but fortifiers or alterers of his nature? and what is his altered nature but his Soul? — and what was his Soul before it came into the world and had these provings and alterations and perfectionings? — An intelligence without Identity — and how is this Identity to be made? Through the medium of the Heart? and how is the heart to become this Medium but in a world of Circumstances? There now I think what with Poetry and Theology, you may thank your stars that my pen is not very long-winded. Yesterday I received two Letters from your Mother and Henry, which I shall send by young Birkbeck with this.


***


From Hemingway's "The Last Good Country":


"Did you ever come here with anyone else?”

“No. Only by myself.”

“And you weren’t afraid?”

“No. But I always feel strange. Like the way I ought to feel in church.”

“Nickie, where we’re going to live isn’t as solemn as this, is it?”

“No. Don’t you worry. There it’s cheerful. You just enjoy this, Littless. This is good for you. This is the way forests were in the olden days. This is about the last good country there is left. Nobody gets in here ever.”

“I love the olden days. But I wouldn’t want it all this solemn.”

“It wasn’t all solemn. But the hemlock forests were.”

“It’s wonderful walking. I thought behind our house was wonderful. But this is better. Nickie, do you believe in God? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

“I don’t know.”

“All right. You don’t have to say it. But you don’t mind if I say my prayers at night?”

“No. I’ll remind you if you forget.”

“Thank you. Because this kind of woods makes me feel awfully religious.”

“That’s why they build cathedrals to be like this.”

“You’ve never seen a cathedral, have you?”

"No. But I’ve read about them and I can imagine them. This is the best one we have around here.”

“Do you think we can go to Europe some time and see cathedrals?”

“Sure we will. But first I have to get out of this trouble and learn how to make some money.”

“Do you think you’ll ever make money writing?”

“If I get good enough.”

“Couldn’t you maybe make it if you wrote cheerfuller things? That isn’t my opinion. Our mother said everything you write is morbid.”
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