Wednesday, August 11, 2010

from Wilmott Ragsdale, 5 March 1951

As their 13th Anniversary present to themselves, Murray and Rosa called Rags and Ellie in New York City. 

Dear Murray and Rosa—

Eleanor is still talking and if I begin to write now I can feel I’m going on with the conversation, if one-sidedly. Calling like that, so calmly and lavishly about the time, gives a fine illusion that we have rich or foolish friends.
Eleanor has just hung up.

Now I think of the questions I forgot to ask. When is Skid Road coming out?

Do I understand that the Canwell Committee is going again? And is the Committee for Academic Freedom also going again? 
Martin edited the New Statesmen
and clashed with George Orwell.

Are we to expect a copy of the New Statesman and Nation? Are you a regular subscriber? I knew Kingsley Martin and he’s a surly type.

I’m glad you’re going somewhere next year. In spite of our current position of mild but deepening debt and all the spent money, I’m satisfied it was the best thing. Even the year at Johns Hopkins was good whether I ever become a teacher or not. One dinner with inlaws and I know the “wasted years” were good ones. “You are pink and now you’ve made Eleanor pink” my brother-in-law said to me, when drunk, adding, “You should get sound.” Sic. I am resolved to go to the sweet end without giving up anything now, even poetry.

It was just that Allen Tate who teaches at NYU (He is a leader of the “new critics”) saw ten poems I wrote, and gave me a letter to Auden, saying, he had not done this for anybody in two years. Auden and I sat for an hour drinking coffee, and I handed over the poems, and am waiting for a reaction. My most secret thought is that if I got a few published, I might bluff myself into another teacher job. However I would prefer to wait until something is published, if ever, before posing as a poet. After that, you can, when we are mentioned, say, “oh yes, the poet. I knew he was very fond of Robert Service.”
I am resolved to go to the sweet end without giving up anything now, even poetry.  -- Rags

I’m glad you feel you can travel with Lane. That’s the test. You will always be holding her up to see things that you know she will never remember seeing.

England or Mexico? What a decision. [We went to Mexico] A couple named Dilys and Alexander Laing just came through and stopped with us on their way to Mexico. He teaches at Dartmouth—the great issues course. Both are poets, both are novelists. They have their eight year old son with them. 
Sidney Hook

I have sat at the feet of Sidney Hook. That is I asked him to let me visit one of this seminars. He was the only teacher who didn’t replay immediately, “Fine, come ahead.” He was slightly suspicious, but he agreed. And he was very good as a teacher. It was on American theology. [Hook, a philosopher and historian, lived long enough to be bewildered by his grandson, Jon-Jon Goulian, author of Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt]


We have been to quite a few plays. We haven’t been able to go together, because a sitter would cost more than the plays. But we go separately to Lady’s Not for Burning, Member of the Wedding, Affairs of State. $1.20 Movies we cut down on this year. But saw fine Bicycle Thief and Kind Hearts and Coronets.
The job at the New School for Social Research is in teacher the Analysis of the Press or the Wayward Press. They didn’t have such a course and I sold them into it. But now I see it will take quite a lot of research and am worried. I feel that after the first class I will have exhausted all I know. And there are two, two hour classes each week.


Dilys Laing

New Yorker, 28 January 1950


We have just been talking about your moonlit clearing with two inches of snow. And we were both remembering very vividly meeting you at the Little Theater, Rosa in her leather coat, and something brass brought in Greenwich Village, and that wonderful time when the ferries didn’t run. In fact just this afternoon I was remembering some kind of very warm army jacket that I wore when we walked down the beach to the point toward the gravel pit. And then the Mallomars, and the sponge mop and the mountain right across the bay at Dash Point. In fact it was an act of great impulse to give away your anniversary gift by telephoning us all the way from Trout Lake to New York City.

Love,
Rags


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