Sunday, December 23, 2007

Letter in the Wind

[D. H. Lawrence to Katherine Mansfield]

c/o Mrs Clarke, Grosvenor Rd.,
Ripley, Nr Derby.
Friday, 27 Dec., 1918.

My Dear Katherine,

e got your parcel on Christmas morning. We had started off, and were on the brow of the hill, when the postman loomed round the corner, over the snow. It was all white and snowy and sunny, with a wind like an axe. I floated out my hanky for a flag over the snow, and Frieda dropped the tangerines in her anxiety to get the wheatsheaf unwrapped, and it was terribly cold and windy just on that edge. . . But my hanky fluttered very nice and lively. I wish you could have been there on the hill summit--the valley all white and hairy with trees below us, and grey with rocks--and just around us on our side the grey stone fences drawn in a network over the snow, all very clear in the sun. We ate the sweets, and slithered downhill, very steep and tottering. The children had the tangerines and the fan.

We read your letter in the wind, dropping down to Cromford. It made me feel weary, that we couldn't be all there, with rucksacks--I'd got mine on--setting off for somewhere good, over the snow. It is disappointing. And unless one decorates one's house for oneself alone, best leave it bare, for other people are all wan-eyed. I do so want to GET OUT--out of England--really, out of Europe. And I will get out. We must do it.

There was hardly any snow in the valley--all green, with the yew-berries still sprinkling the causeway. At Ambergate my sister had sent a motor-car for us--so we were at Ripley in time for turkey and Christmas pudding. My God, what masses of food here, turkey, large tongues, long wall of roast loin of pork, pork-pies, sausages, mince-pies, dark cakes covered with almonds, cheese-cakes, lemon-tarts, jellies, endless masses of food, with whiskey, gin, port wine, burgundy, muscatel. It seems incredible. We played charades--the old people of 67 playing away harder than the young ones--and lit the Christmas tree, and drank healths, and sang, and roared--Lord above. If only one hadn't all the while a sense that next week would be the same dreariness as before. What a good party we might have had, had we felt really free of the world.

We had a second turn-to-yesterday--and at half past eleven went roaring off in the dark wind to Dr Feroze's --he is a Parsee--and drank two more bottles of muscatel, and danced in his big empty room till we were staggered, and quite dazed. Tonight we are going back to Middleton--and I feel infuriated to think of the months ahead, when one waits paralysed for some sort of release. I feel caged, somehow--and I cannot find out how to earn enough to keep us--and it maddens me.

Still, it might be very much worse. One might be tied tight to a job, or to a sickness. I do wish you were better. But you sound stronger. I long to make plans--new plans. But not Europe: oh, God!

I pledge you 'the days to come.'
D. H. L.

--from The Letters of D. H. Lawrence edited by Aldous Huxley (London: William Heinemann, 1956.)

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