"My dear Sassoon,
When I had opened your envelope in a quiet corner of the Club Staircase, I sat on the stairs and groaned a little, and then went up and loosed off a gourd, Gothic vacuum of a letter, which I “put by” (as you would recommend for such effusions) until I could think over the thing without grame. [Sassoon cannot explain this word.]
I have also waited for this photograph.
Show some rich anger if you will. I thank you; but not on this paper only, or in any writing. You gave – with what Christ, if he had known Latin & dealt in oxymoron, might have called Sinister Dexterity. I imagined you were entrusting me with some holy secret concerning yourself. A secret, however, it shall be until such time as I shall have climbed to the housetops, and you to the minarets of the world.
Smile the penny! This Fact has not intensified my feelings for you by the least – the least grame. Know that since mid-September, when you still regarded me as a tiresome little knocker on your door, I held you as Keats + Christ + Elijah + my Colonel + my father-confessor + Amenophis IV in profile.
What’s that mathematically?
In effect it is this: that I love you, dispassionately, so much, so very much, dear Fellow, that the blasting little smile you wear on reading this can’t hurt me in the least.
If you consider what the above Names have severally done for me, you will know what you are doing. And you have fixed my Life – however short. You did not light me: I was always a mad comet; but you have fixed me. I spun round you a satellite for a month, but I shall swing out soon, a dark star in the orbit where you will blaze. It is some consolation to know that Jupiter himself sometimes swims out of Ken!
To come back to our sheep, as the French never say, I have had a perfect little note from Robt. Ross, and have arranged a meeting at 12.30 on Nov. 9th. He mentioned staying at Half Moon St., but the house is full… .
What I most miss in Edinburgh (not Craig & Lockhart) is the conviviality of the Four Boys (L. vivre – to live). Someday, I must tell how we sang, shouted, whistled and danced through the dark lanes through Colinton; and how we laughed till the meteors showered around us, and we felt calm under the winter stars. And some of us saw the pathway of the spirits for the first time. And seeing it so far above us, and feeling the good road so safe beneath us, we praised God with louder whistling; and knew we loved one another as no men love for long.
Which, if the Bridge-players Craig & Lockhart could have seen, they would have called down the wrath of Jahveh, and buried us under the fires of the City you wot of.
To which also it is time you committed this letter. I wish you were less undemonstrative, for I have many adjectives with which to qualify myself. As it is I can only say I am
Your proud friend, Owen"
"W’s death was an unhealed wound, & the ache of it has been with me ever since. I wanted him back - not his poetry"
And why must your era celebrate terror with dessert?
"A ripping hospital, this! By the way, I died on my 21st birthday. I can never grow up now. My dear Sassons, I hope you haven’t taken the casualty lists seriously again. They are fools."
— Robert Graves in a letter
to his close friend and fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon. After being grievously wounded by a piece of shell that went right through his back and chest during the 1916 Somme offensive
, Graves’ obituary appeared in The Times.
The rumour of his death was started by the regimental and Field Ambulance doctors who swore Graves couldn’t possibly live. (via seschat
Kokoshnik from the collection of Natalia de Shabelsky (1841-1905), a Russian noblewoman who endeavored to preserve traditional Russian textiles.