14 February 1921

14 February 1921

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

Dear Sydney - dear friend,

Let me add one word to our all too brief conversation this afternoon. Alas! what a plague is Time. No sooner has one begun to appreciate what the other is seeing than - its as though, at a turn of the planet, he is whirled away. And just supposing that by some heavenly chance there was Immortality the question of the Artist and his Time won't be so pressing, so vital, so infinitely important as it is now . . .

It is, I am sure, the Question of Questions. The artist who denies his Time, who turns away from it even as the fraction of a hair is false. First, he must be free; that is, he must be controlled by none other than his deepest self, his truest self. And then he must accept Life, he must submit, give himself so utterly to Life that no personal quâ personal self remains. Does that convey anything? Its so hard to state. 'Bitterness' is a difficult word for me to disentangle from a sense of personal wrong, a "this is what Life has done to me". But I know you don't mean that. You mean a bigger thing - the gesture with which one turns aside today from what might have been, what ought to have been. There is humour in it, of a kind, and inevitable sadness . . .

But let me confess, Sydney, I feel something else as well - and that is Love. But thats so difficult to explain. Its not pity or rainbows or anything up in the air. Perhaps its feeling FEELING FEELING.

Goodbye. Heres my hand in devoted friendship to you and to Violet. May we meet again soon!


[Letter to Sydney Schiff in Collected Letters, mid-February]