31 December 1920

31 December 1920

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

Now for your letter. Don't think me unsympathetic. I am not. But look here! There is one thing you must discover, if you want to do your work in this world, and that is that it is no good crying out. Perhaps it helps us to bear our pain but that's all. It stops the ears of those whom we would have listen to us; they hear nothing but the crying. And that - hard as it sounds - antagonises them. It isn't wrong this should be so. It's hard but it's necessary - Life being what it is. There is a law against letting ourselves go. Warriors must be men as well as warriors, or we shall all be shouting together.
Do you know, the line in your poem which makes me feel your suffering more than any other - the powerful line? It's: ‘I want to walk with the sheep and swell the fern ... All things have their flower and their fruit - Pride, Love, Fear, Sorrow, Hysteria.' The greater part of your poem seems to me the flower and the fruit of hysteria. It's a fine harvest but cultivate other ground. Don't waste yourself, don't spend your manhood.
And you must - at whatever cost - rid yourself of these feelings of rage and spite and the idea that every man's hand is against you. You can't afford to feed such vile guests. If you do they steal every gift you have and poison you into the bargain. Write to me again. I want you to feel I am your friend; I am anxious for you and I wish I could help you. But understand that I think you must change - I think you must make the effort of your life and throw away all your marks of battle before you are a real poet.

[Letter to Herbert Palmer in Collected Letters]