A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather

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To Louise PoundJune 29, 1893 from Red Cloud, Nebr.Duke 

Has been feeling depressed. Has written a story about a tippling prima donna. Doubts Louise read letter sent with poem [see #0009] carefully, if at all. As to Louise's question about the word "bassoon," got it out of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Poems of Passion. The school year was a trial. Interesting times around Red Cloud recently, with murders and suicides. Has tried a translation of "Wallenstein" [as follows; from Friedrich Schiller]. Glad Mariel and sisters are coming to visit, to cheer her up. Still disappointed Louise didn't come and will put off the Gere sisters if she might. Has been writing papers on Shakespeare.  P.S.: Has received her note. If she does not come, things will be different next year. It has been too one-sided anyway. Please come and show forgiveness or else it is goodbye.  Willa Cather   [Stout #13]


To Mariel, Ellen, and Frances [Gere], Allie [Althea Roberts], and Maysie [Mary Ames]Jan. 2, 1896 from "Siberia" ; WCPM 

Enjoyed visiting Katharine and her brother, who is more charming than ever. Quoted Ella Wheeler Wilcox to each other. Attended New Year's dance with Douglass—a rustic event. Could Mariel retrieve her [Cather's] copy of Daudet's Sapho from Sarah Harris? Doesn't know when she will be back in Lincoln. Here in the country might as well be dead. Is indifferent to everything, even suicide.    Willa   [Stout #21]


To Mrs. George Sibel [Seibel],  n.d. [Feb. 1897?] WCPM 

Is sending a valentine written by Ella Golden [?] in dialect.    Willa S. C.   [Stout #36]


To Helen Louise Cather SouthwickSept. 17, 1946, from Anticou Inn, Northeast Harbor, MaineUNL-Southwick 

Has sent a telegram asking that Helen telegraph her father; secretary neglected to pack her family address book.  Is including an amusing newspaper clipping sent by someone probably associated with an Indianapolis newspaper.  The end of it has a word from S. S. McClure, who published her first short story [Cather had actually published thirty-two stories—including a few in widely-circulating periodicals—before publishing in McClure's in 1905] and her first volume of stories.  Hopes she hasn't seen it; it wasn't very good.  Worked hard at the magazine for three years [actually she worked in the editorial offices for over five years, from 1906-1911].  Has not kept in touch with McClure as she should, but recently wrote him a letter and will see him soon.  Sending her the clipping because there is no one else left who would appreciate it.  Has never met Jack's daughters [Ella and Catherine Cather]; they are not very tactful and once sent poems composed by their high school teacher evidently hoping she would get them published.   W.S.C.   [Stout #1738]


To Robert FrostJanuary 20, [1916], from 1180 Murray Hill Avenue, PittsburghDartmouth 

Wishes she could be in New York for the Poetry Society banquet, but cannot. Regrets missing the opportunity to meet him and Mrs. [Elinor Miriam White] Frost. Wonders if he ever chanced to meet Miss Jewett. Has often thought, if she had lived to see them, that Frost's books would have been a great encouragement to her in a world full of poets like Witter Bynner and Phoebe Snow. Unfortunately, Frost's fellows in the Poetry Society are so wound up in the ideal of "free verse" that they can't distinguish a line by him from one published in a rural newspaper. They don't even know enough to dislike Florence Earle Coates or Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Many of the so-called "poets" seem to be so just to make Miss Rittenhouse happy. Thankfully, the success of junk only damages things in the short term. Fears that if she ever attended a meeting of the Poetry Society she would be unable to suppress her opinions, and begs Frost to keep them private. Since poetry needs publicity as much as anything else, perhaps the Rittenhouse crowd will actually help Frost somewhat. Anyhow, more subtle methods can still succeed. Has shown many of his poems to others, including "The Mountain," "Mowing," "Going for Water," and "The Tuft of Flowers," and no one needs to have them explained, nor has anyone's sensibility been altered because, in Mr. Masters's words, "the hammock fell/ Into [sic] the dust with Milton's poems [sic]" [from Masters's poem "Many Soldiers" in Spoon River Anthology]. Not everyone believes that is symbolic!   Willa S. Cather