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#0317: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, July 28 [1915]

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Elsie1:

I was all ready to sail4 for Germany5 this week for Mr. McClure6, but at the last moment Judge McClung7 got nervous about the uncertain situation and would not let Isabelle8 go, and I did not want to go alone. So I start for Durango9 August 6th to air my new kakis and things. The proofs10 are all done. Even the page proofs were somewhat messy, and I thought I’d rather you read it the book between covers. I’d like you to think as well of it as may be, and I think it will be more interesting as a book than as a mass of proofs.

Isn’t “North of Boston”11 a real thriller? Such individual verse, and all made out of the cold twilight-zone stuff that one has always thought pale matter for poetry. (I don’t, of course, mean the avowed subject matter but the unavowed—Mr Frost12’s own mental reactions.) The book is so important and so devoid of splendor. Out of this shabby, ungrammatical new bunch it’s so amazing to find some one who can write verse, and such real, tight, tough verse as it is! Individual syncopation, individual intervals, queer swell in the middle of the line, and then a dreary flatterning out of words to off-set it. The atmosphere (the mental atmosphere, I mean, not New England13) is a little like Tchekoff14, don’t you think? Awfully damp, marshy mind, with June bugs. Lots of cheerfuler things, too. But he’s a really, truly poet, with something fresh to say, and it’s fine that he has come along. I can be more patient now even with the Witter Bynners15.

You’ll soon be getting hideous postcards from the West. Let me know when you and Miss Goldmark16 start. We might may manage to meet out there.

Yours W. S. C.
Miss Elizabeth S. Sergeant1 4 Hawthorn Road Brookline3 Mass. Medfield PITTSBURGH PA2 JUL 28 1915 5 PM BROOKLINE MASS.3 JUL 30 1915 12-M