Excerpt from Secretaries of the Moon

(pp. 69-71)
Oct. 9, I945
At Villa Olga

My dear Wallace Stevens:

I beg your pardon for this long silence. You do not know how much our conversations have come to mean to your savage Carib- bean. But my mother has become sick again and I have had to in- terne her in a sanitorium. To see the process of disintegration of her mind has been a great sorrow to me although she has been getting ill that way since she was eighteen; but one never gets used to it. Now I expect she will be there for three or four months for the crisis this time has been less grave than before. That has kept me quiet and melancholic for a long time, but I feel better now. Tomorrow I am taking to press the autumn issue of *Origenes*.

Your poems will appear in the Winter issue. They have been translated by our friend, Rodriguez Feliu. What are you doing now? Have you published any more poems recently? Are you planning any new book of verse? I have been re-reading Rilke's *Elegies of Duino* which I like very much. The *Sonnets to Orpheus* are next in line. Also, I just finished a wonderful book, *Ideas for a biological conception of the world* by the Baron Jakob von Uexkull. There this great biologist comes to the conclusion that life's origin cannot be explained by material motives, refuting Darwin, and that Plato was nearer to the truth when he imagined the archetypes as the sources of all our ideas and beings. Curious, eh? Also, read Claudel's *L'Annonce faite a Marie*, and Peguy's *Notre Jeunesse*. Peguy's book is a remarkable commentary on our actual situation. I won't be surprised if De Gaulle keeps this juicy volume at his bedside. He should.

I am living now at my little country place, Villa Olga, near Habana. I am alone there and have only the company of the Negro cook who never says a word. I am writing and reading a great deal. I tend my garden and feed the chickens and the Negro takes care of my lovely black and white cow, Lucera, and the mule, Pompilio. I came into town last night to hear Brailowsky give a marvelous recital of Chopin. It is prodigious, his playing of Chopin. It was a revelation to hear his interpretation of the Polish master. Did you see that horrible film, *A Song to Remember*? Did you look Sceve up? I think I misspelled his name in my last reference to you. I read Valery's essay on Stendhal too. Have you read J. Riviere's *Rimbaud*. I found it rather silly; his explanation of Rimbaud via calling him an innocent angel lost in this bad, confused world where he was not destined to prosper is rather childish. There are passages however of great interest. But why write such nonsense? From now on, I abhor all exegesis of poems: Rimbaud's letters are really amazing, especially the one where he puts down his idea of the poet as a seer who must become a medium through a long and reasonable effort and thus disintegrate his *senses* until he arrives at the Unknown. Speaking of the angelic character of Rimbaud, I remember now Valery's witty remark: "What would the men of intelligence and Wit do with themselves if there were no original sin?" But then that life is necessary, for all we live through and come to know and suffer remains as the possible fountain of wisdom or love for others. That is why I believe we should never reject even the great lies of history. They too can be useful to weave the pattern of obscurity. A case here to illustrate: Rilke. So much effort to hide things and he comes to succeed only in *making* that effort. When he really obscures things, his poems failed. That is why one feels so many dull moments in reading him. I cannot but think that he repeated himself too much. His paradox can be summed up in these simple words of Proust: "On ne peut etre fidele qu'a ce dont on se souviant, on ne peut se souvenir que de es qu'on a connu" (in a letter to Madame Scheikevitch).

I hope if things do not get worse here to be in New York by Xmas. I am going to stay with my little sister, Olga, in N.Y. I hope to see you then. By the way Mariano, the painter, is in New York now. He will exhibit in the Feigl Gallery in November; address Feigl Gallery Madison 60I at 57th. I am sure he would like to see you there; if you can make it. Have you seen *Margarite Young's Angel in the Forest*? I find it quite entertaining.

I must close now for the groceries have arrived and the man talks endlessly. Otherwise there will be no end to this letter. There is no end however to the pleasure that I receive in reading your marvelous messages from Hartford and you know that my admiration and affection grow in *ausencia* each day.

My best and most cordial salutations,

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