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April 22, 1972 - Image 20

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4 *



True of the Normal Heart

We found these letters among the books of a job-lot at Over-
beck's. We thought they were amusing.
Farrell Baguette, we learned, re-registered for the fall semester
of 1939-1940, but attended no classes after Thanksgiving vacation.
314 South State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan
March 6, 1939
Dear Mr. Warwick:
You now approach the half-way mark of your stay here as a
writer in residence, and since my own interest in letters has grown
now to occupy all my waking hours, I thought it advantageous to me
to see whether I could get to know you better. We have met, on
several occasions, but each of these has been unsatisfactory for me,
at any rate, since there could be only the barest exchange of greeting
between us, followed by a minute or two in which you have invariably
tried to remember my name and where we last met and what, if any-
thing, was said between us. I don't suppose that you even can re-
member what I look like.
I audit the course that you teach in Contemporary Poetry and
find i.t quite interesting, but I think that it would mean so much
more to me if only I could get to know you. Therefore I extend
this invitation to lunch, or dinner, or even tea, leaving the time
and the place open, since you are by far the busier of the two of
Farrell Baguette
11. 3. 39.
Mr. Baquette,
Can't make lunch, don't take tea. Dinner taken up for the
next month. I've put your name in the class book, but can't find
A. W.
March 12, 1939
Dear Mr. Warwick,
I beg you to take my name from the class book. There isn't any
class card. I'm only auditing on my own, since being only a Sopho-
more, I have not the necessary prequisities. I am disappointed and
dismayed that you have made yourself inaccessible to a student eager
to make some fruitful contact.
Farrell Baguette
March 12, 1939
Dear Grant,
I've done the most extraordinary thing. I've gone and begun
a correspondence with Andrew Warwick, none other. He seems quite a
withdrawn person, and not too nice, but still he is a poet, and he
might like to read some of my little things, and even help me along.
But maybe not. Anyway I've just begun.
I felt rather out of it at your wedding supper, and that was the
last time I saw you to speak with for any length of time. I didn't
have a chance to tell how much yours and Karl VanCamp's taking me
into your apartment, when you were a junior, he a senior and I only
a freshman, has done to change the course of my life. The con-
stant company of older people, though not so much older that I
didn't respect their opinions, helped me to learn what the advant-
ages of this university might be. And now, what with a famous
poet here, whose competence and fame in the field of political
literature are excelled by nobody . . . well, I'm simply coming into
my own. I hope that this spring semester, and even the summer to
follow it (I've quite completely decided to stay here for the summer if
I think in June that Warwick will be even more accessible then)
will prove as profitable to me as the entire four years have proven
to any other two people taken together.
I hear that you and the Mrs. are expecting in a few months.
Shall I send you pink presents, or blue ones at the shower? Perhaps
you won't be sure and I'll have to settle on a neuter green. Be sure
to say, and write soon.
Farrell Baguette
14. 3. 39.
Mr. Baguette,
I now see the business about the cards and class book.
Sorry you were disappointed, but glad you were sincere.
Where do you sit in class? Do you ever say anything?
A. W.
March 15, 1939
Dear Mr. Warwick,
I thought to make a Parthian shot with my last letter, but
having found now that the field was not lost altogether, I'll re-enter.
I sit third from the right end, as you face the class, of the second
row. I haven't presumed to say anything, assuming that a good deal
of your grading is on the discussion, and I'm not to ge graded at all,
as you now understand. I go to see you Thursday afternoons at the
Hopwood Room, and you'll probably recognize me among the group
that surrounds you.
Farrell Baquette
N. 3. 39.
Mr. Baguette,
A Lady Gregory thing, Arts Theatre, will open this month, 27.
If you meet me in the loby, we'll find seats together.
A. W.

little sausages with shreds of pimento (but these sometimes float
loose and make you cough.) Katie, she's French, swishes the glasses
with absinthe, and leaves a truffle per. I say it makes the whole
thing tste like a ruber tire. I don't think I'll go to Katie's anymore;
Pat doesn't think so either. They're all singing Schau mich bitte
nicht so an.
24. 3. 39.
Dear Mr. Warwick,
I certainly shall attend the premiere of the Lady Gregory, being,.
as I have for some time been, interested in the Keltic Movement.
I shall be looking for you in the lobby eightish.
Farrell Baguette
1. 4. 39.
Dear Karl,
I've been flopping about a good deal with Warwick. We have been
to two dinners and one cocktail party. At the house of one professor
of German I happened to overhear Warwick describing me as the
most promising young person on Campus, in his eyes. I've shown
him some of my poems, the older ones, the ones with less polish,
and he seemed to like them. He talked about each one for some
time, and saw things in them that I didn't know I had.
Are you still going to parties? Who are all these women? I didn't
know you could get absinthe. What kind of a job have you come
7. 4. 39.
Dear Karl,
Last night there occurred the first really significant and quite
lengthy interview with my new and quite close friend Warwick.
When I first opened this correspondence and later found myself
in personal contact with him, I had expected nothing beyond
a sort of master-disciple relationship which might proceed on a less
stilted level than is usual in the academic situation. I wanted, frankly,.
something less facile, less witty, less gay and at the same time more
. shall I say? ... meaningful . . . namely that certain abstraction
peculiar to the poets since time out of mind, that consciousness of a
mutual and conscious effort to create with the raw stuff of figure,
rhythm and theme, a new and strikingly tanglible thing.
. Last night I was invited, for the third time within a week, out
for cocktails. We, that is Warwick and I, sat with two others, one
of whom was the German professor I mentioned before; and the
other, someone connected with the speech department, was our
host. The conversation, led by, and I might even say monopolized
by Warwick, was entirely about the announcement that Britain and
France will ,defend the sovereignty of Poland against Fascist aggres-
This broke up about ten. And Warwick said that we'd go up
to his place for a little drink. So up we went. He lives in a nice little
house on one of those quaint little streets that slope down to the
northward from Geddes road. He says he's subletting it from a
professor of English on sabbatical. We drank sweet vermouth from
martini glasses. He talked more about the pact that Britain and
France have about Poland, and seemed to think that it would be
only a matter of time before Russia joined in.
He acted rather strangely. And this is what I was talking about
before, and now I'll be specific. He seems to want me to enter com-
pletely into the spiritof these professoral parties, and the rounds
of theatrical fetes. I wish that I could convince him not to lose him-
self in this debutante swirl of parties and small groups for supper,
where everything is so salty, and instead try to enter the serious
intellectual circles. Of course I have tried to associate with the ser-
ious people, but have not succeeded with integrating myself. But
now that I am such good friends with Warwick I am sure that they
would accept me, if only because, that way, he would accept them.
I tried to make Warwick understand this.
Warwick sat across from me, half reclining on a divan, talking
rather excitedly with his cigarette and his drink. He talked, ignoring
me, of the world situation, then suddenly exhorted me or explained
to me. But more often he assumed an intimacy and told me
that what I had ought to do is relax, to lie back, so to speak, or . .
as he often said, to "Come out . . . " here he narrowed his eyes as
though looking for the right phrase," . . . of your shell." Then he
opened his eyes very wide, so wide that I thought he must be staring
at the wall behind either side of my shoulders.
This lasted a long while. Late in the conversation he draw in the
shutters and he let me uncork another quart of vermouth. He turned
off all the lights in the room, leaving a Candle in front of and below
my face, burning on the table before me beside my drink, and turned
on a red bulb over his head. His blond hair looked red and lustrous.
He is deep-eyed, more than I ever realized, and looked young, too,
no older than you are.
I kept thinking that I was staying way past the polite hour, and
more than once I said I thought I imposed too much on him; each
time he was prompt to deny it, and asked me to please stay. It is
true, that the lot of the poet is loneliness, and that it is only by
constant aloneness and introspection that one can reach that almost
mystical pinnacle which all true poetic creation is.- But, as the
mountain climber must sometimes have respite from his labors, so
must the poet have respite, not only from the labor of creation but
also from that self-induced element in which, and only in which,
it can take place.
When I left it surprised me by being almost noon. I came
straight home, and I write this before I get in bed.

rather. Come to my office at four
tomorrow. We'll talk about en-
closed. Hope you feel better.
31. 3. 3.
Dear Andrew,
I miss the shiny, colorless hair
the boys wore so long once. Now
you see them on Friedrichstrasse,
all shorn, looking coarse and bul-
let-headed. My friends, the ones
that are left, burn their news-
papers to keep warm. Today we'll
burn day before yesterday's. We
soak them in water for a day, roll
them into bails to let them dry for
another, and burn them on the
third. We think, when we warm
ourselves, of all the documents
flushed down toilet bowls a few
years ago when the German Com-
rades were caught off balance by
the fire.
The Soviet negotiates now with
England, and everybody waits for
word from the Kremlin; but we
know the next step will be Eng-
land's again. In no more than
seven days, England will announce
a pact with France defending Po-
lish sovereignty. Britain will holler
this as though it were quite some-
thing, but the Soviet will recog-
nize how little this gesture is mili-
tarily, and how worthless ideolog-
ically. It will be May before the
world is calm enough to see what
the Soviet knows now, and then,
after this fatherly, dramatic and
ironical pause, the Soviet will an-
nounce its intentions. Here the
Nazis laugh, we smile liplessly;
our information is faultless; and
some say we're leaving bombs in
the tubes on northbound trains
crowded with government clerks.
We've suffered only two recent
arrests and no betrayals. There
have been three bombs, on the
other hand.
Repulsive, limping worse every
third step, and with facial twitch
becoming more noticable, Herr
Schickelgruber seems to be work-
ing himself into a small frenzy
over Poland. Yesterday it rained,
and he ran cowled, stooped and
loping, from the Kaiserhoff to the
chancellory with Goebbels follow-
ing him like a puppy. The bald
soldiery stand stifly in all the
beerhalls where we used to lounge.
V. depressing. If they'd come over
to our side they wouldn't have
cut off their hair. D'you think
there's a poem in this for you?
I'm leaving for London in two
Muskegon, Michigan
May 4, 1939
Farrell Baguette c/o Speech Dept.
U. of M. Ann Arbor Mich Write
Last Week Got Letter Back Wor-
ried Your Mother What About
Festival Tickets Room Reserva-
tions for Your Parents Yourself
Alice and Me We Look Forward
to This Each Year Where Present
Residence A n s w e r by Return
66 Concord
May 5, 1959
Dear Grant,
I'm sorry I forgot to tell you
and my parents about my May
Festival plans, or rather the lack
of them. Actually the festival this
year leaves quite a bit to be de-
sired. The program is all Roman-
tics, the performers indifferent
We know very well that nobody
exists much in the music world
except Bach and Bartok, and
neither of these, sadly enough, is
represented this year. But more
important than the imposition of
my own tastes on yours and those
of your wife and my parents, is
the fact thatI have acquired a
role in a new play, a consideration
which makes it impossible for me
to attend any May Festival pro-

grams, for I must practice my
new role almost constantly. This
new drama may never have a
staging open to the public, but for
those involved the experience is
exciting and extraordinary.
Soothe my parents and console
them. In the event, however, of a
public performance, I'll send you
tickets straightway.

5. 5. 39.
Dear Grant,
I might say again, if I've said
it before, that I regret that the
nice tradition you established, and
which I and my parents were
happy to enter, of attending the
music festival each May, was so
abruptly, that is, with so little
warning, (the lack of which caused
you some expense) interrupted.
The new role made me unmindful
of my obligations.
Two days ago, a certain bleak-
ness blurred the little light that
has risen amidst the already
clouded and darkening world out-
look. Litvinov, long the cementing
element in the League of Nations,
and who so patiently watched,
while his nation stood helpless in
the agonies of birth, Hitler snatch,
from the traitor hands of England
and France, first the Rhineland,
then Austria, and finally Czecho-
slovakia . . . Litvinov has been
replaced by Molotov. This might
indicate anything from a reversal
of policy to a stiffening of the
present one. But we, for the time
being, as Warwick says, can only
wait and trust that the policy of
the Soviet Union will always be
an affirmation of World Commu-
nism's coisistency. Warwick seem-
ed shocked at first, and even now
that he has overtly resolved the
problem of Soviet intentions, he is
depressed and listless, as though
the starch had been taken from
him. It is especially now, how-
ever, that we see Warwick, great
poet that he is, able to create a
kind of hope by his artist's insight.
"We watched the gathering clouds
Over East and West;
Were they forthcoming gale,
Werethey our motives' test?
As Litvinov retired
And Molotov strode in
Did this, indeed, retort
To the years, invested sin?
Long falsehood keeps the field,
The peasant's cry is stilled;
And the holders of the mortgage
Were never more good-willed;
Old England is still monied,
Sells lies from Punch's booth;
But in this bed, my love,
We have the world's whole truth."
F. B.
New York
May 13, 1939
Vyvyan said I couldn't keep
Snaghetti in the refrigerator. Spa-
ghetti doesn't think so either. But
goodness. Farrell, I can't keep
Spaghetti decently on what little
I'm kept on, can I?
Katie has lobster for breakfast.
When you go to Vyvyan's house
all you get is toast and Jam. I
don't think I'll go to Vyvyan's
anymore. Edith gives you muffins,
piles and piles. Vera says she has
a tooth-ache. Nobody believes her.
Nobody cares. I think she wants
some muffins.
I say you should come to New
York, and get in on all these
things. Nobody'll be down on you
if you come too soon, but if you
come too late you'll get stuck in
the rear, most likely. All those
muffins. Totally dry.
22. 5.K39
Dear Karl,
I read your letter and couldn't
make head or tail of it. I did
vaguely gather that you wanted.
me to join you in New York. But
before I consider this, I think,
that, as one of your best friends,
I ought to make some attempt to
bring your wandering mind back
to the pressing reality of the day.
Today we all heard the announce-
men that Italy and Germany
have decided that the axis on
which the world will turn shall
run from Rme to Berlin. England
and France have demonstrated ei-
ther an inability, or their lack of
willingness to support the security
of Eastern Europe with arms. And
so nations all over Europe now
think themselves forced to join
this Nazi onslaught . . . to look
after their own safety even if this
involves grovelling before Ger-

many. This is a fine indication
that the mastery of Litvinov,
though he mayno longer nomin-
ally be at the helm, still guides the
policy of the Soviet. Thus this de-
lay on the part of Soviet Russia
in declaring the inviolability of
Poland, has, so to speak, separated
the men from the boys. Those na-
tions whose decadence o,' view pro-
hibits their seeing bei,)nd their
immediate safety, mu( ! less all
the way to world freedom, have
turned spinelessly to the greatest-
seeming power at the given mo-
ment. And so another country that
might have been saved from par-
ticipation in a sin much greater

than its own, has fallen due to
Anglo-French indecision, which
looked for a long time like perfidy,
but which now displays itself as
only some' high stupidity.
Warwick seems disturbed and
sad at this, for he can see even
in this time of confused values,
that something redeemable to the
good has fallen completely into
the hands of the bad. And he, see-
ing farther than any American.
sees that this endangers not only
little Poland, but also every for-
ward-thinking American. England
and France are hopelessly in-
volved, and Russia finds herself
involved too. But you can be sure
that the Soviet has not been sit-
ting on its hands while negotiat-
ing, but rather preparing for the
battle that might take place.
a battle that would never have
been imminent had the West only
These things ought to revolve
in your mind as you flop about
with these terrible women. As for
the invitation. I should think that
quite out of the question for this
summer. Warwick is now living
through a difficult period of his
life, perhaps the most difficult.
and he needs someone sympathetic
by his side constantly, and he
seems to have chosen me. I hope,
however, that sometime I might
come to see you, since all this you
write seems to indicate that you
need some steadying influence.
June 10, 1939
Dear Farrell,
I haven't had a chance to write
you since I have been assuming a
greater responsibility in my fath-
er-in-law's interests lately, and
have had the additional worry of
Alice's health. I would not have
been so urgent last month (had
not your mother worried me),
since, at that time also, the doc-
tor was advising against long trips.
I was glad to read, in your last
letter, that you are now concern-
ing yourself over world affairs. It
seems to me that this is a step for-
ward for you in the process of ma-
turing, I mean insofar as it indi-
cates an awakening to situations
other than ideal ones. Perhaps,
after all, Warwick is a wholesome
influence on you, even though his
own particular inclinations toward
politics are not sounder than those
of ordinary people. I thought his
poem was very nice, very interest-
ing even, if not exemplary of his
best style. It is interesting to see,
as in the conclusion of this poem,
how the poets of today are turn-
ing back once more to the tradi-
tional values, and see, in what
certainly are troubled times, a bul-
wark of peace and felicity in the
sympathy of a secure home life. I
would like to know, and I trust
you are in a position to tell me,
whether Warwick has a wife in
Ann Arbor, or is thinking of some-
one far away.

I was surprised to her what a
wealthy and strictly rOjn-student
section you have moved into. Are
you living in the house of one of
your professors?. or has some sweet
old lady taken a sudden interest
in your comfort?
You haven't told me what course
work you are taking there this
summer. Are you taking a writing
course, for instance? Whatever
you do do, I am sure you will fully
enter the spirit of it.
Grant Welc
15. 6. 39
Dear Grant,
I was very glad to get your let-
ter yesterday. I hope that you are,
adjusting well to your new posi-
tion, and that the mother-to-be is
doing well if not better. And, not
to be imposing, I do look forward
to attending a September christ-
I'm glad to hear that you ap-
prove of the course my life has
been taking under the guidance of
my professors here, not the least
among them being Warwick. The
fact that world affairs have fi-
nally become real for me does, I
believe, indicate a kind of growth;
for no one who would be a poet
today can let pass matters which
are urgently present to mankind
as a universal community. In that
poem, which we have been privi-
leged to read before publication,
Warwick resolves the tumult which
beset him by invoking not any ac-
tual woman, but a being who, is
there for him alone, one of those
ethereal, wholly conceptual things
which can alone comfort the rest-
less mind. It is not the home, but
instead the ideal creature that
brings peace and bliss to the poet.
I'm busy this summer practicing
my role in that new thing I spoke
about before. This role of mine is
an intrinsic part of a comedy,
whose production-progress ought
to reach a climax sometime be-
tween the middle of August and
the beginning of September. At
that time your presence, or your
comments, will be looked for.
July 5, 1939
New York
Farrell, I have beenat Edith's.
Skyrockets. Mango brandy. Edith's
in Jail. Vera says she misses the
muffins. Vera told me, privately,
that she doesn't have a toothache
any more. I don't believe her. No-
body cares. They're all saying
Warwick will be in town on the
seventeenth of August. Are you
coming to New York?
Aug. 21, '39
Dear Farrell, .
You'll never imagine what hap-
pened. You should see the furni-
ture. Heavens. The-plumbing went
bad. Pat really is strong. I don't
think you'd better come here. In-
stead, why don't the two of us
meet at the Seville, on Fourth
Street, at eight tomorrow. I got
awfully banged around with this

trouble in the flat, so I might not
look very well,
August 21, 1939
Muskegon, Mich.
Dear Farrell,
You wrote your parents the day
you left Ann Arbor, and they got
the news the day you got to New
York. I told them not to worry.
Although I'm not so glum as
when I wrote you last, I'm still
sorry now you were not with me
then. I presume you left with
I have not heard from Karl
VanCamp since he went to New
York. You might tell me how you
both are.
Grant Welch
New York
24. 8. 39
Well, Grant, I did come with War-
wick, but he's gotten to be such a
bore lately, what with this Molo--
tov-Ribbentrop business, that I
wouldn't think about him if I
were you. And as for Karl, well
wait till you hear.
We had dinner the other nigh.
At a restaurant in Greenwich Vi-
lage where they give you caserole
with chicken and shrimps, but
don't have any candied asparagus.
And Karl has a black eye, and a
swollen nose that looks like a big
toe. He hasn't got any money ei-
ther. Karl's wrists looked like he
tried to kill himself, but I don't
think he was the one that tried to
kill him. I say it was somebody
else, somebody much stronger.
Isn't that too tawdry? Silliest
thing I've heard of in three weeks.
Except, maybe, for the way old
Warwick's carrying on over this
mutual defence thing. Mango
brandy. Isn't that something?
F. B
August 24, 1939
Fire Island
Farrell, I thought sure for a min-
ute or two there, what with all
the disturbance Pat was making.
we'd end up on Ricker's Island in
the same ward with Edith. But
goodness, I wouldn't dream of go-
ing there, they don't have cur-
tains on the windows. So instead I
flopped off to Fire Island where I
can convalesce indthe house of a
very good friend, doctor, and
watch the amusements. They're
all wondering how old Warwick'll
stand up under the mutual de-
fence thing between Russia and
Germany. I said I knew a very
good friend of his who's be sure
to tell. They all said I was name-
dropping. I wasn't, was I?
What I want to do is see you and
find all about the fun you're hav-
ing. But I won't come back to
town for a week or so. Pat said
he'd go back to Nashville. Then
he said he'd stay in town and kill
me. I say he'll go back to Nash-
ville. His father's rich there. How
ghastly. I don't know what will
become of Spaghetti.



Muskegon, Mich
August, 24, 1939


Dear Farrell,
I was not amused to hear about
Karl. I don't suppose I've ever
told you much about Karl and me
We did not get on as well our
second year as roommates as we
did during the first. Sometime I
must tell you the particulars of
this. But is it true that Karl is
broke? Is he in any really serious
trouble? If he is'in need of legal
or financial assistance, I ought
to help, but beyond that nothing
can be done for him.
If by this time you feel you
are in too deep, tell me your posi-
tion. Suppose you tell me some-
thing about Warwick.

G-rant Weicb
Fire Island
August 28, 1939
Vera says to me she saw Pat off
on the train. Pat may be trying
to fool me. Vera, maybe too. I
think that Pat is gone. Katie says
she hears his father heard he
hasn't been studying ballet since
last June. So I'll probably be flop-
ping into town, couple days. Come
to see you. Get in on the fun. I
suppose you're doing a debutante
swirl of parties, aren't you? You
and Warwick? Well. I'll see for


298 Christopher Street
New York 14, New York
March 21, 1939
ever so much busier since I last wrote,
martinis, pink drinks, and the theatre.
cocktails with the little finger the next

Well, Ferrell, I've been
what with parties, dinners,
I'v learned how to hold my

10. 4. 39.
Dear Farrell,1
going to have spot of hopwood
coffee tomorrow after with eng-
lish people, also writing people,
supposed to growl pomes to them.
Can sneak you in. Spec. friend.
Are you ill?

I sense that you are not used to
such long conversations, like ours
last week. But people have -them
when one is concerned enough
about something, and the other is
polite enough to listen.
. I feel too you are not used to
a person's being open to you. You
have young man notion a man
older is aloof, and when I was
open you were shy-made.
I am not interested in your mis-
apprehensions. In you to see you

to the little finger and the thumb, down near the stem, and to hold
my cigarettes, meanwhile, between the middle finger and the next
to the middle finger. Pink onions~ in the bottom of them. But
Mary, she has bare anchovies. And Edith and Vyvyan, they give you
Page 8

New York
September 2, 1939
Quite a bit's gone on, Grant.
Middle of night before last some-
body phoned up. They said there'd
been a war started. I said let's go
back to sleep. Warwick didn't say

15. 4. 39.

Dear Farrell,

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