Listen, Precious Lady!

I have news!

Yesterday (Wed.) two ladies made a "pilgrimage" (they called it) to Skyrim and spent the day here. They are old fans and had planned the adventure for several years. One was Mrs. Youngberg, a teacher in the "Unified School System" of San Jose, Calif. The other was her sister, Mrs. Mildred Bennett of Red Cloud, Nebraska, who is in charge of the Willa Cather Memorial and the biographer (ultimately the definitive one) of Willa. In the course of our talk about you and your work, Mrs. Bennett said: "I know where there are some letters Mrs. Aly will want — the Vinsonhaler letters, a shoe-box full!!"

The Judge gave them to Mrs. Mary O' Leary, The Matthews Book Store, 1620 Harney St., Omaha, Neb. Several years ago, Mrs. Bennett saw the letters and read a half dozen of them. She is sure Mary O'Leary (golly! what a love of a lyrical Irish name!) will be glad to give you access to the collection! Wow! These women! They are indeed "a great nation of people," as my hill-billy friend once remarked to me! I'm betting on them every time 100 to 1! (And, since Mona went so far away, according to me you are the first citizen of that "nation"!)

This is Mrs. Bennett went further, and she is a sane, sensible person. I spoke of the Streamer, Sterling, Ledoux, Robinson letters, and she said she knows a man in New York who can and will find them if they are still in existence. She knows him through her Willa Cather research. She has written him — or will write — putting him on the scent.

Good gosh golly! What fun if we find these precious letters! and what fun to have Vinsonhaler's, which cover the writing of the Wars!

Your letter, dated the 13th, arrived on the 18th. Where was it all that time, I wonder? Anyway, the blessed thing arrived, and what's a day or to two in the eternity of spirit?

I'm very happy about your experience with the choral reading of the Wars. I know it is corking, and I must hear it before I am tucked away with the "kings and councilors of the earth who made desolate places for themselves". (They hadn't ought to of done it, Lucile!) Do you suppose you can work up the choral presentation of the Wars as a whole by next winter? If so, by golly I'll fly out, have a look at you, and experience the choral reading!

About As to the notion I have expressed in both prose and verse about the likeness of the violin and woman. When did the notion come to me? you ask. It must have been in my teens. I was always strangely and deeply moved by violin music and my feeling for the woman spirit was similar in kind and intensity. (I began living very young, long before most boys begin). The shape of the violin must have suggested the fusing of the two feelings very early in my teens. The idea still thrills me. (There's a poem in Man-Song, isn't there? And the idea is found in the Bundle of Myrrh as well as in the short story, Vylin: "She is my violin") O my god, I wasn't trying to make a noise like poetry when I wrote that!

You ask me about Emma Engle and her relation to A Bundle of Myrrh. Your idea as expressed in yours of the 18th, is essentially right. Several of the poems were done with her specifically in mind — Come Back, I Shall Be Lightning, etc. Even in these, and one or two others, the situation indicated was, to some, extent, imagined. This gal never ran out on the Little Buffalo! (I came to wish she would!) But I loved her much for a couple of years and she was beautiful in a cold Diana-like fashion. (I called her Diana, never Emma.) But even in the poems that referred definitely to her, the ghosts of other women entered. As you say, she was a symbol of woman. I found that out in good time.

There is so much to tell in this realm of my experience; but I feel like a cad in talking about any of it. Some of it was so godawful beautiful!! I mention the matter only because you, dear lady, are my best friend in the world of my life work, and, anyway, I had not yet found Mona and you were not yet born. You will know, from the foregoing, that "If This Be Sin" and "Let Down Your Hair" were not written to E. E.. It is true that "I Would I Knew Some Slow Soft Sound" referred to her in the earlier years of enchantment. Incidentally, E. E. was 4 years older than I.

In Man-Song, I was finding Mona. Definitely in Gaea.

This last week the Journalism School held its annual Photographic Workshop — a national affair. Two photographers were assigned to get me. One was the editor of Modern Photography in New York. The other was a fellow from the Uni of Ohio at Athens, O. The latter followed me three days and took more than 500 shots. From there, he told me, eight or ten will be selected to make a sequence intended to reveal the subject!

It's a long, long way to the end of July! Your Greek books are with the binder, and will be ready before I leave on June 6th for Memphis. The binder discouraged my idea of repairing. So there'll be nice new bindings for you to handle!

I have not yet surprised you, Bower, and Stewart sitting ghostlily (!) in the backyard, but perhaps in at the end of July the four of us may actually be there together for a little while. I hope so.

Is Bower feeling strong again? Tell me about his book.

Sig and Max will locate near Los Angeles. He is feeling much better and is in a constructive state of mind. Max has a transfer from here to the same firm in Santa Anna ​, at a raise in salary! Sig can get a job easily in the aviation industry anywhere. Soon he will take a part-time job.

I assure you with the utmost insincerity that I don't like you and I hope you don't like me too.

John N.
P. S.

There are a good many letters around here that must go to you. I'll build up steam enough to collect and pack them one of these times.

The next line runs:
Du, du liegst mir im Sinn.
(Naturlich, im Herzen auch)

J. N.