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The Letters of Katherine Mansfield: Volume I

Wednesday — August 15, 1917

August 15, 1917

Your glimpse of the garden, all flying green and gold, made me wonder again who is going to write about that flower garden. It might be so wonderful, do you know how I mean? There would be people walking in the garden—several pairs of people—their conversation—their slow pacing—their glances as they pass one another—the pauses as the flowers ‘come in’ as it were—as a bright dazzle, an exquisite haunting scent, a shape so formal and page 79 fine, so much a ‘flower of the mind’ that he who looks at it really is tempted for one bewildering moment to stoop and touch and make sure. The ‘pairs’ of people must be very different and there must be a slight touch of enchantment—some of them seeming so extraordinarily ‘odd’ and separate from the flowers, but others quite related and at ease. A kind of, musically speaking, conversation set to flowers. Do you like the idea? I see the Pig of the Party—rooting in her little dark mind. And I see B—–, who hasn't the remotest idea of getting them into harmony. Perhaps that's not fair. But it's full of possibilities. I must have a fling at it as soon as I have time.1

I am sitting writing to you in the kitchen. I cannot bear at present my studio with its great Thou-God-seest-Me window. It is far more tolerable to sit up here with the saucepans and the nutmeg grater and the big swinging tree so close against the pane. Confound my poverty! How I long to buy an exquisite room, absolute privacy, a devoted black woman, and some ravishing perfume. And I've been groaning for half an hour at having to pay the window cleaner four and sixpence! And all the ugly makeshift furniture in the studio seems to be scrawled over with 1/11¾.

At that moment, appropriately enough, the window cleaner caught at my feet which weren't by any means flying and asked if it would be convenient to have ‘em done again now. And since then a whole day has gone by—and I have read a long letter from Lawrence—He has begun to write to me again and quite in the old way—all about the leaves of the melon plant ‘speckled like a newt,’ and all about ‘the social egg which must collapse into nothingness, into non-being.’ I am so fond of him for many things. I cannot shut my heart against him and I never shall.

Don't you think one really must run away as soon as possible and as far as possible—

1 See “Night-Scented Stock” in Poems, by Katherine Mansfield.