Letter by CJD to R.H. Croll 1914.03.19

March 21/14

Dear Rob,

You be damned!

Now look here.


What the 'ell's the matter with that? I admit the "'n un" is a bit crook, but the line scans. And I'm not putting any weight on "en" in "given". You can make it the mere ghost of a syllable. If I had said "Thou hast give-en to us, O Lord, a land" I could understand your rather carping, uncharitable, bumptious b---y criticism. Go to!

Would this please your ear better?

"Lo, Thou hast given to us, Lord, a land." Or this:
"Thou hast bequeathed to us, O lord, a land." Try over the original line with a slight pause after "given" and see how it goes.

In the slab of "Ancient Mariner" you quote, "heaven" and "given" must certainly be slurred. Otherwise, the first syllables of the second and third lines would have to be dropped. This circumstance - the first syllable of the second line depending on the last syllable of the first line used to trouble me at one time. I used to have an idea that a line should stand on its own feet, so to speak, but it can't. It must be considered in relation to those which precede and follow it. That is, in some cases in some metres.

That's why it hurts your ear not to slur those lines.

But more than your ear will be hurt if you don't explain more clearly, when we meet, just what hurt you about that line.

You mention photos to be auto-ed. But none have arrived.

Had a letter from Roberts today. He tells me all about Coles and the photo. ad. He's a brick.

I've had a good week. Six chunks of verse done since Sunday and a story started. If I keep it up I fear the Bulletin will begin to howl for quarter. It is surprising how quickly one becomes facile after getting into one's stride. Slabs of rhyme from nowhere slide into my block on most unprobable occasions. I enclose a weak thing I composed as I was lacing up my boots this morn. It seemed to come appropos of nothing.

Am expecting to see Jim Wood and some of the fellows today.

Grace says something of another notice in V.A.S. Please send me a copy.


PS. On second thought I like the "giv'n un -".

CROLL Collection MS 8910, 1202/1(b) - State Library of Victoria.

This letter continues the discussion of the poem Hymn of Futility which was first published in the Bulletin on April 16 1914.
The poem attached to this letter was "A Fair Risk" which was first published in the Bulletin on April 2 1914.
"Grace" is either Croll's wife or daughter - I'm not sure at this stage.
"V.A.S." is unknown at this time.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002