Dear David

9:45 March 10 [1977] It’s good to get your letter. I’m happy to have written you, to get such a letter. I’ve been worrying myself to such a frazzle this quarter with inefficient busy-ness that Writing has seemed a luxury. So much to do! I tend to accept any excuse to get out of it. But then Guilt, or some kind of automatic neurotic deficiency, begins to turn the most likeable things into irritable inaccuracies, my mind filled with undone business. So I hurry back to the scholarship, with an increased sense of the impossibility of the task, which only causes worse inefficiency. Then too, I’ve just gotten over mononeucleosis, so I have tended to sleep much over the books. So I haven’t written any letters, and have lost that necessary point of view that only letters can find for me. Being led around by the nose is easier to accept with a little perspective. By Jove. Here you are, David. I see my left hand on my nose, and my right hand with the pen on the page. My left hand wants to put my nose in a book. My right hand questions the possibility of the task. “I,” it writes, has too many ideas of its own. Give him a pen and paper. You can’t tie him down to Aristotle. Hell no, what about Augustine, for that matter?—I read them too. Roethke, Thomas Stevens Eliot, Yeats. There are three papers due next week. One on “The Afternoon of the Faun.” One on the Franklyn’s tale. And one on Dante’s intensione and the Medieval Synthesis. 12:30 March 12 Plus a takehome on Twentieth Century Poetry, and a final on Chaucer Tuesday. Now I’m starting to cheer up. 5 o’clock Saturday I got all but the Mallarme paper done yesterday, up typing all night. Got the final for the poetry class back today postmarked Charlotte, NC, so I don’t guess there’s no rush now for the paper. Got an A for the Franklyn paper. Cleaning correspondence, Bills, tax return. 7 o’clock Could “cricket” also signify “a good sport,” sport?— an English expression—Another way of saying good guys finish last? I think, but the way that crickets crawl out of the ground, they signify death. There’s an ancient dialogue, or a Romantic ode or something, in which maybe Socrates and a student or his master, or was it Coleridge, leave the town because of a plague. They sit under a tree in the country, and crickets crawl out of the ground. They talked about immortality, but it was such a long time ago. Or was it locusts? They aren’t the same thing at all. Crickets don’t signify death; they signify the regeneration of life, but still, it’s hard for a cricket to get up in the world. Your reading was, without a doubt, the best I’ve heard including Gary Snyder’s since Ginsberg at the Dharma Festival last year, and I don’t know why I should stop there, because it was only his stage presence, or better perhaps, the voice of his spirit, and not his intellect, that amazed me, and a lot of that depended on the context— he read after Grant Fisher, who must think that poetry is written by dead poets. And you had no such asset (Palmer and Davidson were no bad context). 1:25 pm Sunday Mar 21 As far as my own poetry goes now, I can see with my glasses off. I haven’t taken much time with it. With one exception, called “Apology,” which I include, but here’s a quicky: The Lace Behind my eyes I feel the lace of reading too much Mallarmé today, perhaps, or playing Hearts with strangers in the dark café, and having lost the game, at length— the evil lace, the evil lace! Feb.21,76 It’s got a lot in it (commentary on the French symbolist/decadents, somewhat autobiographical), but it’s short and not very metrically creative. “Apology” is more interesting. One should know, perhaps, that it wasn’t serious socially—just the kind of thing one thinks of in a headache withdrawal irritability—not an occasion poem. Thank you Sherril for your love from Sherril, David, for her love. Love, Tom Sharp P.S. On the other hand, about the cricket— An old Chinese belief has it that crickets are lucky. The Cricket in Times Square is a book you may have read to Chris. Also check out a poem by Frederick G. Tuckerman, “The Cricket.”