Wednesday October 12th, 2011

“Let’s none of us forget that evening, keep it intact.”

This week, the blog is featuring writers’ correspondence. The letter below was written by Eudora Welty to William Maxwell and his wife Emily in May 1963. It’s featured in What There Is to Say We Have Said:

Dearest Emmy and Bill,

The train ride here, down the hypotenuse to Texas, is utter peace. When you leave the city goes away immediately and it’s mountains, or valleys with beautifully ploughed fields and yellow barns till dark. There was the biggest thunderstorm I ever rode a train through, you could even hear the thunder through the roof & windows, but we were all enclosed and it was quite like added scenery, the wild heavens. After you leave St. Louis, you ride another good train, following the Mississippi from 4:30 till dark, as close to the water as the train used to go along the Riviera (it may still!). There’s no very frequent sign of human habitation at all, and it’s the way the river must’ve looked in the days of the Indians, or of Audubon anyway, so you imagine. Then that night, the whole world was lit up with fireflies. The train must have been going through wild country, hardly any electric lights, all darkness, and flashing, flashing from the ground to way up in dark trees, mile after mile. Then of course woke up eventually to oil wells — but not too many, because it’s fairly green and full of trees, hilly, in East Texas. Austin is green, with huge live oaks, and oleanders, magnolias, gardenias etc. in bloom. The wildflowers along the tracks were so thick — gaillardias, cosmos, phlox, thistle, calliopsis, & of course bluebonnets. There is a wild clematis called the leather flower — dark ruby red —

So far I’ve not really begun to work (it starts in 20 minutes & goes on till Wednesday), but have seen old friends, one a painter whose work I like a lot and who is doing still more beautiful things than he did before, Kelly Fearing. Desert rock, fishes, pools, children, saints, birds, snails, cat, poets all clear and jewel-like color and pure line. Well, I wish I could send you one. You would know how it restored me to see you and how happy I felt to be there. And that marvelous, marvelous dinner, a creation of a dinner. And Anna Gloria and Roger and Barbara and the Priest — let’s none of us forget that evening, keep it intact — And my love and thanks to you for making it happen —

Emmy, I still haven’t read [Oscar Lewis’] Five Families — Just like Anna Gloria & Roger trying to read the Gutenberg Bible & being distracted by the cries of “Throw out your dead!” I was distracted by the fireflies. But all the better. I have it to look forward to. Love to Kate and Brookie, love to you, from Eudora