[c/o Revd J. C. Perkins, D.D., 90 Commonwealth Ave., Boston]

T. S.Eliot
Letter 21.
21 December 1942
Dearest Emily,

MyCharterhouse Literary SocietyTSE speaks to;a2 last weekend was taken up by the visit to Charterhouse: a small expedition, as it needs only a bus from here to Guildford and another to Godalming, but fatiguing. The public reason was to speak to the small Literary Society, of about fifteen boys, on ‘the function of poetry’; thePound, Omarhis situation;a3 real reason to appear there on behalf of Omar Pound (fancy parents calling their child Omar – thoroughly irresponsible) and to discuss his future with the housemaster and the daughter of the lady who looks after him in the holidays, herself a mistress at a girl’s school in the same neighbourhood. The boy was recently confirmed, by his own decision; IPounds, thetheir irreligion;a1Pound, Dorothy ShakespearPounds, thePound, EzraPounds, the had talked to him about it (at Mrs. Dickie’s request) but had not tried to influence him – the moral problem is so very complicated when a boy is separated from his parents – and such parents! – and when the parents are implacably anti-Christian. It would be wrong, I am sure, deliberately to urge a child to a course to which his parents are opposed; but if, at the age of sixteen, he makes his own choice and that is different from what they would wish, I cannot but feel thankful, especially as he retains an admirable loyalty and I believe affection for them. The puzzle now is what is to be done in the way of a career for a boy so isolated, so handicapped both externally and internally, and of no striking ability or bent in any direction.

I am sure that this expedition was worth making; but coming especially in the month of December, which is always crowded and distracted, with the strain of remembering all one’s private obligations in the way of presents, letters (ISeaverns, Helen;d9 must write to Mrs. Seaverns from whom I have had no news for a long time) etc. and trying to direct one’s spirit to the proper thoughts and mood of the Nativity, was not welcome, and made me pliant to the suggestion that I should, on returning from London at the end of this week, go to bed for a day and a half, although free from cold and fever. I shall go to town for only one night this week, and also next week, and have two pieces of work to do – advertisementsFaber and Faber (F&F)advertisements to write for;e9 for the catalogue and'Is a Christian Society Possible?';a1 a short article for ‘The Christian Century’.1

I hope that I may get a cable from you at Christmas, for I have had no letter since that of October 28 when you were still at Grand Manan. I do not like to think of your having to remain indefinitely in Boston, for town life is not what suits you at any time, and I fear that you may be out of the frying pan of isolation into the fire of family worries. And it is always difficult for anyone alone in the world to find the best balance between solitude and society. I hope you will tell me, on returning to Boston, how much activity you find yourself able for, whether you can read, or concentrate, and whether, at such a time, you find any of your friends of real help or not. It seems to me always difficult to avoid both of two errors – one is to expect too much, or the wrong things, from particular people – and when I say the wrong things I mean both the things one cannot expect of anyone, and (much more often) the things one ought not to expect from that person – and the other is not to expect enough. Perhaps I am more inclined to the latter fault, being by nature distrustful; and when one goes too far in that direction, it is not only taking less than they would give, but giving less than they could take, and so not being wholly a friend to them – the best being, perhaps always to give a little more than they can take, but not to be aware that it is more – for that awareness would introduce an element of condescension which would poison friendship. We all have to present different sides of ourselves to different people, in order to communicate at all; but there is all the difference between doing this, and concealing or dissimulating the aspects which we assume (and assume too easily) would not appeal to them. And to conceal is very near to pretending, and pretending to others very near to pretending to ourselves, until we lose touch with our own reality and thus cease to be real to others.

This is in danger of becoming a monologue without relation to anything. I shall send you a cable to Boston on Wednesday, my dear, and I shall think of you and try to be near you on Christmas, as I do on all the greater festivals.

Your ever loving

1.‘Is a Christian Society Possible?’: posthumously published in CProse 6, 336–42.

Charterhouse Literary Society, TSE ambushed by, TSE speaks to,
Faber and Faber (F&F), TSE's office in, the garrulousness of publishing, refuge from home, in financial straits, future feared for, tranquil Saturday mornings at, TSE disenchanted with, hosts summer garden-party, as part of Bloomsbury, TSE considers 'home', VHE intrusion dreaded at, robbed, increases TSE's workload, TSE's editorial beat at, negotiate over Murder in the Cathedral, pay advance for Murder, VHE's appearances at, and Duff Cooper's Haig, 'blurbs' for, commission new letterhead from Eric Gill, give Ivy lunch for Dukes, TSE as talent-spotter and talent-counsellor, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, mark TSE's 50th birthday, and the prospect of war, and closing The Criterion, lose Morley to America, on war footing, war ties TSE to, fire-watching duties at, wartime bookbinding issues, advertisements to write for, Picture Post photographs boardroom, offices damaged by V-1, consider moving to Grosvenor Place, lunch at Wednesday board-meetings, Christmas staff party,
'Is a Christian Society Possible?',
Pound, Omar, invited to lunch at Shamley, TSE's impression of, his situation, his prospects, and EP's indictment, and wife call on TSE,

1.OmarPound, Omar Shakespear Pound (1926–2010), author, editor and poet; son of Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear, he was born in Paris and brought up in his early years by his maternal grandmother, Olivia Shakespear; he met his father for the first time only in 1938. During 1940–2 he was a boarder at Charterhouse School, where TSE took a proactive avuncular interest in the progress and well-being of ‘the unfortunate Omar’: ‘I make a point of trying to see him about twice a quarter. The whole situation is difficult and I am afraid that the future is not going to be easy for him. I like the boy who at the present moment thinks that he would like to make hotel keeping his profession.’ On leaving school, Pound undertook to study hotel management and worked in a London hotel; but in 1945 he enlisted in the US Army and served terms in France and Germany. Subsequently he studied at Hamilton College, New York (his father’s alma mater); at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London; and at McGill University. Later he taught in Boston; at the American School of Tangier; at the Cambridgeshire School of Arts and Technology; and at Princeton. He brought out Arabic & Persian Poems (1970) and volumes of his own poetry, and was co-editor (with Philip Grover) of Wyndham Lewis: A Descriptive Bibliography (1978). Other editions include Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1908–1914 (1984), and Ezra and Dorothy Pound: Letters in Captivity, 1945–1946, edited with Robert Spoo (1999).

Pounds, the, their irreligion,
Seaverns, Helen, finally dines with TSE, teaches TSE card games, bearer of EH's Christmas present, charms TSE, hosts TSE and the Perkinses, entertained by TSE, TSE hesitates to confide in, and Perkinses dine with TSE, to tea with TSE, seeks advice from TSE on transatlantic tourism, her comforts equivalent to Mappie's, houses EH on 1939 arrival, an old spoiled child, disburdens herself over tea, laments life in Hove, removed from grandchildren,

3.HelenSeaverns, Helen Seaverns, widow of the American-born businessman and Liberal MP, Joel Herbert Seaverns: see Biographical Register.