Chicago, Illinois – (Sunday)
Since I arrived here Friday night, I have done nothing but see a few friends and feel as though I have been living the life of a lady of leisure. I have had a chance to read a few things, which, as usual, I have carried around in my briefcase too long.
I read and particularly liked John Dos Passos’ article on “Down Easterners Building Ships.” There is one little sentence at the end of Mary Heaton Vorse’s article on “The Girls of Elkton, Maryland” which can be applied, I think, to all our workers in factories, on farms and in the offices:
These girls are waiting for some voice to speak a message which will release all their energies for total war.
The headlines in the papers here underlined these last words, for it is not only the girls from the factories, but all of us who need to release our energies for total war. If we realized this, people wouldn’t, just before meat rationing starts, storm the butcher shops until the shelves are bare.
What is the matter with us all? There is enough food to go round, none of us are going hungry. If we can’t always have our choice, we can find substitutes. But we shall have to find them more readily and happily before we can say our whole energies as a nation, are released for total war.
I have been reading with great pleasure: “Come In,” and other poems by Robert Frost, with a commentary by Louis Untermeyer. I have always liked Robert Frost’s poems, but I think the running commentary makes them even more delightful. Do you remember the last lines of the poem “Wild Grapes”?
I had not taken the first step in knowledge;
I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart – nor need,
That I can see. The mind – is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind –
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.
Let us hope that none of us will ever learn “to let go with the heart.” Not only in wartime, but in the days that follow the war, the heart that can feel and cannot let go will be much needed in this troubled world of ours.