At Pike's Farm

12 Feb 2020 9:15 PM | Frances Dickey (Administrator)

Arriving in Liverpool on July 2, 1933, Eliot goes into hiding from Vivien at Pike’s Farm in Surrey, where Frank Morley and family are living. Although he looked forward to his return to England as a release from suspense, the waiting continues: he waits for Vivien to accept the reality of their separation (she does not), and he hopes anxiously for letters from Hale, who has developed the alarming habit of driving around the West coast on her own. Meanwhile, two themes develop in his letters: observations of nature, and his growing interest in writing for the stage. 

Of course, “New Hampshire” and “Virginia” indicate that Eliot is paying close attention to nature already during his stay in America. He has many opportunities for observation at Pike’s Farm, where his spare time is taken up with light outdoor work and entertaining the Morley children. At first he seems skeptical of country life—he wonders whether Christina Morley finds it lonely and fears that being outside so much is bad for her complexion—but soon praises the landscape, especially the crooked roads and ever-changing play of light and shadow. A letter of August 17 expresses his satisfaction with the natural cycles of seasons, weather, and flora and fauma that reassuringly place his own activities on the same level as a thrush looking for worms, or a rosebush. He also enjoys a holiday in Wales with the Fabers, lyrically describing the lush countryside and the experience of hearing Welsh spoken. His letters enclose snapshots of Penshurst Castle, a mountain stream in Wales, the River Eden, a Cotswolds village and other “moments” captured with his new camera.

On August 11, Eliot announces with excitement that he has been invited to write a play to help raise money to build suburban churches, and he decides to try his hand at what will become The Rock. Actually, his enthusiasm for this project can also be traced back to the previous spring, May 1933, when he saw Sweeney Agonistes performed for the first time, at Vassar, an experience he described as dreamlike. A few days after that he asked Hale jokingly if he might write a play for her. This idea remains in his mind, and on September 2 he confirms that he will write the pageant play for the churches and hopes that his dramatic work will create a bond between them. 

In a final note about summer 1933, on July 28 Eliot encloses a poem (not previously collected) styled as his last will and testament, humorously describing himself and playing on the meaning of her name, Hale.

Comments

  • 13 Feb 2020 1:11 PM | CR Mittal
    //His letters enclose snapshots of Penshurst Castle, a mountain stream in Wales, the River Eden, a Cotswolds village and other “moments” captured with his new camera.//

    Curiosities.
    Link  •  Reply
    • 13 Feb 2020 1:30 PM | CR Mittal
      Lovers of Eliot would be enamored of the photographs clicked by him.
      Link  •  Reply
  • 13 Feb 2020 1:26 PM | CR Mittal
    Hale as motivation for Eliot as a playwright - another feather in Hale’s cap.
    Link  •  Reply
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