Lucy is Gone
‘Back at Oxford. Lucy is gone. Only her scent on my hands to remind me of her and as I look over the garden her memory floats up to me again from below in the passing wind. The crows sing raucously on the mound, and soon this room will all be disbanded, nobody will remember that I ever lived here. My gilded candlesticks and Persian curtains will be wrapped up in crates to go back to Eye.
‘A sabre like patch of sunlight moves across the lawn and up the mound. It is time for disjointing and moving on. Is it because she has left me, or that my love is folding? I can’t recognise the emotion. Or is it just autumn? I long to get closer to the earth than I have ever been before, to render myself up to its sway, to give myself up to something greater than myself.
‘The night after the final exams at Oxford, me a dead man with fatigue, I took her from the champagne and the crowds and took her to a wood. At the end of a narrow lane she lay in my arms. Leaving her for a moment I walked down through the rainy evening through the wood, my feet sinking into the soggy turf. I came to a place where the paths crossed in a way that I remembered. I had been here before. But not in this wood. Not in this place.
‘What could be required of me? I knew. That was two months ago. Two days ago, I talked to her on the telephone and said that, for some reason I didn’t understand, I didn’t want to see her.
‘She asked me to come to London. ‘I’ll get something nice for us to eat for dinner.’ I said I couldn’t. Yesterday I had a letter from her saying ‘goodbye’.
‘And yet how can it be goodbye? ‘I was very jealous of all the Italian girls with their wonderful figures,’ she said, ‘but people still seemed to look at me, so I think perhaps they like plump English girls as well.’
‘I sit on my window seat eating liqueur chocolates from a present from her called Le Petit Bar, and feel that I’ll find life very hard without her, without the intoxication of her, of her beauty, of her love.
‘What is the secret of her beauty? She brings into every room the richness and warmth of a Baudelaire poem, ‘Mere des Meres’ or ‘Le Balcon’. I know that if I actually saw her now I should be unable to refuse her anything. Her voice over the telephone is too much for me to bear.
‘In my car parked outside the Tate, she cried out, ‘I want you, I want you,’ breaking into our conversation with her passionate cry. Then she said, ‘The trouble is, I’m too simple. All I want to do is live with you and cook lovely things for you and look after you.’
‘Why did I weep? I am moved by the simplicity of her world, by the beauty of the simplicity of her conception of life. It is eternal and natural. Why do I in my pride fight against it, try to refuse and forget it?
‘The apples that hang heavy on the boughs, the warm smell of harvest at evening, all, I feel, are part of her, an extension of her existence. And now in looking at her I feel that from her Rubens took his forms and Matthew Smith his colours. The sunrise is crimson from the kisses of her mouth and the sea takes its warmth from the curved glow of her breast. She is a model for every painter, the mistress of every poet.
‘And why should such an angel believe in the perverse creed of Catholicism? How can she accept as holy writ what can ultimately only be conjectures? How can this creature, who seems to me to be herself the incarnation of sensual life, be so scornful of it? How can she, who was created for the warmth of summer evenings and the enchantment of balconies built out over the water, the world of ‘the courtesans growing drunk as the sunlight fades’, now shun me at the dictate of a perverse and alien respectability?
‘In the church porch by her home, the moon shone on to us and our cold, cold love. Later, she lay in her empire bed, in the room so pink, I thought, the love of the flesh, surely this is the right love, this is the love of the person, not of the ideal.
‘The south has mellowed her. The towers and little towns of Italy have given her the generosity she lacked.
‘Two thoughts; ‘La femme est naturelle, c’est-a-dire, abominable,’ and ‘L’amour du femme intelligente, c’est l’amour pederastique’. Can these be right? ‘No!’ I shout now, from every sane part of me. All the confused misinformation of Eng. Lit. and its celebration of courtly love is present in my next question, ‘Why, to me, is the desire of the moth for the star more ‘right’ than the love of flesh and blood?’
Anticipating that I might some day soon be living in London, I wrote;
‘There is an intoxication in a town life lived fast, but better the measured naturalness of a regional existence. The curse of speediness is that it destroys mystery. Mountains are not so marvellous for the thought that we can be on their summit in a car in an hour. Hence the charm of the remoter countrysides where people still live a self-sufficient life. Hence the charm of where the Davids live, Callow, perched on its hill where forests riot impinging over the ruined walled garden.’
Jeremy Sandford FanClub Archives
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