Names and portions of text are being withheld by request. There’s no date on the original, but there is a later annotation that says “written from Canada, around September 1941.” If anyone has any info that can verify he was in Canada at this time then please let us know.
“Darling girl – I found your letter this morning, but I think it arrived yesterday or the day before. Don’t fret. I’m well, really. Much much better than when you last saw me. It’s exhausting, and my voice is struggling with all the speechifying, but people here are wonderful…
As to everything else, oh my dear girl, no one has ever questioned me so closely or made me realise how pitifully few answers I can provide. You look at me with those eyes and you see through every stupid lie. And I don’t know how to tell you the truth, which is – I don’t know the why of anything, even when I pretend most diligently I do.
The truth is the last time I had any idea why or what I was supposed to do I was lying in a shell hole, looking up at the sky. My mind was filled with a Bach keyboard sonata , which was one of the last I’d learned, I forget which one now. I absolutely knew I was about to die and I was completely happy and at peace, in a way I never was before or since, not even with you, in our best moments. It was so easy, you see, a kind of absolute joy and peace, because I knew it was all done and I was all square with life. Nothing left to do but let things take their course.
And when I didn’t die, I didn’t know what to do. So I thought, I’ll take my revolver, go out and blow a hole through my head. Only I knew it wouldn’t work. I knew, I just knew you couldn’t do it that way. You couldn’t make it happen, not if you wanted to find peace. So, I thought, then, a sniper can do it for me. But no matter how I tried to let them no sniper ever found me. And all the other times I went out and lay in shell holes in No Man’s Land it wasn’t the same, and I knew I wouldn’t die this time, and of course I never did.
I had this mad feeling I’d become some sort of Wandering Jew. And everything for so long afterwards was about dragging this living corpse of myself around, giving it things to do, because here it was, alive. And nothing made any sense and I didn’t even hope it would. I followed paths that were there to be followed, I did what others said to do. I didn’t care. And, angel, that’s the only why I have about anything to this day.
I’m so ashamed to even write it. I could never tell it, even to you. Do you judge me terribly for such a weak fool? Letting myself be dragged here and there for no better reason than that? I know the awful disaster I have made of everything, and I don’t think there’s much mending anything now…
I’ll telephone you tonight from wherever we are,