C[harles] W[alter] Carruth
Oct. 30 1894
Dear Mr. Muir:
I am very glad to see that your book is out at last. Congratulate you upon the appearance of your first independent volume. Wish it were the last of a dozen, as it should be. It is too bad that so much splendid literary material as you have accumulated should be entirely unpublished or in unavailable back volumes of newspapers, etc. I trust that the demand for this volume will lead to the publishing
of your Alaska letters. Nearly all of the material in this volume was familiar to me, but I am delighted to hear it in a form where I can nibble at it daily. The illustrations seem to me to be hardly up to the Century standard, and unworthy of the subject matter.
Your water ouzel made me think of Emerson's "Titmouse" was it?
Here was this atom in full breath
Hurling defiance at vast death"
I enclose a wishy-washy review of the book from the Enquirer. Wish that I had the ability to do the work and the entree to the columns of a standard publication. I think that I would impress upon the public mind that a real classic had been placed before them. I wish that Stedman
might review it in the Century. He is a critic who is not afraid to show his enthusiasm when he finds something worhty of arousing it.
I was interested in reading an account of Le Conte's lecture on Glaciers, and was surprised to find that the scientists have only within quite recent years discovered that they were "alive." The poets knew it long ago. Byron, in "Manfred" (written early in the century) made the Spirit of Mont Blanc say:
"The glacier's cold and restless mass
Moves onward day by day.
But I am he who bids it pass,
Or with its ice delay."
Shelley in "Prometheus Unbound" written about the same time, makes Prometheus say:
"The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
Of their moon-freezing crystals."
These two instances came to my mind, and possibly if one had time more references might be found.
By the way, I have written a sonnet upon "Glacier Bay," and since writing it I find a sentence in your N. P. Alaska article which, as it were, knocks out the enacting clause of my sonnet. It states that those great ice [illegible] discharge their bergs winter and summer. Can this be so? I supposed the northern bays and fiords to be so choked and sealed by the frost that any motion of the glacier during the winter would be impossible.
However if they do move, I presume I shall have to let them continue their motion even if it does destroy a mediocre sonnet, but I would much prefer that they should hibernate, and suck their paws during the winter months. I have written down the sonnet upon the reverse of this sheet, and you can see whether it would be worth while to reverse a fact in natural history for the sake of it.
The very kindest regards of Mrs. C. and the winter to yourself, Mrs. M. and the children, and we would be more than delighted to have a call from you when you are
Glacier Bay, Alaska
Through the long days and short bright summer nights,
Around the head of this enchanted bay
The sundering bergs their thunderous music play
Like sound of cannonading in sea fights.
The age-old frost the fleeting summer smites
With manifold concussions--an array
Of ancient, hoary winters swells the fray
That with its din the listening ear delights
This in Munchausen's tale is shadowed forth,
Where the stout courier's trumpet blasts congealed
Accumulate, until by warmth unsealed,
They volley forth the praises of the North.
The myriad winters here with long-pent voice
Roar grandly, and tumultuously rejoice.
in this vicinity. Will send you my year's output of verse (quite meagre) when I get it out.
C. W. Carruth
Original letter dimensions: 22.5 x 14.5 cm.
Carruth, Charles Walter, "Letter from C[harles] W[alter] Carruth to John Muir, 1894 Oct 30." (1894). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 6906.
Reel 08, Image 0471
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