Monday, May 29, 2017

Remembering correspondences

  About untidiness. The stage 
  I object to is when a room 
  gets so untidy that one can't 
  find where anything is. I 
  don't mind things getting out 
  of place and dusty, as long as 
  I can find them as soon as 
  want them. I don't believe 
  chaos begins until things get 
  I feel more and more strongly
  that I oughtn't to be doing his-
  tory: I really begin to regret 
  not having taken up English.
  It seems to be the only subject
  which gives you a chance to do a
  good deal of thinking on your 

Surely in either subject all one can do is to react originally. I mean when you were quite a small boy & I asked you what you were thinking about & you said - 'Whether Cromwell was really sincere' or that you were wondering what Napoleon could have done for France, if he'd cared more about France than himself ..

John Cornford's correspondence
with his mother while a school-
boy in Buckinghamshire, at 
Stowe, led to his taking First
Class honors in History and an
unforgettable career in Spain
as a soldier poet, where his
death at 21 in 1936 occurred 
on his birthday. His essay on
what was wrong with the teach-
ing of history at Cambridge
is the tale of how it was lost -
an objectionable untidiness.

                  All last night we lay so close,
                  All completeness of the heart
                  The restless future will efface -
                  Tomorrow night we sleep apart.
                  The eyeless shutter clamping out,
                  Dear, the certainty of your touch;
                  All the warmth and all the light -
                  Oh don't think, it hurts too much.
                  Though your nerves are frozen numb
                  Your sorrow will not make time stop,
                  You're not a statue but a man;
                  Oh don't grieve, it doesn't help.

While we're hung up still with
Cromwell, and whether he's sin-
cere, this is not the recurring
untidiness which a false sense
of history familiarly suggests.
Its a lingering one, how it was

John Cornford
  and Frances Cornford

John Cornford
A Happy New Year

Understand the Weapon,
  Understand the Wound: 
Collected Writings
Carcanet Press, 1976©

iv  Lee Yong Kun, undated

vi  John Cornford, undated

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