One lurch nearer the grave
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
That’s another year gone, and I’m starting to think this whole passing-of-time thing is permanent. Thank you very much for sticking with Letters of Note, and a warm welcome to those of you who have just jumped aboard.
Without you all, this would quite literally be a huge waste of time.
See you all in 2024 x
I hope the new year is going to be a very happy one for you, and better for me, too. This last one was hell, and I have written no poetry.
Letter to John Lenmann
6th January 1949
This is the last day of 1937, and this letter is full of my love for you and my hopes for the new year. I have had plenty of time for reflection in the last day or two and have decided that you are right about the necessity for planning. A single person can act aimlessly, but where lives mingle and merge there has to be a scheme in advance. Half the fun in life is in anticipation, anyway; & plans are exciting in themselves. A country town on a snowy morning is agreeably deceptive—it leads one to believe there can be no bad in the world—even the dogs feel the extra gaiety and goodness. But deception or not, I feel ready and eager for the new year, and here are my love and hopes and greetings.
E. B. White
Letter to his Katharine White
31st December 1937
(From Letters of E. B. White)
The wind is blowing singing inside of my head with holy tiger’s feet and also banging the shade and I have pulled down the dirty window, and it’s all over, god, it’s all over, xmas, New Year’s night, and now I feel better, almost as good as they pretended to feel, these hardhearts, these shards, these sharks, and now the woman downstairs beats on the ceiling with the end of a broom handle, my typewriter disturbs her, it punctuates the Javanese exotic head-sounds of her T.V.
Letter to Ann Bauman
I suppose I am one of those optimists. If I sit down & think, even, it doesn’t remove my conviction that the New Year is a most promising infant—I don’t know why. It seemed to smile on us. And although we have seven feet of snow outside our front door, there is a feeling of warmth within—a New Year feeling.
Letter to Richard Murry
2nd January 1922
Won’t wish you Happy New Year because New Year is just one lurch nearer the grave and nothing to be happy over.
Letter to his mother
22nd December 1920
How sad it makes one feel to sit down quietly and think of the flight of the old year, and the unceremonious obtrusion of the new year upon our notice! How many things we have omitted to do which might have cheered a human heart, or whispered hope in the ear of the sorrowful, and how many things have we done over which the dark mantle of regret will ever fall! How many good resolutions did I make at the commencement of the year now flown, merely to break them and to feel more than ever convinced of the weakness of my own resolutions!
Letter to Abiah Root
12th January 1846
Bright immutable skies discipline this last day of the year into whatever annals it has inspired: one is granted a momentary respite from the passage of time. May the New Year bring you every happiness, good health, and lots of money. Aspiration and inspiration are also two attributes that one should be happy of their bestowal
I will be making resolutions: each year I promise to perfect myself according to the best of my circumstance: thinking of ways to be and how to be it. It is good to meet the most aspirational facet of the immediate possibilities, and good to feel that ones resources are being exploited to capacity.
Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald
31st December 1939
(From Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda)
“The last day of the old year dawned bright and frosty, and at 11.0 a.m. a long muffled figure might have been seen starting its porridge with an expression of distaste.” The idea of a New Year takes me aback rather, and induces a febrile session of mental stocktaking, with unavoidable depressions. One novel finished: another started: one book of poems to be printed. That is all there is on the credit side. I daren’t look at the debit.
Letter to his parents
31st December 1944
(Thanks, also, to everyone who has been following Diaries of Note since it began on 1st January 2023, during which time I’ve shared 365 diary entries, each written by a different diarist.)