Tips & Ideas

Tips & Ideas

Katherine Mansfield – May 19, 1917

Saturday Night, May 19, 1917

My darling,

Do not imagine, because you find these lines in your journal that I have been trespassing.  You know I have not – and where else shall I leave a love letter?  For I long to write you a love-letter tonight.

You are all about me – I seem to breathe you, hear you, feel you in me and of me.

What am I doing here?  You are away.  I have seen you in the train, at the station, driving up, sitting in the lamplight, talking, greeting people, washing your hands…  And I am here – in your tent – sitting at your table.

There are some wall-flower petals on the table and a dead match, a blue pencil and a Magdeburgische Zeitung.  I am just as much at home as they.

When dusk came, flowing up the silent garden, lapping against the blind windows, my first and last terror started up.  I was making some coffee in the kitchen.  It was so violent, so dreadful I put down the coffee pot – and simply ran away – ran ran out of the studio and up the street with my bag under one arm and a block of writing paper and a pen under the other.  I felt that if I could get here and find Mrs. F I should be *safe*.

I found her and I lighted your gas, wound up your clock, drew your curtains and embraced your black overcoat before I sat down, frightened no longer.  Do not be angry with me, Bogey.  Ca a ete plus fort que moi ….  That is why I am here.

When you came to tea this afternoon you took a brioche, broke it in half and padded the inside doughy bit with two fingers.  You always do that with a bun or roll or a piece of bread.  It is your way – your head a little on one side the while.

When you opened your suitcase, I saw your old Feltie and a French book and a com all higgledy-piggedly.  ‘Tig, Ive only got 3 handkerchiefs.’ Why should that memory be so sweet to me?…

Last night, there was a moment before you got into bed.  You stood, quite naked, bending forward a little, talking.  It was only for an instant.  I saw you – I loved you so, loved your body with such tenderness.  Ah, my dear!

And I am not thinking of *passion*.  No, of that other thing that makes me feel that every inch of you is so precious to me – your soft shoulders – your creamy warm skin, your ears cold like shells are cold – your long legs and your feet that I love to clasp with my feet – the feeling of your belly – and your thin young back.  Just below that bone that sticks out at the back of your neck you have a little mole.

It is partly because we are young that I feel this tenderness.  I love your mouth.  I could not bear that it should be touched even by a cold wind if I were the Lord.

We two, you know, have everything before us, and we shall do very great things.  I have perfect faith in us, and so perfect is my love for you that I am, as it were, still, silent to my very soul.

I want nobody but you for my lover and my friend and to nobody buy you shall I be faithful.

I am yours forever.


Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand-born British short-story writer, to John Middleton Murry, fellow writer and critic on May 19, 1917.

Their romance and marriage continued for many years but it was cut short by Katherine’s early death from tuberculosis in 1923.