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[postmarked NEW YORK, N.Y. STA. G; Oct 22; 630 PM; 1907]
[written up left side of envelope: Mrs. Peterson]
Miss Anne Whitney
4 [illegible] New York City
[upper left hand corner, in pencil: 2] [upper right hand corner, in pencil: ]
[stationery header, silver: 4 West Fiftieth Street.]
Dear Miss Whitney
It was so kind and charming of you to write me something about yourself and your friend and to send me these lovely pictures of her. The face is indeed beautiful - full of soul. The face of one who might well have looked a lifelong love and affection -
said to Charles Kingsley once, "Tell me the secret of your life that I may make mine beautiful," and he answered, "I had a friend."
The draped head of your friend appeals especially to me and since you give me permission, I will keep it and place it in the initial leaf before the envoi to A.M.
But those friends of your and her inner circle of whom you speak, would not feel their books
complete without a frontispiece of the other partner to that rare friendship! Is it two audacious of me to ask to be adopted still further? I should so like to have a picture of you too. Reading the poems over again, one feels that one discovers a great deal about you - and yet you have veiled yourself too - you have lifted the personal up into something of the universal - I should like to tell you how many lines have stayed of their own accord in my memory - of how wonderfully you have succeeded in expressing inexpressible things - "Dear, then, to her and to the Silent Power.
And borne on their strong wings above defeat
And fear of mockery" - "Round them Heaven's flaming currents stoop and play" etc - other lines in the same poem - "Behind my life another life runs deep" etc. "I have won. Where was no face nor voice, a glance a true,
A spirit, call it, that all shapes doth wear and brings me knowledge which I scarcely [written up bottom right-hand side of paper:] call mine"
[stationery header, in silver: 4 West Fiftieth Street.]
"My shoal, centred at last in an unfathomed well"
The marble face Of Destiny grows fluent as I trace, These arteries of broad being" - and many more I could repeat - no more sure and delicate touches upon the mysterious sources of genius indeed of all our being have ever been made in English verse.
If they had been written last year I might have thought
ah! yes more evidence of some wave of fine spiritual influence which seems to be passing over the world - Such things as Maeterlinck's Essays. Mr. Kipling's poem To the True Romance or They or Kim - or in science such a book as R.K. Duncan's New Knowledge seem to me to give ground for faith in a new era for the things of the spirit - Do you not think so?
But that those poems of yours should have been
written forty years ago in New England seems wonderful. You must have had a revelation. How difficult to write of these matters, how easy it would be talk, how I should like to hear what you would say - Whether such lines as those referred to, will appeal to many, one dare not prophesy. But the bursts of pure song - "Beyond the singing land, To that hoar silence of the lone mid seas where thou, in unrelated strength a bare, vast heart, Throbbest beneath the eternal eye" -
The description of morning in the same poem -
"A leaf left living and alone in wintry air"
"Love, the perfect instinct, flower of all Divinest potencies of choice, whose part was set mid stars and flame To keep the inner place of God" - such song as this is for all world - Shelley himself has not excelled it -
Forgive me for being so lengthy. I want you to know how strongly you have spoken to me.
I am returning to you the other
[stationery heading, in silver: 4 West Fiftieth Street.]
photograph of Miss Manning, not quite feeling that you meant me to keep both. It should have been done and this letter written before, but for a press of matters connected with our return home after more than a year's absence.
We are not often in Boston but should we find ourselves there again, we hope very much to be allowed to
come and see you -
I need scarcely say that if you should journey to New York, you would confer an extraordinary pleasure upon us by letting me know.
Most warmly and sincerely yrs
Antoinette Rotan Peterson
Peterson, Antoinette Rotan and Wellesley College Archives, "Letter from Antoinette Rotan Peterson, New York, New York, to Anne Whitney, Boston, Massachusetts, 1907 October 22" (1907). Papers of Anne Whitney (MSS.4): Correspondence. 981.