A Letter from James Wright to Mary Oliver
July 10, 1965
Dear Miss Oliver:
I hardly expect that you will actually read this note, because the address on the envelope is incomplete. But I will go ahead and write it for my own sake. I have loved your poems for a long time, but until I found and read your book (Poems to a Brown Cricket, No Voyage an Other Poems), I hadn’t realized how much they had come to mean to me. It is an extraordinarily beautiful book that you’ve written, and it haunts me in some secretly desolated place in myself where I had not hoped to see anything green come alive ever again.
Am I correct in remembering that you once wrote to me? Or am I simply imagining things? I recall a dreadfully unhappy letter from you, which heartened me. At the time I was quite ill; and, before I could answer your letter, I lost it. I hope you will forgive me. I have lost so many things. So many.
Till the very end of this summer I will be staying with a couple of very old friends here in California. I don’t know why I tell you this. Of course, I am a liar. I know perfectly well why. If you should receive this note, and if you should find a moment, and if you should feel patience, I would be truly grateful to hear from you. I have been laboring heavily from time to time on a new book of my own. It has been pretty jagged and difficult going, and the example of your book has given me some of he encouragement which I sorely need.
Wherever you are, and whether or not you even read my words, thank you for writing your book.