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159 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1939
I'm coming Home—
Day—got tired of Me—
How could I—of Him?
Sunshine was a sweet place—
I liked to stay—
But Morn—didn't want me—now—
I can look—can't I—
When the East is Red?
The Hills—have a way—then—
That puts the Heart—abroad—
You—are not so fair—Midnight—
But—please take a little Girl—
He turned away!”
Today I must be careful, today I have left my armour at home.
I have no pride – no pride, no name, no face. No country. I don’t belong anywhere. Too sad, too sad….
In the middle of the night you wake up. You start to cry. What’s happening to me? Oh, my life, oh, my youth…
Planning it all out. Eating. A movie. Eating again. One drink. A long walk to the hotel. Bed. Luminal. Sleep. Just sleep- no dreams.
I want one thing and one thing only- to be left alone. No more pawings, no more prying – leave me alone..
Saved, rescued, fished-up, half drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set. Nobody would know I had ever been in it. Except, of course, that there always remains something. Yes, there always remains something....Never mind, here I am, sane and dry, with my place to hide in. What more do I want?....I'm a bit of an automaton, but sane, surely - dry, cold and sane. Now I have forgotten about dark streets, dark rivers, the pain, the struggle and the drowning....Mind you, I'm not talking about the struggle when you are strong and a good swimmer and there are willing and eager friends on the bank waiting to pull you out at the first sign of distress. I mean the real thing. You jump in with no willing and eager friends around, and when you sink you sink to the accompaniment of loud laughter.
From 1960, and for the rest of her life, Rhys lived in Cheriton Fitzpaine, a small village in Devon that she once described as "a dull spot which even drink can't enliven much". Characteristically she remained unimpressed by her belated ascent to literary fame (from The Wide Sargasso Sea), commenting, "It has come too late." In an interview shortly before her death she questioned whether any novelist, not least herself, could ever be happy for any length of time. She said: "If I could choose I would rather be happy than write ... if I could live my life all over again, and choose ...".
The woman at the bar gives me one of those looks: What do you want here, you? … Well, dear madame, to tell you the truth, what I want here is a drink – I rather think two, perhaps three.
It is cold and dark outside, and everything has gone out of me except misery.
‘A Pernod’, I say to the waiter.
He looks at me in a sly, amused way when he brings it.
God, it’s funny, being a woman! And the other one – the one behind the bar – is she going to giggle or to say something about me in a voice loud enough for me to hear? That’s the way she’s feeling.
No, she says nothing … But she says it all.
Well, that's O.K. chere madame, and very nicely done too. You've said nothing but you've said it all.
Never mind, here I am and here I'm going to stay.
But this is my attitude to life. Please, please, monsieur et madame, mister, missis and miss, I am trying so hard to be like you. I know I don’t succeed, but look how hard I try. Three hours to choose a hat; every morning an hour and a half trying to make myself look like everybody else. Every word I say has chains around its ankles; every thought I think is weighted with heavy weights. Since I was born, hasn’t every word I’ve said, every thought I’ve thought, everything I’ve done, been tied up, weighted, chained? And, mind you, I know that with all this I don’t succeed. Or I succeed in flashes only too damned well … But think how hard I try and how seldom I dare. Think – and have a bit of pity. That is, if you ever think, you apes, which I doubt.
You mustn't talk, you mustn't think, you must stop thinking. Of course, it is like that.But they are such sensitive, delicate creatures! Of course we must protect them from the world of self-sufficiency!
Only seven or eight, and yet she knew so exactly how to be cruel and who it was safe to be cruel to. One must admire Nature..Well of course you must spend your last penny on the latest gilt! How else do you expect to be able to go out in public and be seen by respectable folk?
Please, please, monsieur et madame, mister, missis and miss, I am trying so hard to be like you. I know I don't succeed, but look how hard I try.
Every word I say has chains round its ankles; every thought I think is weighted with heavy weights. Since I was born, hasn't every word I've said, every thought I've thought, everything I've done, been tied up, weighted, chained? And mind you, I know that with all this I don't succeed. Or I succeed in flashes only too damned well. ...But think how hard I try and how seldom I dare. Think - and have a bit of pity. That is, if you ever think, you apes, which I doubt.
“My life, which seems so simple and monotonous, is really a complicated affair of cafés where they like me and cafés where they don’t, streets that are friendly, streets that aren’t, rooms where I might be happy, rooms where I shall never be, looking-glasses I look nice in, looking-glasses I don’t, dresses that will be lucky, dresses that won’t, and so on.”