I can’t believe “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is over. I picked up an interest in the romantics about this time last year, and toward the beginning of this one started reading Lady C a few pages at a time as my computer boots up.
I walked out to the cabin under another heavy looking sky, colored a bit of light gray with that odd morning pink to it – not pleasant or unpleasant – and then quickly saw that I was in the midst of the final pages of Lady, which I hadn’t realized were coming. It must be an odd side-effect of having a book sit to the left of your computer and propping it open with a paperweight to read in a corner of light. You can see you’re nearing the end but not quite how close you are.
It’s funny to have this ending – which concludes nothing – follow what may be my third viewing in a year’s time of my favorite movie, “The Night of the Iguana.” Tennesse William’s ending (in the movie) confirms everything (I’ve never read the play). I was pondering how at the end Richard Burton, playing The Reverend Shannon, offers himself as a traveling companion to the New England spinster played by Deborah Kerr, and how she points him back to the nest he can have with his old friend the inn keeper, Ava Gardner, who loves him and is in need of a man. The good reverend wasn’t going to look straight on at what was perfect for him, but try again to follow “the good” he saw in the spinster. Always following the good.
I’d just come again across the line I’ve liked in one of Thomas Merton’s journals, him quoting…Octavio Paz I think it is…and maybe him quoting someone else, a desert father or something, saying “Thank God I am not good!” All the goodness was in Shannon, in the man as he was, not in “trying” to be good (or to be the good reverend), and I’m convinced that’s the way it is with all of us.
The last pages of Lady is a letter from Mellor’s to Connie, written from the farm where he’s “learning to farm” and waiting on the time when they can be together. He calls their love a Pentecost flame and says, “This is my fortieth winter. And I can’t help all the winters that have been. But this winter I’ll stick to my little Pentecost flame, and have some peace.” 312
Yet he feels frightened anyway and says, “I feel the devil in the air, and he’ll try to get us. Or not the devil, Mammon: which I think, after all, is only the mass-will of people, wanting money and hating life. Anyhow, I feel great grasping white hands in the air, wanting to get hold of the throat of anybody who tries to live, to live beyond money, and squeeze the life out.” But… “All the bad times that ever have been, haven’t been able to blow the crocus out: not even the love of women. So they won’t be able to blow out my wanting you, nor the little glow there is between you and me. … You can’t insure against the future, except by really believing in the best bit of you, and in the power beyond it. I believe in the little flame between us. For me now, it’s the only thing in the world…The old Pentecost isn’t quite right. Me and God is a bit uppish, somehow. But the little forked flame between me and you: there you are!” 311
Rather amazing really, when I think of it, Williams in his way and Lawrence in his coming to this sort of ending, one speaking of the love between people as a nest and the other a flame: What love can do between people, the feeling of home and of rest it can bring.
The love of place or the love of creativity can be somewhat the same way. They blend the love of God in with something else so it isn’t so “uppish”, and maybe that’s what the love between people is too. Anything blending the human and divine love together takes it out of the uppish atmosphere and secures it down below. Love of God doesn’t stay high and apart from you or from life.
With such an ending to “Lady” I guess it’s no wonder I didn’t remember it, (read when I was young – maybe as much as 40 years ago!) but it is satisfying now, almost more so than the ending of “Iguana.” Yet what’s brilliant about “Iguana” is still the ending and turning away from the “ideal” of goodness. The ideal of goodness turns you away from your own goodness somehow. It’s like an expectation you place in your brain and aim for with all the brain’s strength. It gets hardwired in there somewhere and is hard to turn off.
No matter. No matter, sitting here, earlier than I’ve been in a while, with a light almost lavender coming to the day at a little past seven o’clock. However things go from here …they will go. But I’m aware of a new feeling in me coming from these things.
It’s finally warming enough that I slip my coat off my shoulders, and the feeling is like that. Like a heavy weight lifted. Ms. Furnace is blowing though, and when she quits and it’s getting near time for her to start up again, I may have to drape the coat back around my shoulders, and I imagine that so it will go, like my ins and outs between the cabin and the house…changing with the snow and the cold and soon the coming of spring…but remaining somehow always the same…and always different.