2.3 Port Augusta, Sicily

July 3, 1944 – July 8, 1944

Monday, July 3, 1944

I had often hoped, dearest wife, that someday we might celebrate the anniversary of our introduction to happiness by a journey upon the waters of the world. And today all the ingredients save one are present. A ship afloat on a rippling sea (for such is the present, and usual, condition of the Mediterranean), warm days with the cool sea breezes tempering the heat of the sun, cool nights with the full moon smiling indulgently on the follies of men and women. And yet with all these things there is an aching void. For to be amidst such pleasant surroundings is to awaken such desires as can only be satisfied by you, the chosen lady of my heart, while you, alas, are on the other side of the wild and restless ocean. Were you, my beloved, here with me, my ecstasy would know no bounds, for to have the greatest imaginable of longings and at the same time the satisfaction of those longings is a pleasure not to be equaled in this world—or were the surroundings less perfect then might I forget you if but for a brief moment and be as a man asleep who is longer conscious of the appetites and fulfillments of waking life. But no, there is a pleasure in my very torment. For the knowledge that each rising of the red sun brings closer the hour when we shall once more be together as befits man and wife makes my agony something to be sought after. For thoughts of you, dear heart, although they bring me pain by reminding me of your absence, yet hold out a great promise of our early reunion and the happiness which will accompany it.

There’s nothing in the world too good for you,
Heart of mine,—sweet divine,
Exultantly I sing your praises true,
Angel dear, far or near.

Dear I take thee always to me heart,
Respect thee, love thee, from thee never part–
Even thus hath Cupid shot his dart.
Love hath made my life anew to start–
Love, ye are the only valid art.

Near me, dear one, as I make my plea–
Oft I make it from across the sea–
Darling, do not turn away from me,
Goddess, take my heart—I give it free
Ever love me, e’en as I love thee.

Alas that I am not a composer. For only in music could I come close to expressing my true thoughts. For words are so limited. They can convey but one thought at a time. Prose is so common and commercialized. Thousands of writers have already written what I feel far better than I can. And yet, since so many have done it for all to read it becomes cheap and meaningless. With poetry the same limitation prevails, and poetry is further circumscribed by its meter and rhyme. But I can but do my best and hope that our 18 months of married bliss have given you such insight into my heart that you may know the thoughts and feelings which I am forced to reduce to the 26 letters of the alphabet. But music. Often when I think of you until I feel as though I would burst I hear the magnificent chords of Parsifal, or the tender memories of Mendelssohn’s Consolation, or the inspiring strains of Tristan, or the lilting love-waltzes of Brahms, or the amorous nuances of Paradise, or the lonely grandeur of Sibelius or a million other symphonies of sound. If I could but compose something which would combine all of these—if I could make the violins express the tenderness of my love for you, and the brasses the pride and assurance with which I proclaim that love to all the world, and the woodwinds the haunting melancholy of separation, and the drums the steady march of time to bring us back together, and the triangles the tinkling little surprises which make our marriage an adventure, and the cymbals the indescribable climaxes we experience, and the cellos the rich depth of our happiness as the flute and piccolo the inconceivable height it reaches, –the whole to be woven together with such melody as to show a love which carries on forever and yet is never the same, and with chords which shall shake the foundations of the earth and rise thrillingly to heaven, –if then you could go down to the sea at daybreak and see the moon fade slowly from view as the sun coming slowly up to the horizon as the messenger of my love turns the sky first gray, then pink, then fiery red, then deep impenetrable blue which stretches to beyond eternity, –if then you could be there and see all this and at the same time hear my symphony played by a million million heavenly instruments and faint in the background the rustling of the trees and the singing of the birds and mingled with the chords the crashing of the surf, –if then you could see and hear all this, perhaps you could imagine a thousandth part of the love I bear for you my dearest Thea.

Today we are in Port Augusta, Sicily—and were it not that I’d love to be once more in your arms, we could stay here a month. No shore leave, but plenty of sun, swimming, and fresh air—and little work. An idyllic existence. Today I went swimming twice and lay in the sun and read the rest of the afternoon. We’re still standing watches, but they don’t amount to much. Tonight for instance, I hang around outside from 8 to 9:20, and then go to bed—ready to be waked up if necessary.

It’s now the aforementioned 9:20, so I shall write a bit and then to sleep. Just imagine, darling, you can now boast of a husband who’s been swimming in the Mediterranean! And did it feel good. Just enough current so I could go off the box and drift back to the ladder at the stern, but not so strong but what I could swim back to the bow, as I did once.

It really is hard to believe though, that all of these places I’ve heard of and read of really do exist and I’m there. The same way we felt when we saw the Rockies, only more so. Not more so because Mount Etna is any more imposing (in fact it’s rather disappointing) but because when I’m with you any miracle seems possible.

Ah me, I seem to have writ myself out for today. Or else the sun and salt water have made me sleepy. So I shall retire and gaze at you and dream of that wondrous night 10 months ago.

Thursday, July 8, 1944

We’re at sea again. Stayed in Port Augusta until Wednesday morning. All day Tuesday I did nothing but go swimming and lie in the sun. Swam all around the ship once, which was a fair sized pull.

No shore leave, but we could see the harbor and town very clearly through the glasses. It sure had been through a lot. There was hardly a whole-looking building in the place. Off in the background we could see Mt. Etna—which was quite disappointing—I guess because there was nothing to compare it with. The land around PA was very dull looking. There was the same sort of table-land or mesa we saw in New Mexico rising from near the sea, and the city was built on the side of it. But no color to speak of, and a generally desert appearance. Reminded me quite a bit of New Mexico with a few people added.

We’ve already started to get the ship ready to unload, which means we’re almost there. As yet we still haven’t seen any action (knock, knock).