"Like an oracle..."
I met John Cowper Powys after one of his lectures at the Labour Temple, on Second Avenue in New York....
In fact, Henry Miller saw John Cowper Powys again, when he came to Europe with Eve. They paid a visit to John Cowper and Phyllis Playter at Corwen , in the summer of 1953, as Ronald Hall relates in his introduction to Letters to Henry Miller :
This man, whose lectures I attended frequently, whose books I devoured hungrily, I met just once in the flesh. It took all the courage I then possessed to go up to him after the lecture and say a few words of appreciation, to shake his hand and then flee with tail between my legs. I had an unholy veneration for the man. Every word he uttered seemed to go straight to the mark. All the authors I was then passionate about were the authors he was writing and lecturing about. He was like an oracle to me.
I remember most vividly the way he wrapped himself in his gown, closed his eyes and covered them with one hand, before launching into one of those inspired flights of eloquence which left me dizzy and speechless. At the time I thought his pose and gestures sensational, the expression perhaps of an over-dramatic temperament.... The oftener I listened to him, however, the more I read his works, the less critical I became. Leaving the hall after his lectures, I often felt as if he had put a spell upon me. A wondrous spell it was, too. For, aside from the celebrated experience with Emma Goldman in San Diego, it was my first intimate experience, my first real contact, with the living spirit of those few rare beings who visit this earth.
(Henry Miller, The Books of My Life)
Ah, the laughter! My friend does well to emphasise it. Old John slapping his knees, clapping his hands before Henry, his face radiant, and Henry laughing, all four of them laughing together in that simple room overlooking the Dee Valley. Happiness of communion and the floating life!
'After your lecture in the Labour Temple, John,' Henry Miller says, 'I asked you if you had read the Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun. You replied "No, I'm sorry. You see I don't read Norwegian."'
'Henry, what a prick I was! Why didn't you give me good kick up the ass?' cries 'Prester John'.