Photo Paul Geldhof

New Orleans

Ha! New Orleans is a place; but wicked, languishing, indolent, lotus-scented, an exotic dreamy ghostly drugged sort of a city, with lichen on the ilexes as if the whole thing had been under deep seas for years....It was, I think, in New Orleans that Walt Whitman kept his favourite girl - and well he might. I went into old Creole houses and was cursed by queer old women for picking roses in courtyards that might have been in Algiers. (21 April 1917, Letters to His Brother Llewelyn)

The swamps thro' which the train passed were extraordinary - black mud that looked as if it went down thousands of fathoms to some level where plesiosauruses and diplodocuses and dinosaurs and ichthyosauruses might still grope and gurgle and wallow and butt against each other and have each other in pre-historic antedeluvian slime - and this funny grey lichen hanging down from dead trees like the withered grey hair of superannuated Cybelles, this lichen which they so absurdly call 'moss' as though it had any connection at all with the moss under the beech trees at Batemoor or Park Cover!

I have always known that Louisiana was of all places on earth, and New Orleans especially, prolific of queer and even traditional devilries. It's a growth started from the spawn of some African Lake Elmenteita conveyed to these kindred estuaries and groves of devils by some crippled vulture caught in the top-mizzen-rig of some old pirate-brig-sick white mist. (22 Feb. 1925, Letters to His Brother Llewelyn)