rebecca west visits america in 1924

Rebecca_west_6Rebecca West in The New Republic:

Really, it is just like that. America is a continent with which one can have innumerable love-affairs. I am not monogamous myself in my passion for the Mississippi. There are times when I think with as insistent a longing for a place named Bingham, which is in the state of Utah. It is a mining-camp. One drives in one’s automobile on noble roads planted with poplars over a green and fertile plain (it was desert till the Mormons irrigated it) to a canyon that drives a wedge into the foothills of the snow-peaked mountains. There is one long winding street of wooden houses, paintless, dilapidated; some with verandas on which men in broad hats sit in rocking chairs, spitting slowly and with an infinity of sagacity; some with plate glass windows, on which the washed-off word “saloon” still shows as a pathetic shadow, which are eating-houses of incredible bareness and dinginess, some others with plate-glass windows that show you men on high chairs with white sheets round them being shaved, and tin cans everywhere. Then at the end of the street one comes on a mountain of copper. Just that, a mountain of copper. Pyramid-shaped it is, and cut into regular terraces all the way from the apex to the base, where lies a pool of water emerald as Irish grass. It sounds the hardest thing in the world, and the terraces have as sharp an edge as a steel knife. Yet it seems a shape just taken for an instant by the ether. One feels as if one were standing in front of a breaking wave of a substance more like cloud-stuff than water, yet like the sea; for the whole hillside is luminously and transparently pale, and reticulated with mineral veins that are blue and green like sea water.

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