Amongst numerous letters, appeals, essays and poems, dating variously from 1922 to 1927, is a rare section of diary, seemingly discovered amongst Ivor's things by his mother or sister, following his death. It dates from the end of November 1918 - a time when Haines began to recognise in Gurney's poetry a new departure, under the influence of Edward Thomas, and a time when Gurney was endeavouring to piece his life back together following the end of the war and his breakdown earlier that year. I believe the Cornish holiday of December 1918 (see earlier blog, Cornish Influences) to be the beginning of a turning point for Gurney, when he began to look forward and return to his work with some vigour in early 1919. The short diary extract of November 1918 - on two pages torn from an exercise book - finds Gurney trying to rediscover his drive and love of the music and poetry he wrote. It tells us that the act of creativity was for Gurney - as with many artists - a necessary part of him, and more importantly it was an act of hope, of seeking and of giving; a selfless act, as Gurney himself puts it in the diary entry, wanting to 'give others joy' where he has none:
Friday Last F[riday, 29th] of November 1918
It is better to work than despair; better to use than to be used. Better to force than to drift. Better to leave work accomplished than a memory of empty hours in despair, though that work causes bitterness. For having no Joy, I may as well make and give others Joy - at worst this is. And all the bitterness may pass, to leave a love of work whence all the other love may come.
Being what I am I must do every morning something I can show, without reference as to what difference it will make in the future; but it must make some.