On the Gulls’ Road by Willa Cather
May’s Tale of Romance May 29, 2021
This blog doesn’t do many love stories, but this one by Willa Cather is a romance that is worthy. The story moves with an evocative sense of place, the suspense of illicit desire, and an ending that will rush your emotions.
Our narrator, an artist, is telling a fellow painter about a portrait that he painted of a young women named Alexandra Ebbling.
A story within a story, the artist and the woman had met on a ship crossing from Italy to New York. A romantic setting right there! The artist and Alexandra fall in love—“like old friends.”
“All those long blue days when I sat beside her talking about Finmark and the sea, she must have known that I loved her.”
The artist proposes that they run off together. Alexandra is married and gravely ill. She says “When I leave you day after tomorrow, I shall have given you all my life. I can’t tell you how, but it is true … It is a wild thing that sings in us once and flies away and never comes back, and mine has flown to you.”
When they dock in New York, she gives him a box to be opened at a later date.
This is beautiful love story full of atmospheric prose, rich images, and a swirling romance.
Read it here at Cather.Unl.edu:
Listen to the audio here, a lovely read aloud:
Willa Cather (1873—1947) is remembered for her depictions of pioneer life in Nebraska. She established a reputation for giving breath to the landscape of her fiction. Inscribed on her tombstone is a quotation from My Ántonia that reflects her artistic spirit: “That is happiness, to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
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