Friday, July 31, 2015

I see. . . : July 31, 2015

'I see a ring,' said Bernard, 'hanging above me.  It quivers and hangs in a loop of light.'

'I see a slab of pale yellow,' said Susan, 'spreading away until it meets a purple stripe.'

'I hear a sound,' said Rhoda, 'cheep, chirp; cheep chirp; going up and down.'

'I see a globe,' said Neville, 'hanging down in a drop against the enormous flanks of some hill.'

'I see a crimson tassel,' said Jinny, 'twisted with gold threads.'

'I hear something stamping,' said Louis.  'A great beast's foot is chained.  It stamps, and stamps, and stamps.'

'Look at the spider's web on the corner of the balcony,' said
Bernard.  'It has beads of water on it, drops of white light.'

The Waves (4)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Convulvus: July 30, 2015

Half an hour ago the mistress of the house, Isabella Tyson, had gone down the grass path in her thin summer dress, carrying a basket, and had vanished, sliced off by the gilt rim of the looking-glass. She had gone presumably into the lower garden to pick flowers; or as it seemed more natural to suppose, to pick something light and fantastic and leafy and trailing, travellers' joy, or one of those elegant sprays of convolvulus that twine round ugly walls and burst here and there into white and violet blossoms. She suggested the fantastic and the tremulous convolvulus rather than the upright aster, the starched zinnia, or her own burning roses alight like lamps on the straight posts of their rose trees. The comparison showed how very little, after all these years, one knew about her; for it is impossible that any woman of flesh and blood of fifty-five or sixty should be really a wreath or a tendril. Such comparisons are worse than idle and superficial--they are cruel even, for they come like the convolvulus itself trembling between one's eyes and the truth. There must be truth; there must be a wall.

“The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection”
(CSF 222)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weekend at Garsington: July 29, 2015

Pool at Garsington 2003
I am paralyzed by the task of describing a week end at Garsington.  I suppose we spoke some million words between us; listened to a great many more. . . . Happily the weather was fine, the food good, & we flowed about happily enough, & without serious boredom. . . . My bed was like layer upon layer of the most springy turf; & the garden is almost melodramatically perfect, with its grey oblong pool, & pink farm buildings, its soft whiteish grey stone & enormous smooth dense yew hedges.

July 29, 1918 (D1 173-4)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Exquiste Re/Pear: July 28, 2015

I have been out in the garden for 2 hours; and feel quite normal.  I feel my brains, like a pear, to see if it's ripe; it will be exquisite by September."

Virginia Woolf to Vanessa Bell, 28 July 1910. (L1 431)
Thanks to Drew Shannon for reminding me of this gem.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Wild Windy Hot Day: July 27, 2015

Ah ha – but now, having despatched that entirely disagreeable day. . . I’m free to begin the last chapter [of The Years, then titled Here & Now] & by a merciful Providence the well is full, ideas are rising, & if I can keep at it widely freely powerfully I shall have 2 months of complete immersion.  Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.  I can see the day whole, proportioned. . .  A wild windy hot day – a tearing wind in the garden; all the July apples on the grass.I'm going to indulge in a series of quick sharp contrasts: breaking my bonds as much as ever I like. Trying every kind of experiment.

July 28, 1934 
(D4 232)

Pinka: July 26, 2015

Painting of Pinka hanging in Monk's House

It is to poetry, alas, that we have to trust for our most detailed description of Flush himself as a young dog.  He was of that particular shade of dark brown which in sunshine flashes "all over into gold."  His eyes were "startled eyes of hazel bland."  His ears were "tasselled"; his "slender feet" were "canopied in fringes" and his tail was broad.  Making allowance for the exigencies of rhyme and the inaccuracies of poetic diction, there is nothing here but what would meet with the approval of the Spaniel Club.  We cannot doubt that Flush was a pure-bred Cocker of the red variety marked by all the characteristic excellences of his kind.

On July 26, 1926, Vita gave Pinka to Virginia and Leonard

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ecstasy: July 25, 2015

'A toy boat, a toy boat, a toy boat,' she repeated, thus enforcing upon herself the fact that it is not articles by Nick Greene on John Donne nor eight-hour bills nor covenants nor factory acts that matter; it's something useless, sudden, violent; something that costs a life; red, blue, purple; a spirit; a splash; like those hyacinths (she was passing a fine bed of them); free from taint, dependence, soilure of humanity o care for one's kind; something rash, ridiculous, like my hyacinth, husband I mean, Bonthrop: that's what it is--a toy boat on the Serpentine, it's ecstasy--ecstasy.

Orlando ( 211)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Wildest Stock: July 24, 2015

Poppies sowed themselves among the dahlias; the lawn waved with long grass; giant artichokes towered among roses; a fringed carnation flowered among the cabbages; while the gentle tapping of a weed at the window had become, on winter’s nights, a drumming from the sturdy trees and thorned briars which made the whole room green in summer.

To the Lighthouse (141) 

"Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards. "

The Winter's Tale 4.4 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Enough Love: July 23, 2015

Now Flush knew what men can never know--love pure, love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and is gone.  Today the flower is a rose, tomorrow a lily; now it is the wild thistle on the moor, now the pouched and portentous orchid of the conservatory.  So variously, so carelessly Flush embraced the spotted spaniel down the alley, and the brindled dog and the yellow dog--it did not matter which.  To Flush it was all the same.  He followed the horn wherever the horn blew and the wind wafted it. Love was all; love was enough.

Flush (119) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sea Holly: July 22, 2015

Sea Holly at Hestercombe

The sun had now sunk lower in the sky.  The islands of cloud had gained in density and drew themselves across the sun so that the rocks went suddenly black, and the trembling sea holly lost its blue and turned silver, and shadows were blown like grey cloths over the sea.

The Waves (132)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

R.I.P, again: July 21, 2015

"He is dead," said Neville.  "He fell.  His horse tripped.  He was thrown.  The sails of the world have swung round and caught me on the head.  All is over.  The lights of the world have gone out.  There stands the tree which I cannot pass."
The Waves  (109)

Rest in Peace,
Jerry Griggs

Monday, July 20, 2015

Death Days: July 20, 2015

View towards Asham from churchyard behind Monk's House
On July 20, 1937, Woolf learned of her nephew Julian Bell’s death in Spain.

No, no, I will not go back to those days.  The only thing was a kind of comfort of being there with Nessa Duncan, Quentin & Angelica, & losing completely the isolation, the spectator’s attitude in being wanted; & spontaneous.  Then we came down here last Thursday; & the pressure being removed, one lived; but without much of a future.  That’s one of the specific qualities of this death -- how it brings close the immense vacancy, & our short little run into inanity.
(D5 104-5)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Peace Day: July 19, 2015

July 19, 1919
     One ought to say something about Peace day, I suppose, though whether it's worth taking a new nib for that purpose I don't know.  I'm sitting wedged into the window, & so catch almost on my head the steady drip of rain which is pattering on the leaves.  In ten minutes or so the Richmond procession begins.  I fear there will be few people to applaud the town councillors dressed up to look dignified & march through the streets. . . . 
       It seems to me more & more clear that the only honest people are the artists, & that these social reformers &  philanthropists get so out of hand, & and harbour so many discreditable desires under the disguise of loving their kind, that in the end there's more to find fault with them than in us.  But if I were one of them?

(D1 292-3)

Official Peace Day celebrations in 1919
Anniversary of Stella Duckworth's death, 1897

Saturday, July 18, 2015

July Light: July 18, 2015

"Tulip: After Georgia" -- Color-reduction Woodcut, 1999 EKS


The light fell either upon the smooth, grey back of a pebble, or, the shell of a snail with its brown, circular veins, or falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear. Instead, the drop was left in a second silver grey once more, and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf, revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface, and again it moved on and spread its illumination in the vast green spaces beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above, into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July.

"Kew Gardens"
(CSF 90) 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Floating shallops of flowers: July 17, 2015

Through his half-opened eyes he saw hands holding flowers --thin hands, fine hands; but hands that belonged to no one.  And were they flowers the hands held? Or mountains?  Blue mountains with violet shadows?  Then petals fell. Pink, yellow, white, with violet shadows, the fowers fell.  . . . The hands went on picking up flower after flower; that was a white rose; that was a yellow rose; that was a rose with violet valleys in its petals.  There they hung, many folded, many coloured, drooping over the rim of the bowl.  And petals fell. There they lay, violet and yellow, little shallops, boats on a river.  And he was floating, and drifting in a shallop, on  petal, down a river into silence, into solitude. . .
The Years (402)

On July 17, 1935, Woolf recorded finishing her "first wild retyping" of the MS of The Years,  so "tired in the head" that she wanted "simply to sit on a bank and throw stones" (D4 332)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sorrow at Land's End: July 16, 2015

Land's End, Cornwall
And what can this sorrow be?

It is brewed by the earth itself. It comes from the houses on the coast. We start transparent, and then the cloud thickens. All history backs our pane of glass. To escape is vain.

But whether this is the right interpretation of Jacob's gloom as he sat naked, in the sun, looking at the Land's End, it is impossible to say; for he never spoke a word. Timmy sometimes wondered (only for a second) whether his people bothered him.... No matter. There are things that can't be said. Let's shake it off. Let's dry ourselves, and take up the
first thing that comes handy....

Only half a sentence followed; but these half-sentences are like flags set on tops of buildings to the observer of external sights down below.  What was the coast of Cornwall, with its violet scents, and mourning emblems, and tranquil piety, but a screen happening to hang straight behind as his mind marched up?
(JR 48-9)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Heard on the Downs: July 15, 2015

      Two well-known writers were describing the sound of the guns in France, as they heard them from the top of the South Downs.  One likened it to ‘the hammer stroke of fate’; the other heard in it ‘the pulse of Destiny’.

         More prosaically, it sounds like the beating of gigantic carpets by gigantic women, at a distance.  You may almost see them holding the carpets in their strong arms by the four corners, tossing them into the air, and bringing them down with a thud while the dust rises in a cloud above their heads.  All walks on the Downs this summer are accompanied by the sinister sound of far-off beating which is sometimes as faint as the ghost of an echo, and sometimes rises almost from the next fold of grey land. . . . Often walking alone, with neither man nor animal in sight, you turn sharply to see who it is that gallops behind you.  But there is no one.  The phantom horseman dashes by with a thunder of hoofs, and suddenly his ride is over and the sound lapses, and you only hear the grasshoppers and the larks in the sky. 

“Heard on the Downs”  published July 15, 1916
(E2 40)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hampton Court: July 14, 2015

Or shall I go to Hampton Court and look at the red walls and courtyards and the seemliness of herded yew trees making black pyramids symmetrically on the grass among flowers? There shall I recover beauty, and impose order upon my raked, my dishevelled soul?  But what can one make in loneliness?
The Waves (116-7)

 July 14, 1931
Woolf finishes final corrections on Hampton Court scene in The Waves (D4 35)

Juice of July Flowers: July 13, 2015

White Garden at Sissinghurst
Ruin, wearinesss, death, perpetually death, stand grimly to confront the other presence of Elizabethan drama which is life: life compact of frigates, fir trees and ivory, of dolphins and the juice of July flowers, of the milk of unicorns and panther’s breath, or ropes of pearl, brains of peacocks and Cretan wine. . . .   So we ramble through the jungle, and the wilderness of Elizabethan drama.  So we consort with Emperors and clowns, jewelers and unicorns, and laugh and exault and marvel at the splendor and humour and fantasy of it all.

"Notes on an Elizabethan Play"

(E4 68-9)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Talland House View: July 12, 2015

View from Talland House in 2002 and 2012
And then just opposite the Lookout place a great square oatmeal coloured hotel appeared when we came down in July.  My mother said, with her dramatic gestures, that the view was spoilt; that St. Ives would be ruined.  For all these reasons, then, a house agent's board appeared one October in our gardens; and as it needed repainting, I was allowed to fill in some of the letters -- This House to Let -- from a pot of paint.  The joy of painting mingled with the dread of leaving.

"A Sketch of the Past"
(MOB 136)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Battle of Britain: July 11, 2015

Bunker below the terrace at Monk's House
I don't like any of the feelings war breeds: patriotism; communal &c, all sentimental and emotional parodies of our real feelings.  But then, we're in for it.  Every day we have our raids: at night the bloodhounds are out.  I open my windows when I hear the Germans, & and the broad stalks of light rise all over the meadow feeling for them -- a strange early morning spectacle.  One sees nothing but the feelers of lights.  Then the drone buzz booms away, rather like a dentists drill.  No invasion so far.

July12, 1940
(D5 302)
The Battle of Britain began over Sussex July 10, 1940

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stamping Misery: July 10, 2015

And then I was in 'one of my states' -- how violent how acute & walked in Regent's Park in black misery & had to summon my cohorts in the old way to see me through, which they have done more or less. A note made to testify to my own ups & downs; many of which go unrecorded as they are less violent I think than they used to be.  But how familiar it was -- stamping along the road, with gloom and pain constricting my heart; & and the desire for death in the old way all for two, I daresay careless words.

July 10, 1933
(D4 167)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Coloured Dust: July 8, 2015

"Corn Dance for Brett" Color-reduction woodcut and monotype (2015)
My dear Brettt [sic],
  (forgive the typewriter which has already converted your name into another -- but my hand is grown cursed and crabbed)  I am a wretch to have delayed writing -- but if you live so far away a month or more cant make any difference.  I was delighted to get your letter and to breathe for a moment the very brilliant queer air in which you live [New Mexico].  . . . I looked into your book [Lawrence and Brett: A Friendship] and shut it; I can't get hold of Lawrence; I like and I dislike; and always feel it is a puzzle that I must sit down to one of these days, honestly; to read him through.  But at present when there's so much coloured dust about his horizon I leave him there."

Letter to Dorothy Brett, July 8, 1933
(L5 201-2)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lost in Thought: July 7, 2015

On the further bank the willows wept in perpetual lamentation, their hair about their shoulders.  The river reflected whatever it chose of sky and bridge and burning
tree, and when the undergraduate had oared his boat through the reflections they closed again, completely, as if he had never been.  There one might have sat the clock round lost in thought. Thought--to  call it by a prouder name than it deserved--had let its line down into
the stream. It swayed, minute after minute, hither and thither among the reflections and the weeds, letting the water lift it and sink it until--you know the little tug--the sudden conglomeration of an idea at the end of one's line: and then the cautious hauling of it in, and the careful laying of it out? Alas, laid on the grass how small, how
insignificant this thought of mine looked; the sort of fish that a good fisherman puts back into the water so that it may grow fatter and be one day worth cooking and eating.

A Room of One's Own 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Green Glass: July 6, 2015

Glass paperweight at Monk's House
It was a lump of glass, so thick as to be almost opaque; the smoothing of the sea had completely worn off any edge or shape, so that it was impossible to say whether it had been a bottle, tumbler, or window-pane; it was nothing but glass; it was almost a precious stone.. You had only to enclose it in a rim of gold, or pierce it with a wire, and it became a jewel; part of a necklace, or a dull, green light upon a finger.  Perhaps after all it was really a gem; something worn by a dark Princess trailing her finger in the water as she sat in the stern of the boat and listened to the slaves singing as they rowed her across the Bay.  Or the oak sides of a sunk Elizabethan treasure-chest had split apart, and, rolled over and over, over and over, its emeralds had come at last to shore.

"Solid Objects"
(CSF 103)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tea at Knole: July 5, 2015

View from hill top on grounds of Knole
He sighed profoundly, and flung himsefl -- there was a passion in his movements which deserves the word -- on the earth at the foot of the oak tree.  He loved, beneath all this summer transiency, to feel the earth's spine beneath him; for such he took the hard root of the oak tree to be; or, for image followed image, it was the back of a great horse that he was riding; or the deck of a tumbling ship -- it was anything indeed, so long as it was hard, for he felt the need of something which he could attach his floating heart to; the heart that tugged at his side; the heart that seemed filled with spice and amorous gales every evening about this time when he walked out.  To the oak tree he tied it and as he lay there, gradually the flutter in and about him stilled itself; the little leaves hung; the deer stopped; the pale summer clouds stayed; his limbs grew heavy on the ground; and he lay so still that by degrees the deer stepped nearer and the rooks wheeled round him and the swallows dipped and circled and the dragon-flies shot past, as if all the fertility and amorous activity of a summer's evening were woven web-like about his body.

Orlando (19)

July 5, 1924: Virginia lunches at Knole with Vita and Lord Sackville.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day: July 4, 2015

Cannas at Bryn Mawr College
Now that we have given one guinea towards rebuilding a college we must consider whether there is not more that we can do to help you to prevent war. And it is at once obvious, if what we have said about influence is true, that we must turn to the professions, because if we could persuade those who can earn their livings, and thus actually hold in their hands this new weapon, our only weapon, the weapon of independent opinion based upon independent income, to use that weapon against war, we should do more to help you than by appealing to those who must teach the young to earn their livings; or by lingering, however long, round the forbidden places and sacred gates of the universities where they are thus taught.

Three Guineas (50)

Friday, July 3, 2015

In Memorium--Mary Warner Mack: July 3, 2015

Mark Warner Mack (d. July 3, 2014) among the bluebells in Monk's House Garden, May 2012. 
All of this made a kind of happy jumble in my brain, together with the store of old fashioned chairs and tables, glass & furniture with which every inch of room space is crowded; I came back and told my story as quietly as I could, & next day L. & I went together and made a thorough inspection.  He was pleased beyond his expectation.  The truth is he has the making of a fanatical lover of that garden.  It suits me very well, too, to ramble off among the Telscombe downs, when fine; or tread out my paces up the path & across the lawn when dark or wind blown.

July 3, 1919
(D1 287)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Beginning The Waves: July 2, 2015

The light struck upon the trees in the garden, making one leaf transparent and then another.  One bird chirped high up; there was a pause; another chirped lower down.  The sun sharpened the walls of the house, and rested like the tip of a fan upon a white blind and made a blue fingerprint of shadow under the leaf by the bedroom window,  The blind stirred slightly, but all within was dim and unsubstantial.  The birds sang their bleak melody outside.

"The leaves are gathered round the window like pointed ears," said Susan

The Waves (3, 4)
View out of Woolf's bedroom window, Monk's House

According to the holograph MS, Woolf begin the first draft of The Waves on July 2, 1929.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Monk's House: July 1, 2015

We own Monk's House (this is almost the first time I've written a name which I hope to write many thousands of time before I'm done with it) for ever.  . . .
(D1 286)

On July 1, 1919, Leonard and Virginia Woolf  bought Monk's House in the tiny downland village of Rodmell, East Sussex.