Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teaching Keats: September 30, 2015

For Keats lived up the lane in a little white house behind wooden palings.  Nothing has been much changed since his day.  But as we enter the house in which Keats lived, some mournful shadow seems to fall across the garden.  A tree has fallen and lies propped,  Waving branches cast their shadows up and down over the flat white walls of the house.  Here, for all the gaiety and serenity of the neighborhood, the nightingale sang; here, if anywhere, fever and anquish had their dwelling and paced this little green plot oppressed with the sense of quick-coming death and the shortness of life and the passion of love and its misery.

The London Scene (27)

On September 30, 1907, the 25-year old Virginia Stephens began adult education at Morley College with a lecture on Keats (L1 313)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trees were alive: September 29, 2015

Benches in Regent's Park
But they beckoned; leaves were alive; trees were alive.  And the leaves being connected by millions of fibres with his own body, there on the seat, fanned it up and down; when the branch stretched he, too, made that statement.  The sparrows fluttering, rising, and falling in jagged fountains were part of the pattern; the white and blue, barred with black branches.  Sounds made harmonies with premeditation; the spaces between them were as significant as the sounds.  A child cried.  Rightly far away a horn sounded.  All taken together meant the birth of a new religion.

Mrs. Dalloway  (MD 22)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Laid out like a mist: September 28, 2015

Bird-Cage Walk, St. James Park
Did it matter then, she asked herself, walking towards Bond Street, did it matter that she must inevitably cease completely; all this must go on without her; did she resent it; or did it not become consoling to believe that death ended absolutely? but that somehow in the streets of London, on the ebb and flow of things, here, there, she survived, Peter survived, lived in each other, she being part, she was positive, of the trees at home; of the house there, ugly, rambling all to bits and pieces as it was; part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best, who lifted her on their branches as she had seen the trees lift the mist, but it spread ever so far, her life, herself.   

Mrs. Dalloway (MD 9)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On Being Ill: September 27, 2015

Photo courtesy of Sue Watts
I am in bed with influenza’—but what does that convey of the great experience; how the world has changed its shape; the tools of business grown remote; the sounds of festival become romantic like a merry-go-round heard across far fields; and friends have changed, some putting on a strange beauty, others deformed to the squatness of toads, while the whole landscape of life lies remote and fair, like the shore seen from a ship far out at sea, and he is now exalted on a peak and needs no help from man or God, and now grovels supine on the floor glad of a kick from a housemaid.

"On Being Ill"  1926
(E4 319) 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Chinks of Daylight: September 26, 2015

Between or behind the dense and involved confusion which grown-up life presented there appeared for moments chinks of pure daylight in which the simple, unmistakable truth, the underlying reason, otherwise so overlaid and befogged, was revealed.  Such seasons, or more probably seconds, were of so intense a revelation that the wonder came to be how the truth could ever again be overcast, as it certainly would be overcast directly this lantern-like illumination went out.

“Mr. Hudson’s Childhood” (published September 26, 1918)
(E2 298)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Letters Sweet Beneath the Leaf: September 25, 2015

Well, people have tried. Byron wrote letters. So did Cowper. For centuries the writing-desk has contained sheets fit precisely for the communications of friends. Masters of language, poets of long ages, have turned from the sheet that endures to the sheet that perishes, pushing aside the tea-tray, drawing close to the fire (for letters are written when the dark presses round a bright red cave), and addressed themselves to the task of reaching, touching, penetrating the individual heart. Were it possible! But words have been used too often; touched and turned, and left exposed to the dust of the street. The words we seek hang close to the tree. We come at dawn and find them sweet beneath the leaf.

Jacob's Room (97)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Laid upon the Landscape: September 24, 2015

View from Talland House, across escallonia hedges (2002)
[S]omehow or another, the windows being open, and the book held so that it rested on a background of escallonia hedges and distant blue, instead of being a book it seemed as if what I read was laid upon the landscape not printed, bound, or sewn up, but somehow the product of trees and fields and the hot summer sky, like the air which swam, on fine mornings, round the outlines of things.

"Reading"  ca. 1919
E3 (142)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Return to the Island: September 23, 2015

With the sunset sharpness was lost, and like mist rising, quiet rose, quiet spread, the wind settled; loosely the world shook itself down to sleep, darkly here without a light to it, save what came green suffused through leaves, or pale on the white flowers by the window.

[Lily Briscoe had her bag carried up to the house late one evening in September. "Mr. Carmichael came by the same train.]

To the Lighthouse (145)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Talland House: September 22, 2015

Our house, Talland House, was just beyond the town, on the hill. . . . a square house, like a child’s drawing of a house . . .  It stood in a garden that ran downhill; and had formed itself into separate gardens, surrounded by thick escallonia hedges, whose leaves, when pressed, gave out a very sweet smell.

Entry for September 22, 1940
“A Sketch of the Past”
(MOB 126)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sussex Evening: September 21, 2015

Evening is kind to Sussex, for Sussex is no longer young, and she is grateful for the veil of evening as an elderly woman is glad when a shade is drawn over a lamp, and only the outline of her face remains. The outline of Sussex is still very fine. The cliffs stand out to sea, one behind another. All Eastbourne, all Bexhill, all St. Leonards, their parades and their lodging houses, their bead shops and their sweet shop and their placards and their invalids and chars-á-bancs, are all obliterated. What remains is what there was when William came over from France ten centuries ago: a line of cliffs running out to sea. Also the fields are redeemed. The freckle of red villas on the coast is washed over by a thin lucid lake of brown air, in which they and their redness are drowned. It was still too early for lamps; and too early for stars.

(E6  453)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Among the Leaf-Hung Trees: September 20, 2015

 Here she sighed, and, putting the thought of marriage away, fell into a dream state, in which she became another person, and the whole world seemed changed. Being a frequent visitor to that world, she could find her way there unhesitatingly. If she had tried to analyze her impressions, she would have said that there dwelt the realities of the appearances which figure in our world; so direct, powerful, and unimpeded were her sensations there, compared with those called forth in actual life. . . . It was a place where feelings were liberated from the constraint which the real world puts upon them; and the process of awakenment was always marked by resignation and a kind of stoical acceptance of facts. She met no acquaintance there, as Denham did, miraculously transfigured; she played no heroic part. But there certainly she loved some magnanimous hero, and as they swept together among the leaf–hung trees of an unknown world, they shared the feelings which came fresh and fast as the waves on the shore. 

Night and Day ( 141)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Talking AT: September 19, 2015

THE moralists of the nursery used to denounce a sin which went by the name of "talking at", and was rendered the more expressive by the little stress which always fell upon the "at", as if to signify the stabbing, jabbing, pinpricking nature of the sin itself. The essence of "talking at" was that you vented your irritation in an oblique fashion which it was difficult for your victim to meet otherwise than by violence. This old crime of the nursery is very apt to blossom afresh in people of mature age when they sit down to write a novel.

"The Rights of Youth"
Review of Joan and Peter, by H. G.Wells. 
19 September, 1918
(E2 294)

Flight of the Mind: September 18, 2015

I attain a different kind of beauty,  achieve symmetry by means of infinite discords, showing all the traces of the minds passage through the world & achieve in the end some kind of whole made of shivering fragments; to me this seems the natural process; the flight of the mind.

September 1908, Italy
(PA 393)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Asters: September 17, 2015

Friday 17, September 1920

Oh still in the rain -- the green I see through the window has a sulphur tint in it -- perhaps the evening sun is sinking behind Falmer -- but the rain rains so as to beat the asters to the ground.
(D2 66)

Outside the rain poured down more directly and powerfully as the wind fell in the
early hours of the morning.  The aster was beaten to the earth.  The child's bucket was half full of rain-water and the opal-shelled crab slowly circled round the bottom, trying with its weakly legs to climb the steep side; trying again and falling back, and trying again and again.
(JR 11)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Old Habitual Beauty: September 16, 2015

September 16, 1932

[O]n my walk I almost felt my mind glow like hot iron -- so complete & holy was the old habitual beauty of England: the silver sheep clustering; & the downs soaring, like birds wings sweeping up & up -- I said [to] myself that beauty had become almost entirely satisfactory. . . .  I mean, I can fasten on a beautiful day, as a bee fixes itself on a sunflower.  It feeds me, rests me, satisfies me, as nothing else does.

(D4 124)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Moments of Non-Being: September 15, 2015

These separate moments of being were however embedded in many more moments of non-being. 1 have already forgotten what Leonard and I talked about at lunch; and at tea; although it was a good day the good was embedded in a kind of nondescript cotton wool.  This is always so. A great part of every day is not lived consciously. One walks, eats, sees things, deals with what has to be done; the
broken vacuum cleaner; ordering dinner; writing orders to Mabel; washing; cooking dinner; bookbinding. When it is a bad day the proportion of non-being is much larger.

"A Sketch of the Past"
(MOB 70) 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Perfect Variagated Chintz: September 14, 2015

September 14, 1921
Our garden is a perfect variegated chinz: Asters, plumasters, zinnias, geums, nasturtiums & so on: all bright, cut from coloured paper, stiff, upstanding as flower should be.

(D2 138)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ripeness is all: September 13, 2015

'Look,' said Rhoda; 'listen.  Look how the light becomes richer, second by second, and bloom and ripeness lie everywhere; and our eyes, as they range round this room with all its tables, seem to push through curtains of colour, red, orange, umber and queer ambiguous tints, which yield like veils and close behind them, and one thing melts into another.'

The Waves (97)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Flower of Civilization: September 12, 2015

The Greeks--yes, that was what they talked about--how when all's said and done, when one's rinsed one's mouth with every literature in the world, including Chinese and Russian (but these Slavs aren't civilized), it's the flavour of Greek that remains. Durrant quoted Aeschylus—Jacob Sophocles. It is true that no Greek could have understood or professor refrained from pointing out--Never mind; what is Greek for if not to be shouted on Haverstock Hill in the dawn? Moreover, Durrant never listened to Sophocles, nor Jacob to Aeschylus. They were boastful, triumphant; it seemed to both that they had read every book in the world; known every sin, passion, and joy. Civilizations stood round them like flowers ready for picking. Ages lapped at their feet like waves fit for sailing. And surveying all this, looming through the fog, the lamplight, the shades of London, the two young men decided in favour of Greece.

Jacob's Room (77)

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Purplish Stain: September 11, 2015

At that season those who had gone down to pace the beach and ask of the sea and sky what message they reported or what vision they affirmed had to consider among the usual tokens of divine bounty--the sunset on the sea, the pallor of dawn, the moon rising, fishing-boats against the moon, and children making mud pies or pelting each other with handfuls of grass, something out of harmony with this jocundity and this serenity. There was the silent apparition of an ashen-coloured ship for instance, come, gone; there was a purplish stain upon the bland surface of the sea as if something had boiled and bled, invisibly, beneath. This intrusion into a scene calculated to stir the most sublime reflections and lead to the most comfortable conclusions stayed their pacing. It was difficult blandly to overlook them; to abolish their significance in the landscape; to continue, as one walked by the sea, to marvel how beauty outside mirrored beauty within.

To the Lighthouse (137-8)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Flower and the Microscope: September 9, 2015

The two gifts, the gift of analysis, the gift of sensibility, that so often conflict, here enhance each other -- each contributes, neither dominates.  "The concordance we find in Cezanne between an intelligence rigorous, abstract and exacting to a degree, and a sensibility of extreme delicacy and quickness of response is here seen in masterly action."  The words are true of Roger Fry himself.  The flower has kept its color and the microscope its clarity.

Roger Fry (285)

Roger Fry died September 9, 1934

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blitz: September 7, 2015

"All That Completeness Ravaged"  Isota Tucker Epes

September 7, 1940

An air raid in progress.  Planes zooming.  No, that one’s gone over, very quick & loud.  Cdnt see if it were English. . . .  More planes over the house, going I suppose to London. 
(D5 315-6) 

The Germans begin concentrated air attacks on London. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Red Hot Pokers: September 6, 2015

But something moved, flashed, turned a silver wing in the air. It was September after all, the middle of September, and past six in the evening. So off they strolled down the garden in the usual direction, past the tennis lawn, past the pampas grass, to that break in the thick hedge, guarded by red-hot pokers like brasiers of clear burning coal, between which the blue waters of the bay looked bluer than ever.   

To the Lighthouse (23)
Red Hot Pokers below Talland House in 2002

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Passionflower: September 5, 2015

The sun seems to give less heat," she said, looking about her, for it was bright enough, the grass still a soft deep green, the house starred in its greenery with purple passion flowers, and rooks dropping cool cries from the high blue.   
To the Lighthouse (23)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Pilchard Boats: September 4, 2015

Every year, about the first week in September, we would cry "The pilchard boats are out!" There they were being hauled down the beach, where they lay one behind another all the rest of the year. Horses were struggling to draw them over the beach. They were anchored near the shore, and looked like long black shoes, for each had a hood for the watchman at one end, and a great coil of net -- seines they were called -- at the other. The tarring of the pilchard boats was a regular occupation; and made the beach always smell slightly of tar. There they lay week after week, and were still lying when we left in October, waiting for the Huer who sat at his telescope up in the white shelter on Carbis Bay point to sight a shoal. He sat there looking for a purple stain of pilchards to come into the bay and beside him was a great horn of some kind. 
 “A Sketch of the Past”  (MOB 130)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Core of Darkness: September 3, 2015

Georgia O'Keeffe, Black Abstraction 1927
For now she need not think about anybody. She could be herself, by herself. And that was what now  she often felt the need of--to think; well, not even to think. To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. 
To the Lighthouse (65)

On September 3, 1939, war was declared with Germany.  In her diary Woolf records the “tepid” pleasure of sewing blackout curtains 
(D5 234).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How Strange--Flowers: September 2, 2015

I was walking down the path with Lydia.  If this dont stop, I said, referring to the bitter taste in my mouth& the pressure like a wire cage of sound over my head, then I am ill: yes, very likely I am destroyed, diseased. dead.  Damn it!  Here I fell down -- saying "How strange -- flowers."  In scraps I felt & knew myself carried into the sitting room by Maynard, saw L. look very frightened; said I will go upstairs, the drumming of my heart, the pain, the effort got violent at the doorstep; overcame me; like gas; I was unconscious; then the wall & the picture returned to my eyes; I saw life again.

September 2, 1930
(D3 315)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Leaving the House: September 1, 2015

A moment later the light had faded. Out in the garden then? But the trees spun darkness for a wandering beam of sun. So fine, so rare, coolly sunk beneath the surface the beam I sought always burnt behind the glass. Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs. "Safe, safe, safe," the pulse of the house beat gladly."The Treasure yours."

"A Haunted House"
(CSF 122-3)

On September 1, 1919, the Woolves made the move from Asham to Monk's House.