Sunday, January 31, 2016

Unfurling: January 31, 2016

Photo by Sue Watts
'Here are gilt chairs in the empty, the expectant rooms, and flowers, stiller, statelier, than flowers that grow, spread green, spread white, against the walls.  And on one small table is one bound book.  This is what I have dreamt; this is what I have foretold.  I am native here.  I tread naturally on thick carpets. I slide easily on smooth-polished floors, I now begin to unfurl, in this scent, in this radiance, as a fern when its curled leaves unfurl.  I stop.  I take stock of this world.  I look among the groups of unknown people.  Among the lustrous green, pink, pearl- grey women stand upright the bodies of men.  They are black and white; they are grooved beneath their clothes with deep rills.

Jinny in The Waves (73)

To Read: January 30, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 1932

Olivier is a tough old buffer: with one flame inside of him.  What the Americans call ‘culture.’ That’s the only thing: to realize the legacy that’s been left us. To read. To do nothing from 18 to 22 but read.  That’s what we did.  That’s why we shant grow old – we shant come to an end.

(D4 66)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lumps of Coral: January 29, 2016

Photo by Craig Sargent
For the eye has this strange property: it rests only on beauty; like a butterfly it seeks colour and basks in warmth. On a winter's night like this, when nature has been at pains to polish and preen herself, it brings back the prettiest trophies, breaks off little lumps of emerald and coral as if the whole earth were made of precious stone. The thing it cannot do (one is speaking of the average unprofessional eye) is to compose these trophies in such a way as to bring out the more obscure angles and relationships.

"Street Haunting" 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Red Dreams: January 28, 2016

Charleston Poppy
This garden [Roger Fry wrote] is still for me the imagined  background for almost any garden scene that I read of in books,  The serpent still bends down to Eve from the fork of a peculiarly  withered and soot begrimed old apple tree which stuck out of  the lawn. And various other scenes of seduction seem to me to have taken place within its modest suburban precincts. But It  was also the scene of two great emotional experiences, my first  passion and my first great disillusion. My first passion was for  a bushy plant of large red oriental poppies which by some  blessed chance was actually within the limits of the square yard  of bed which had been allotted to me as my private and particular garden. The plants I bought and glued into the ground  with mud, made with a watering pot and garden mould -- seeds which I sowed never came up to my expectations, generally in fact refused to grow at all but the poppies were always  better than my wildest dreams. Their red was always redder  than any thing I could imagine when I looked away from them.

                                                                                   Roger Fry (16)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Imagine a Kiss: January 27, 2016

The Power of Print -- Woodcut and Xerox transfer
For me, a kiss. Imagine six little girls sitting before their easels twenty years ago, down by the side of a lake, painting the water-lilies, the first red water-lilies I'd ever seen. And suddenly a kiss, there on the back of my neck. And my hand shook all the afternoon so that I couldn't paint. I took out my watch and marked the hour when I would allow myself to think of the kiss for five minutes only--it was so precious--the kiss of an old grey-haired woman with a wart on her nose, the mother of all my kisses all my life.

“Kew Gardens” (CSF 91)

Lily Floating Flawless: January 26, 2016

Anyhow the moment was glad – the bright picture hung in the heart of the night, the shrine hollowed in the nocturnal blackness.  Strange indeed to have this visible proof of the righness of things; this lily floating flawless upon Time’s pool, fearless, as if this were sufficient – this reflection.  

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent

“A Woman’s College from the Outside”  (CSF 145)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Birthday Entries: January 25, 2016

Woolf in Vogue-- COlor-Reduction Woodcut, 1998
Who was I then? Adeline Virginia Stephen, the second daughter of Leslie and Julia Prinsep Stephen, born on 25th January 1882, descended from a great many people, some famous, others obscure; born into a large connection, born not of rich parents, but of well-to-do parents, born into a very communicative, literate, letter writing, visiting, articulate, late nineteenth century world.

“A Sketch of the Past” (MOB 65)

See Paula Maggio's compilation of all of Woolf's Birthday Diary entries at:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What Would Virginia Think? January 24, 2016

"Evidence"  -- Color Reduction Woodcut
Jan 24th [1917]
     We had a very remarkable Guild meeting last night, which I must tell you about.  A speaker [Mrs Bessie Ward] from the Civil Liberty Council, lectured us upon Venereal Diseases, and oral risks for our sons.  I felt htat the audience was queer, and as no one spoke, I got up and thanked her, whereupon two women left the room, and I saw that another gigantic fat one was in tears.  However, the all went, except Mrs. Langston who told the lecturer it was a most cruel speech, and only a childless women could have made it, "for we mothers try to forget what our sons have to go through."  Then she began to cry.  Did you ever hear such -- nonsense it seems to me.

(L2 138-9)

Winter Night: January 23, 2016

But when the door shuts on us, all that vanishes. The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye. How beautiful a street is in winter! It is at once revealed and obscured. Here vaguely one can trace symmetrical straight avenues of doors and windows; here under the lamps are floating islands of pale light through which pass quickly bright men and women, who, for all their poverty and shabbiness, wear a certain look of unreality, an air of triumph, as if they had given life the slip, so that life, deceived of her prey, blunders on without them. But, after all, we are only gliding smoothly on the surface. The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks.

"Street  Haunting"

Friday, January 22, 2016

Death Lilies: January 22, 2016

For some days now wreaths had been piled one on top of another on the hall table. In the dimness--all the blinds were drawn--the flowers gleamed; and the hall smelt with the amorous intensity of a hot-house. Wreath after wreath, they kept arriving. There were lilies with broad bars of gold in them; others with spotted throats sticky with honey; white tulips, white lilac--flowers of all kinds, some with petals as thick as velvet, others transparent, paper-thin; but all white, and clubbed together, head to head, in circles, in ovals, in crosses so that they scarcely looked like flowers. Black-edged cards were attached to them.
The Years (78-9)

January 22, 1897: Diamond Jubilee; January 22, 1901: Queen Victoria dies

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Heaving Bricks: January 21, 2016

21st Jan, 1922
A brick wall at Sissinghurst
[to Morgan Forster]
 Writing is still like heaving bricks over a wall; so you must interpret with your usual sympathy.  I should like to growl to you about all this damned lying in bed and doing nothing, and getting up and writing half a page and going to bed again.  I've wasted 5 whole years (I count) doing it; you you must call me 35 -- not 40 -- and expect rather less form me.  Not that I haven't picked up something from my insanities and all the rest.  Indeed I suspect they've done instead of religion.  But this is a difficult point.

L2 (499)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rising Wave: January 20, 2016

Dawn is some sort of whitening of the sky; some sort of renewal.  Another day; another Friday; another twentieth of March, January, or September. Another general awakening.  The stars draw back and are extinguished.  The bars deepen themselves between the waves.  The film of mist thickens on the fields.  A redness gathers on the roses, even on the pale rose that hangs by the bedroom window.  A bird chirps.  Cottagers light their early candles.  Yes, this is the eternal renewal, the incessant rise and fall and fall and rise again.
       And in me too the wave rises.  
The Waves (220) 
January 20, 1932: Lytton Strachey dies

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fugitive Shapes: January 19, 2015

"The forebrain is only an owl in the tree of self"  -- hand-colored Lithograph
I think a great deal about my future, and settle what book I am to write – how I shall re-form the novel and capture multitudes of things at present fugitive, enclose the whole, and shape infinite strange shapes.  (L1 356) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

. . . And Truth? January 18, 2016

Photo courtesy of Craig Sargent
Flaunted, leaf-light, drifting at corners, blown across the wheels, silver splashed, home or not home, gathered, squandered in separate scales, swept up, down, torn, sunk, assembled – and truth?

“Monday or Tuesday” (CSF 137)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Roving Words: January 17, 2016

It is only a question of finding the right words and putting them in the right order. But we cannot do it because they do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady's reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.

"Craftsmanship" (E6 96)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Crimson Flags: January 16, 2016

Perhaps it was the middle of January in the present that I first looked up and saw the mark on the wall. In order to fix a date it is necessary to remember what one saw. So now I think of the fire; the steady film of yellow light upon the page of my book; the three chrysanthemums in the round glass bowl on the mantelpiece. Yes, it must have been the winter time, and we had just finished our tea, for I remember that I was smoking a cigarette when I looked up and saw the mark on the wall for the first time. I looked up through the smoke of my cigarette and my eye lodged for a moment upon the burning coals, and that old fancy of the crimson flag flapping from the castle tower came into my mind, and I thought of the cavalcade of red knights riding up the side of the black rock. Rather to my relief the sight of the mark interrupted the fancy, for it is an old fancy, an automatic fancy, made as a child perhaps. The mark was a small round mark, black upon the white wall, about six or seven inches above the mantelpiece. 

 “The Mark on the Wall”  (CSF 83)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Uneasy Pools: January 14, 2016

In those mirrors, the minds of men, in those pools of uneasy water, in which clouds forever turn and shadows form, dreams persisted, and it was impossible to resist the strange intimation which every gull, flower, tree, man and woman, and the white earth itself seemed to declare (but if you questioned at once to withdraw) that good triumphs, happiness prevails, order rules, or to resist the extra ordinary stimulus to range hither and thither in search of some absolute good, some crystal of intensity remote from the known pleasures and familiar virtues, something alien to the processes of domestic life, single, hard, bright, like a diamond in the sand, which would render the possessor secure. Moreover, softened and acquiescent, the spring with her bees humming and gnats dancing threw her cloud about her, veiled her eyes, averted her head, and among passing shadows and flights of small rain seemed to have taken upon her a knowledge of the sorrows of mankind.

To the Lighthouse (136)
RIP: David Bowie and Alan Rickman

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Magnolias: January 13, 2016

She seemed able to divide herself into two. One person followed the argument--and he's putting it very well, she thought; while the other, for it was a fine afternoon, and she had wanted to go to Kew, walked down a green glade and stopped in front of a flowering tree. Is it a magnolia? she asked herself, or are they already over? Magnolias, she remembered, have no leaves, but masses of white blossom. . . . She drew a line on the blotting-paper.

The Years (167)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stiff Linen Day: January 12, 201O

Photo courtesy of BernadetteLongo

It is still early morning. The mist is on the marshes.  The day is stark and stiff as a linen shroud.  But it will soften; it will warm.  At this hour, this still early hour, I think I am the field, I am the barn, I am the trees; mine are the flocks of birds, and this young hare who leaps, at the last moment when I step almost on him.  Mine is the heron that stretches its vast wings lazily; and the cow that creaks as it pushes one foot before another munching; and the wild, swooping swallow; and the faint red in the sky, and the green when the red fades; the silence and the bell; the call of the man fetching cart- horses from the fields--all are mine.

The Waves (69-70)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Suffrage: January 11, 2016

11 January [1918]

Another sedentary day, which must however be entered for the sake of recording that the Lords have Passed the Suffrage Bill.  I don’t feel much more important – perhaps slightly so.  Its like a knighthood; might be useful to impress people one despises.
(D1 104)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

One Pebble: January 10, 2016

Photo by Craig Sargent
John, after looking at the lump for a moment, as if in hesitation, slipped it inside his pocket. That impulse, too, may have been the impulse which leads a child to pick up one pebble on a path strewn with them, promising it a life of warmth and security upon the nursery mantelpiece, delighting in the sense of power and benignity which such an action confers, and believing that the heart of the stone leaps with joy when it sees itself chosen from a million like it, to enjoy this bliss instead of a life of cold and wet upon the high road. "It might so easily have been any other of the millions of stones, but it was I, I, I!"
“Solid Objects” (CSF 103-4)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tavistock: January 9, 2016

Tavistock Sq: Unveiling Woolf Bust--Hermione Lee, Eileen Atkins, & Anne Oliver Bell
Wednesday 9 January [1924]

           At this very moment, or fifteen minutes ago to be precise, I bought the ten years lease of 52 Tavistock Sqre London W.C. 1—I like writing Tavistock.  Subject of course to the lease, & to Providence, & to the unforeseen vagaries on the part of old Mrs Simons, the house is ours: & the basement, & the billard room, with the rock garden on top, & the view of the square in front & the desolated buildings behind, & Southampton Row, & the whole of London – London thou art a jewel of jewels, & jasper of jocunditie – music, talk, friendship, city views, books, publishing, something central & inexplicable, all this is now within my reach. 

(D2, 282-3)

Friday, January 8, 2016

King Lappin: January 8, 2019

And before they went to bed that night it was all settled. He was King Lappin; she was Queen Lapinova. They were the opposite of each other; he was bold and determined; she wary and undependable. He ruled over the busy world of rabbits; her world was a desolate, mysterious place, which she ranged mostly by moonlight. All the same, their territories touched; they were King and Queen.

“Lappin and Lapinova” (CSF 263)

A Melon. . . A Fox in the Snow: January 7, 2016

Photo by Craig Sargent
Orlando, it is true, was none of those who tread lightly the corantoe and lavolta; he was clumsy and a little absentminded. He much preferred the plain dances of his own country, which he danced as a child to these fantastic foreign measures. He had indeed just brought his feet together about six in the evening of the seventh of January at the finish of some such quadrille or minuet when he beheld, coming from the pavilion of the Muscovite Embassy, a figure, which, whether boy's or woman's, for the loose tunic and trousers of the Russian fashion served to disguise the sex, filled him with the highest curiosity. The person, whatever the name or sex, was about middle height, very slenderly fashioned, and dressed entirely in oyster-coloured velvet, trimmed with some unfamiliar greenish-coloured fur. But these details were obscured by the extraordinary seductiveness which issued from the whole person. Images, metaphors of the most extreme and extravagant twined and twisted in his mind. He called her a melon, a pineapple, an olive tree, an emerald, and a fox in the snow all in the space of three seconds whether he had heard her, tasted her, seen her, or all three together.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Epiphany in the Snowfield: January 6, 2016

Photo by Pam Evans

We do not know our own souls, let alone the souls of others. Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is a virgin forest, tangled, pathless, in each; a snowfield where even the print of birds' feet is unknown. Here we go alone, and like it better so. Always to have sympathy, always to be accompanied, always to be understood would be intolerable.

“On Being Ill” –1930 (E5, 198)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Silence: January 5, 2016

“I want to write a novel about Silence,” he said; “the things people don’t say.”
The Voyage Out (216) 
Photo by Craig Sargent