And it was awfully strange, he thought, how she still had the power, as she came tinkling, rustling, still had the power as she came across the room, to make the moon, which he detested, rise at Bourton on the terrace in the summer sky.
Her life was a tissue of vanity and deceit.
Peter would think her sentimental. So she was. For she had come to feel that it was the only thing worth saying - what one felt. Cleverness was silly. One must say simply what one felt.
This late age of the world's experience had bred in them all, all men and women, a well of tears.
But Time, unfortunately, though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality, has no such simple effect upon the mind of man. The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time. An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second.
Nothing, however, can be more arrogant, though nothing is commoner than to assume that of Gods there is only one, and of religions none but the speaker's.
And then she said to herself, brandishing her sword at life, nonsense.
It was love, she thought, love that never clutch its object; but, like the love which mathematicians bear their symbols, or poets their phrases, was meant to be spread over the world and become part of human gain. The world by all means should have shared it, could Mr Bankes have said why that woman pleased him so; why the sight of her reading a fairy tale to her boy had upon him precisely the same effect as the solution of a scientific problem.
To pursue truth with such astonishing lack of consideration for other people's feelings, to rend the think veils of civilisation so wantonly, so brutally, was to her so horrible an outrage of human decency that, without replying, dazed and blinded, she bend her head as if to let her pelt f jagged hail, the drench of dirty water, bespatter her unrebuked.
And she came in from the little room.
Her only gift was knowing people almost by instinct, she thought, walking on. If you put her in a room with someone, up went her back like a cat's; or she purred.
She belonged to a different age, but being so entire, so complete, would always stand up on the horizon, stone-white, eminent, like a lighthouse marking some past stage on this adventurous, long, long voyage, this interminable --- this interminable life.
Well, I've had my fun; I've had it, he thought, looking up at the swinging baskets of pale geraniums. And it was smashed to atoms-his fun, for it was half made up, as he knew very well; invented, this escapade with the girl; made up, as one makes up the better part of life, he thought-making onself up; making her up; creating an exquisite amusement, and something more. But odd it was, and quite true; all this one could never share-it smashed to atoms.
For it has come about, by the wise economy of nature, that our modern spirit can almost dispense with language; the commonest expressions do, since no expressions do; hence the most ordinary conversation is often the most poetic, and the most poetic is precisely that which cannot be written down.
One can only believe entirely, perhaps, in what one cannot see.
Beauty had this penalty - it came too readily, came too completely. It stilled life - froze it. One forgot the little agitations; the flush, the pallor, some queer distortion, some light or shadow, which made the face unrecognizable for a moment and yet added a quality one saw for ever after.
Never did anybody look so sad. Bitter and black, halfway down, in the darkness, in the shaft which ran from the sunlight to the depths, perhaps a tear formed; a tear fell; the waves swayed this way and that, received it, and were at rest. Never did anybody look so sad.
Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air? Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life?--startling, unexpected, unknown?
And there is a dignity in people; a solitude; even between husband and wife a gulf; and that one must respect, thought Clarissa, watching him open the door; for one would not part with it oneself, or take it, against his will, from one's husband, without losing one's independence, one's self-respect-something, after all, priceless.
His wife was crying, and he felt nothing; only each time she sobbed in this profound, this silent, this hopeless way, he descended another step into the pit.
She came into a room; she stood, as he had often seen her, in a doorway with lots of people round her. But it was Clarissa one remembered. Not that she was striking; not beautiful at all; there was nothing picturesque about her; she never said anything specially clever; there she was however; there she was.
What did it mean to her, this thing she called life? Oh, it was very queer.
For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.
Ransack the language as he might, words failed him. He wanted another landscape, and another tongue.
Brooding, she changed the pool into the sea, and made the minnows into sharks and whales, and cast vast clouds over this tiny world by holding her hand against the sun, and so brought darkness and desolation, like God himself, to millions of ignorant and innocent creatures, and then took her hand away suddenly and let the sun stream down.
No, she thought, one could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low.
Well, we must wait for the future to show.
And there rose in her an unmastering desire to overcome her; to unmask her. If she could have felled her it would have eased her. But it was not the body; it was the soul and its mockery that she wished to subdue; make feel her mastery.
It is a thousand pities never to say what one feels.
She had a right to his arm, though it was without feeling. He would give her, who was so simple, so impulsive, only twenty-four, without friends in England, who had left Italy for his sake, a piece of bone.
What does the brain matter compared with the heart?
Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another. Nature and letters seem to have a natural antipathy; bring them together and they tear each other to pieces.
She was married, true; but if one's husband was always sailing round Cape Horn, was it marriage? If one liked him, was it marriage? If one liked other people, was it marriage? And finally, if one still wished, more than anything in the whole world, to write poetry, was it marriage? She had her doubts.
But nevertheless, the fact remained, it was almost impossible to dislike anyone if one looked at them.
Nothing need be said; nothing could be said.
With her foot on the threshold she waited a moment longer in a scene which was vanishing even as she looked, and then, as she moved and took Minta's arm and left the room, it changed, it shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past.
But he could not taste, he could not feel. In the teashop among the tables and the chattering waiters the appalling fear came over him- he could not feel. He could reason; he could read, Dante for example, quite easilyàhe could add up his bill; his brain was perfect; it must be the fault of the world then- that he could not feel.
It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning.
She had influenced him more than any person he had ever known. And always in this way coming before him without his wishing it, cool, ladylike, critical; or ravishing, romantic..
When people are happy they have a reserve upon which to draw, whereas she was like a wheel without a tyre
Happy the mother who bears, happier still the biographer who records the life of such a one!
The flower bloomed and faded. The sun rose and sank. The lover loved and went. And what the poets said in rhyme, the young translated into practice.
But this was one way of knowing people, she thought: to know the outline, not the detail, to sit in one's garden and look at the slopes of a hill running purple down into the distant heather.
One wanted, she thought, dipping her brush deliberately, to be on a level with ordinary experience, to feel simply that's a chair, that's a table, and yet at the same time, It's a miracle, it's an ecstasy.
Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigues, I have had my vision.
But the close withdrew: the hand softened. It was over-- the moment.
It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster! to hear twigs cracking and feel hooves planted down in the depths of that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul; never to be content quite, or quite secure, for at any moment the brute would be stirring, this hatred...
She had read a wonderful play about a man who scratched on the wall of his cell and she had felt that was true of life - one scratched on the wall.
Women's rights, that antediluvian topic.
He- for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it- was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
More Virginia Woolf Quotations (Based on Topics)
Mind - Life - World - Woman - Thought & Thinking - Man - People - Time - Literature - Sense & Perception - Soul - Love - Body - Emotions - Truth - Books - Poetry - Sadness - Water - View All Virginia Woolf Quotations
More Virginia Woolf Quotations (By Book Titles)
- Mrs. Dalloway
- To the Lighthouse
Leo Buscaglia - Virginia Woolf - Shakti Gawain - H. G. Wells - C. S. Lewis - Suze Orman - Robert Fulghum - Jared Diamond - Frederick Forsyth - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn