what a lark! what a plunge!

It seems every six months I am doomed — no, not doomed — destined, perhaps, blessed — to read a book or an author so exquisite that it destroys me, makes me want to just break into pieces from the force of my own inabilities: to contain, to hold within me the same sense of wonder at words and at life that these books inspire; to hold it in me like a beacon and to let it lead me, somehow, to a fine creation of my own.

Tonight: Mrs. Dalloway, sitting on the front porch of my house while the sky shook with lightening and thunder, reading the first fifty pages of it out loud to myself until my voice went, chainsmoking as I had not done since leaving California, starting to cry when Septimus Warren Smith imagines that the birds are singing in Greek about life and death, and continuing to cry through the next twenty pages and four cigarettes. Crying for the character, the book, Virginia Woolf, a friend, myself.

Oh! I should be a scientist instead. Literature, it will be my death. But I would not give it up for anything.

“‘K … R …” said the nursemaid, and Septimus heard her say “Kay Arr” close to his ear, deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper’s, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound which, concussing, broke. A marvellous discovery indeed–that the human voice in certain atmospheric conditions (for one must be scientific, above all scientific) can quicken trees into life! Happily Rezia put her hand with a tremendous weight on his knee so that he was weighted down, transfixed, or the excitement of the elm trees rising and falling, rising and falling with all their leaves alight and the colour thinning and thickening from blue to the green of a hollow wave, like plumes on horses’ heads, feathers on ladies’, so proudly they rose and fell, so superbly, would have sent him mad. But he would not go mad. He would shut his eyes; he would see no more.

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, Virginia Woolf (pp 22-23)


~ by Not Alice on June 4, 2007.

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