Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf
Why, from the very windows, even in the dusk, you see a swelling run through the street, an aspiration, as with arms outstretched, eyes desiring, mouths agape. And then we peaceably subside. For if the exaltation lasted we should be blown like foam into the air. The stars would shine through us. We should go down the gale in salt drops- as sometimes happens. For the impetuous spirits will have none of this cradling. Never any swaying or aimlessly lolling for them. Never any making believe, or lying cozily, or genially supposing that one is much like another, fire warm, wine pleasant, extravagance a sin.
Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man, at twice its natural size.
Yet who reads to bring about an end, however desirable? Are there not some pursuits that we practise because they are good in themselves, and some pleasures that are final? And is not this among them? I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards–their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble–the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.
To talk of 'prizing her open' as if she were an oyster, to use any but the finest and subtlest and most pliable tools upon her was impious and absurd.
Very gently and quietly, almost as if it were the blood singing in her veins, or the water of the stream running over stones, she became conscious of a new feeling within her. She wondered for a moment what it was, and then said to herself, with a little surprise at recognising in her own person so famous a thing: is happiness.
We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.
What did it mean to her, this thing she called life? Oh, it was very queer.
What worries glory, what interest, what satisfactions, and there are many, brings the fight?
Whenever you see a board up with Trespassers will be prosecuted, trespass at once.
Why, I ask, can I not finish the letter that I am writing? For my room is always scattered with unfinished letters. I begin to suspect, when I am with you, that I am among the most gifted of men. I am filled with the delight of youth, with potency, with the sense of what is to come. blundering, but fervid, I see myself buzzing round flowers, humming down scarlet cups, making blue funnels resound with my prodigious booming. How richly I shall enjoy my youth (you make me feel). And London. And freedom. But stop. You are not listening. You are making some protest, as you slide, with an inexpressibly familiar gesture, your hand along your knee. By such signs we diagnose our friends' diseases. Do not, in your affluence and plenty, you seem to say, pass me by. Stop, you say. Ask me what I suffer.
Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry.
To teach without zest is a crime.
Very much screwed in the head by trying to get Roger's marriage chapter into shape; and also warmed by L. saying last night that he was fonder of me than I of him. A discussion as to which would mind the other's death most. He said he depended more upon our common life than I did. He gave the garden as an instance. He said I live more in a world of my own. I go for long walks alone. So we argued. I was very happy to think I was so much needed. It’s strange how seldom one feels this: yet 'life in common' is an immense reality.
We may enjoy our room in the tower, with the painted walls and the commodious bookcases, but down in the garden there is a man digging who buried his father this morning, and it is he and his like who live the real life and speak the real language.
What does the brain matter compared with the heart?
Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.
Where are we to lay the blame? Not on our professors ... It is words that are to blame .... most irresponsible, most un-teachable of all. Of course you can catch them and sort them, place them in alphabetical order, in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind.
Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in its place?
Women's rights, that antediluvian topic.
Yet, she said to herself, form the dawn of time odes have been sung to love; wreaths heaped and roses; and if you asked nine people out of ten they would say they wanted nothing but this--love; while the women, judging from her own experience, would all the time be feeling, This is not what we want; there is nothing more tedious, puerile, and inhumane than this; yet it is also beautiful and necessary.
To tell the truth about oneself, to discover oneself near at hand, is not easy.
Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice?
We must admit that he had eyes like drenched violets, so large that the water seemed to have brimmed in them and widened them; and a brow like the swelling of a marble dome pressed between the two blank medallions which were his temples.
What had our mothers been doing then that they had no wealth to leave us? Powdering their noses? Looking in at shop windows? Flaunting in the sun at Monte Carlo?