“That perhaps is your task–to find the relation between things that seem incompatible yet have a mysterious affinity, to absorb every experience that comes your way fearlessly and saturate it completely so that your poem is a whole, not a fragment; to re-think human life into poetry and so give us tragedy again and comedy by means of characters not spun out at length in the novelist’s way, but condensed and synthesized in the poet’s way–that is what we look to you to do now.”
― Virginia Woolf
Photograph: Virginia and Leonard Woolf
“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 & expectations, to burst open & 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.”
― Virginia Woolf
“Let us again pretend that life is a solid substance, shaped like a globe, which we turn about in our fingers. Let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story, so that when one matter is despatched—love for instance—we go on, in an orderly manner, to the next. ”
― Virginia Woolf, The Waves
“I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that- everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.”
Suicide note from Virginia Woolf for her husband Leonard Woolf
28 March 1941
On that day Virginia filled her pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse.
He was silent for a moment. Silence seemed to have fallen upon the world. “That is what I have felt since I knew you” he replied. “We are happy together”. He did not seem to be speaking, or she to be hearing. “Very happy”, she answered. They continued to walk for some time in silence. Their steps unconsciously quickened. “We love each other”, he said. “We love each other”, she repeated. The silence was then broken by their voices which joined in tones of strange unfamiliar sound which formed no words. Faster and faster they walked; simultaneously they stopped, clasped each other in their arms, then releasing themselves, dropped to the earth. “We love each other” he repeated, searching into her face. Their faces were both very pale and quiet, and they said nothing.
The Voyage Out (1915), Virginia Woolf