Art thou pale for weariness of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth, wandering companionless among the stars that have a different birth, and ever changing, like a joyless eye that finds no object worth it's constancy? Thou chosen sister of the Spirit, that gazes on thee til in thee it pities. . . -Shelley (To The Moon)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Virgina Woolf

Mind-blowing experiences. There are other terms to describe such events or passages, but it does suffice. A mind-blowing experience makes one feel alive. Today this happened to me, as I reread Virgina Woolf's "To the Lighthouse". In itself, the passage I will share below blew my mind - but there was something even more. . . I had read it before and wasn't noticeably moved. To have missed it before, only to have it affect me so dramatically now - is also in itself a mind-blowing thing. You can imagine to what extent my wonder for the world has expanded, and as always it expands to include you:

The sketch above is by Paul Gustave Fischer

There he stood in the parlour of the poky little house where she had taken him, waiting for her, while she went upstairs a moment to see a woman. He heard her quick step above; heard her voice cheerful, then low; looked at the mats, tea-caddies, glass shades; waited quite impatiently; looked forward eagerly to the walk home, determined to carry her bag; then heard her come out; shut a door; say they must keep the windows and the doors shut, ask at the house for anything they wanted (she must be talking to a child), when, suddenly, in she came, stood for a moment silent (as if she had been pretending up there, and for a moment let herself be now), quite motionless for a moment against a picture of Queen Victoria wearing the blue ribbon of the Garter; and all at once he realized it was this: it was this: - she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.

With stars in her eyes and veils in her hair, with cyclamen and wild violets - what nonsense was he thinking? She was fifty at least; she had eight children. Stepping through fields of flowers and taking to her breast buds that had broken and lambs that had fallen; with the sta
rs in her eyes and the wind in her hair - He took her bag.

"Goodbye, Elsie," she said, and they walked up the street, she holding her parasol erect and walking as if she expected to meet someone around the corner, while for the first time in his life Charles Tansley felt an extraordinary pride; a man digging in a drain stopped digging and looked at her; let his arm fall down and looked at her; Charles Tansley felt an extraordinary pride; felt the wind and the cyclamen and the violets for he was walking with a beautiful woman for the first time in his life. He had hold of her bag.

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