Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Waves & A British Breakfast

For now my body, my companion, which is always sending its signals, the rough black 'No,' the golden 'Come' in rapid running arrows of sensation, beckons. Some one moves. Did I raise my arm? Did I look? Did my yellow scarf with the strawberry spots float and signal? He has broken from the wall. He follows. I am pursued through the forest. All is rapt, all is nocturnal and the parrots go screaming through the branches. All my senses stand erect. Now I feel the roughness of the fibre of the curtain through which I push; now I feel the cold iron railing and its blistered paint beneath my palm. Now the cool tide of darkness breaks its waters over me. We are out of doors. Night opens; night traversed by wandering moths; night hiding lovers roaming to adventure. I smell roses; I smell violets; I see red and blue just hidden. Now gravel is under my shoes; now grass. Up reel the tall backs of houses guilty with lights. All London is uneasy with flashing lights. Now let us sing our love song - Come, come, come. Now my gold signal is like a dragon-fly flying taut. Jug, jug, jug, I sing like the nightingale whose melody is crowded in the too narrow passage of her throat. Now I hear crash and rending of boughs and the crack of antlers as if the beasts of the forest were all hunting, all rearing high and plunging down among the thorns. One has pierced me. One is driven deep within me. And velvet flowers and leaves whose coolness has been stood in water wash me round, and sheathe me, embalming me.

- Virginia Woolf's The Waves

When I think about explaining why I loved this book, I find myself completely overwhelmed. To put it as simply as possible, The Waves is probably the most honest, beautiful thing that I have ever read. I found myself sometimes reading a page two or three times, as if each sentence was a long hot bath that I desperately did not want to get out of.

Someone once said that Patsy Cline's singing voice was the voice that they always dreamed they had - the voice that, they felt, matched their soul. All I could think upon reading The Waves was - if my soul had a voice, I would want it to be Virginia Woolf's. The language is like music, the imagery is vivid, the characters are so real. Woolf once said that The Waves was not about different individuals, but rather about all of the different individuals that live inside of us that are provoked to appear at various points in our lives. There is the social butterfly, the great orator, the mother, the recluse, the outsider - all of these exist within us, and all of these are truthful as they exist within us.

Virginia Woolf understood that human nature - reality - is too complex to be summed up with words, but (miraculously!) she is able to do just that. With this work, Woolf has shown me, beautifully shown me, the truth about life - it is an ocean, and our souls are boats piled full of people attempting to brave the waves.

SPEAKING of The Waves:

Check out clips from The National Theatre's experimental staging of Woolf's novel

1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying your blog, sister! I know nothing about poetry, so I learn something new everytime you post :) Keep it up - and thanks for the link luv over there to the right.


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