The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.
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a letter, by its arrival, defrauds us of a whole secret region of our existence, the only region indeed in which the true pleasure of life may be tasted, the region of imagination, creative and protean, the clouds and beautiful shapes of whose heaven are destroyed by the wind of reality.
Gardening is a luxury occupation: an ornament, not a necessity, of life.... Fortunate gardener, who may preoccupy himself solely with beauty in these difficult and ugly days! He is one of the few people left in this distressful world to carry on the tradition of elegance and charm. A useless member of society, considered in terms of economics, he must not be denied his rightful place. He deserves to share it, however humbly, with the painter and poet.
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I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn't even feel it. And yet I believe you'll be sensible of a little gap. But you'd clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan't make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this -But oh my dear, I can't be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don't love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don't really resent it.
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It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.
Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens, When I have no engagements written on my block, When no one comes to disturb my inward peace, When no one comes to take me away from myself And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle, A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection, Being so contrived that it takes too long a time To get myself back to myself when they have gone.
And still the strange meaningless conversations continue, and I wonder more and more at the fabric which nets the world together, so that anything which I do finally incubate out of my system into words will quite certainly be about solitude. Solitude and the desirability of it, if one is to achieve anything like continuity in life, is the one idea I find in the resounding vacancy which is my head.
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I like owls. I admire their intransigent spirit. I have respected them deeply ever since I met a baby owl in a wood, when it fell over dead, apparently from sheer temper, because I dared to approach it. It defied me first, and then died. I have never forgotten the horror and shame I experienced when that soft fluffy thing (towards which I had nothing but the most humanitarian motives) fell dead from rage at my feet.
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The true solitary ... will feel that he is himself only when he is alone; when he is in company he will feel that he perjures himself, prostitutes himself to the exactions of others; he will feel that time spent in company is time lost; he will be conscious only of his impatience to get back to his true life.
I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. Oh my dear, I can't be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly.You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don't love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don't really resent it.
It is a sad moment when the first phlox appears. It is the amber light indicating the end of the great burst of early summer and suggesting that we must now start looking forward to autumn. Not that I have any objection to autumn as a season, full of its own beauty; but I just cannot bear to see another summer go, and I recoil from what the first hint of autumn means.
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There is something intrinsically wrong about letters. For one thing they are not instantaneous. ... Nor is this the only trouble about letters. They do not arrive often enough. A letter which has been passionately awaited should be immediately supplemented by another one, to counteract the feeling of flatness that comes upon us when the agonizing delights of anticipation have been replaced by the colder flood of fulfilment.
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Violence, passion, indignation, loyalty, integrity, incorruptibility, shameless egoism, generosity, excitability, energy, a hundred horse-power drive - none of it very subtle: Ethel [Smyth] didn't deal in pastel shades, she went for the stronger colors, the blood-red, anything deep and pumping out of the arteries of the heart.
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How subtle is the relationship between the traveler and his luggage! He knows, as no one else knows, its idiosyncrasies, its contents ... and always some small nuisance which he wishes he had not brought; had known, indeed, before starting that he would regret it, but brought it all the same.
When, and how, and at what stage of our development did spirituality and our strange notions of religion arise? the need for worship which is nothing more than our frightened refuge into propitiation of a Creator we do not understand? A detective story, the supreme Who-done-it, written in indecipherable hieroglyphics, no Rosetta stone supplied by the consummate Mystifier to tease us poor fumbling unravellers of his plot.
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I suppose the pleasure of the country life lies really in the eternally renewed evidences of the determination to live. That is a truism when said, but anything but a truism when daily observed. Nothing shows up the difference between the thing said or read, so much as the daily experience of it.