“When fear crawls out in the evenings from all four corners, when the winter storm raging outside tells you it is winter, and that it is difficult to live in the winter, when my soul trembles at the sight of distant fantasies, I shiver and say one word with every heartbeat, every pulse, every piece of my soul—liberation. In such moments it hardly matters where it is going to come from and who will bring it, so long as it’s faster and comes sooner. Doubts are growing in my soul. Quiet! Blessed be he who brings good news, no matter from where, no matter to where. Time, go ahead. Time, which carries liberation in its unknown tomorrow…maybe not for me, but for people like me. The result is certain. Down with any doubts. Everything comes to an end. Spring will come.”—
Elsa Binder wrote eloquently and passionately about the destruction of the Jewish community in Stanislawow, Poland. Her diary was found in a ditch on the way to an execution site. Though she likely perished in the Holocaust, the date and circumstances of her death remain unknown.
“Let me lie alone on my back in tall grass and see the sun and the water droplets on the branches and the red tree trunks through my own eyes. Let me color them and build them with my own words. Lonely, strong words. Let me stand alone at the edge of the earth and look at it honestly, alone.”—Rachel Corrie, from Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie
After getting married, Woolf thought she should learn some domestic skills, so she enrolled in a school of cookery. Shortly after, she accidentally baked her wedding ring in a suet pudding.
Woolf listened to Beethoven’s late quartets while writing The Waves.
Woolf once discovered a diary she had written during one particular sane and lucid period in her life, and laughed upon rereading it.
Woolf delighted in the physical act of writing words on paper. From the age of 11, she was continually experimenting with different kinds of pens in hope of finding one that would provide the perfect sensation.
‘No,’ she said. ‘Some things you don’t understand, of course.’
‘Of course,’ Helen agreed. ‘So now you can go ahead and be a person on your own account,’ she added.
The vision of her own personality, of herself as a real everlasting thing, different from anything else, unmergeable, like the sea or the wind, flashed into Rachel’s mind, and she became profoundly excited at the thought of living.
“Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.”—Virginia Woolf, from a letter to Vita Sackville-West (via brainpickings)
Tonight there must be people who are getting what they want.
I let my oars fall into the water.
Good for them. Good for them, getting what they want.
The night is so still that I forget to breathe.
The dark air is getting colder. Birds are leaving.
Tonight there are people getting just what they need.
The air is so still that it seems to stop my heart.
I remember you in a black and white photograph
taken this time of some year. You were leaning against
a half-shed tree, standing in the leaves the tree had lost.
When I finally exhale it takes forever to be over.
Tonight, there are people who are so happy,
that they have forgotten to worry about tomorrow.
Somewhere, people have entirely forgotten about tomorrow.
My hand trails in the water.
I should not have dropped those oars. Such a soft wind.
“Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.”—Virginia Woolf, Night and Day (via literary verve)
“It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind … It is no simple longing for the home town or country of our birth. The emotion is Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”—Carson McCullers (via apoetreflects)
“Nights are long just now,
when twilight is on the skin
and someone’s breath is mingling with someone’s hair.”—Paavo Haavikko, from “The Short Year” (translated from the Finnish by Herbert Lomas)
“When I turn towards you
in bed, I have a feeling
of stepping into a church
that was burned down long ago
and where only the darkness in the eyes of the icons
filled with the flames
which annihilated them.”—
Henrik Nordbrandt, from “Our Love Is Like Byzantium” (translated from the Danish by the author and Alexander Taylor)
“My question - that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide - was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man from the foolish child to the wisest elder: it was a question without answering which one cannot live, as I had found by experience. It was: “What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? - What will come of my whole life?” Differently expressed, the question is: “Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?” It can also be expressed thus: “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?”—Leo Tolstoy in A Confession (1882)
“I summoned up the streets places people
Who were the witnesses of your face
So they would call you so they would unweave
The tissue that death was binding around you.”—
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, from “The Small Square” (translated from the Portuguese by Ruth Fainlight)
Note: I now have a blogspot. It’s called ekphora. Sometimes I will post things from that site here and include a link to the blog. Just want everyone to know! Feel free to remove this note if you reblog the poem.
How enduring, how we need durability. The sky before sunrise is soaked with light. Rosy color tints buildings, bridges, and the Seine. I was here when she, with whom I walk, wasn’t born yet And the cities on a distant plain stood intact Before they rose in the air with the dust of sepulchral brick And the people who lived there didn’t know. Only this moment at dawn is real to me. The bygone lives are like my own past life, uncertain. I cast a spell on the city asking it to last.