I very strongly associate some writers, books, pieces of music with specific seasons. It is finally summer(ish) in England, and the first warm, long evenings have made me reach for Virginia Woolf. Fingering my copy of A Room of One’s Own (the edition is from the year I was born), I wanted to write a post about Woolf, but when I went back and read my post about her on my other blog, I realised that for the time being, I cannot say anything better about her, not yet. Of all authors, somehow Woolf remains the most personal to me, the one who inspires me most, whose life (until the River Ouse) inspires the most. I soak up the diaries. I spend endless hours flicking through pictures of the houses she lived in, those friends she spent her time with – wonderfully colourful, eccentric friends and lovers like Vita Sackville-West and Ottoline Morrell – longing for the kind of bohemian, creative freedom they enjoyed. One where, like in all imaginary worlds, it’s always summer, the weather perfect (half cloudy, the temperature +22°C), the time seems to stand still, and the air smells of earth and is filled with nothing but droning of summer insects and distant birdsong.
The perfect summer music? English songs of course, especially Ralph Vaughn William’s The House of Life cycle. In April Penguin published a volume of English song texts, and at the end of May Sarah Connolly will launch it with a recital at the Wigmore Hall; few tickets remain.
The best summer poem? Silent Noon by Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,—
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
‘Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
‘Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:—
So this wing’d hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love.
The photos (and captions) of Monk’s House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, from National Trust.