As she makes her first gift to the brisk,

Cold, and patient water, she feels the kiss

Of the waves on her feet. She hears their voices, too.

She’s certain that she’s going mad, again.

My memory of her walks slowly out,

Away from me: across the fluent stream.

Now the hem of her dress is rising as it

Curtsies to the water: a gesture which

Betrays her. She defiantly had placed

Two stones in each pocket of her coat:

One for fear, and one for bravery.

I almost remember her: see, there she goes,

She strides towards an infinite, to free

Herself from him, and from her failing self:

Writing her death in the river. Her living ink

Billows out, clouds; and only gently pales,

Struggles at her heart, the neck, the lips,

Her silent mouth, her art now weighted down

By our waiting river, and a solemn gown of stones.



The death of Virginia Woolf, one of the most important writers in my life, has always haunted me. Do look up her biography, and please do read some of her works if you have yet to enjoy them. 


One thought on “Virginia

  1. Dear James A very moving poem. We both remembered going to Rodmell with you when you were still at School and walking down the track to the river where she met her death. Vivid and still full of her – the rackety bits of post fence, the meandering path, the flatness. In retrospect it seemed cold. Was It? Afterwards on the downs where we found a vast viewpoint for a picnic it seemed warm and full of sun and breeze. A good day! We have been to Rodmell perhaps four times since we came south, so nostalgic to walk through the rooms still full of their art and clutter and family memories, and look into the stark and productive garden shed with even a bed. I have read and reread the diaries and letters, also those of the various other Bloomsburys, trying to build up a picture of the life and work going on there, and trying to get closer to them.So much of their ‘private’ writing is gloriously funny.

    We will think of you all tomorrow and will try to be with you in quiet moments. I am sure it will be a good time for you and we do regret missing the occasion. Love to you all, Gran And Grandad sends love too.

    Sent from my iPad


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