Woolf championed the victory of the novel over poetry, mostly for feminist reasons, even as she changed some poetic techniques for the book in order to depict the inner life. Woolf saw poetry as the novel’s rival form. Here are some famous Virginia Woolf poems.
Virginia Woolf’s perception of the conflict between poetry and the novel, which she frequently figured as one between masculine and feminine, old and new, bound and free, had a significant impact on her career.
A monograph therefore provided a comprehensive reassessment of the reasons and objectives of Woolf’s classic work on her perception of generic rivalry.
The work mixes biography, book history, formal analysis, genetic criticism, source research, and feminist literary history, drawing on unreleased archive data and obscure publications.
The collapse of the lyric poem, the emergence of the novel, the gendered links with these two forms, elegy in prose and verse, and the history of English Studies are all settings that Woolf’s attitude toward poetry is set within.
The book follows Woolf’s reading and writing throughout her career in lucid, vibrant prose. It includes her responses to poets and critics from her group, including J. K. Stephen, Julian Bell, Vita Sackville-West, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, T. S. Eliot, Stephen Spender, and W. H. Auden.
Poetry by Virginia Woolf makes three significant contributions. It makes clear a key inspiration for Woolf’s poetic style.
It reveals the generic competition that encouraged many modernist writers to produce their best work. It also explains how having a genre ideology may influence literary discussions and aesthetics.
You Should Be Afraid of Virginia Woolf…
The most imperfectly
Framed in unwanted proximity
Coated in fool’s gold
In worst case, we’ll hold onto each other forever
You’re always just a drink away
Along with every Honey that ever came by
You’ll end up on the bathroom floor
Let’s invent a new game
‘Cause this is as good as it gets
Baby, this is our fun
Someday you’ll sober up
But for now:
We’re Martha and George
And I just killed our son.
“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves…”
Summer’s long days will be fading away
When trees announce fall’s coming
In their brightest attire
Gold and crimson waltz
In autumn’s cooling breezes.
Pumpkins wear strange grins!
By this time has been planted.
When rivers and lakes
Solidify into ice…
December skates in
Herstory, Not History
She wanted to buy some flowers but drowned herself instead,
Drifting along the ebbing flow of time, with warm
Water cracking her slim figure and airless lungs.
‘will i freeze the river?’ she thought, wondering if the trees
Would still rustle in the wind if she wasn’t alive to notice it,
Thinking if her man’s heart would still beat if she could
No longer shock its rhythmical thump-thud-stop with kisses.
The wood was chopped down around her home. The
Veranda from which she surveyed the world was but
Deafened by cruel hacking chopping and sawing at the
Hands of men whom took her feminine beauty away.
She became the water as she died, became the weeds,
Became the bark that broke her own back, the pen and the phallus.
‘This isn’t purgatory’ she realized, ‘this is revenge and reward’.
‘I am a sacrifice to literature. I am a sacrifice for the word’.
Lines of Despair Transforming into Hope
A poem about my life that describes how I struggled with bipolar disorder and had suicide thoughts while I was alone myself and in deep sadness.
When fraught with gloom and psychic pain,
I all alone bemoan my state
Like one who sinks so low again
Into despair which wrecks his fate.
Disconsolate beyond midnight,
I trouble dear God with my cries
As I bear this bipolar plight
With burning, red, tear-laden eyes.
The night is long—I feel distraught;
I long for rest to help forget
This sorrow’s hold that has me wrought
Like people in a crashing jet!
Inside, i feel the reaper’s scythe
As i think out my suicide;
I could slit my wrist with a knife
Or pop pills to end this dark “ride.”
Or, like sylvia plath, i can
Shove my head in a gaslight oven;
It’d be painless—sure! (but why plan
A suicide so trite and certain?).
I think, too, of virginia woolf,
How she drowned herself in a lake;
I, too, feel swallowed in a gulf
Of swirling sadness that could take
Me to my death! Why do i feel
So unloved and alone now? Am
I so hopeless? Why do I feel
So worthless and empty? How am
I to know—(that) if I kill myself—
Whether my loved ones won’t miss me?
“Don’t quit!” I think: so i will myself
To live (as if God’s saints kissed me)!
So I thus find solace in this:
That god and family do care,
And if i die i will be missed;
So i endure the deep despair.
And then rest comes. And i have peace…
And in the morn, i wake arising—
Hope breaks in (and gives my life new lease)!
And then my state i cease despising.
Rid of Effulgence
I see the moon—flickering, broken
The sky—and I am afraid.
I am a girl among men and women
Robed in beauty but
Without faces. Their tongues
Cut; I am derided. Is there an end
To these knives? I lie
I stammer, i am on the verge
I am composed of scorched sea
Foam and fire.
I am like a ribbon of weed.
When will i be
Flung to the uttermost
Edge of the world?
The Night is Rapt
I am roaming through the forest—plunging
pierced with arrows—and I feel uneasy.
The night is crowded with beasts and thorns.
All my senses are taut as the smell of violets
breaks over me and beckons.
I feel guilty and cold. Beneath the black boughs
I see moths rearing
among flashing yellow lights
and I hear a nightingale
by its red melody, I reel.
The darkness has broken me.
The crack in my body
This is an incredible place: oppressive
And red in its intensity.
Every moment in this abolished world
Is unreal. Light glares its hostility
And metal flowers quiver with cold.
I do not have a normal body
Here; i have lost the appearance of
Somebody whole and only feel
A prickly blankness. This morbid place
Sharpens my indifference—so i cut
People open with a knife-blade
To see a flash of their wavering
Being, to see them
Undergo transformation. I know
Now that there is extraordinary
Pleasure in cruelty.
Because of its distinctive writing style, which transcends barriers between genres and combines poetry and prose, The Waves will continue to be regarded as Woolf’s masterpiece.
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