For National Poetry Month, I’m writing poems inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Diary.
The slow pace of my initial close reading has picked up, and now I am reading great chunks of the diary each day–and feeling fussy that I can’t find Volume 4 anywhere on my shelves. For some unknown reason, I have three copies of Volume One–the volume I am least interested in rereading.
VW has a great deal to say throughout the diary about happiness. I have been collecting her statements and thought to put them into a poem, but I couldn’t make such generalities work without sounding thin and trite. I began thinking about the moments where her happiness is most apparent, though she isn’t specifically naming it, and it’s connected to the most ordinary things, as I think it is for most of us. I decided to try a list poem after appreciating this particular line of hers identifying the pleasures of her day: “ease, slippers, smoke, buns, chocolate.” That line, “gold sun,” “blue sunsets,” and “feast on the moment” are direct borrowings from the diary.
Day #5: Happiness Is A Daily Art
A walk, a hot bath, a small windfall to buy a dress,
Tea by the fire, time, books.
The comfort of honest conversation.
The moon and the clouds, gold sun and blue sunsets.
A letter, music playing in the evening,
Ease, slippers, smoke, buns, chocolate.
Feast on the moment.