For National Poetry Month, I’m writing poems inspired by words, passages, and images in Virginia Woolf’s Diary.
Today’s poem is a sedoka, which I decided to double into a short string of four stanzas. A sedoka is a Japanese form made up of two katautas. A katauta is a three-line poem with a 5/7/7 syllable count.
With the publication of Mrs. Dalloway and The Common Reader, Virginia Woolf began to make enough money from her writing to be able to pay for house projects and a clothing allowance. With To the Lighthouse, she earned enough to buy a car, and it’s really delightful to read her delight at taking driving lessons and driving by herself on country roads and heading off on afternoon driving adventures with Leonard. This poem borrows words from several passages in the Diary that focus on what she has earned and what she will spend her money on:
Yesterday I heard from Harcourt Brace that Mrs. D. and C.R. are selling 148 & 73 weekly–Isn’t that a surprising rate for the 4th month? Doesn’t it portend a bathroom and a w.c., either here, or Southease?
Shall I lavish 5 pounds that will be mine on a new spare bed?–alas, I fear I must; then the great & distasteful operations of furnishing will be over, & next year I shall add ornament & comfort. Perhaps if I make an extra sum we might build a bed sitting room for me in the attic, enlarge L.’s study, & so have a desirable, roomy, light house. For if we had 500 pounds every year to spend, it is difficult to think of anything, except this, travel, & pocket money, to spend it on. Here at the age of 45 Nessa & I growing little wings again after our lean years.
Now that I have 16 pounds to spend before July 1st (on our new system) I feel free: can afford a dress or a hat, & so may go about, a little, if I want. And yet the only exciting life is the imaginary one. Once I get the wheels spinning in my head, I don’t want money much, or dress, or cupboard, a bed at Rodmell or a sofa.
Day #12: Earning: A Double Sedoka
sometimes she marvels
thinking of lean years before
pocket money, motor cars
before travel to
the South of France, Italy,
before sunshine & movement
at 45, books
pay for a room of her own,
comfort, a bathroom,
a dress & hat, a cupboard
little wings grow from money
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