He sighed profoundly, and flung himself - there was a passion in his movements which deserves the word - on the earth at the foot of the oak tree. He loved, beneath all this summer transiency, to feel the earth's spine beneath him; for such he took the hard root of the oak tree to be; or, for image followed image, it was the back of a great horse that he was riding; or the deck of a tumbling ship - it was anything indeed, so long as it was hard, for felt the need of something which he could attach his floating heart to; the heart that tugged at his side; the heart that seemed filled with spiced and amorous gales every evening about this time when he walked out. The the oak tree he tied it and as he lay there, gradually the flutter in and about him stilled itself; the little leaves hung, the deer stopped; the pale summer clouds stayed; his limbs grew heavy on the ground' and he lay so still that by degrees the deer stepped nearer and rooks wheeled round him and the swallows dipped and circled and the dragonflies shot past as if all the fertility and amorous activity of a summer's evening were woven web-like about his body.
Orlando, Chapter One, by Virginia Woolf, first published 1928.
It is so difficult to type out of a little paperback book, wedging the stiff pages open with the fluffy head of Dalloway my Golden Retriever puppet.
I just picked up this book for the first time yesterday (a Christmas present from two years back) which I hadn't been in a Virginia Woolf mood enough to read yet. But when I started, I just so enjoyed the flow of her writing, that I followed it downstream a while, and trickled into this beautiful excerpt.
There are several bits in this passage that I adore. I love the idea of "the spine of the earth". It's just a phrase, kind of like "a storm in a teacup" that makes my head whirr with images. I thought of roots, yes, and also mountain ranges and red earth. It's such a heady, earthy phrase. I also love that his heart floated on a spiced and amorous gale. That phrase is just so exotic. It's quite Fitzgeraldesque, really, because it's so atmospheric. It makes me think of this tea store, where there are little white ramekins full of different teas - Turkish apple tea, oriental rose, spices that you've never heard of but make you dream in smells.
It was just so refreshing to find this joy in my reading.