Milan [posted in Trieste] Thursday, January 21, 1926
I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this—But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it …
Please forgive me for writing such a miserable letter.
From Woolf to Sackville-West
52 Tavistock Square Tuesday, January 26
Your letter from Trieste came this morning—But why do you think I don't feel, or that I make phrases? "Lovely phrases" you say which rob things of reality. Just the opposite. Always, always, always I try to say what I feel. Will you then believe that after you went last Tuesday—exactly a week ago—out I went into the slums of Bloomsbury, to find a barrel organ. But it did not make me cheerful. Also I bought the Daily Mail—but the picture is not very helpful. And ever since, nothing important has happened—Somehow its dull and damp. I have been dull; I have missed you. I do miss you. I shall miss you. And if you don't believe it, your a longeared owl and ass. Lovely phrases?
You were sitting on the floor this time last week, where Grizzle is now. Somehow, as you get further away, I become less able to visualize you; and think of you with backgrounds of camels and pyramids which make me a little shy. Then you will be on board ship: Captains and gold lace: portholes, planks—Then Bombay where I must have had many cousins and uncles. Then Gertrude Bell—Baghdad. But we'll leave that, and concentrate upon the present. What have I done? Imagine a poor wretch sent back to school. I have been very industrious, no oranges picked off the top of a Christmas tree; no glittering bulbs. For one thing, you must have disorganised my domesticity, so that directly you went, a torrent of duties discharged themselves on top of me: you cant think how many mattresses and blankets new sheets pillowcases, petticoats and dustpans I haven't had to buy. People say one can run out to Heals and buy a mattress: I tell you it ruins a day; 2 days: 3 days—Every time I get inside a shop all the dust in my soul rises, and how can I write next day? Moreover, somehow my incompetence, and shopkeepers not believing in me, harasses me into a nagging harpy. At last, at last,—but why should I go through it again? I sold 4 mattresses for 16 shillings; and have written I think 20 pages. To tell you the truth, I have been very excited, writing. I have never written so fast [To the Lighthouse]. Give me no illness for a year, 2 years, and I would write 3 novels straight off. It may be illusion, but (here I am rung up: Grizzle barks: settles in again—it is a soft blue evening and the lights are being lit in Southampton Row: I may tell you that when I saw crocuses in the Sqre yesterday, I thought May: Vita.) What was I saying? Oh only that I think I can write now, never before—an illusion which attends me always for 50 pages. But its true I write quick—all in a splash; then feel, thank God, thats over. But one thing—I will not let you make me such an egoist. After all, why don't we talk about your writing? Why always mine, mine, mine? For this reason, I expect—that after all you're abundant in so many ways, and I a mere pea tied to a stick.
(Do you see how closely I am writing? That is because I want to say a great many things, yet not to bore you, and I think, if I write very close, Vita won't see how long this letter is, and she won't be bored) Have I seen anyone? Yes, a great many people, but by way of business mostly—Oh the grind of the Press has been rather roaring in my ears. So many manuscripts to read, poems to set up, and letters to write, and Doris Daglish to tea—A poor little shifty shabby shuffling housemaid, who ate a hunk of cake, and had the incredible defiance and self confidence which is partly lack of Education; partly what she thinks genius, and I a very respectablevivacious vulgar brain. "But Mrs Woolf, what I want to ask you is—have I in your opinion enough talent to devote my life entirely to literature?" Then it comes out she has an invalid father to keep, and not a halfpenny in the world. Leonard, after an hour of this, advised her, in his most decided voice, to become a Cook. That set her off upon genius and fiction and hope and ambition and sending novels to Tom Eliot and so—and so. Off she went, to Wandsworth; and we are to read her essay on Pope. Raymond I've seen: Clive and Mary. Siegfried Sassoon, Dadie and my French widow [Gwen Raverat].
Now Vita's getting bored in Bombay; but its a bald prosaic place, full of apes and rocks, I think: please tell me; you cant think how, being a clever woman, as we admit, I make every fragment you tell me bloom and blossom in my mind.
As for the people I've seen, I've fallen in love with none—but thats not exactly my line. Did you guess that? I'm not cold; not a humbug; not weakly; not sentimental. What I am; I want you to tell me. Write, dearest Vita, the letters you make up in the train. I will answer everything.
I'm going to have a little dramatic society—I mean a flashy actress came to see me, who having had her heart blighted, completely, entirely, irretrievably, has most unexpectedly got work, and says will I come and see her behind the scenes—I like the astonishing profusion of these poor creatures—all painted, glittering and unreal; with the minds of penny whistles; all desperate, what with being out of work, or in love: some have illegitimate children; one died on Sunday, and another is ill with typhoid. They think me a grotesque, semi-human gargoyle; screwed up like a devil in a Cathedral; and then we have tea, in some horrid purlieus of Soho, and they think this frightfully exciting—my unscrewing my legs and talking like a book. But it won't do for long. Its a snobbery of mine to adorn every society except my own.
Now I must finish, for I have to do my lecture for the school at Hayes Common on Saturday. Mary offers to lend me her motor: but no; I wont. I want Vita's motor; I want to be nicely treated by her; and I shant be.
Couldn't you write me lots more letters and post them at odd stations as you pass through?
But of course (to return to your letter) I always knew about your standoffishness. Only I said to myself, I insist upon kindness. With this aim in view, I came to Long Barn. Open the top button of your jersey and you will see, nestling inside, a lively squirrel, with the most inquisitive habits, but a dear creature all the same—
'Drone Bomb Me' is the beautiful yet brutal second single from HOPELESSNESS. As described by ANOHNI, “’Drone Bomb Me’ is a love song written from the perspective of a young girl in Afghanistan whose family has been executed by unmanned U.S. drones. She dreams of being annihilated.” The powerful video for “Drone Bomb Me” is directed by Nail and features an astonishing performance by Naomi Campbell. Directed by Nabil, art directed and styled by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy.