More than just the writing of poetry, isn’t writing in general often ‘a voice answering a voice’?
This touching quotation comes towards the end of Orlando and the end of Orlando’s long endeavours to complete her poem. It is the first and last time she clearly outlines why she began writing ‘The Oak Tree: A Poem’ and has persisted in writing it for 300 years. Simply as an answer to the humble song of the woods, fields, horses, the garden, the smithy and the kitchen, of a beloved landscape.
‘Was not writing poetry a secret transaction, a voice answering a voice? … What could have been more secret, she thought, more slow, and like the intercourse of lovers, than the stammering answer she had made all these years to the old crooning songs of the woods, and the farms and the brown horses standing at the gate, neck to neck, and the smithy and the kitchen and the fields, so laboriously bearing wheat, turnips, grass, and the garden blowing irises and fritillaries?’
Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, ed. with an introduction by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992), p. 310
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