That leaf-encumbered forest, the soul

It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster! To hear twigs cracking and feel hooves planted down in the depths of that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul; never to be content quite, or quite secure. (Mrs. Dalloway 12)

Always attracted to glitter, my magpie mind has understood the connection between Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus almost wholly through their shared quotation of Cymbeline. But rereading it to teach it tomorrow, it is this horror of trees that seems much deeper. Here’s where I begin to feel, with renewed awe, that this is an amazing and amazingly crafted piece of writing.

The idea is incredible, Spenserian in its elaboration: hatred is a heavy-footed invisible monster, disturbing the peace of the forest of the soul.

Going through the Met earlier this month with my mother-in-law, we looked closely at the armor. Because she’s gotten very good at jewelry-making and I’ve heard from her more about the processes of shaping and stamping metal, I could begin to see, for the first time, what it might have meant for and Elizabethan metalworker to make a suit of armor with hundreds of joints all embellished with a Tudor rose pattern. Suddenly, instead of a tribute to martial power, a tip of the hat to the boys at the museum, or some moment of cheesy “Medieval Times,” I felt like I was seeing patience embodied.

I felt that again today reading Woolf.