Quotes by Vita Sackville-West

VitaSackvilleWest

Vita Sackville-West (1892 – 1962) the British novelist, poet, and garden writer, was best known for All Passion Spent and The Edwardians. Where passion was concerned, she was involved in a number of intense affairs with both men and women (including, famously, Virginia Woolf).

All the while, she was in a loving open marriage with diplomat Harold Nicolson, with whom she had two sons. She was also devoted to the gardens at her ancestral home, Sissinghurst. Here are quotes by Vita Sackville-West that are a testament to her as a thinker and writer.


“Among the many problems which beset the novelist, not the least weighty is the choice of the moment at which to begin his novel.”

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“I believe that the main thing in beginning a novel is to feel, not that you can write it, but that it exists on the far side of a gulf, which words can’t cross; that its to be pulled through only in a breathless anguish.” (The Letters between Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, 1928)

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“I have come to the conclusion, after many years of sometimes sad experience, that you cannot come to any conclusion at all.” (In Your Garden Again, 1953)

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“She wondered which wounds went deeper: the jagged wounds of reality, or the profound invisible bruises of the imagination?” 

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“It is no good my telling you. One never believes other people’s experience and one is only very gradually convinced by one’s own.” (The Edwardians, 1930)

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“There is nothing more lovely in life than the union of two people whose love for one another has grown through the years, from the small acorn of passion, into a great rooted tree.”

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“And still the strange meaningless conversations continue, and I wonder more and more at the fabric which nets the world together, so that anything which I do finally incubate out of my system into words will quite certainly be about solitude. Solitude and the desirability of it, if one is to achieve anything like continuity in life, is the one idea I find in the resounding vacancy which is my head.” (The Letters between Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, 1928)

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“Homesick we are, and always, for another
And different world.” (The Garden, 1951)

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Vita Sackville-West stamp UK

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“One never believes other people’s experiences and one is only very gradually convinced by one’s own.” (The Edwardians, 1930)

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“Women, like men, ought to have their youth so glutted with freedom they hate the very idea of freedom.” (Letter to her husband Harold Nicolson, June 1, 1919; published in Harold and Vita (1992)

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“Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,
When I have no engagements written on my block,
When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone.”

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“The writer catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind.”

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“Small pleasures must correct great tragedies, therefore of gardens in the midst of war I bold tell.” (The Garden, 1951)

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“She walks in the loveliness she made, 
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.” (The Land, 1926)

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Vita Sackville-West quiote

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“Is it better to be extremely ambitious, or rather modest? Probably the latter is safer; but I hate safety, and would rather fail gloriously than dingily succeed.” (The Letters between Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, 1928)

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“It isn’t that I don’t like sweet disorder, but it has to be judiciously arranged.”

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“It is quite true that you have had infinitely more influence on me intellectually than anyone, and for this alone I love you.” (Letter to Virginia Woolf, January 29, 1927; published in Granite and Rainbow : The Hidden Life of Virginia Woolf, 2000)

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“I worshiped dead men for their strength, forgetting I was strong.” 

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“Nothing shows up the difference between the things said or read, so much as the daily experience of it.”

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“The fount of joy was bubbling in thine eyes,
Dancing was in thy feet,
And on thy lips a laugh that never dies,
Unutterably sweet. 
Dance on! for ever young, for ever fair,
Lightfooted as a frightened bounding deer,
Thy wreath of vine-leaves twisted in thy hair,
Through all the changing seasons of the year…” (Poems of East and West, 1917)

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“What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.”

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“Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong Kong.”

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Some Flowers by Vita Sackville-West

Quotes by Vita Sackville-West on Gardens and Gardening

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“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.”

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“One must be businesslike, although the glass is falling.” (All Passion Spent, 1931)

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“Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.”

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“Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this.” (The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, 2001)

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“It is very necessary to have makers of beauty left in a world seemingly bent on making the most evil ugliness” (Country Notes, 1940)

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“I suppose the pleasure of the country life lies really in the eternally renewed evidences of the determination to live. That is a truism when said, but anything but a truism when daily observed. Nothing shows up the difference between the thing said or read, so much as the daily experience of it.”

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Portrait of a Marriage - Vita Sackville-West Harold Nicolson

Vita Sackville-West page on Amazon

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