Wakeful London Dawn

I have found some interesting things in my research at the British Library, among them the lost notebook of Lady Caroline Whitcombe. She had been on the fringes of the Bloomsbury group, but never an accepted member of the coterie (it was rumoured that Leonard Woolf in particular found her calls for unbridled sexual freedom distasteful). None of her many plays and poems survives today thanks to the efforts of her scandalised family who burned all of her papers upon her death at the age of 37 in rail accident caused by an unexplained signal failure. However, a single notebook of her writing survived in the hands of a former lover who dutifully delivered it to the British Library upon her death. The final summer of her life seemed a somewhat melancholy one, plagued by doubts and minor but irritating illnesses. The title of this piece, “Wakeful London Dawn” has been added editorially. Its date remains uncertain due to Whitcombe’s reluctance to accurately label entries.

Wakeful London Dawn

I seek silence: a respite from the multitudes in my head who chatter and mow constantly, demanding to be heard and yet cacophonous, they remain incomprehensible the better part of the time. The hard labour of meditation pays off most when they can be persuaded to join me in the silence, to give in to wordless peace but the truth remains: it is far simpler to abandon them in the bottom of the bottle (because few of them can swim) or in the haze of the Chinese pipe (where they become insubstantial, too) or in laughter, where my braying joy out-Herods their ceaseless din. The surprise of course is that the other sure harbour lies in your arms because your embrace blocks out all competing suitors who clamour for my thoughts and I am lost in the smell, the taste, the feel of you, the smiles, the sighs, the moans of you, and silence.

[This originally appeared on Nights of Passion, but worth repeating.]


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