A Slow Walk Into Inspiration

A Slow Walk Into Inspiration

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On her essay "The Narrow Bridge of Art", Virginia Woolf discusses much more than the use of poetic prose in writing; she carefully portrays human beings as the core of the existence of writing. As she says, "Life is always and inevitably much richer than we who try to express it" (23). Writers seek for life as dogs for water; they take men and women of all kind as the one and only fountain of inspiration in which they bathe so as to write another work. Woolf's short story "Kew Gardens" is a vivid example of that kind of inspiration someone with the sense of hearing can find just by taking a walk in the park one afternoon. In the case of "Kew Gardens", a snail assumes the role of the writer who divagates among the strangers' words without loosing trace. Its slow movement is the pleasing, and sometimes tortuous, path towards the pencil and the piece of paper.

On "The Narrow Bridge of Art", Woolf states that the emotions people produce are answers to those new challenges which overflow from the writers' minds. These answers are not only given by the dialogues (sometimes monologues) that a person can catch in moments of solemn contemplation, but also by the different gamut of images which are able to produce a profound bewilderment. That is why in "Kew Gardens" not all the characters have a thread easily to be followed in their dialogues, as the one of the two elderly women of low middle class. Sometimes coherent words are not needed; just the essence of a human being is required for emotions to be trembled. These images are not only children of an overwhelmed magic; horror and traumatized depression, just to mention a few, are also living existences of this world of muses which caught the writer's soul as easily as flies are caught in spider webs. As Woolf writes, "It is a spring night, the moon is up, the nightingale singing, the willows bending over the river. Yes, but at the same time a diseased old woman is picking over her greasy rags on a hideous iron bench" (16). The two old ladies from "Kew Gardens" are not Boticelli's Graces, but they are immersed in the path towards writing, they are as dignified as Minerva's bust to be considered as a source for inspiration for an artistic manifestation to be created; they also have their own story to tell and to be told.

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In the attempt to portray life in writing, those who dare to get into this adventure need to recognize that life goes beyond their capacities. No matter how good a writer might be, life's boundaries are unreachable. As Woolf writes, "it seems true that some renunciation is inevitable. You cannot cross the narrow bridge of art carrying all its tools in your hands. Some you must leave behind," and she also warns, "or you will drop them in midstream or, what is worse, overbalance and be drowned yourself" (22).

Writers may give birth to good representations by the use of tools writers themselves are able to choose. How beautiful and exact those representations will be, will depend certainly on the attitude that a writer takes towards life. It is this attitude and its results in writing that need to be considered with much more importance than whether a work is written in verse or prose. Critics would tend to be narrow-minded if they pay more attention to structure than to the meaning behind.

In this sense, "Kew Gardens" is a good example of how prose can also be a literary device to depict a common and daily scene in a beautiful way. The detailed description and use of language take the reader into scene; they fill the story with life; story in which readers not only can feel sounds, smells and colours, but also be part of a new world from the point of view of a snail. From the eyes of this being, we can go a little bit further in understanding what Virginia Woolf says, "The long avenue of brick is cut up into boxes, each of which is inhabited by a different human being who has put locks on his doors and bolts on his windows to ensure some privacy, yet is linked to his fellows, [. . .] by waves of sounds which pour through the roof and speak aloud to him of battles and murders and strikes and revolutions all over the world" (15).

As it is noticeable, those sorts of works which can leave a reader perplex do not come from the form and tools which are chosen by the writers, but from a much previous step called inspiration. This inspiration has a place of origin, the voice and figures of more than a thousand strangers. Life and its million masks are the only true source for inspiration in which beauty is found. This beauty lies in the poor woman dying under her rug and that new born baby who opens her eyes for the first time; and it is the writers work not to only confront their attitude towards life, but also to be able to choose the tools so as to represent that found beauty in their words and in the style that will be chosen as the vehicle between the writers mind and the readers sensibility.

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