‘First of all shall I have a haystack? Well idealized that might be quite good. First of all then we will consider the haystack. It stands up in a sunny field by the side of but out from a chestnut tree. So. The hay has been cut. Of course. It isn’t imported hay in that stack. Well all the rest of the field, it is a very big field, it stretches away far and wide, and there on it are the swathes of white hay that have been left over. There is lies. So. There is a blue sky overhead and some white puff clouds bowling along in front of a summery wind. Not the sort you say as you crouch under the breakwater: “I will say this about Shrimpton-on-Strand you can always get out of the wind one side of the break-water or the other, or under the bathing machine.”
Well now into this picture empty of all human interest comes Pompey Casmilus. Here at last, she says, is the right haystack, the right moment, and the right solitariness. She climbs up the ladder, that was left did I say, on to the top of the haystack. It is flat. And she pushes down the ladder because she doesn’t care if she never wakes up again, but if she does wake up again she can jump. So I lie back on my ivory haystack and there is nobody else in the whole wide world and so I fall asleep. No dreams. No dreams.’
Novel on Yellow Paper, Stevie Smith.
I have been rather neglectful on the ‘Petite madeleine’ posts lately, but one post of Stevie Smith surely makes up for that. I just wanted to add a little addendum to note the full title: Novel on Yellow Paper, or, Work it out for yourself.