Had a bit of a Walter Scott start to the day yesterday, inspired by Steepholm’s recent reading of Waverley, which coincided with my own recent re-reading of Ivanhoe. The second time round, I was rather more impatient with the oldy-moldy way of talking, such as
“If I could but drag myself,” he said, “to yonder window, that I might see how this brave game is like to go–If I had but bow to shoot a shaft, or battle-axe to strike were it but a single blow for our deliverance!–It is in vain–it is in vain–I am alike nerveless and weaponless!”
“Fret not thyself, noble knight,” answered Rebecca, “the sounds have ceased of a sudden–it may be they join not battle.”
“Thou knowest nought of it,” said Wilfred, impatiently; “this dead pause only shows that the men are at their posts on the walls, and expecting an instant attack; what we have heard was but the instant muttering of the storm–it will burst anon in all its fury.–Could I but reach yonder window!”
“Thou wilt but injure thyself by the attempt, noble knight,” replied his attendant. Observing his extreme solicitude, she firmly added, “I myself will stand at the lattice, and describe to you as I can what passes without.”
…there’s quite a lot of That Sort Of Thing in RL Stevenson’s Black Arrow, too. Though I still found it readable, as opposed to Scott’s The Talisman, which I gave up on as being really quite potty.
Anyway, I found myself drifting over to the Wikipedia entry on Walter Scott, as you do. And found that there is a section devoted to ‘references in other literature’. So I added an entry describing how the gnomes in BB’s The Little Grey Men find, commandeer and make voyages in a toy ship called Jeanie Deans. Because I rather like the BB books; the nature writing is well-done, and there is something dark about the characters that is a world, or at least several continents, away from the usual literary gnomerie-fairerie…
…and then my lovingly-crafted entry disappeared almost straight away, so I re-entered it. And the same thing happened. And there was a message to me from the person who had removed it. A short burst of correspondence ensued.
The link you provided doesn’t seem relevant to the article and I have removed it again. If anywhere, it might be a better fit on the The Heart of Midlothian piece. –Oxx Mxx(talk) 11:03, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
aha- I wondered what had happened to the first version! -I’m curious that you should think it less relevant than the other entries for this section “references in other literature” -don’t the BB books count as ‘serious’ lit? DruMarland (talk) 11:43, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
My problem was their relevance to Walter Scott, not a comment on their literary worth. –Oxx Mxx(talk) 11:55, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
The Jeanie Deans connection is surely at least as relevant as some of the entries in this section, and perhaps a bit more entertaining, a consideration that I should imagine would have appealed to Scott… DruMarland (talk) 14:42, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, but the Wikipedia version of “two wrongs don’t make a right” is here. –Oxx Mxx (talk) 15:04, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Hey ho, they’ve got a point, I guess… it was an interesting experience- I’d not been behind the scenes at Wikipedia before, and it was a brief glimpse into a world of people secretly working away at tidying and sorting and patching up, to make the world a better place. Sort of monkish scribes, or Womble-ish, or perhaps like those mice on Bagpuss.
Later I called in to the Amnesty International bookshop, which I just happened to be passing, and found copies of Poetry Dimension Annual nos. 2 and 4. I’ve had a copy of no. 2 since way back when, and like it if only for Meic Stephens’ Hooters, which reminds me of my childhood in Wales, which contained rather more slag heaps than Dylan Thomas’. Thumbing through n0. 4, I found a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar, and some RS Thomas. So I had to get it. There was The Bright Field, that I did this picture for
…and there was this one, which I first really read when I found an excerpt of it (you can probably work out which bit) pinned to the wall of St Mary’s church, Newchurch, Powys, when we took refuge from the rain there on our big Welsh walk.
The Moon in Lleyn
The last quarter of the moon
of Jesus gives way
to the dark; the serpent
digests the egg. Here
on my knees in this stone
church, that is full only
of the silent congregation
of shadows and the sea’s
sound, it is easy to believe
Yeats was right. Just as though
choirs had not sung, shells
have swallowed them; the tide laps
at the Bible; the bell fetches
no people to the brittle miracle
of bread. The sand is waiting
for the running back of the grains
in the wall into its blond
glass. Religion is over, and
what will emerge from the body
of the new moon, no one
But a voice sounds
in my ear. Why so fast,
mortal? These very seas
are baptized. The parish
has a saint’s name time cannot
unfrock. In cities that
have outgrown their promise people
are becoming pilgrims
again, if not to this place,
then to the recreation of it
in their own spirits. You must remain
kneeling. Even as this moon
making its way through the earth’s
cumbersome shadow, prayer, too,
has its phases.
Reading this poem was refreshing. I remembered the arrival at St Davids, having spent almost a fortnight walking there, through wild country. It would have been hard not to have invested the arrival at the cathedral with some spiritual significance, and I wasn’t really trying not to anyway.
Time for a de-clutter, a renewed sense of purpose.
Here’s hoping, anyway.
Meanwhile, happy birthday, Richard!