nettles of pricks, vipers of tongues

Lars Hertervig, Skogtjern. 1865

Lars Hertervig, Skogtjern. 1865

We’re not people anymore with eyes to see. We’re blind gaping holes at the end of a production line stuffing with trash.” – David Rudkin, Penda’s Fen.

Like all of us in this world, I am two men. A self and a non self. Only by being non-selves can we now survive in our own mortal shrouds we weave around us. And what shall this survival profit us? In this day of the mask, this day of corporation-men. What shall the self do then, poor thing? But curl away as from a poisoning wind and dream. Dream of some Second Coming man himself must bring up about, through some vast disobedience and new resurrection.” – David Rudkin, Penda’s Fen.

Still from Alan Clarke’s film of ‘Penda’s Fen.’

“In the stump of the old tree, where the heart has rotted out, there is a hole the length of a man’s arm, and a dank pool at the bottom of it where the rain gathers, and the old leaves turn into lacy skeletons. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees, where the hearts have rotted out, there are holes the length of a man’s arm, and dank pools at the bottom where the rain gathers and old leaves turn to lace, and the beak of a dead bird gapes like a trap. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees with rotten hearts, where the rain gathers and the laced leaves and the dead bird like a trap, there are holes the length of a man’s arm, and in every crevice of the rotten wood grow weasel’s eyes like molluscs, their lids open and shut with the tide. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees where the rain gathers and the trapped leaves and the beak and the laced weasel’s eyes, there are holes the length of a man’s arm, and at the bottom a sodden bible written in the language of rooks. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees where the hearts have rotted out there are holes the length of a man’s arm where the weasels are trapped and the letters of the rook language are laced on the sodden leaves, and at the bottom there is a man’s arm. But do not put your hand down to see, because

in the stumps of old trees where the hearts have rotted out there are deep holes and dank pools where the rain gathers, and if you ever put your hand down to see, you can wipe it in the sharp grass till it bleeds, but you’ll never want to eat with it again.” – Hugh Sykes Davies, “In the Stump of the Old Tree.” 1936.

William Degouve de Nuncques, The Leprous Forest.

William Degouve de Nuncques, The Leprous Forest.

“‘Ho! Ho! You worm of my folly,’ laughed the hollow skull. ‘I am alive still, though I am dead; and you are dead, though you’re alive. For life is beyond your mirrors and your waters. It’s at the bottom of your pond; it’s in the body of your sun; it’s in the dust of your star spaces; it’s in the eyes of weasels and the noses of rats and the pricks of nettles and the tongues of vipers and the spawn of frogs and the slime of snails. Life is in me still, you worm of my folly, and girls’ flesh is sweet for ever; and honey is sticky and tears are salt, and yellow-hammers’ eggs have mischievous crooked scrawls!’ – John Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent.

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