Thursday, May 1, 2014

waves broke calmly and indifferently

No more Powys, Powys ended, none after this, even though there are still books by him that I haven't brought up, no mention of Ducdame, because I can't find it, no Homer and the Aether for the same reason (the enervating knowledge that the thing would not be on the shelf if I looked there for it; the stubborn resistance to the idea of buying it on Ebay – no --), no mention of Wood and Stone, or, wait, I'm wrong, I must have mentioned that it was dedicated to Hardy, in one of the posts in which I was saying that Powys indebted himself to Hardy. “All of Powys' fiction began with the description of a hill in Wood and Stone,” is probably what I said, and everything afterwards takes place in the shadow this embarkation, hills recurring in his work, hills in Porius, hills in Owen Glendower, countryside often looming, hills and then the sea, the hint of infinity in the vertical direction and the hint of infinity in the horizontal, Adrian, about to die in Rodmoor, shouting across the sea that separates him from his son.

The long dark line of waves broke calmly and indifferently at his feet, and away — away into the eternal night — stretched the vast expanse of the sea, dim, vague, full of inexpressible, infinite reassurance.

Troubled things happening on beaches, Weymouth Sands opening with trouble on a beach; Powys himself in his Autobiography sneaking often away to a beach to visit the women's legs. I might have posted his description of the hill.

Were it not for the neighbourhood of the more massive promontory this conical protuberance would itself have stood out as an emphatic landmark; but Leo's Hill detracts from its emphasis, as it detracts from the emphasis of all other deviations from the sea-level, between Yeoborough and the foot of the Quantocks.

Probably I compared it to the opening of Titus Groan, seeing that Peake has come up several times in this long series of posts. “John Cowper Powys is difficult to categorize,” reads the blurb for a book named Thomas Hardy and John Cowper Powys: Wessex, by Jeremy Mark Robinson. “We place him (usually) in amongst D.H. Lawrence, Mervyn Peake, Robert Graves, William Blake and Thomas Hardy.” How much do I have in common with “we”? Wessex opens with a quote from Hardy as remembered by the critic William Archer (1856 - 1924): “What are my books but one long plea against “man's inhumanity to man” – to woman – and to the lower animals?” Powys empathises even with the worms, empathising with things that can't use his empathy, like fictional characters and mythological demons, which might be the smallest and lowest kind of animal for if they wriggle away from the grasp of a human then they die, and even a worm can wriggle away from a human and live.

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