David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

11 November 2013

the eleventh of the eleventh of the eleventh

on the track 
] he observed (
this dry branch 

- poeter, 'Remembranch Day'

Today is Remembrance Day

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

- Laurence Binyon, the 'Ode of Remembrance', from 
  his 1914 poem 'For the Fallen.

Listen, I will tell the best of visions,
what came to me in the middle of the night,
when voice-bearers dwelled in rest.
It seemed to me that I saw a more wonderful tree
lifted in the air, wound round with light,
the brightest of beams. That beacon was entirely
cased in gold; beautiful gems stood
at the corners of the earth, likewise there were five
upon the cross-beam. All those fair through creation 
gazed on the angel of the Lord there. 
There was certainly no gallows of the wicked; 
but the holy spirits beheld it there,
men over the earth and all this glorious creation.

Wondrous was the victory-tree, and I stained with sins,
wounded with guilts. I saw the tree of glory,

honoured with garments, shining with joys,  
covered with gold; gems had  
covered magnificently the tree of the forest.
Nevertheless, I was able to perceive through that gold
the ancient hostility of wretches, so that it first began

to bleed on the right side. I was all drenched with sorrows.
I was frightened by the beautiful vision; 

I saw that urgent beacon change its covering and colours: sometimes it was soaked with wetness,  
stained with the coursing of blood; sometimes adorned with treasure.

Yet as I lay there a long while
I beheld sorrowful the tree of the Saviour,
until I heard it utter a sound;
it began to speak words, the best of wood:

"That was very long ago, I remember it still,

that I was cut down from the edge of the wood,
ripped up by my roots. They seized me there, strong enemies,
made me a spectacle for themselves there, commanded me to 
raise up their criminals.
Men carried me there on their shoulders, until they set me
on a hill,
enemies enough fastened me there. I saw then the Saviour of
hasten with great zeal, as if he wanted to climb up on me.

- These are the opening lines of Elaine Treharne's translation of The Dream of the Rood. To read the full translation click here.

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something ...