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.

29 June 2018

The See

If The Field were The Sea ...

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, 
'Twas sad as sad could be; 
And we did speak only to break 
The silence of the sea! 

All in a hot and copper sky, 
The bloody Sun, at noon, 
Right up above the mast did stand, 
No bigger than the Moon. 

Day after day, day after day, 
We stuck, nor breath nor motion; 
As idle as a painted ship 
Upon a painted ocean. 

Water, water, every where, 
And all the boards did shrink; 
Water, water, every where, 
Nor any drop to drink. 

The very deep did rot: O Christ! 
That ever this should be! 
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs 
Upon the slimy sea. 

About, about, in reel and rout 
The death-fires danced at night; 
The water, like a witch's oils, 
Burnt green, and blue and white. 

And some in dreams assurèd were 
Of the Spirit that plagued us so; 
Nine fathom deep he had followed us 
From the land of mist and snow. 

And every tongue, through utter drought, 
Was withered at the root; 
We could not speak, no more than if 
We had been choked with soot. 

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks 
Had I from old and young! 
Instead of the cross, the Albatross 
About my neck was hung. 

- from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1834) 
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

If The Field were The See ...

above : 'The Field Revisited' at National Gallery of Victoria (2018)

below : An original c.1873 watercolour painting, Attrib. Keeley Halswelle RI ARSA, Venetian Boats.
A colourful study in watercolour showing Venetian bragozzo fishing boats, attributed to Keeley Halswelle RI ARSA (1832-1891). Halswelle was a painter of genre scenes and landscapes, and a watercolourist and illustrator. He painted quite extensively in Italy in the 1870s, and in particular Venice, having moved to Italy in 1869. He also had a fondness for boats, and in later life owned a houseboat on the Thames.
This charming small sketch captures the colour and activity of the Venice lagoon. It shows the boats’ decorated square lug sails, traditionally emblazoned with cabalistic signs or heraldic symbols. Sponges and natural dyes were used to paint the sails in bright colours, which would help preserve the material and make the boats recognisable at a distance.
- Text copyright © 2018 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

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