Wednesday, 27 April 2016

What Do You Know Of Ys?

Gratillonius asks Marcus what he knows of Ys. That is a portentious question and the Andersons will not tell us Marcus' answer without a dramatic build-up. Between question and answer, there is a six sentence paragraph and one further sentence. Let us number these sentences (i)-(vii).

(i) "Wind roared and whistled." (Roma Mater, p. 58)

Wind is a powerful symbol of gods and magic. Later, when a ship's captain realizes that Gratillonius is "pagan" and ejects him from his cabin:

"The centurion did not argue, but rose and went forth onto the deck, into the wind." (p. 66)

(ii) "Clouds were appearing over the horizon."

Clouds appear when the mysterious "Veiled" Ys is mentioned.

(iii) "Their shadows raced across winter-grey hills and the few springtime-wet croplands."

Shadows, winter, greyness and only a hint of spring.

(iv) "A solitary willow nearby lashed its withes around."

Expressive enough.

(v) "At their removes, the manor house and the soldiers' camp looked very small."

Civilization suddenly seems small.

(vi) "The hawk wheeled scornful overhead."

In fact, nature scorns it. Ysan magic controls nature and the Witches send their souls forth as birds.

(vii) "Lines deepened in Marcus' brow and beside his mouth."

At last, Marcus responds but at first non-verbally. Then:

"'I was never there myself,' he said."

We are still not told anything! At last we learn that:

he has spoken with three or four captains, each of whom had called there only once;
the Ysans travel and trade but do not receive traders at their city;
the city is wonderful, ''...of the hundred towers...'" (p. 58);
but there is always "' otherness.'" (ibid.)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I regret how the ship captain treated Gratillonius. Disagreement should not mean also being disagreeable! Both the apparently fictional St. Corentinus and the genuine St. Patrick did not behave like that!