Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Reborn Year

Poul Anderson, The Broken Sword (London, 1977), Chapter XXIII.

As Skafloc rides like Loki to Vigrid, Poul Anderson describes the country through which he rides. We look out for:

vivid descriptions;
appeals to at least three senses;
shafts of sunlight;
several colors;
birds and their songs;
seasonal changes;
the pathetic fallacy.

We might not find all of these ingredients but we know by now that Anderson will deploy most of them.

"He went over hills, the reborn year around him. It had rained in the morning and the ground was muddy, pools and rivulets glittering in the sunbeams. The grass grew strongly, a cool light green to the edge of sight; and the trees were budding forth, a frail tint of new life across their boughs, the vanguard of summer.
"It remained chilly; a strong wind gusted across the hills and whipped Skafloc's cloak about him. But this was a wind of spring, frolicking and shouting, lashing the sluggishness out of winter blood. The sky stood high and altogether blue, the sun struck through white and grey clouds, lances of light smote the wet grass in gleams and sparkles. Thunder rolled through the darkened southeast, but against that smoky cloud-mass shone a rainbow.
"The honking of geese came from overhead, the wander-birds were homeward bound. A thrush tried out his song in a dancing grove, and two squirrels played in a tree like little red fires.
"Soon would come warm days and light nights, green woods and nodding flowers. Something stirred within Skafloc as he rode, the unfolding of a buried and almost forgotten gentleness." (pp. 167-168)

Spring reminds Skafloc of gentleness but does not appear to express it independently so this is not quite the pathetic fallacy. However, Skafloc rides to turn the war from defeat to victory so maybe the spring expresses that?

"The sky stood high..." recalls:

"High is heaven and holy." (Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 662)

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