Sunday, April 14, 2013

Notes on "In Parenthesis" pt. 3

Notes on David Jones' In Parenthesis, pt. 7
Jones, David. In Parenthesis: seinnyessit e gledyf ym pen mameu. New York: Chilmark Press, Print.

Part Seven, title page:

  • "Gododdin I demand thy support...has been found" - Y Gododdin
    • LII.
      "Gododdin! In respect of the I will demand
      The dales beyond the ridge of Drum Essyd;
      The slave, greedy of wealth, cannot control himself;
      By the counsel of thy son, let thy valour shine fourth.
      The place appointed for the conference
      Was not mean, in front of Llanveithin;
      From twilight to twilight he revelled;
      Splendid and full was the purple of the pilgrim;
      He killed the defenceless, the delight of the bulwark of toil,
      His inescapable companion, whose voice was like that of Aneurin."

      It is incumbent to sing of the complete acquisition
      Of the warriors, who at Cattraeth made a tumultuous rout,
      With confusion and blood, and treading and trampling;
      Men of toil were trampled because of the contribution of mead in the horn; 
      But the carnage of the combatants 
      Cannot be described even by the cup of bounty,
      After the excitement of the battle is over,
      Notwithstanding so much splendid eloquence.

      It is incumbent to sing of so much renown,
      The tumult of fire, of thunder, and tempest,
      The glorious gallantry of the knight of conflict. 
      The ruddy reapers of war are thy desire, 
      Thou man of toil, but the worthless thou beheadest; 
      The whole length of the land shall hear of thee in battle;
      With thy shield upon thy shoulder, thou dost incessantly cleave
      With thy blade, until blood flows like bright wine out of glass vessels; 
      As the contribution for mead thou claimest gold;
      Wine nourished was Gwaednerth, the son of Llywri.

      It is incumbent to sing of the gay and illustrious tribes,
      That, after the fatal fight, filled the river Aeron;
      Their grasp satisfied the hunger of the eagles of Clwyd,
      And prepared food for the birds of prey.
      Of those who went to Cattraeth, wearers of the golden chain,
      Upon the message of Mynyddawg, sovereign of the people,
      There came not honourably in behalf of the Brython,
      To Gododin, a hero from afar who was better than Cynon.

      It is incumbent to sing of so many men of skill,
      Who in their halls once led a merry life:
      Ambitious and bold, all round the world would Eidol seek for melody;
      But notwithstanding gold, and fine steeds, and intoxicating mead,
      Only one man of these, who loved the world, returned,
      Cynddilig of Aeron, one of the Novantian heroes.

      It is incumbent to sing of the gay and illustrious tribes,
      That went upon the message of Mynyddawg, sovereign of the people,
      And the daughter of Eudav the Tall, of a faultless gait,
      Apparelled in her purple robes, thoroughly and truly splendid.
      (text from Project Gutenberg)

    • If I am not very much mistaken, the verse as it appears on the title page, is an amalgamation of the sections bolded here. Differences in translation have made it difficult to be sure though. However, it would seem that the poet is demanding the support of Gododdin, the place/people who live there, to aid him in his duty to tell the tale of death, because "a meeting place has been found" (In Parenthesis 151). The above mentioned verses would seem to support such a reading, as they all focus on those who are either about to die, or have died - a fitting opening for the last part, in which all the characters end up dead. 
VII. 153:
  • "Invenimus eum...silvae"... "Matribus suis dixerunt ... suarum"
    • "We will come upon him in the forest camp"
    • "They said to the mother herself: where is the wheat and the wine? When they have fallen as if wounded... when they breathe out their lives on their mothers' laps."
      • The connection to the text is that, of course, that the men have all been killed in the forest.
VII. 155:
  • Olwen-trefoils
    • the bride of Culhwch, called so because, as Jones says, trefoils sprang up in her footsteps.
    • Original image found here.

  • Yspaddaden Pankwr
    • A giant. The father of Olwen, Culhwch's bride.
  • Twrch Trwyth
    • The boar which Culhwch must find, and from whom he must retrieve a comb and razor without being poisoned by his bristles (part of the supposedly impossible quest Yspaddaden sets for Culhwch).
  • All of these references are to the story of Culhwch and Olwen found in The Mabinogion, here relevant because they are Welsh, as is Aneirin Lewis, but also because the chemists can produce weapons more deadly than the poisoned bristles of Twrch Trwyth or his tusks. 
  • "fallen at Catraeth...Salisbury" 
    • Jones is referring to both the battle at Catraeth from Y Gododdin and the battle of Camlann from Le Mort d'Arthur, both disastrous battles. Death is the theme of the day.
VII. 163:
  • "Tristram...Oliver"
    • Heroes/warriors who all die during the course of their respective tales. 
  • "Captain Cadwaladr"
    • Presumably named for the 7th century king of Gwynedd who figured in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and did not end particularly happily.
  • "And then he might see sometime the battle...castle"
    • From Le Mort d'Arthur, yet another bloody battle where just about everyone ends up dead.
VII. 185:
  • Some she gives White berries...Guenedota"
    • white berries
    • brown berries
    • Golden Saxifrage - affection, if anything like Mossy Saxifrage
    • Sweet-briar/Eglantine - "Poetry/I wound to heal"
    • Balder - must have had mistletoe (because of the Norse myth in which the god Balder is killed by a spear tipped with mistletoe) - "I surmount difficulties"
    • Myrtle - love/marriage/true love
    • daisies - innocence
    • Hansel with Gronwy - a German and a Welshman get the same flowers
    • dog-violets - (if they're the same as regular violets) loyalty/devotion/faithfulness
    • St. John's Wort - Animosity
    • Rowan/Mountain Ash - Prudence
      • In Celtic mythology, the Rowan tree is associated with magic and with protection
VII. 187:
  • For note on Oeth and Annoeth's hosts see here.
    • At the beginning, presumably Private John Ball's company is the host that fights so well in coverts and in the open, now it seems that that honour is left to the newer, younger men. 

So ends In Parenthesis. As I suspected from the many, many references to Y Gododdin, and all the depressing bits of Malory as well as from the context of WWI, everyone ends up dead. 

There was something in the overall tone that reminded me of William Morris, so I have included a passage from the first chapter of Morris' The House of the Wolfings.

"On either side, to right and left the tree-girdle reached out toward the blue distance, thick close and unsundered, save where it and the plain which it begirdled was cleft amidmost by a river about as wide as the Thames at Sheene when the flood-tide is at its highest, but so swift and full of eddies, that it gave token of mountains not so far distant, though they were hidden.  On each side moreover of the stream of this river was a wide space of stones, great and little, and in most places above this stony waste were banks of a few feet high, showing where the yearly winter flood was most commonly stayed."
"So they cut down the trees, and burned their stumps that the grass might grow sweet for their kine and sheep and horses; and they diked the river where need was all through the plain, and far up into the wild-wood to bridle the winter floods: and they made them boats to ferry them over, and to float down stream and track up-stream: they fished the river’s eddies also with net and with line; and drew drift from out of it of far-travelled wood and other matters; and the gravel of its shallows they washed for gold; and it became their friend, and they loved it, and gave it a name, and called it the Dusky, and the Glassy, and the Mirkwood-water; for the names of it changed with the generations of man" (text from Project Gutenberg). 


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