Saturday, July 07, 2012

Wooden Exactions

Today's quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE by John Cowper Powys: "Every girl lives so constantly in the imaginative atmosphere of being made love to that even the most ignorant of them is rarely shocked or surprised. It is the material consequences that they dread, not moral remorse or any idea that they are allowing what is wrong. John's way of love-making might, however, have easily palled on a more passionate nature than Mary's; for he was not only profoundly corrupt but extremely egoistic, touching her and holding her in the manner that most excited his own childishly fantastic imagination and never asking himself whether this was what suited her, nor for one second forgetting himself in any rush of tempestuous tenderness. But Mary, as though she really *were* a hamadryad, who had known the shamelessness of hundreds of whimsical satyrs, treated the whole thing with grave, sweet, indulgent passivity. Something in her kindred nature, some willow-rooted, fen-country perversity, seemed to need just this protracted cerebral courtship to stir the essential coldness of her blood and nerves. One quaint feeling often came to her, in the oddest moments of his 'sweet usage,' namely that he was one of her old, faded, wooden *dolls*; yes, the most dilapidated and injured of all four which used to belong to her, come to life again, but this time full of queer, hardly human exactions that she would willingly prostitute herself for hours to satisfy, so long as she could hear those wooden joints creak and groan in their joy."


Weirdmonger said...

"All this the ash tree noted; but its vegetative comment thereon would only have sounded in human ears like the gibberish: 'wuther-quotle-glug.'"

Weirdmonger said...

A passage quoted by someone on my Facebook page yesterday:
"It was with a shock of real amazement, as something that seemed more blood-red than sunlight hit the left-hand column of the great broken arch, that the girl lifted her head now. She let her twisted dressing-gown fall loose about her shoulders and propped herself still higher in the bed, with the palms of her hands pressed against the mattress, for she became aware that the sight of this unnatural light – in reality it was a wine-coloured red, touched with a quite indescribable nuance of purple – was giving her a spasm of irrational happiness. She leaned forward, allowing her dislodged dressing-gown to slide down upon the pillows behind her and quite disregarding the fact that a cool sunrise wind was blowing aginst her flimsily clad figure. Her soul had come back with a violent spasm, like a rush of blood to her head, and her whole nature seemed to pour itself out towards the reddish light on that tall column. Her pulse of happiness was intense. What she experienced was like a quivering love-ecstacy that had no human object. She could actually feel the small round breasts under her night-gown shiver and distend. Her head instinctively fell back a little, while her chin was lifted up. Her lips parted, and a smile that was a smile of indescribable peace flickered over her face. She would have served at that moment as a model for some primitive Flemish artist painting a passionately concentrated vision of the rape of Danae.

Whatever it was that stirred her so, the effect of it soon passed; but Mary told no one, not even John, of the experience she had had on the dawn of the Baptist’s day. The invisible Watchers however of human life in Glastonbury noted well this event. ‘She has been allowed to see It,’ they said to one another. ‘Will she be the only one among all these people?’”

Weirdmonger said...

"Penny Pitches was not deformed. She was no humpback. What Nature had done was to make her back so broad and her legs so short that she presented the appearance of a Playing-Card Queen of Spades; a Queen of Spades endowed with the privilege of three dimensions and the power of locomotion, but denied that natural separation of head from shoulders and of bust from hips which is the usual inheritance of female mortality. She was in fact the animated Euclidean Square moving about over the earth. Nature had, however, in order to compensate Penny for these peculiarities, given her a volubility of speech that was womanly and more than womanly."
I am collecting all these passages here: