Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can You Smell This?

Below is a representative passage from MARTIN PIPPIN IN THE APPLE-ORCHARD by Eleanor Farjeon (1921).

This is a magical book that I read many years ago and, having now rediscovered it, establishing that it is still magical!

Can you smell this passage below? I can.


He kicked at the dying log on the hearth, and sent a fountain of sparks up the chimney. The child threw a dry leaf and saw it shrivel, and Young Gerard stirred the white ash and blew up the embers, and held a fan of bracken to them, till the fire ran up its veins like life in the veins of a man, and the frond that had already lived and died became a gleaming spirit, and then it too fell in ashes among the ash. Then Young Gerard took a handful of twigs and branches, and began to build upon the ash a castle of many sorts of wood, and the child helped him, laying hazel on his beech and fir upon his oak; and often before their turret was quite reared a spark would catch at the dry fringes on the fir, or the brown oak-leaves, and one twig or another would vanish from the castle.

‘How quickly wood burns,' said the child.

'That's the lovely part of it,' said Young Gerard, 'the fire is always changing and doing different things with it.'

And they watched the fire together, and smelled its smoke, that had as many smells as there were sorts of wood. Sometimes it was like roast coffee, and sometimes like roast chestnuts, and sometimes like incense. And they saw the lichen on old stumps crinkle into golden ferns, or fire run up a dead tail of creeper in a red S, and vanish in mid-air like an Indian boy climbing a rope, or crawl right through the middle of a birch-twig, making hieroglyphics that glowed and faded between the gray scales of the bark. And then suddenly it caught the whole scaffolding of their castle, and blazed up through the fir and oak and spiny thorns and dead leaves, and the bits of old bark all over blue-gray-green rot, and the young sprigs almost budding, and hissing with sap. And for one moment they saw all the skeleton and soul of the castle without its body, before it fell in.

comments (1)

1. Weirdmonger left...
Tuesday, 22 April 2008 10:25 pm :: http://weirdmonger.blog-city.com/the_mir
Another passage from 'Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard' encountered today in my re-reading of this truly magical book:

"'Hush, hush, my dear. Dreams aren't empty. Dreams are as near the truth as we can come. What greater truth can you ever have than this? For as men and women dream, they drop one by one the veils between them and the mystery. But when they meet they are shrouded in the veils again, and though they long to strip them off, they cannot. And each sees of each but dimly the truth which in their dreams was as clear as light. Oh, child, it's not our dreams that are our illusions.'

'No,' she whispered. 'But still it is not enough. Not quite enough for the beloved that they shall dream apart and find their truths apart. In life too they must touch, and find the mystery together. Though it be only for one eternal instant. Touch me not only in my dreams, but in life. Turn life itself into the dream at last.'"

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