This is the second song to appear here from the exquisite and rarest of female voices – Marian Anderson. So here I am listening to this song through shoddy laptop speakers. Can one imagine what it must have been like hearing her sing in the same room? Marian, it’s said has been recommended down through the generations from Grandmother to granddaughter: ‘Pay attention, this singer is marvellous‘. Grandmothers as far as I know have the best advice. For a more extensive biography of Marian and her legacy in 20th century Arts, you can view my post – Ave Maria (1944).
Deep River is one of African-America’s most cherished spiritual songs, popularised by Henry Burleigh in his 1916 collection Jubilee Songs of the USA. According to wikpedia:Deep River has been sung in several films. The 1929 film Show Boat featured it mouthed by Laura La Plante to the singing of Eva Olivetti. Paul Robeson famously sang it accompanied by male chorus in the 1940 movie The Proud Valley. And in the 1983 blockbuster hit National Lampoon’s Vacation it was sung by Chevy Chase. Allow me to indulge if you will with this video clip that brings back good memories:
Deep river, my home is over Jordan. Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.
Oh, don’t you want to go to that Gospel-feast? That Promised Land, where all is peace?
The composer Toscanini said her voice had a natural bent toward poetry, and that she really communicated one-on-one with her audience. I couldn’t agree more.
Today’s Wednesday Literature piece presents a second excerpt from D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow. Our first encounter with this book told about how Polish refugee, Lydia is tortured by her inability to register with her new English surrounds and her coming into the presence of a local farmer Tom Brangwem. The book starts with a description of the Brangwen dynasty, and how Tom Brangwen, one of several brothers, fell in love with Lydia. Today’s excerpt moves quite a way ahead to the second major story of three in the novel dealing with Lydia’s daughter, Anna and her battle-riven relationship with her husband, Will Brangwen, the son of one of Tom’s brothers.
The novel focuses on the individual’s struggle to growth and fulfilment within the confining strictures of English social life. Lawrence’s 1920 novel Women in Love is a sequel to The Rainbow. Roger Scruton argued in Sexual Desires (1986) that the prevailing theme of Lawrence’s novels is that “In desiring to unite with [the other sex, we are desiring to mingle with something that is deeply – perhaps essentially – not ourselves, and which brings us to experience a character and inwardness that challenge us with their strangeness.” In 1999, the Modern Library ranked The Rainbow forty-eighth on a list of the 100 best novels in English of the 20th century.
The setting for today’s extract is Anna wedding ceremony with Will Brangwen. What I found most evocative from this part is Stepfather of the bride Tom Brangwen’s perspectives about ageing and what it means to him by getting older. Mind you he’s not that old, just 45, but as he puts it, ‘ Forty-five! In five more years fifty. Then sixty—then seventy—then it was finished. My God—and one still was so unestablished!’. I can definitely can attest to holding that same sentiment. This short excerpt finishes on a much brighter note than what the aforementioned quote might have you believe. Oh and if you like wedding stories told succinctly, you are in for a real treat! So without further or do, please enjoy – Wedding at the Marsh:
The church was decorated for Christmas, dark with evergreens, cold and snowy with white flowers. He (Tom Brangwen) went vaguely down to the altar. How long was it since he had gone to be married himself? He was not sure whether he was going to be married now, or what he had come for. He had a troubled notion that he had to do something or other. He saw his wife’s bonnet, and wondered why she wasn’t there with him.
They stood before the altar. He was staring up at the east window, that glowed intensely, a sort of blue purple: it was deep blue glowing, and some crimson, and little yellow flowers held fast in veins of shadow, in a heavy web of darkness. How it burned alive in radiance among its black web.
“Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?” He felt somebody touch him. He started. The words still re-echoed in his memory, but were drawing off.
“Me,” he said hastily.
Anna bent her head and smiled in her veil. How absurd he was.
Brangwen was staring away at the burning blue window at the back of the altar, and wondering vaguely, with pain, if he ever should get old, if he ever should feel arrived and established. He was here at Anna’s wedding. Well, what right had he to feel responsible, like a father? He was still as unsure and unfixed as when he had married himself. His wife and he! With a pang of anguish he realized what uncertainties they both were. He was a man of forty-five. Forty-five! In five more years fifty. Then sixty—then seventy—then it was finished. My God—and one still was so unestablished!
How did one grow old—how could one become confident? He wished he felt older. Why, what difference was there, as far as he felt matured or completed, between him now and him at his own wedding? He might be getting married over again—he and his wife. He felt himself tiny, a little, upright figure on a plain circled round with the immense, roaring sky: he and his wife, two little, upright figures walking across this plain, whilst the heavens shimmered and roared about them. When did one come to an end? In which direction was it finished? There was no end, no finish, only this roaring vast space. Did one never get old, never die? That was the clue. He exulted strangely, with torture. He would go on with his wife, he and she like two children camping in the plains. What was sure but the endless sky? But that was so sure, so boundless.
Still the royal blue colour burned and blazed and sported itself in the web of darkness before him, unwearyingly rich and splendid. How rich and splendid his own life was, red and burning and blazing and sporting itself in the dark meshes of his body: and his wife, how she glowed and burned dark within her meshes! Always it was so unfinished and unformed!
There was a loud noise of the organ. The whole party was trooping to the vestry. There was a blotted, scrawled book—and that young girl putting back her veil in her vanity, and laying her hand with the wedding-ring self-consciously conspicuous, and signing her name proudly because of the vain spectacle she made:
“Anna Theresa Lensky.”
“Anna Theresa Lensky”—what a vain, independent minx she was! The bridegroom, slender in his black swallow-tail and grey trousers, solemn as a young solemn cat, was writing seriously:
That looked more like it.
“Come and sign, father,” cried the imperious young hussy.
“Thomas Brangwen—clumsy-fist,” he said to himself as he signed.
Then his brother, a big, sallow fellow with black side-whiskers wrote:
“How many more Brangwens?” said Tom Brangwen, ashamed of the too-frequent recurrence of his family name.
When they were out again in the sunshine, and he saw the frost hoary and blue among the long grass under the tomb-stones, the holly-berries overhead twinkling scarlet as the bells rang, the yew trees hanging their black, motionless, ragged boughs, everything seemed like a vision.
The marriage party went across the graveyard to the wall, mounted it by the little steps, and descended. Oh, a vain white peacock of a bride perching herself on the top of the wall and giving her hand to the bridegroom on the other side, to be helped down! The vanity of her white, slim, daintily-stepping feet, and her arched neck. And the regal impudence with which she seemed to dismiss them all, the others, parents and wedding guests, as she went with her young husband.
Today we backtrack a little bit in the music library project since I had forgotten to download the following song to my collection. Ben Lee’s Cigarettes Will Kill You is one of my favourite Australian tracks from the 1990s. I never grow tired of hearing this great Alternative music tune. I especially like the rhythm and the simple piano loop of four chords. Cigarettes Will Kill You is a single by Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee, from his 1998 album Breathing Tornados. It was voted number 2 on the 1998 Triple J Hottest 100.
And I want a TV embrace And I, I’m getting off your boiling plate They swore you’d steal my steam To feed your dream And then be gone I wish I could say that everyone was wrong
At a concert in New York in 2006 Lee described how he came up with the title – Cigarettes Will Kill You. He was so impressed with title of the Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work that he decided to name his own song with a similarly catchy title. The cigarette smoking is used as a metaphor for continuing to go back to a bad relationship even though everyone knows it will end terribly and cause pain.
According to wikipedia: “I want a TV embrace” was a mondegreen based on a misheard Fiona Apple lyric. In Apple’s song, Criminal, Lee had thought Apple had sung “This mind this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your TV embrace” – the real lyric being “This mind this body and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways”. It was years later Lee realised his mistake but still used the lyric anyway.
Apart from being a singer-songwriter Ben Lee is also an actor. He appeared as the protagonist in the Australian film The Rage in Placid Lake (2003). He has released eleven solo studio albums and won many ARIA and APRA awards for music in the years which followed the release of Breathing Tornados. He is one of those artists I would have liked to followed more closely if I found the time. Lee was born in Sydney and was raised in a Jewish household, but did not consider himself religious as a child. Lee dated Claire Danes for several years but their relationship ended in 2003, and he later married actress Ione Skye on 28 December 2008, in a Hindu wedding ceremony in India.
Today’s featured song is Bruce Springsteen’s title track for the movie Dead Man Walkin’. Executive producers, brothers Tim and David Robbins, personally solicited a number of their favorite musicians for contributions to the project whom included other than Bruce; Johnny Cash, Eddie Vedder, Tom Waits and Patti Smith. Bruce spoke as the convict himself in his rendition of the movie’s storyline. Dead Man Walkin’ was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. This was Bruce’s second Oscar nomination; his first: Streets of Philadelphia in 1993 won for the movie Philadelphia.
This song is written about an inmate on death row, awaiting execution. The movie featured Sean Penn as the convicted convict and Susan Sarandon as the Catholic nun who tries to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. It was a critical and commercial success.
There’s a pale horse coming And I’m going to ride it I’ll rise in the morning My fate decided I’m a dead man walking I’m a dead man walking In st james’ parish I was born and christened I’ve got my story mister Ain’t no need for you to listen It’s just a dead man talking
Bruce sings Dead Man Walkin’ with immense conviction. He gets to the underbelly of this man’s attempt to come to terms with the responsibility of his actions. He refuses to beg for forgiveness, maintaining his “sins are all I have”. It reminds me in some sense of The Strangerby Albert Camus. The song was recorded during the The Ghost of Tom Joad sessions, but not used for the album. 17 performances were given during the Ghost of Tom Joad tour. Despite its brevity, Dead Man Walkin’ is one of my favourite acoustic songs by Bruce in his 90’s solo period.
Dead and Lovely is the fifth song presented here by Tom Waits. It comes from his 16th studio album Real Gone. It tells the story steeped in the Noir genre of a middle class girl lured into the underworld by a wicked man with sordid motives. As Tom wrote:
He never gave but he got He kept her on a leash He’s not the kind of wheel You fall asleep at
Tom is at the top of his poetic jagged voice form in Dead and Lovely. If you listen to interviews with him, he talks just like that. You would be excused for thinking his lyrics are the result of hours of hard labor, but it just falls out of his mouth fully formed. Also the music is synchronised beautifully with the great storytelling. Real Gone and Rain Dogs are often cited by many fans as their favourites.
De Musica Lijera (translated – From Delicate Music) is the first Latin rock song I have presented here. The Argentine rock band Soda Stereo released it on their 1990 album Cancion Animal (Song Animal). It is one of their most famous and iconic songs (if 48 million views are to go by in the you tube video) still played with frequency here in Colombia. Apart from western rock music like Queen or Aerosmith which is very popular here, I rarely hear Latin rock music on the radio except Soda Stereo.
The drummer of Soda Stereo ‘Charly’ stated, ‘We recorded it (de musica lijera) in a single try, in a studio in Miami. This is unusual, because usually it takes like fifteen times to record. After, we recorded two additional versions, to try out different things, but they didn’t stick. The version that is heard on the album is the first take we did.‘
She slept in the heat of the masses
And I woke up wanting to dream of her
Some time ago I thought of writing to her
That I never dodged the traps of love
Of that love
Of light music
Nothing frees us
Nothing else remains
I will not send you ashes of roses
I do not intend to avoid a secret touch
(loose English translation)
I like to hear this song, not because I think it’s some masterclass classic rock song, but it seems to have harnessed a lot of an alternative rock arrangement that I would later be accustomed to hearing in English just after its release. I love it’s riff and it’s hard not to impressed by what it sets out to do. Even so, it’s surprising how it remains so successful in Latin America and be so fondly revisited by Generation X.
In November 2017 Coldplay did a cover of ‘De Musica Lijera’ This song is recognised as one of the most memorable songs of rock in Spanish. From the ten songs that were on the record, 9 of them were released as singles. You can read more from each band members description of the album here (in Spanish).
If I had to choose just one chorus which lifts my spirits higher than any other upon listen then it would be from the Monkees – Daydream Believer:
Cheer up, sleepy Jean Oh, what can it mean that To a daydream believer And a homecoming queen
It is also projects me back to simpler times even to those epochs before Mummy and Daddy did their thang. Oh, the zeitgeist 60’s – ‘How I have missed you my whole life‘. Daydream Believer is one of the most popular and commercial big hits from that era. It was No1 in the US for 4 weeks!
As the composer of the song John Stewart described it – “I remember going to bed thinking, What a wasted day — all I’ve done is daydream. And from there I wrote the whole song. I never thought it was one of my best songs. Not at all”.
Canadian singer Anne Murray who my Mother listened and wept to ad-nauseam recorded a cover version of Daydream Believer for her platinum-certified 1979 studio album I’ll Always Love You. It’s amazing Stewart was dismayed by the unlikely success of the song. It is said he was thrilled, stemming from the fact a folkie with a guitar following in the humble Woody Guthrie tradition could pull off a major pop hit. He wrote it just in a few minutes, but he lived off it for more than a year. ‘It is happy.It’ll always be “happy.”
Stewart added: ‘Write early in the morning when you first wake up — take your guitar to bed – before the critical voice kicks in’.
It’s a wonder I hadn’t reviewed Wonder Boys by now in Friday’s Finest. I’ll introduce this whimsical movie Wonder Boys by celebrating its stellar music soundtrack which includes Bob Dylan’s Oscar winning song ‘Things Have Changed‘ which I discussed in my movie review of ‘Once‘. I remember Bob parading that Oscar stature on his piano for many months; cheekily masquerading it to his audiences. Who can blame him?
In the above article I mentioned how I had seen Dylan perform the night before he was presented the Oscar in Sydney. My old man called me just after Dylan’s live performance at the Oscars and he said ‘Dylan eyes penetrated the TV screen. He didn’t sing that song, he was that song’. My dad wasn’t exactly full of his praises up until that point, so put it down to nostalgia or what have you – Wonder Boys holds a special place in my heart.
IMDB Storyline: Grady Tripp is a professor/writer living in Pittsburgh who is struggling with writer’s block. Whilst doing this, he also manages to get the chancellor pregnant. In the meantime, he and a college student, James Leer are trying to find a rare jacket once owned by Marilyn Monroe, and a college girl, Hannah Green boarding with Grady has a bit of a crush on him.
Wonder Boys is my favourite movie from Curtis Hanson, although it was a box office bomb. That could be because it appealed more to audiences with a penchant for Arthouse-Cinema. Nearly the whole movie is set around campus life and characters in a state of intellectual quandary, so that in of itself won’t get people bursting through turnstiles. Any hows, it rocks my boat and why it features here on Fridays..
What I am most fond about Wonder Boys (besides the above stated) is it’s perverse humour and eccentric details. It is a study of young and older adults found adrift, but seeking merit and / or significance in their existences. Wonder Boys cares a lot about the characters, but ironically its modus operandi is not to make you like them rather view them fully fleshed out and under duress. They aren’t your Atypical movie characters and some might repel you, like in real life, but they are at least interesting and quirky. It was a world I couldn’t resist being pulled into.
Not many people have heard of this film. This minor gem is strange, unconventional, rich and moving. It is a classically written character study with unexpected comic twists and turns from every angle. You feel warmer for having watched this movie, and it is a shame that films like these only occur once or twice a year. Since I am partial for Bob, I have relayed his music clip of Wonder Boys below.
*Curtis Hanson was a longtime fan of Bob Dylan, and personally approached the singer about writing a song for his movie adaptation. Dylan complied with “Things Have Changed”..
*The combination to the locked closet with the Monroe jacket is 5641. Fifty-six games is the record number of consecutive games that Joe Dimaggio recorded a hit, and forty-one is the year in which he accomplished it.
*The term “Wonder Boys,” a derivative of the German “wunderkind,” refers to someone who has greatly succeeded in their profession or art at an early age. In the movie, Grady applies the term “Wonder Boy” to James specifically.
Dark Eyes is the stand-out 10th and final track from Dylan’s much maligned 1985 Empire Burlesque record. The simple acoustic style and arrangement of this timeless classic isn’t replicated again until Dylan went all acoustic guitar on the 1992 record Good As I Been To You.Dark Eyes is devoid of the “80s style” aesthetic for which the rest of the album is known. Empire Burlesque is an overly produced 80’s churn-out session. It’s a real shame since most of these songs work really well live – especially this Emotionally Yours version with Tom Petty at Farm Aid 1986 NY.
Dark Eyes is one of my favourite Dylan tracks from the 1980’s. I think he is unfairly criticised for his output in this decade. He made some obscenely good records and a plethora of classics, many unreleased until the bootleg series came out. Dark Eyes is indeed the high-point of Empire and arguably of the 80’s decade as well. But the unreleased gems Blind Willie McTell, Caribbean Wind and Series of Dreams give it very stiff opposition as well as many other commercial releases.
According to Wikipedia: According to his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan wrote the song specifically to close the album at the suggestion of engineer Arthur Baker. Dylan claims that inspiration for the song came from seeing a prostitute in a hallway at the Plaza Hotel on 59th Street in New York City: “As I stepped out of the elevator, a call girl was coming toward me in the hallway—pale yellow hair wearing a fox coat—high heeled shoes that could pierce your heart. She had blue circles around her eyes, black eyeliner, dark eyes. She looked like she’d been beaten up and was afraid that she’d get beat up again. In her hand, crimson purple wine in a glass. ‘I’m just dying for a drink’, she said as she passed me in the hall. She had a beautifulness, but not for this kind of world. Poor wretch, doomed to walk this hallway for a thousand years“
Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the midnight moon is on the riverside, They’re drinking up and walking and it is time for me to slide. I live in another world where life and death are memorized, Where the earth is strung with lovers’ pearls and all I see are dark eyes.
A cock is crowing far away and another soldier’s deep in prayer, Some mother’s child has gone astray, she can’t find him anywhere. But I can hear another drum beating for the dead that rise, Whom nature’s beast fears as they come and all I see are dark eyes.
Verse 1, 2 Dark Eyes
Dylan only played Dark Eyes 8 times in concert. All of the 1995 outings were performed as duets with Patti Smith who was Dylan’s opening act for that leg of the Never Ending Tour. According to Smith, Dylan invited her to choose a song that they could perform together and “Dark Eyes” was her choice. I saw Patti open for Dylan in Sydney 1998. She was tremendous and narrated of lot of her own Poetry as well as singing some of her big hits. I hadn’t heard of her before that night, but she left one heck of an impression on me.
The irredeemable original studio track isn’t available for copyright reasons on You Tube. Their are some OK recordings of Dylan and Patti live, but I’ve decided to relay a fan tribute recording of Dark Eyes by Virginia in celebration of Bob’s birthday (May 24, 1941) this year:
Today’s Wednesday literature piece is from one of D.H. Lawrence’s most popular, but contentious novels The Rainbow. I am astounded it was prohibited for a decade in England after its publication. I started reading it recently and I haven’t found anything lewd or scandalous of the sort so far. After reading Lawrence’s biography on wiki yesterday the censuring of The Rainbow seems to be part of a vendetta the English authorities had with Lawrence spanning much of his career commencing at the breakout of World War 1. He eventually achieved exile which he called ‘his savage pilgrimage’ on the Europe mainland and later would travel the world with the idea of setting up a utopian community with several of his friends. He once wrote:
“I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go, and some real decency… a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilisation..‘ (From a letter to Willie Hopkin, his old socialist friend from Eastwood – 1915)
More will be written here about Lawrence’s life in forthcoming literature pieces from his 1915 novel The Rainbow. Today’s literature excerpt comes from Chapter 2 ‘They Live at the Marsh‘. The Rainbow tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family, a dynasty of farmers and craftsmen who live in the east Midlands of England. Lawrence was intrigued in the nature of relationships between men and women as they explored possibilities of life in the transition between agrarian living and industrialisation.
His depiction of sexuality through the sense of touch seemed to be associated with his observations that men and women had been ‘physically dislocated’ from each other by the demands of civilisation. He wrote in 1929: ‘It only remains for some men and women, individuals, to try to get back their bodies and preserve the flow of warmth, affection and physical unison‘. The Rainbow in particular seems to be about his desire to to restore an emphasis on the body, and re-balance it with what he perceived to be Western civilisation’s over-emphasis on the mind.
The following excerpt is about Polish refugee and widow called Lydia who suffers deep depression, barely registering anything around her in the new English surrounds. Lawrence’s characterisation of this mysterious figure Lydia is engrossing. It unlocks how it can feel to be a stranger in a strange land and how darkness can pervade the senses to such a degree that one can be possessed with a fear of light. Over the course of this extract from Chapter 2 we see how Lydia tortured by this opaque state of being is affected by her coming into the presence of a local farmer Tom Brangwem. Despite their feeling of foreignness to each other, they are mysteriously attracted to one another. I hope you find it as compelling as I did. It’s a wondrous piece of characterisation:
She had not the strength to come to life now, in England, so foreign, skies so hostile. She knew she would die like an early, colourless, scentless flower that the end of the winter puts forth mercilessly. And she wanted to harbour her modicum of twinkling life.
But a sunshiny day came full of the scent of a mezereon tree, when bees were tumbling into the yellow crocuses, and she forgot, she felt like somebody else, not herself, a new person, quite glad. But she knew it was fragile, and she dreaded it. The vicar put pea-flower into the crocuses, for his bees to roll in, and she laughed. Then night came, with brilliant stars that she knew of old, from her girlhood. And they flashed so bright, she knew they were victors.
She could neither wake nor sleep. As if crushed between the past and the future, like a flower that comes above-ground to find a great stone lying above it, she was helpless.
The bewilderment and helplessness continued, she was surrounded by great moving masses that must crush her. And there was no escape. Save in the old obliviousness, the cold darkness she strove to retain. But the vicar showed her eggs in the thrush’s nest near the back door. She saw herself the mother-thrush upon the nest, and the way her wings were spread, so eager down upon her secret. The tense, eager, nesting wings moved her beyond endurance. She thought of them in the morning, when she heard the thrush whistling as he got up, and she thought, “Why didn’t I die out there, why am I brought here?”
She was aware of people who passed around her, not as persons, but as looming presences. It was very difficult for her to adjust herself. In Poland, the peasantry, the people, had been cattle to her, they had been her cattle that she owned and used. What were these people? Now she was coming awake, she was lost.
But she had felt Brangwen go by almost as if he had brushed her. She had tingled in body as she had gone on up the road. After she had been with him in the Marsh kitchen, the voice of her body had risen strong and insistent. Soon, she wanted him. He was the man who had come nearest to her for her awakening.
Always, however, between-whiles she lapsed into the old unconsciousness, indifference and there was a will in her to save herself from living any more. But she would wake in the morning one day and feel her blood running, feel herself lying open like a flower unsheathed in the sun, insistent and potent with demand.
She got to know him better, and her instinct fixed on him—just on him. Her impulse was strong against him, because he was not of her own sort. But one blind instinct led her, to take him, to leave him, and then to relinquish herself to him. It would be safety. She felt the rooted safety of him, and the life in him. Also he was young and very fresh. The blue, steady livingness of his eyes she enjoyed like morning. He was very young.
Then she lapsed again to stupor and indifference. This, however, was bound to pass. The warmth flowed through her, she felt herself opening, unfolding, asking, as a flower opens in full request under the sun, as the beaks of tiny birds open flat, to receive, to receive. And unfolded she turned to him, straight to him. And he came, slowly, afraid, held back by uncouth fear, and driven by a desire bigger than himself.
When she opened and turned to him, then all that had been and all that was, was gone from her, she was as new as a flower that unsheathes itself and stands always ready, waiting, receptive. He could not understand this. He forced himself, through lack of understanding, to the adherence to the line of honourable courtship and sanctioned, licensed marriage. Therefore, after he had gone to the vicarage and asked for her, she remained for some days held in this one spell, open, receptive to him, before him. He was roused to chaos. He spoke to the vicar and gave in the banns. Then he stood to wait.
She remained attentive and instinctively expectant before him, unfolded, ready to receive him. He could not act, because of self-fear and because of his conception of honour towards her. So he remained in a state of chaos.
And after a few days, gradually she closed again, away from him, was sheathed over, impervious to him, oblivious. Then a black, bottomless despair became real to him, he knew what he had lost. He felt he had lost it for good, he knew what it was to have been in communication with her, and to be cast off again. In misery, his heart like a heavy stone, he went about unliving.
Till gradually he became desperate, lost his understanding, was plunged in a revolt that knew no bounds. Inarticulate, he moved with her at the Marsh in violent, gloomy, wordless passion, almost in hatred of her. Till gradually she became aware of him, aware of herself with regard to him, her blood stirred to life, she began to open towards him, to flow towards him again. He waited till the spell was between them again, till they were together within one rushing, hastening flame. And then again he was bewildered, he was tied up as with cords, and could not move to her. So she came to him, and unfastened the breast of his waistcoat and his shirt, and put her hand on him, needing to know him. For it was cruel to her, to be opened and offered to him, yet not to know what he was, not even that he was there. She gave herself to the hour, but he could not, and he bungled in taking her.
So that he lived in suspense, as if only half his faculties worked, until the wedding. She did not understand. But the vagueness came over her again, and the days lapsed by. He could not get definitely into touch with her. For the time being, she let him go again.
He suffered very much from the thought of actual marriage, the intimacy and nakedness of marriage. He knew her so little. They were so foreign to each other, they were such strangers. And they could not talk to each other. When she talked, of Poland or of what had been, it was all so foreign, she scarcely communicated anything to him. And when he looked at her, an over-much reverence and fear of the unknown changed the nature of his desire into a sort of worship, holding her aloof from his physical desire, self-thwarting.
She did not know this, she did not understand. They had looked at each other, and had accepted each other. It was so, then there was nothing to balk at, it was complete between them.
At the wedding, his face was stiff and expressionless. He wanted to drink, to get rid of his forethought and afterthought, to set the moment free. But he could not. The suspense only tightened at his heart. The jesting and joviality and jolly, broad insinuation of the guests only coiled him more. He could not hear. That which was impending obsessed him, he could not get free.
She sat quiet, with a strange, still smile. She was not afraid. Having accepted him, she wanted to take him, she belonged altogether to the hour, now. No future, no past, only this, her hour. She did not even notice him, as she sat beside him at the head of the table. He was very near, their coming together was close at hand. What more!
As the time came for all the guests to go, her dark face was softly lighted, the bend of her head was proud, her grey eyes clear and dilated, so that the men could not look at her, and the women were elated by her, they served her. Very wonderful she was, as she bade farewell, her ugly wide mouth smiling with pride and recognition, her voice speaking softly and richly in the foreign accent, her dilated eyes ignoring one and all the departing guests. Her manner was gracious and fascinating, but she ignored the being of him or her to whom she gave her hand.
And Brangwen stood beside her, giving his hearty handshake to his friends, receiving their regard gratefully, glad of their attention. His heart was tormented within him, he did not try to smile. The time of his trial and his admittance, his Gethsemane and his Triumphal Entry in one, had come now.
Behind her, there was so much unknown to him. When he approached her, he came to such a terrible painful unknown. How could he embrace it and fathom it? How could he close his arms round all this darkness and hold it to his breast and give himself to it? What might not happen to him? If he stretched and strained for ever he would never be able to grasp it all, and to yield himself naked out of his own hands into the unknown power! How could a man be strong enough to take her, put his arms round her and have her, and be sure he could conquer this awful unknown next his heart? What was it then that she was, to which he must also deliver himself up, and which at the same time he must embrace, contain?
He was to be her husband. It was established so. And he wanted it more than he wanted life, or anything. She stood beside him in her silk dress, looking at him strangely, so that a certain terror, horror took possession of him, because she was strange and impending and he had no choice. He could not bear to meet her look from under her strange, thick brows.
“Is it late?” she said.
He looked at his watch.
“No—half-past eleven,” he said. And he made an excuse to go into the kitchen, leaving her standing in the room among the disorder and the drinking-glasses.
Tilly was seated beside the fire in the kitchen, her head in her hands. She started up when he entered.
“Why haven’t you gone to bed?” he said.
“I thought I’d better stop an’ lock up an’ do,” she said. Her agitation quietened him. He gave her some little order, then returned, steadied now, almost ashamed, to his wife. She stood a moment watching him, as he moved with averted face. Then she said:
“You will be good to me, won’t you?”
She was small and girlish and terrible, with a queer, wide look in her eyes. His heart leaped in him, in anguish of love and desire, he went blindly to her and took her in his arms.
“I want to,” he said as he drew her closer and closer in. She was soothed by the stress of his embrace, and remained quite still, relaxed against him, mingling in to him. And he let himself go from past and future, was reduced to the moment with her. In which he took her and was with her and there was nothing beyond, they were together in an elemental embrace beyond their superficial foreignness. But in the morning he was uneasy again. She was still foreign and unknown to him. Only, within the fear was pride, belief in himself as mate for her. And she, everything forgotten in her new hour of coming to life, radiated vigour and joy, so that he quivered to touch her.
It made a great difference to him, marriage. Things became so remote and of so little significance, as he knew the powerful source of his life, his eyes opened on a new universe, and he wondered in thinking of his triviality before. A new, calm relationship showed to him in the things he saw, in the cattle he used, the young wheat as it eddied in a wind.
And each time he returned home, he went steadily, expectantly, like a man who goes to a profound, unknown satisfaction. At dinner-time, he appeared in the doorway, hanging back a moment from entering, to see if she was there. He saw her setting the plates on the white-scrubbed table. Her arms were slim, she had a slim body and full skirts, she had a dark, shapely head with close-banded hair. Somehow it was her head, so shapely and poignant, that revealed her his woman to him. As she moved about clothed closely, full-skirted and wearing her little silk apron, her dark hair smoothly parted, her head revealed itself to him in all its subtle, intrinsic beauty, and he knew she was his woman, he knew her essence, that it was his to possess. And he seemed to live thus in contact with her, in contact with the unknown, the unaccountable and incalculable.
They did not take much notice of each other, consciously.
“I’m betimes,” he said.
“Yes,” she answered.
He turned to the dogs, or to the child if she was there. The little Anna played about the farm, flitting constantly in to call something to her mother, to fling her arms round her mother’s skirts, to be noticed, perhaps caressed, then, forgetting, to slip out again.
Then Brangwen, talking to the child, or to the dog between his knees, would be aware of his wife, as, in her tight, dark bodice and her lace fichu, she was reaching up to the corner cupboard. He realized with a sharp pang that she belonged to him, and he to her. He realized that he lived by her. Did he own her? Was she here for ever? Or might she go away? She was not really his, it was not a real marriage, this marriage between them. She might go away. He did not feel like a master, husband, father of her children. She belonged elsewhere. Any moment, she might be gone. And he was ever drawn to her, drawn after her, with ever-raging, ever-unsatisfied desire. He must always turn home, wherever his steps were taking him, always to her, and he could never quite reach her, he could never quite be satisfied, never be at peace, because she might go away.
At evening, he was glad. Then, when he had finished in the yard, and come in and washed himself, when the child was put to bed, he could sit on the other side of the fire with his beer on the hob and his long white pipe in his fingers, conscious of her there opposite him, as she worked at her embroidery, or as she talked to him, and he was safe with her now, till morning. She was curiously self-sufficient and did not say very much. Occasionally she lifted her head, her grey eyes shining with a strange light, that had nothing to do with him or with this place, and would tell him about herself. She seemed to be back again in the past, chiefly in her childhood or her girlhood, with her father. She very rarely talked of her first husband. But sometimes, all shining-eyed, she was back at her own home, telling him about the riotous times, the trip to Paris with her father, tales of the mad acts of the peasants when a burst of religious, self-hurting fervour had passed over the country.