Saturday, 1 March 2008

John Crow’s Stonehenge

… He had turned as soon as they were a few paces away from the stones and was now gazing at them with an ecstasy that was like a religious trance. It was an ecstasy that totally abolished Time… the enormous body of colossal stones wavered, hovered, swayed and rocked before him; so wrought upon was he, so caught up was he. It rocked like the prow of a vast ship before him before him. He and It were alone in space. Its dark menacing bulk seemed to grow calmer and larger. The taciturn enormity of the uplifted horizontal stones seemed to impose themselves upon his mind with an implication more stupendous than the supporting perpendicular ones. These uplifted stones – these upheld nakednesses - that covered nothing less than the breast of the earth and upon which nothing less than the universal sky rested, seemed to have become, by their very uplifting, more formidable and more sacred than the ones that held them up. They were like cyclopean Sabine women upheld by gigantic ravishers. Both those that upheld and those that were upheld loomed portentous in their passivity, but the passivity of the latter, while more pronounced, was much more imposing. What the instinctive John Crow recognized in this great Body of Stones – both in those bearing-up and in those borne-up - was that they themselves, just as they were, had become, by the mute creative action of four thousand years, authentic Divine Beings. They were so old and great, these Stones, that they assumed godhead by their inherent natural right, gathered godhead up, as a lightning conductor gathers up electricity, and to any priest! And what enhanced the primeval grandeur of what John Crow gazed at was the condition of the elements at that hour. Had there been no remnants of twilight left, the darkness and Stonehenge would have completely interpenetrated. Had the stars been bright, their eternal remoteness would have derogated from the mystic enormity of this terrestrial portent. The stars were, however, so blurred and so indistinct, and, atmospherically speaking, so far away, that Stonehenge had no rival…

Never would Stonehenge look more majestic, more mysterious, than it looked tonight! The wind had almost dropped and yet there was enough left to stir the dead stems of last year’s grasses and to make a faint, very faint susurration as it moved among the Stones. The very indistinctiveness of the dying daylight served also to enhance the impressiveness of the place. Had the night been pitch dark nothing would have been distinguished. On the other hand, had the twilight not advanced so far, the expanding sweep of the surrounding downs would have carried the eye away from the stones themselves and reduced their shadowy immensity. No artificial arrangement of matter, however terrific and un-hewn, can compare with the actual hollows and excrescences of the planet itself; but the primeval erection at which John Crow stared now, like the ghost of a Neolithic slave at the gods of his masters, was increased in weight and mass by reason of the fact that nothing surrounded it except a vague, neutral, Cimmerian greyness…

A Glastonbury Romance - John Cowper Powys
Page 103

Typed on March 1st, 2008 whilst listening to The Laminations of Jeremiah by Robert White (1538-1574)

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