labyrinth story - Assignment Research Writer (2023)

Posted: January 13th, 2023

Your final project will be an exercise in applying what you have learned about reading and interpretation. For this project, each group will create a presentation on an assigned story. This presentation will include the plot of the story (a summary) as well as an interpretation of the story. You will need to make sure to tie your story to our theme of the labyrinth (which should be obvious) and to also discuss how it might be related to our subthemes (the underworld, watery labyrinths, dreams etc.) and to elements in the stories we have read together.

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The length should be 15-20 minutes. Make sure to get the timing and pacing right—you want to spend your time communicating information, not talking in circles or trying to “fill” your minutes. You also don’t want to have 40 minutes of content, as then you will run out of time.

II. Project Guidelines

You will have an in-class presentation as well as a written/media-based submission.

You will need to “retell” the story for the class. Remember, your classmates will not have read the story. You can choose to make a video or some other creative product in order to tell the story.

You will need to present a coherent interpretation of the story. You might have a “main idea” that helps you organize the interpretation.

You should also submit a 3–5 page paper/story board/script for your presentation and project.

The Watery Maze

Les Miserables Volume 5 Book III : Mud but the Soul p. 2
by Victor Hugo

Armilla from Invisible Cities p. 8
by Italo Calvino

Les Miserables Volume 5 Book III : Mud but the Soul
by Victor Hugo

It was in the sewers of Paris that Jean Valjean found himself.

Still another resemblance between Paris and the sea. As in the ocean, the diver
may disappear there.

The transition was an unheard-of one. In the very heart of the city, Jean Valjean
had escaped from the city, and, in the twinkling of an eye, in the time required
to lift the cover and to replace it, he had passed from broad daylight to com-
plete obscurity, from midday to midnight, from tumult to silence, from the whirl-
wind of thunders to the stagnation of the tomb, and, by a vicissitude far more
tremendous even than that of the Rue Polonceau, from the most extreme peril
to the most absolute obscurity.

An abrupt fall into a cavern; a disappearance into the secret trap-door of Par-
is; to quit that street where death was on every side, for that sort of sepulchre
where there was life, was a strange instant. He remained for several seconds as
though bewildered; listening, stupefied. The waste-trap of safety had sudden-
ly yawned beneath him. Celestial goodness had, in a manner, captured him by
treachery. Adorable ambuscades of providence!

Only, the wounded man did not stir, and Jean Valjean did not know whether
that which he was carrying in that grave was a living being or a dead corpse.

His first sensation was one of blindness. All of a sudden, he could see nothing.
It seemed to him too, that, in one instant, he had become deaf. He no longer
heard anything. The frantic storm of murder which had been let loose a few
feet above his head did not reach him, thanks to the thickness of the earth
which separated him from it, as we have said, otherwise than faintly and in-
distinctly, and like a rumbling, in the depths. He felt that the ground was solid
under his feet; that was all; but that was enough. He extended one arm and
then the other, touched the walls on both sides, and perceived that the pas-
sage was narrow; he slipped, and thus perceived that the pavement was wet.
He cautiously put forward one foot, fearing a hole, a sink, some gulf; he discov-

ered that the paving continued. A gust of fetidness informed him of the place in
which he stood.

After the lapse of a few minutes, he was no longer blind. A little light fell
through the man-hole through which he had descended, and his eyes became
accustomed to this cavern. He began to distinguish something. The passage in
which he had burrowed—no other word can better express the situation—was
walled in behind him. It was one of those blind alleys, which the special jargon
terms branches. In front of him there was another wall, a wall like night. The
light of the air-hole died out ten or twelve paces from the point where Jean Val-
jean stood, and barely cast a wan pallor on a few metres of the damp walls of
the sewer. Beyond, the opaqueness was massive; to penetrate thither seemed
horrible, an entrance into it appeared like an engulfment. A man could, however,
plunge into that wall of fog and it was necessary so to do. Haste was even req-
uisite. It occurred to Jean Valjean that the grating which he had caught sight of
under the flag-stones might also catch the eye of the soldiery, and that every-
thing hung upon this chance. They also might descend into that well and search
it. There was not a minute to be lost. He had deposited Marius on the ground,
he picked him up again,—that is the real word for it,—placed him on his shoul-
ders once more, and set out. He plunged resolutely into the gloom.

The truth is, that they were less safe than Jean Valjean fancied. Perils of an-
other sort and no less serious were awaiting them, perchance. After the light-
ning-charged whirlwind of the combat, the cavern of miasmas and traps; after
chaos, the sewer. Jean Valjean had fallen from one circle of hell into another.

When he had advanced fifty paces, he was obliged to halt. A problem presented
itself. The passage terminated in another gut which he encountered across his
path. There two ways presented themselves. Which should he take? Ought he
to turn to the left or to the right? How was he to find his bearings in that black
labyrinth? This labyrinth, to which we have already called the reader’s attention,
has a clue, which is its slope. To follow to the slope is to arrive at the river.

This Jean Valjean instantly comprehended.

He said to himself that he was probably in the sewer des Halles; that if he were
to choose the path to the left and follow the slope, he would arrive, in less than
a quarter of an hour, at some mouth on the Seine between the Pont au Change
and the Pont-Neuf, that is to say, he would make his appearance in broad day-

light on the most densely peopled spot in Paris. Perhaps he would come out
on some man-hole at the intersection of streets. Amazement of the passers-by
at beholding two bleeding men emerge from the earth at their feet. Arrival of
the police, a call to arms of the neighboring post of guards. Thus they would be
seized before they had even got out. It would be better to plunge into that lab-
yrinth, to confide themselves to that black gloom, and to trust to Providence for
the outcome.

He ascended the incline, and turned to the right.

When he had turned the angle of the gallery, the distant glimmer of an air-hole
disappeared, the curtain of obscurity fell upon him once more, and he became
blind again. Nevertheless, he advanced as rapidly as possible. Marius’ two arms
were passed round his neck, and the former’s feet dragged behind him. He
held both these arms with one hand, and groped along the wall with the oth-
er. Marius’ cheek touched his, and clung there, bleeding. He felt a warm stream
which came from Marius trickling down upon him and making its way under his
clothes. But a humid warmth near his ear, which the mouth of the wounded
man touched, indicated respiration, and consequently, life. The passage along
which Jean Valjean was now proceeding was not so narrow as the first. Jean
Valjean walked through it with considerable difficulty. The rain of the preceding
day had not, as yet, entirely run off, and it created a little torrent in the centre
of the bottom, and he was forced to hug the wall in order not to have his feet in
the water.

Thus he proceeded in the gloom. He resembled the beings of the night groping
in the invisible and lost beneath the earth in veins of shadow.

Still, little by little, whether it was that the distant air-holes emitted a little wa-
vering light in this opaque gloom, or whether his eyes had become accustomed
to the obscurity, some vague vision returned to him, and he began once more
to gain a confused idea, now of the wall which he touched, now of the vault be-
neath which he was passing. The pupil dilates in the dark, and the soul dilates in
misfortune and ends by finding God there.

It was not easy to direct his course.

The line of the sewer re-echoes, so to speak, the line of the streets which lie
above it. There were then in Paris two thousand two hundred streets. Let the

reader imagine himself beneath that forest of gloomy branches which is called
the sewer. The system of sewers existing at that epoch, placed end to end,
would have given a length of eleven leagues. We have said above, that the ac-
tual network, thanks to the special activity of the last thirty years, was no less
than sixty leagues in extent.

Jean Valjean began by committing a blunder. He thought that he was be-
neath the Rue Saint-Denis, and it was a pity that it was not so. Under the Rue
Saint-Denis there is an old stone sewer which dates from Louis XIII. and which
runs straight to the collecting sewer, called the Grand Sewer, with but a single
elbow, on the right, on the elevation of the ancient Cour des Miracles, and a
single branch, the Saint-Martin sewer, whose four arms describe a cross. But
the gut of the Petite-Truanderie the entrance to which was in the vicinity of
the Corinthe wine-shop has never communicated with the sewer of the Rue
Saint-Denis; it ended at the Montmartre sewer, and it was in this that Jean Val-
jean was entangled. There opportunities of losing oneself abound. The Mont-
martre sewer is one of the most labyrinthine of the ancient network. Fortunate-
ly, Jean Valjean had left behind him the sewer of the markets whose geometrical
plan presents the appearance of a multitude of parrots’ roosts piled on top of
each other; but he had before him more than one embarrassing encounter and
more than one street corner—for they are streets—presenting itself in the gloom
like an interrogation point; first, on his left, the vast sewer of the Plâtrière, a sort
of Chinese puzzle, thrusting out and entangling its chaos of Ts and Zs under the
Post-Office and under the rotunda of the Wheat Market, as far as the Seine,
where it terminates in a Y; secondly, on his right, the curving corridor of the Rue
du Cadran with its three teeth, which are also blind courts; thirdly, on his left,
the branch of the Mail, complicated, almost at its inception, with a sort of fork,
and proceeding from zig-zag to zig-zag until it ends in the grand crypt of the
outlet of the Louvre, truncated and ramified in every direction; and lastly, the
blind alley of a passage of the Rue des Jeûneurs, without counting little ducts
here and there, before reaching the belt sewer, which alone could conduct him
to some issue sufficiently distant to be safe.

Had Jean Valjean had any idea of all that we have here pointed out, he would
speedily have perceived, merely by feeling the wall, that he was not in the sub-
terranean gallery of the Rue Saint-Denis. Instead of the ancient stone, instead
of the antique architecture, haughty and royal even in the sewer, with pave-
ment and string courses of granite and mortar costing eight hundred livres the
fathom, he would have felt under his hand contemporary cheapness, economi-

cal expedients, porous stone filled with mortar on a concrete foundation, which
costs two hundred francs the metre, and the bourgeoise masonry known as à
petits matériaux—small stuff; but of all this he knew nothing.

He advanced with anxiety, but with calmness, seeing nothing, knowing nothing,
buried in chance, that is to say, engulfed in providence.

By degrees, we will admit, a certain horror seized upon him. The gloom which
enveloped him penetrated his spirit. He walked in an enigma. This aqueduct of
the sewer is formidable; it interlaces in a dizzy fashion. It is a melancholy thing
to be caught in this Paris of shadows. Jean Valjean was obliged to find and even
to invent his route without seeing it. In this unknown, every step that he risked
might be his last. How was he to get out? should he find an issue? should he
find it in time? would that colossal subterranean sponge with its stone cavi-
ties, allow itself to be penetrated and pierced? should he there encounter some
unexpected knot in the darkness? should he arrive at the inextricable and the
impassable? would Marius die there of hemorrhage and he of hunger? should
they end by both getting lost, and by furnishing two skeletons in a nook of that
night? He did not know. He put all these questions to himself without replying
to them. The intestines of Paris form a precipice. Like the prophet, he was in the
belly of the monster.

All at once, he had a surprise. At the most unforeseen moment, and without
having ceased to walk in a straight line, he perceived that he was no longer as-
cending; the water of the rivulet was beating against his heels, instead of meet-
ing him at his toes. The sewer was now descending. Why? Was he about to
arrive suddenly at the Seine? This danger was a great one, but the peril of re-
treating was still greater. He continued to advance.

It was not towards the Seine that he was proceeding. The ridge which the soil
of Paris forms on its right bank empties one of its watersheds into the Seine
and the other into the Grand Sewer. The crest of this ridge which determines
the division of the waters describes a very capricious line. The culminating
point, which is the point of separation of the currents, is in the Sainte-Avoye
sewer, beyond the Rue Michel-le-Comte, in the sewer of the Louvre, near the
boulevards, and in the Montmartre sewer, near the Halles. It was this culminat-
ing point that Jean Valjean had reached. He was directing his course towards
the belt sewer; he was on the right path. But he did not know it.

Every time that he encountered a branch, he felt of its angles, and if he found
that the opening which presented itself was smaller than the passage in which
he was, he did not enter but continued his route, rightly judging that every nar-
rower way must needs terminate in a blind alley, and could only lead him fur-
ther from his goal, that is to say, the outlet. Thus he avoided the quadruple trap
which was set for him in the darkness by the four labyrinths which we have just

At a certain moment, he perceived that he was emerging from beneath the Par-
is which was petrified by the uprising, where the barricades had suppressed
circulation, and that he was entering beneath the living and normal Paris. Over-
head he suddenly heard a noise as of thunder, distant but continuous. It was
the rumbling of vehicles.

He had been walking for about half an hour, at least according to the calcula-
tion which he made in his own mind, and he had not yet thought of rest; he had
merely changed the hand with which he was holding Marius. The darkness was
more profound than ever, but its very depth reassured him.

All at once, he saw his shadow in front of him. It was outlined on a faint, almost
indistinct reddish glow, which vaguely empurpled the flooring vault underfoot,
and the vault overhead, and gilded to his right and to his left the two viscous
walls of the passage. Stupefied, he turned round.

Behind him, in the portion of the passage which he had just passed through,
at a distance which appeared to him immense, piercing the dense obscurity,
flamed a sort of horrible star which had the air of surveying him.

It was the gloomy star of the police which was rising in the sewer.

In the rear of that star eight or ten forms were moving about in a confused way,
black, upright, indistinct, horrible.

Armilla from Invisible Cities
by Italo Calvino

Whether Armilla is like this because it is unfinished or because it has been de-
molished, whether the cause is some enchantment or only a whim, I do not
know. The fact remains that it has no walls, no ceilings, no doors: it has nothing
that makes it seem a city, eept the water pipes that rise vertically where the
houses should be and spread out horizontally where the doors should be: a for-
est of pipes that end in taps, showers, spouts, overBows. Against the sky a
lavabo’s white stands out, or a bathtub, or some other porcelain, like late fruit
still hanging from the boughs. You would think the plumbers had finished their
job and gone away before the bricklayers arrived; or else their hydraulic sys-
tems, indestructible, had survived a catastrophe, an earthquake, or the corro-
sion of termites.

Abandoned before or after it was inhabited, Armilla cannot be called desert-
ed. At any hour, raising your eyes among the pipes, you are likely to glimpse a
young woman, or many young women, slender, not tall of stature, luxuriating in
the bathtubs or arching their backs under the showers suspended in the void,
washing or drying or perfuming themselves, or combing their long hair at a mir-
ror. In the sun, the threads of water fanning from the showers glisten, the jets
of the taps, the spurts, the splashes, the sponges’ suds.

I have come to this explanation: the streams of water channeled in the pipes of
Armilla have remained in the possession of nymphs and naiads. Accustomed
to traveling along underground veins, they found it easy to enter into the new
aquatic realm, to burst from multiple fountains, to find new mirrors,
new games, new ways of enjoying the water. Their invasion may have driven
out the human beings, or Armilla may have been built by humans as a votive
offering to win the favor of the nymphs, offended at the misuse of the waters.
In any case, now they seem content, these maidens: in the morning you hear
them singing.


SCENE I. Athens. The palace of




Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame or a dowager
Long withering out a young man’s revenue.

Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
The pale companion is not for our pomp.



Hippolyta, I woo’d thee with my sword,
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph and with revelling.



Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke!

Thanks, good Egeus: what’s the news with thee?

Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander: and my gracious duke,
This man hath bewitch’d the bosom of my child;
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchanged love-tokens with my child:
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung,
With feigning voice verses of feigning love,
And stolen the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats, messengers
Of strong prevailment in unharden’d youth:
With cunning hast thou filch’d my daughter’s heart,
Turn’d her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness: and, my gracious duke,
Be it so she; will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,
As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
Which shall be either to this gentleman
Or to her death, according to our law
Immediately provided in that case.

What say you, Hermia? be advised fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god;
One that composed your beauties, yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax

By him imprinted and within his power
To leave the figure or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.


So is Lysander.

In himself he is;
But in this kind, wanting your father’s voice,
The other must be held the worthier.

I would my father look’d but with my eyes.

Rather your eyes must with his judgment look.

I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
In such a presence here to plead my thoughts;
But I beseech your grace that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

Either to die the death or to abjure
For ever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father’s choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun,
For aye to be in shady cloister mew’d,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;

But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn
Grows, lives and dies in single blessedness.

So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

Take time to pause; and, by the next new moon–
The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlasting bond of fellowship–
Upon that day either prepare to die
For disobedience to your father’s will,
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
Or on Diana’s altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.

Relent, sweet Hermia: and, Lysander, yield
Thy crazed title to my certain right.


You have her father’s love, Demetrius;
Let me have Hermia’s: do you marry him.

Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,
And what is mine my love shall render him.
And she is mine, and all my right of her
I do estate unto Demetrius.

I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possess’d; my love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius’;

And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius, I’ll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar’s daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

I must confess that I have heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
But, being over-full of self-affairs,
My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come;
And come, Egeus; you shall go with me,
I have some private schooling for you both.
For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
To fit your fancies to your father’s will;
Or else the law of Athens yields you up–
Which by no means we may extenuate–
To death, or to a vow of single life.
Come, my Hippolyta: what cheer, my love?
Demetrius and Egeus, go along:
I must employ you in some business
Against our nuptial and confer with you
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.

With duty and desire we follow you.

Exeunt all but LYSANDER and HERMIA

How now, my love! why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

Belike for want of rain, which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of my eyes.

Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But, either it was different in blood,–

O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low.

Or else misgraffed in respect of years,–

O spite! too old to be engaged to young.

Or else it stood upon the choice of friends,–

O hell! to choose love by another’s eyes.

Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it,
Making it momentany as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say ‘Behold!’
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.

If then true lovers have been ever cross’d,
It stands as an edict in destiny:
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross,
As due to love as thoughts and dreams and sighs,
Wishes and tears, poor fancy’s followers.

A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child:
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then,
Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.

My good Lysander!
I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage queen,
When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke,
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.

Keep promise, love. Look, here comes Helena.



God speed fair Helena! whither away?

Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!

Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.

I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.

O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!

I give him curses, yet he gives me love.

O that my prayers could such affection move!

The more I hate, the more he follows me.

The more I love, the more he hateth me.

His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.

None, but your beauty: would that fault were mine!

Take comfort: he no more shall see my face;
Lysander and myself will fly this place.

Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seem’d Athens as a paradise to me:
O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turn’d a heaven unto a hell!

Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
To-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Her silver visage in the watery glass,
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,
A time that lovers’ flights doth still conceal,
Through Athens’ gates have we devised to steal.

And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet;
And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,
To seek new friends and stranger companies.
Farewell, sweet playfellow: pray thou for us;
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius!
Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight
From lovers’ food till morrow deep midnight.

I will, my Hermia.


Helena, adieu:
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!


How happy some o’er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;

He will not know what all but he do know:
And as he errs, doting on Hermia’s eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities:
Things base and vile, folding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind:
Nor hath Love’s mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste:
And therefore is Love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjured every where:
For ere Demetrius look’d on Hermia’s eyne,
He hail’d down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia’s flight:
Then to the wood will he to-morrow night
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.


SCENE II. Athens. QUINCE’S house.



Is all our company here?

You were best to call them generally, man by man,
according to the scrip.

Here is the scroll of every man’s name, which is

thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our
interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his
wedding-day at night.

First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
on, then read the names of the actors, and so grow
to a point.

Marry, our play is, The most lamentable comedy, and
most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.

A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your
actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.

Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.

Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.

You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.

What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?

A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.

That will ask some tears in the true performing of
it: if I do it, let the audience look to their
eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some
measure. To the rest: yet my chief humour is for a
tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to

tear a cat in, to make all split.
The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;
And Phibbus’ car
Shall shine from far
And make and mar
The foolish Fates.
This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players.
This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant’s vein; a lover is
more condoling.

Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.

Here, Peter Quince.

Flute, you must take Thisby on you.

What is Thisby? a wandering knight?

It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.

That’s all one: you shall play it in a mask, and
you may speak as small as you will.

An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I’ll
speak in a monstrous little voice. ‘Thisby,
Thisby;’ ‘Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear,

and lady dear!’

No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, Flute, you Thisby.

Well, proceed.

Robin Starveling, the tailor.

Here, Peter Quince.

Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby’s mother.
Tom Snout, the tinker.

Here, Peter Quince.

You, Pyramus’ father: myself, Thisby’s father:
Snug, the joiner; you, the lion’s part: and, I
hope, here is a play fitted.

Have you the lion’s part written? pray you, if it
be, give it me, for I am slow of study.

You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.

Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will
do any man’s heart good to hear me; I will roar,
that I will make the duke say ‘Let him roar again,
let him roar again.’

An you should do it too terribly, you would fright
the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek;
and that were enough to hang us all.

That would hang us, every mother’s son.

I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the
ladies out of their wits, they would have no more
discretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my
voice so that I will roar you as gently as any
sucking dove; I will roar you an ‘twere any

You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a
sweet-faced man; a proper man, as one shall see in a
summer’s day; a most lovely gentleman-like man:
therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best
to play it in?

Why, what you will.

I will discharge it in either your straw-colour
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain
beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your
perfect yellow.

Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and
then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here
are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request

you and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night;
and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the
town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, for if
we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with
company, and our devices known. In the meantime I
will draw a bill of properties, such as our play
wants. I pray you, fail me not.

We will meet; and there we may rehearse most
obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect: adieu.

At the duke’s oak we meet.

Enough; hold or cut bow-strings.


SCENE I. A wood near Athens.

Enter from opposite sides, a Fairy, and


How now, spirit! whither wander you?

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon’s sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;

Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

The king doth keep his revels here to-night:
Take heed the queen come not within his sight;
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she as her attendant hath
A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling;
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;
But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy:
And now they never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But, they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.

Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?

Thou speak’st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.

I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither’d dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And ‘tailor’ cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, room, fairy! here comes Oberon.

And here my mistress. Would that he were gone!
Enter, from one side, OBERON, with his train; from the other,


, with

Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.

What, jealous Oberon! Fairies, skip hence:
I have forsworn his bed and company.

Tarry, rash wanton: am not I thy lord?

Then I must be thy lady: but I know
When thou hast stolen away from fairy land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
Playing on pipes of corn and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest Steppe of India?
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,

Your buskin’d mistress and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded, and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity.

How canst thou thus for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
From Perigenia, whom he ravished?
And make him with fair Aegle break his faith,
With Ariadne and Antiopa?

These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer’s spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest or mead,
By paved fountain or by rushy brook,
Or in the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents:
The ox hath therefore stretch’d his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain’d a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable:
The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound:

And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.

Do you amend it then; it lies in you:
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman.

Set your heart at rest:
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my order:
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip’d by my side,
And sat with me on Neptune’s yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood,
When we have laugh’d to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following,–her womb then rich with my young squire,–
Would imitate, and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles, and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And for her sake do I rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him.

How long within this wood intend you stay?

Perchance till after Theseus’ wedding-day.
If you will patiently dance in our round
And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.

Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.

Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away!
We shall chide downright, if I longer stay.

Exit TITANIA with her train

Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove
Till I torment thee for this injury.
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberest
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath
That the rude sea grew civil at her song
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid’s music.

I remember.

That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal throned by the west,
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;

But I might see young Cupid’s fiery shaft
Quench’d in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.
Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew’d thee once:
The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.


Having once this juice,
I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep,
And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
The next thing then she waking looks upon,
Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape,
She shall pursue it with the soul of love:
And ere I take this charm from off her sight,
As I can take it with another herb,
I’ll make her render up her page to me.
But who comes here? I am invisible;
And I will overhear their conference.

Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA, following him

I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
Where is Lysander and fair Hermia?
The one I’ll slay, the other slayeth me.
Thou told’st me they were stolen unto this wood;
And here am I, and wode within this wood,
Because I cannot meet my Hermia.

Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.

You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant;
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
Is true as steel: leave you your power to draw,
And I shall have no power to follow you.

Do I entice you? do I speak you fair?
Or, rather, do I not in plainest truth
Tell you, I do not, nor I cannot love you?

And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love,–
And yet a place of high respect with me,–
Than to be used as you use your dog?

Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;
For I am sick when I do look on thee.

And I am sick when I look not on you.

You do impeach your modesty too much,
To leave the city and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not;
To trust the opportunity of night
And the ill counsel of a desert place
With the rich worth of your virginity.

Your virtue is my privilege: for that
It is not night when I do see your face,
Therefore I think I am not in the night;
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company,
For you in my respect are all the world:
Then how can it be said I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?

I’ll run from thee and hide me in the brakes,
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will, the story shall be changed:
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger; bootless speed,
When cowardice pursues and valour flies.

I will not stay thy questions; let me go:
Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex:
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be wood and were not made to woo.


I’ll follow thee and make a heaven of hell,
To die upon the hand I love so well.


Fare thee well, nymph: ere he do leave this grove,
Thou shalt fly him and he shall seek thy love.

Re-enter PUCK

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.

Ay, there it is.

I pray thee, give it me.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:
And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies.
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;
But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady: thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on.
Effect it with some care, that he may prove
More fond on her than she upon her love:
And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.

Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so.


SCENE II. Another part of the wood.

Enter TITANIA, with her train

Come, now a roundel and a fairy song;
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence;
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds,
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats, and some keep back
The clamorous owl that nightly hoots and wonders
At our quaint spirits. Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices and let me rest.

You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms, do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy queen.
Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm,
Nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night, with lullaby.
Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Philomel, with melody, & c.

Hence, away! now all is well:
One aloof stand sentinel.

Exeunt Fairies. TITANIA sleeps

Enter OBERON and squeezes the flower on TITANIA’s eyelids

What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take,

Love and languish for his sake:
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wakest, it is thy dear:
Wake when some vile thing is near.



Fair love, you faint with wandering in the wood;
And to speak troth, I have forgot our way:
We’ll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,
And tarry for the comfort of the day.

Be it so, Lysander: find you out a bed;
For I upon this bank will rest my head.

One turf shall serve as pillow for us both;
One heart, one bed, two bosoms and one troth.

Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my dear,
Lie further off yet, do not lie so near.

O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit
So that but one heart we can make of it;
Two bosoms interchained with an oath;
So then two bosoms and a single troth.
Then by your side no bed-room me deny;
For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.

Lysander riddles very prettily:
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off; in human modesty,
Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,
So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend:
Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!

Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I;
And then end life when I end loyalty!
Here is my bed: sleep give thee all his rest!

With half that wish the wisher’s eyes be press’d!

[They sleep]

Enter PUCK

Through the forest have I gone.
But Athenian found I none,
On whose eyes I might approve
This flower’s force in stirring love.
Night and silence.–Who is here?
Weeds of Athens he doth wear:
This is he, my master said,
Despised the Athenian maid;
And here the maiden, sleeping sound,
On the dank and dirty ground.
Pretty soul! she durst not lie
Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.
Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
All the power this charm doth owe.
When thou wakest, let love forbid

Sleep his seat on thy eyelid:
So awake when I am gone;
For I must now to Oberon.


Enter DEMETRIUS and HELENA, running

Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius.

I charge thee, hence, and do not haunt me thus.

O, wilt thou darkling leave me? do not so.

Stay, on thy peril: I alone will go.


O, I am out of breath in this fond chase!
The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace.
Happy is Hermia, wheresoe’er she lies;
For she hath blessed and attractive eyes.
How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears:
If so, my eyes are oftener wash’d than hers.
No, no, I am as ugly as a bear;
For beasts that meet me run away for fear:
Therefore no marvel though Demetrius
Do, as a monster fly my presence thus.
What wicked and dissembling glass of mine
Made me compare with Hermia’s sphery eyne?
But who is here? Lysander! on the ground!
Dead? or asleep? I see no blood, no wound.
Lysander if you live, good sir, awake.


And run through fire I will for thy sweet sake.
Transparent Helena! Nature shows art,
That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.
Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word
Is that vile name to perish on my sword!

Do not say so, Lysander; say not so
What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though?
Yet Hermia still loves you: then be content.

Content with Hermia! No; I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
Not Hermia but Helena I love:
Who will not change a raven for a dove?
The will of man is by his reason sway’d;
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season
So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason;
And touching now the point of human skill,
Reason becomes the marshal to my will
And leads me to your eyes, where I o’erlook
Love’s stories written in love’s richest book.

Wherefore was I to this keen mockery born?
When at your hands did I deserve this scorn?
Is’t not enough, is’t not enough, young man,
That I did never, no, nor never can,
Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius’ eye,
But you must flout my insufficiency?
Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do,
In such disdainful manner me to woo.
But fare you well: perforce I must confess
I thought you lord of more true gentleness.

O, that a lady, of one man refused.
Should of another therefore be abused!


(Video) Labyrinth: Folklore and Feminism - The Philosofan

She sees not Hermia. Hermia, sleep thou there:
And never mayst thou come Lysander near!
For as a surfeit of the sweetest things
The deepest loathing to the stomach brings,
Or as tie heresies that men do leave
Are hated most of those they did deceive,
So thou, my surfeit and my heresy,
Of all be hated, but the most of me!
And, all my powers, address your love and might
To honour Helen and to be her knight!


Help me, Lysander, help me! do thy best
To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast!
Ay me, for pity! what a dream was here!
Lysander, look how I do quake with fear:
Methought a serpent eat my heart away,
And you sat smiling at his cruel pray.
Lysander! what, removed? Lysander! lord!
What, out of hearing? gone? no sound, no word?
Alack, where are you speak, an if you hear;
Speak, of all loves! I swoon almost with fear.
No? then I well perceive you all not nigh
Either death or you I’ll find immediately.


SCENE I. The wood. TITANIA lying asleep.


Are we all met?

Pat, pat; and here’s a marvellous convenient place
for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our
stage, this hawthorn-brake our tiring-house; and we
will do it in action as we will do it before the duke.

Peter Quince,–

What sayest thou, bully Bottom?

There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and
Thisby that will never please. First, Pyramus must
draw a sword to kill himself; which the ladies
cannot abide. How answer you that?

By’r lakin, a parlous fear.


I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.

Not a whit: I have a device to make all well.
Write me a prologue; and let the prologue seem to
say, we will do no harm with our swords, and that
Pyramus is not killed indeed; and, for the more

better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not
Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: this will put them
out of fear.

Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be
written in eight and six.

No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and eight.

Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?

I fear it, I promise you.

Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves: to
bring in–God shield us!–a lion among ladies, is a
most dreadful thing; for there is not a more fearful
wild-fowl than your lion living; and we ought to
look to ‘t.

Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.

Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must
be seen through the lion’s neck: and he himself
must speak through, saying thus, or to the same
defect,–’Ladies,’–or ‘Fair-ladies–I would wish
You,’–or ‘I would request you,’–or ‘I would
entreat you,–not to fear, not to tremble: my life
for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it
were pity of my life: no I am no such thing; I am a
man as other men are;’ and there indeed let him name
his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug the joiner.

Well it shall be so. But there is two hard things;
that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for,
you know, Pyramus and Thisby meet by moonlight.

Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?

A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanac; find
out moonshine, find out moonshine.

Yes, it doth shine that night.

Why, then may you leave a casement of the great
chamber window, where we play, open, and the moon
may shine in at the casement.

Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns
and a lanthorn, and say he comes to disfigure, or to
present, the person of Moonshine. Then, there is
another thing: we must have a wall in the great
chamber; for Pyramus and Thisby says the story, did
talk through the chink of a wall.

You can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?

Some man or other must present Wall: and let him
have some plaster, or some loam, or some rough-cast
about him, to signify wall; and let him hold his
fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus
and Thisby whisper.

If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down,
every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts.
Pyramus, you begin: when you have spoken your
speech, enter into that brake: and so every one
according to his cue.

Enter PUCK behind

What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here,
So near the cradle of the fairy queen?
What, a play toward! I’ll be an auditor;
An actor too, perhaps, if I see cause.

Speak, Pyramus. Thisby, stand forth.

Thisby, the flowers of odious savours sweet,–

Odours, odours.

–odours savours sweet:
So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear.
But hark, a voice! stay thou but here awhile,
And by and by I will to thee appear.


A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here.


Must I speak now?

Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he goes
but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.

Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,
Most brisky juvenal and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as truest horse that yet would never tire,
I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.

‘Ninus’ tomb,’ man: why, you must not speak that
yet; that you answer to Pyramus: you speak all your
part at once, cues and all Pyramus enter: your cue
is past; it is, ‘never tire.’

O,–As true as truest horse, that yet would
never tire.

Re-enter PUCK, and BOTTOM with an ass’s head

If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine.

O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted. Pray,
masters! fly, masters! Help!


I’ll follow you, I’ll lead you about a round,
Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier:
Sometime a horse I’ll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire;
And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,

Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn.


Why do they run away? this is a knavery of them to
make me afeard.

Re-enter SNOUT

O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?

What do you see? you see an asshead of your own, do


Re-enter QUINCE

Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art


I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me;
to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir
from this place, do what they can: I will walk up
and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear
I am not afraid.

The ousel cock so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill,–

What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?

The finch, the sparrow and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay;–
for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish
a bird? who would give a bird the lie, though he cry
‘cuckoo’ never so?

I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again:
Mine ear is much enamour’d of thy note;
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
And thy fair virtue’s force perforce doth move me
On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee.

Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason
for that: and yet, to say the truth, reason and
love keep little company together now-a-days; the
more the pity that some honest neighbours will not
make them friends. Nay, I can gleek upon occasion.

Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.

Not so, neither: but if I had wit enough to get out
of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.

Out of this wood do not desire to go:
Thou shalt remain here, whether thou wilt or no.
I am a spirit of no common rate;

The summer still doth tend upon my state;
And I do love thee: therefore, go with me;
I’ll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep;
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so
That thou shalt like an airy spirit go.
Peaseblossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustardseed!



And I.

And I.

And I.

Where shall we go?

Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,
And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs
And light them at the fiery glow-worm’s eyes,
To have my love to bed and to arise;
And pluck the wings from Painted butterflies
To fan the moonbeams from his sleeping eyes:
Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies.

Hail, mortal!



I cry your worship’s mercy, heartily: I beseech your
worship’s name.


I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good Master
Cobweb: if I cut my finger, I shall make bold with
you. Your name, honest gentleman?


I pray you, commend me to Mistress Squash, your
mother, and to Master Peascod, your father. Good
Master Peaseblossom, I shall desire you of more
acquaintance too. Your name, I beseech you, sir?


Good Master Mustardseed, I know your patience well:
that same cowardly, giant-like ox-beef hath
devoured many a gentleman of your house: I promise

you your kindred had made my eyes water ere now. I
desire your more acquaintance, good Master

Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower.
The moon methinks looks with a watery eye;
And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
Lamenting some enforced chastity.
Tie up my love’s tongue bring him silently.

SCENE II. Another part of the wood.


I wonder if Titania be awaked;
Then, what it was that next came in her eye,
Which she must dote on in extremity.

Enter PUCK

Here comes my messenger.
How now, mad spirit!
What night-rule now about this haunted grove?

My mistress with a monster is in love.
Near to her close and consecrated bower,
While she was in her dull and sleeping hour,
A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play
Intended for great Theseus’ nuptial-day.
The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented, in their sport
Forsook his scene and enter’d in a brake

When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass’s nole I fixed on his head:
Anon his Thisbe must be answered,
And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
Rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
So, at his sight, away his fellows fly;
And, at our stamp, here o’er and o’er one falls;
He murder cries and help from Athens calls.
Their sense thus weak, lost with their fears
thus strong,
Made senseless things begin to do them wrong;
For briers and thorns at their apparel snatch;
Some sleeves, some hats, from yielders all
things catch.
I led them on in this distracted fear,
And left sweet Pyramus translated there:
When in that moment, so it came to pass,
Titania waked and straightway loved an ass.

This falls out better than I could devise.
But hast thou yet latch’d the Athenian’s eyes
With the love-juice, as I did bid thee do?

I took him sleeping,–that is finish’d too,–
And the Athenian woman by his side:
That, when he waked, of force she must be eyed.


Stand close: this is the same Athenian.

This is the woman, but not this the man.

O, why rebuke you him that loves you so?
Lay breath so bitter on your bitter foe.

Now I but chide; but I should use thee worse,
For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse,
If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
Being o’er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep,
And kill me too.
The sun was not so true unto the day
As he to me: would he have stolen away
From sleeping Hermia? I’ll believe as soon
This whole earth may be bored and that the moon
May through the centre creep and so displease
Her brother’s noontide with Antipodes.
It cannot be but thou hast murder’d him;
So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.

So should the murder’d look, and so should I,
Pierced through the heart with your stern cruelty:
Yet you, the murderer, look as bright, as clear,
As yonder Venus in her glimmering sphere.

What’s this to my Lysander? where is he?
Ah, good Demetrius, wilt thou give him me?

I had rather give his carcass to my hounds.

Out, dog! out, cur! thou drivest me past the bounds
Of maiden’s patience. Hast thou slain him, then?
Henceforth be never number’d among men!
O, once tell true, tell true, even for my sake!
Durst thou have look’d upon him being awake,

And hast thou kill’d him sleeping? O brave touch!
Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?
An adder did it; for with doubler tongue
Than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.

You spend your passion on a misprised mood:
I am not guilty of Lysander’s blood;
Nor is he dead, for aught that I can tell.

I pray thee, tell me then that he is well.

An if I could, what should I get therefore?

A privilege never to see me more.
And from thy hated presence part I so:
See me no more, whether he be dead or no.


There is no following her in this fierce vein:
Here therefore for a while I will remain.
So sorrow’s heaviness doth heavier grow
For debt that bankrupt sleep doth sorrow owe:
Which now in some slight measure it will pay,
If for his tender here I make some stay.
Lies down and sleeps

What hast thou done? thou hast mistaken quite
And laid the love-juice on some true-love’s sight:
Of thy misprision must perforce ensue
Some true love turn’d and not a false turn’d true.


Then fate o’er-rules, that, one man holding troth,
A million fail, confounding oath on oath.

About the wood go swifter than the wind,
And Helena of Athens look thou find:
All fancy-sick she is and pale of cheer,
With sighs of love, that costs the fresh blood dear:
By some illusion see thou bring her here:
I’ll charm his eyes against she do appear.

I go, I go; look how I go,
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.


Flower of this purple dye,
Hit with Cupid’s archery,
Sink in apple of his eye.
When his love he doth espy,
Let her shine as gloriously
As the Venus of the sky.
When thou wakest, if she be by,
Beg of her for remedy.

Re-enter PUCK

Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is here at hand;
And the youth, mistook by me,
Pleading for a lover’s fee.
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Stand aside: the noise they make

Will cause Demetrius to awake.

Then will two at once woo one;
That must needs be sport alone;
And those things do best please me
That befal preposterously.


Why should you think that I should woo in scorn?
Scorn and derision never come in tears:
Look, when I vow, I weep; and vows so born,
In their nativity all truth appears.
How can these things in me seem scorn to you,
Bearing the badge of faith, to prove them true?

You do advance your cunning more and more.
When truth kills truth, O devilish-holy fray!
These vows are Hermia’s: will you give her o’er?
Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh:
Your vows to her and me, put in two scales,
Will even weigh, and both as light as tales.

I had no judgment when to her I swore.

Nor none, in my mind, now you give her o’er.

Demetrius loves her, and he loves not you.

O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!
To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne?

Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!
That pure congealed white, high Taurus snow,
Fann’d with the eastern wind, turns to a crow
When thou hold’st up thy hand: O, let me kiss
This princess of pure white, this seal of bliss!

O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
If you were civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury.
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
You would not use a gentle lady so;
To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals, and love Hermia;
And now both rivals, to mock Helena:
A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid’s eyes
With your derision! none of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul’s patience, all to make you sport.

You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so;
For you love Hermia; this you know I know:
And here, with all good will, with all my heart,
In Hermia’s love I yield you up my part;
And yours of Helena to me bequeath,
Whom I do love and will do till my death.

Never did mockers waste more idle breath.


Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none:
If e’er I loved her, all that love is gone.
My heart to her but as guest-wise sojourn’d,
And now to Helen is it home return’d,
There to remain.

Helen, it is not so.
Disparage not the faith thou dost not know,
Lest, to thy peril, thou aby it dear.
Look, where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear.

Re-enter HERMIA

Dark night, that from the eye his function takes,
The ear more quick of apprehension makes;
Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,
It pays the hearing double recompense.
Thou art not by mine eye, Lysander, found;
Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?

Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?

What love could press Lysander from my side?

Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,
Fair Helena, who more engilds the night
Than all you fiery oes and eyes of light.
Why seek’st thou me? could not this make thee know,
The hate I bear thee made me leave thee so?

You speak not as you think: it cannot be.

Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport, in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspired, have you with these contrived
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shared,
The sisters’ vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us,–O, is it all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grow together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one and crowned with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ‘tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.

I am amazed at your passionate words.
I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.

Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me and praise my eyes and face?
And made your other love, Demetrius,
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot,

To call me goddess, nymph, divine and rare,
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?
What thought I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,
But miserable most, to love unloved?
This you should pity rather than despise.

I understand not what you mean by this.

Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back;
Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up:
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,
You would not make me such an argument.
But fare ye well: ‘tis partly my own fault;
Which death or absence soon shall remedy.

Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse:
My love, my life my soul, fair Helena!

O excellent!

Sweet, do not scorn her so.

If she cannot entreat, I can compel.

Thou canst compel no more than she entreat:

Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers.
Helen, I love thee; by my life, I do:
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,
To prove him false that says I love thee not.

I say I love thee more than he can do.

If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.

Quick, come!

Lysander, whereto tends all this?

Away, you Ethiope!

No, no; he’ll
Seem to break loose; take on as you would follow,
But yet come not: you are a tame man, go!

Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent!

Why are you grown so rude? what change is this?
Sweet love,–

Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!

Do you not jest?

Yes, sooth; and so do you.

Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.

I would I had your bond, for I perceive
A weak bond holds you: I’ll not trust your word.

What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.

What, can you do me greater harm than hate?
Hate me! wherefore? O me! what news, my love!
Am not I Hermia? are not you Lysander?
I am as fair now as I was erewhile.
Since night you loved me; yet since night you left
Why, then you left me–O, the gods forbid!–
In earnest, shall I say?

Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, of doubt;
Be certain, nothing truer; ‘tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.

O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom!
You thief of love! what, have you come by night
And stolen my love’s heart from him?


Fine, i’faith!
Have you no modesty, no maiden shame,
No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you!

Puppet? why so? ay, that way goes the game.
Now I perceive that she hath made compare
Between our statures; she hath urged her height;
And with her personage, her tall personage,
Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail’d with him.
And are you grown so high in his esteem;
Because I am so dwarfish and so low?
How low am I, thou painted maypole? speak;
How low am I? I am not yet so low
But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.

I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me: I was never curst;
I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
I am a right maid for my cowardice:
Let her not strike me. You perhaps may think,
Because she is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.

Lower! hark, again.

Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong’d you;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood.
He follow’d you; for love I follow’d him;
But he hath chid me hence and threaten’d me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:

And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back
And follow you no further: let me go:
You see how simple and how fond I am.

Why, get you gone: who is’t that hinders you?

A foolish heart, that I leave here behind.

What, with Lysander?

With Demetrius.

Be not afraid; she shall not harm thee, Helena.

No, sir, she shall not, though you take her part.

O, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!
She was a vixen when she went to school;
And though she be but little, she is fierce.

‘Little’ again! nothing but ‘low’ and ‘little’!
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let me come to her.

Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hindering knot-grass made;
You bead, you acorn.


You are too officious
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone: speak not of Helena;
Take not her part; for, if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.

Now she holds me not;
Now follow, if thou darest, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.

Follow! nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jole.


You, mistress, all this coil is ‘long of you:
Nay, go not back.

I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,
My legs are longer though, to run away.


I am amazed, and know not what to say.


This is thy negligence: still thou mistakest,
Or else committ’st thy knaveries wilfully.

Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me I should know the man
By the Athenian garment be had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise,
That I have ‘nointed an Athenian’s eyes;
And so far am I glad it so did sort
As this their jangling I esteem a sport.
Thou see’st these lovers seek a place to fight:
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog as black as Acheron,
And lead these testy rivals so astray
As one come not within another’s way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
Till o’er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep:
Then crush this herb into Lysander’s eye;
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error with his might,
And make his eyeballs roll with wonted sight.
When they next wake, all this derision
Shall seem a dream and fruitless vision,
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend,
With league whose date till death shall never end.
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I’ll to my queen and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmed eye release
From monster’s view, and all things shall be peace.

My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,

Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits all,
That in crossways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy beds are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They willfully themselves exile from light
And must for aye consort with black-brow’d night.

But we are spirits of another sort:
I with the morning’s love have oft made sport,
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams.
But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay:
We may effect this business yet ere day.


Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down:
I am fear’d in field and town:
Goblin, lead them up and down.
Here comes one.


Where art thou, proud Demetrius? speak thou now.

Here, villain; drawn and ready. Where art thou?

I will be with thee straight.


Follow me, then,
To plainer ground.

Exit LYSANDER, as following the voice


Lysander! speak again:
Thou runaway, thou coward, art thou fled?
Speak! In some bush? Where dost thou hide thy head?

Thou coward, art thou bragging to the stars,
Telling the bushes that thou look’st for wars,
And wilt not come? Come, recreant; come, thou child;
I’ll whip thee with a rod: he is defiled
That draws a sword on thee.

Yea, art thou there?

Follow my voice: we’ll try no manhood here.


He goes before me and still dares me on:
When I come where he calls, then he is gone.
The villain is much lighter-heel’d than I:
I follow’d fast, but faster he did fly;
That fallen am I in dark uneven way,
And here will rest me.
Lies down

Come, thou gentle day!
For if but once thou show me thy grey light,
I’ll find Demetrius and revenge this spite.


Ho, ho, ho! Coward, why comest thou not?

Abide me, if thou darest; for well I wot
Thou runn’st before me, shifting every place,
And darest not stand, nor look me in the face.
Where art thou now?

Come hither: I am here.

Nay, then, thou mock’st me. Thou shalt buy this dear,
If ever I thy face by daylight see:
Now, go thy way. Faintness constraineth me
To measure out my length on this cold bed.
By day’s approach look to be visited.
[Lies down and sleeps]

Re-enter HELENA

O weary night, O long and tedious night,
Abate thy hour! Shine comforts from the east,
That I may back to Athens by daylight,
From these that my poor company detest:
And sleep, that sometimes shuts up sorrow’s eye,
Steal me awhile from mine own company.
[Lies down and sleeps]

Yet but three? Come one more;
Two of both kinds make up four.
Here she comes, curst and sad:
Cupid is a knavish lad,
Thus to make poor females mad.

Re-enter HERMIA

Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew and torn with briers,
I can no further crawl, no further go;
My legs can keep no pace with my desires.
Here will I rest me till the break of day.
Heavens shield Lysander, if they mean a fray!
[Lies down and sleeps]

On the ground
Sleep sound:
I’ll apply
To your eye,
Gentle lover, remedy.

Squeezing the juice on LYSANDER’s eyes

When thou wakest,
Thou takest
True delight
In the sight
Of thy former lady’s eye:
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown:
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.


lying asleep.

SEED, and other Fairies attending; OBERON behind unseen

Come, sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.

Where’s Peaseblossom?


Scratch my head Peaseblossom. Where’s Mounsieur Cobweb?


Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your
weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped
humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good
mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret
yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,

good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;
I would be loath to have you overflown with a
honey-bag, signior. Where’s Mounsieur Mustardseed?


Give me your neaf, Mounsieur Mustardseed. Pray you,
leave your courtesy, good mounsieur.

What’s your Will?

Nothing, good mounsieur, but to help Cavalery Cobweb
to scratch. I must to the barber’s, monsieur; for
methinks I am marvellous hairy about the face; and I
am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me,
I must scratch.

What, wilt thou hear some music,
my sweet love?

I have a reasonable good ear in music. Let’s have
the tongs and the bones.

Or say, sweet love, what thou desirest to eat.

Truly, a peck of provender: I could munch your good
dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle
of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.


I have a venturous fairy that shall seek
The squirrel’s hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.

I had rather have a handful or two of dried peas.
But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me: I
have an exposition of sleep come upon me.

Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms.
Fairies, begone, and be all ways away.

Exeunt fairies

So doth the woodbine the sweet honeysuckle
Gently entwist; the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
O, how I love thee! how I dote on thee!

[They sleep]
Enter PUCK

Welcome, good Robin.
See’st thou this sweet sight?
Her dotage now I do begin to pity:
For, meeting her of late behind the wood,
Seeking sweet favours from this hateful fool,
I did upbraid her and fall out with her;
For she his hairy temples then had rounded
With a coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers;
And that same dew, which sometime on the buds
Was wont to swell like round and orient pearls,
Stood now within the pretty flowerets’ eyes
Like tears that did their own disgrace bewail.
When I had at my pleasure taunted her
And she in mild terms begg’d my patience,

I then did ask of her her changeling child;
Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent
To bear him to my bower in fairy land.
And now I have the boy, I will undo
This hateful imperfection of her eyes:
And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp
From off the head of this Athenian swain;
That, he awaking when the other do,
May all to Athens back again repair
And think no more of this night’s accidents
But as the fierce vexation of a dream.
But first I will release the fairy queen.
Be as thou wast wont to be;
See as thou wast wont to see:
Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen.

My Oberon! what visions have I seen!
Methought I was enamour’d of an ass.

There lies your love.

How came these things to pass?
O, how mine eyes do loathe his visage now!

Silence awhile. Robin, take off this head.
Titania, music call; and strike more dead
Than common sleep of all these five the sense.

Music, ho! music, such as charmeth sleep!
Music, still


Now, when thou wakest, with thine
own fool’s eyes peep.

Sound, music! Come, my queen, take hands with me,
And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be.
Now thou and I are new in amity,
And will to-morrow midnight solemnly
Dance in Duke Theseus’ house triumphantly,
And bless it to all fair prosperity:
There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Wedded, with Theseus, all in jollity.

Fairy king, attend, and mark:
I do hear the morning lark.

Then, my queen, in silence sad,
Trip we after the night’s shade:
We the globe can compass soon,
Swifter than the wandering moon.

Come, my lord, and in our flight
Tell me how it came this night
That I sleeping here was found
With these mortals on the ground.


Horns winded within


Go, one of you, find out the forester;
For now our observation is perform’d;
And since we have the vaward of the day,

(Video) Writing the Impossible | Jorge Luis Borges

My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
Uncouple in the western valley; let them go:
Dispatch, I say, and find the forester.

Exit an Attendant

We will, fair queen, up to the mountain’s top,
And mark the musical confusion
Of hounds and echo in conjunction.

I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,
When in a wood of Crete they bay’d the bear
With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear
Such gallant chiding: for, besides the groves,
The skies, the fountains, every region near
Seem’d all one mutual cry: I never heard
So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.

My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew’d, so sanded, and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee’d, and dew-lapp’d like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match’d in mouth like bells,
Each under each. A cry more tuneable
Was never holla’d to, nor cheer’d with horn,
In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly:
Judge when you hear. But, soft! what nymphs are these?

My lord, this is my daughter here asleep;
And this, Lysander; this Demetrius is;
This Helena, old Nedar’s Helena:
I wonder of their being here together.

No doubt they rose up early to observe
The rite of May, and hearing our intent,

Came here in grace our solemnity.
But speak, Egeus; is not this the day
That Hermia should give answer of her choice?

It is, my lord.

Go, bid the huntsmen wake them with their horns.
Horns and shout within.


Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past:
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?

Pardon, my lord.

I pray you all, stand up.
I know you two are rival enemies:
How comes this gentle concord in the world,
That hatred is so far from jealousy,
To sleep by hate, and fear no enmity?

My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Half sleep, half waking: but as yet, I swear,
I cannot truly say how I came here;
But, as I think,–for truly would I speak,
And now do I bethink me, so it is,–
I came with Hermia hither: our intent
Was to be gone from Athens, where we might,
Without the peril of the Athenian law.

Enough, enough, my lord; you have enough:

I beg the law, the law, upon his head.
They would have stolen away; they would, Demetrius,
Thereby to have defeated you and me,
You of your wife and me of my consent,
Of my consent that she should be your wife.

My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
Of this their purpose hither to this wood;
And I in fury hither follow’d them,
Fair Helena in fancy following me.
But, my good lord, I wot not by what power,–
But by some power it is,–my love to Hermia,
Melted as the snow, seems to me now
As the remembrance of an idle gaud
Which in my childhood I did dote upon;
And all the faith, the virtue of my heart,
The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helena. To her, my lord,
Was I betroth’d ere I saw Hermia:
But, like in sickness, did I loathe this food;
But, as in health, come to my natural taste,
Now I do wish it, love it, long for it,
And will for evermore be true to it.

Fair lovers, you are fortunately met:
Of this discourse we more will hear anon.
Egeus, I will overbear your will;
For in the temple by and by with us
These couples shall eternally be knit:
And, for the morning now is something worn,
Our purposed hunting shall be set aside.
Away with us to Athens; three and three,
We’ll hold a feast in great solemnity.
Come, Hippolyta.


These things seem small and undistinguishable,

Methinks I see these things with parted eye,
When every thing seems double.
So methinks:
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,
Mine own, and not mine own.

Are you sure
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream. Do not you think
The duke was here, and bid us follow him?

Yea; and my father.

And Hippolyta.

And he did bid us follow to the temple.

Why, then, we are awake: let’s follow him
And by the way let us recount our dreams.


When my cue comes, call me, and I will
answer: my next is, ‘Most fair Pyramus.’ Heigh-ho!
Peter Quince! Flute, the bellows-mender! Snout,

the tinker! Starveling! God’s my life, stolen
hence, and left me asleep! I have had a most rare
vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to
say what dream it was: man is but an ass, if he go
about to expound this dream. Methought I was–there
is no man can tell what. Methought I was,–and
methought I had,–but man is but a patched fool, if
he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye
of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not
seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue
to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream
was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of
this dream: it shall be called Bottom’s Dream,
because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the
latter end of a play, before the duke:
peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall
sing it at her death.

SCENE II. Athens. QUINCE’S house.


Have you sent to Bottom’s house? Is he come home yet?

He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt he is

If he come not, then the play is marred: it goes
not forward, doth it?

It is not possible: you have not a man in all
Athens able to discharge Pyramus but he.

No, he hath simply the best wit of any handicraft
man in Athens.

Yea and the best person too; and he is a very
paramour for a sweet voice.

You must say ‘paragon:’ a paramour is, God bless us,
a thing of naught.

Enter SNUG

Masters, the duke is coming from the temple, and
there is two or three lords and ladies more married:
if our sport had gone forward, we had all been made

O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence a
day during his life; he could not have ‘scaped
sixpence a day: an the duke had not given him
sixpence a day for playing Pyramus, I’ll be hanged;
he would have deserved it: sixpence a day in
Pyramus, or nothing.


Where are these lads? where are these hearts?

Bottom! O most courageous day! O most happy hour!

Masters, I am to discourse wonders: but ask me not
what; for if I tell you, I am no true Athenian. I

will tell you every thing, right as it fell out.

Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that
the duke hath dined. Get your apparel together,
good strings to your beards, new ribbons to your
pumps; meet presently at the palace; every man look
o’er his part; for the short and the long is, our
play is preferred. In any case, let Thisby have
clean linen; and let not him that plays the lion
pair his nails, for they shall hang out for the
lion’s claws. And, most dear actors, eat no onions
nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I
do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet
comedy. No more words: away! go, away!


SCENE I. Athens. The palace of THESEUS.


‘Tis strange my Theseus, that these
lovers speak of.

More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,

That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy’s images
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.


Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts!

More than to us
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!

Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have,
To wear away this long age of three hours
Between our after-supper and bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand? Is there no play,

To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Philostrate.

Here, mighty Theseus.

Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?

There is a brief how many sports are ripe:
Make choice of which your highness will see first.

Giving a paper

‘The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.’
We’ll none of that: that have I told my love,
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.

‘The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.’
That is an old device; and it was play’d
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.

‘The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.’
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.

‘A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.’
Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
How shall we find the concord of this discord?

A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
Which makes it tedious; for in all the play
There is not one word apt, one player fitted:
And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

What are they that do play it?

Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labour’d in their minds till now,
And now have toil’d their unbreathed memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.

And we will hear it.

No, my noble lord;
It is not for you: I have heard it over,
And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch’d and conn’d with cruel pain,
To do you service.

I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.


I love not to see wretchedness o’er charged
And duty in his service perishing.

Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.
He says they can do nothing in this kind.

The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
Takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practised accent in their fears
And in conclusion dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence yet I pick’d a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
In least speak most, to my capacity.


So please your grace, the Prologue is address’d.

Let him approach.
Flourish of trumpets

Enter QUINCE for the Prologue

If we offend, it is with our good will.
That you should think, we come not to offend,
But with good will. To show our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end.
Consider then we come but in despite.
We do not come as minding to contest you,
Our true intent is. All for your delight
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The actors are at hand and by their show
You shall know all that you are like to know.

This fellow doth not stand upon points.

He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he knows
not the stop. A good moral, my lord: it is not
enough to speak, but to speak true.

Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child
on a recorder; a sound, but not in government.

His speech, was like a tangled chain; nothing
impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?

Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion

Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
This beauteous lady Thisby is certain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
Wall, that vile Wall which did these lovers sunder;

And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are content
To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,
The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
Did scare away, or rather did affright;
And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.
Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
And finds his trusty Thisby’s mantle slain:
Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
He bravely broach’d is boiling bloody breast;
And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain
At large discourse, while here they do remain.
Exeunt Prologue, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine

I wonder if the lion be to speak.

No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.


In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?

It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard
discourse, my lord.

Enter Pyramus

Pyramus draws near the wall: silence!

O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black!
O night, which ever art when day is not!
O night, O night! alack, alack, alack,
I fear my Thisby’s promise is forgot!
And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,
That stand’st between her father’s ground and mine!
Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne!
Wall holds up his fingers

Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for this!
But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss!
Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!

The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.

No, in truth, sir, he should not. ‘Deceiving me’
is Thisby’s cue: she is to enter now, and I am to
spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will
fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.
Enter Thisbe


O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
My cherry lips have often kiss’d thy stones,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby’s face. Thisby!
My love thou art, my love I think.

Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grace;
And, like Limander, am I trusty still.

And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.

Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.

As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.

O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!

I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.

Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?

‘Tide life, ‘tide death, I come without delay.

Exeunt Pyramus and Thisbe


Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done, thus Wall away doth go.


Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.

No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear
without warning.

This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst
are no worse, if imagination amend them.

It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.

If we imagine no worse of them than they of
themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here
come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.
Enter Lion and Moonshine

You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam;
For, if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, ‘twere pity on my life.


A very gentle beast, of a good conscience.

The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw.

This lion is a very fox for his valour.

True; and a goose for his discretion.

Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his
discretion; and the fox carries the goose.

His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour;
for the goose carries not the fox. It is well:
leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.

This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;–

He should have worn the horns on his head.

He is no crescent, and his horns are
invisible within the circumference.

This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be.

This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man
should be put into the lanthorn. How is it else the
man i’ the moon?

He dares not come there for the candle; for, you
see, it is already in snuff.

I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!

It appears, by his small light of discretion, that
he is in the wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all
reason, we must stay the time.

Proceed, Moon.

All that I have to say, is, to tell you that the
lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this
thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.

Why, all these should be in the lanthorn; for all
these are in the moon. But, silence! here comes Thisbe.
[Enter Thisbe]

This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?

[Roaring] Oh–

[Thisbe runs off]

Well roared, Lion.

Well run, Thisbe.

Well shone, Moon. Truly, the moon shines with a
good grace.

[The Lion shakes Thisbe’s mantle, and exit]

Well moused, Lion.

And so the lion vanished.

And then came Pyramus.

Enter Pyramus

Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams,
I trust to take of truest Thisby sight.
But stay, O spite!
But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!
Thy mantle good,
What, stain’d with blood!
Approach, ye Furies fell!
O Fates, come, come,
Cut thread and thrum;
Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!

This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would
go near to make a man look sad.

Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.

O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear:
Which is–no, no–which was the fairest dame
That lived, that loved, that liked, that look’d
with cheer.
Come, tears, confound;
Out, sword, and wound
The pap of Pyramus;
Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop:

[Stabs himself]

Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
Now am I dead,
Now am I fled;
My soul is in the sky:
Tongue, lose thy light;
Moon take thy flight:

Exit Moonshine

Now die, die, die, die, die.


No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.

Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing.

With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and

prove an ass.

How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes
back and finds her lover?

She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and
her passion ends the play.
[Re-enter Thisbe]

Methinks she should not use a long one for such a
Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.

A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which
Thisbe, is the better; he for a man, God warrant us;
she for a woman, God bless us.

She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.

And thus she means, videlicet:–
Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise!
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These My lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone:
Lovers, make moan:
His eyes were green as leeks.
O Sisters Three,

Come, come to me,
With hands as pale as milk;
Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
Tongue, not a word:
Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast imbrue:
Stabs herself

And, farewell, friends;
Thus Thisby ends:
Adieu, adieu, adieu.


Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.

Ay, and Wall too.

[Starting up]
No assure you; the wall is down that
parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the
epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance between two
of our company?

No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no
excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all
dead, there needs none to be blamed. Marry, if he
that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself
in Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine
tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably
discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your
epilogue alone.

[A dance]

The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:
Lovers, to bed; ‘tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn
As much as we this night have overwatch’d.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguiled
The heavy gait of night. Sweet friends, to bed.
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity.

Enter PUCK

Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic: not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow’d house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter OBERON and TITANIA with their train

Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.

First, rehearse your song by rote
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.
Song and dance

Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature’s hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.

Exeunt OBERON, TITANIA, and train

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

The labyrinth of initiation
the underworld, and the sacred grove

read before class on June 12-17

The Aeneid by Virgil, Ch. 6 p. 2
translated by H.R. Fairclough

The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri p. 23
Inferno, cantos 1–6, 12, 34; Paradisio, canto 33
translated by Courtney Langdon

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost p. 56

we will work with these texts during class on June 17

East Coker p.57
Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis p.60

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The Aeneid, by Virgil, Ch. 6

[1] Thus he cries weeping, and gives his fleet the reins, and at last glides up to
the shores of Euboean Cumae. They turn the prows seaward, then with the grip
of anchors’ teeth made fast the ships, and the round keels fringe the beach.
In hot haste the youthful band leaps forth on the Hesperian shore; some seek
the seeds of flame hidden in veins of flint, some despoil the woods, the thick
coverts of game, and point to new-found streams. But loyal Aeneas seeks the
heights, where Apollo sits enthroned, and a vast cavern hard by, hidden haunt
of the dread Sibyl, into whom the Delian seer breathes a mighty mind and soul,
revealing the future. Now they pass under the grove of Trivia and the roof of

[14] Daedalus, it is said, when fleeing from Minos’ realm, dared on swift wings
to trust himself to the sky; on his unwonted way he floated forth towards the
cold North, and at last stood lightly poised above the Chalcidian hill. Here first
restored to earth, he dedicated to thee, Phoebus, the orange of his wings and
built a vast temple. On the doors is the death of Androgeos; then the children
of Cecrops, bidden, alas, to pay as yearly tribute seven living sons; there stands
the urn, the lots now drawn. Opposite, rising from the sea, the Cretan land
faces this; here is the cruel love of the bull, Pasiphaë craftily mated, and the
mongrel breed of the Minotaur, a hybrid offspring, record of a monstrous love;
there that house of toil, a maze inextricable; but Daedalus pitying the princess’s
great love, himself unwound the deceptive tangle of the palace, guiding blind
feet with the thread. You, too, Icarus, would have large share in such a work, did
grief permit: twice had he essayed to fashion your fall in gold; twice sank the
father’s hands. Ay, and all the tale throughout would their eyes have scanned,
but now came Achates from his errand, and with him the priestess of Phoebus
and Trivia, Deiphobe, daughter of Glaucus, who addressed the king: “Not sights
like these does this hour demand! Now it were better to sacrifice seven bullocks
from the unbroken herd, and as many ewes fitly chosen.” Having thus addressed
Aeneas – and not slow are the men to do her sacred bidding – the priestess
calls the Teucrians into the lofty fane.

[42] The huge side of the Euboean rock is hew into a cavern, into which lead a
hundred wide mouths, a hundred gateways, from which rush as many voices,
the answers of the Sibyl. They had come to the threshold, when the maiden
cries: “Tis time to ask the oracles; the god, lo! the god!” As thus she spoke be-

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fore the doors, suddenly not countenance nor colour was the same, nor stayed
her tresses braided; but her bosom heaves, her heart swells with wild frenzy,
and she is taller to behold, nor has her voice a mortal ring, since now she feels
the nearer breath of deity. “Are you slow to vow and to pray?” she cries. “Are
you slow, Trojan Aeneas? For till then the mighty mouths of the awestruck
house will not gape open.” So she spoke and was mute. A chill shudder ran
through the Teucrians’ sturdy frames, and their king pours forth prayers from his
inmost heart: “Phoebus, who never failed to pity Troy’s sore agony, who guid-
ed the Dardan shaft and hand of Paris against the body of Aeacus’ son, under
your guidance did I enter so many seas, skirting mighty lands, the far remote
Massylian tribes, and fields the Syrtes fringe; now at last is Italy’s ever reced-
ing shore within our grasp; thus far only may Troy’s fortune have followed us!
You, too, many now fitly spare the race of Pergamus, you gods and goddesses
all, to whom Troy and Dardania’s great glory were an offence. And you, most
holy prophetess, who foreknow the future, grant – I ask no realm unpledged by
my fate – that the Teucrians may rest in Latium, with the wandering gods and
storm-tossed powers of Troy. Then to Phoebus and Trivia will I set up a tem-
ple of solid marble, and festal days in Phoebus’ name. You also a stately shrine
awaits in our realm; for here I will place your oracles and mystic utterances,
told to my people, and ordain chosen men, O gracious one. Only trust not your
verses to leaves, lest they fly in disorder, the sport of rushing winds; chant them
yourself, I pray.” His lips ceased speaking.

[77] But the prophetess, not yet brooking the sway of Phoebus, storms wildly
in the cavern, if so she may shake the mighty god from her breast; so much the
more he tires her raving mouth, tames her wild heart, and moulds her by con-
straint. And now the hundred mighty mouths of the house have opened of their
own will, and bring through the air the seer’s reply: “O you that have at length
survived the great perils of the sea – yet by land more grievous woes lie in
wait – into the realm of Lavinium the sons of Dardanus shall come, relieve your
heart of this care. Yet they shall not also rejoice in their coming. Wars, grim wars
I see, and the Tiber foaming with streams of blood. You will not lack a Simois,
nor a Xanthus, nor a Doric camp. Even now in Latium a new Achilles has been
born, himself a goddess’s son; nor shall Juno anywhere fail to dog the Trojans,
while you, a suppliant in your need, what races, what cities of Italy will you not
implore! The cause of all this Trojan woe is again an alien bride, again a foreign
marriage! . . . Yield not to ills, but go forth all the bolder to face them as far as
your destiny will allow! The road to safety, little though you think it, shall first
issue from a Grecian city.”

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[98] In these words the Cumaean Sibyl chants from the shrine her dread enig-
mas and booms from the cavern, wrapping truth in darkness – so does Apollo
shake his reins as she rages, and ply the goad beneath her breast. As soon as
the frenzy ceased and the raving lips were hushed, Aeneas the hero begins:
“For me no form of toils arises, O maiden, strange or unlooked for; all this have
I foreseen and debated in my mind. On thing I pray: since here is the famed
gate of the nether king, and the gloomy marsh from Acheron’s overflow, be it
granted me to pass into my dear father’s sight and presence; show the way and
open the hallowed portals! Amid flames and a thousand pursuing spears, I res-
cued him on these shoulders, and brought him safe from the enemy’s midst.
He, the partner of my journey, endured with me all the seas and all the men-
ace of ocean and sky, weak as he was, beyond the strength and portion of age.
He is was who prayed and charged me humbly to seek you and draw near to
your threshold. Pity both son and sire, I beseech you, gracious one; for you
are all-powerful, and not in vain did Hecate make you mistress in the groves of
Avernus. If Orpheus availed to summon his wife’s shade, strong in his Thracian
lyre and tuneful strings; if Pollux, dying in turn, ransomed his brother and so
many times comes and goes his way – why speak of Theseus, why of Hercules
the mighty – I, too, have descent from Jove most high!”

[124] In such words he prayed and clasped the altar, when thus the prophet-
ess began to speak: “Sprung from blood of gods, son of Trojan Anchises, easy is
the descent to Avernus: night and day the door of gloomy Dis stands open; but
to recall one’s steps and pass out to the upper air, this is the task, this the toil!
Some few, whom kindly Jupiter has loved, or shining worth uplifted to heaven,
sons of the gods, have availed. In all the mid-space lie woods, and Cocytus girds
it, gliding with murky folds. But if such love is in your heart – if such a yearn-
ing, twice to swim the Stygian lake, twice to see black Tartarus – and if you are
pleased to give rein to the mad endeavour, hear what must first be done. There
lurks in a shady tree a bough, golden leaf and pliant stem, held consecrate to
nether Juno [Proserpine]; this all the grove hides, and shadows veil in the dim
valleys. But it is not given to pass beneath earth’s hidden places, before some-
one has plucked from the tree the golden-tressed fruitage. This has beautiful
Proserpine ordained to be borne to her as her own gift. When the first is torn
away, a second fails not, golden too, and the spray bears leaf of the selfsame
ore. Search then with eyes aloft and, when found, duly pluck it with your hand;
for of itself will it follow you, freely and with ease, if Fate be calling you; else
with no force will you avail to win it or rend it with hard steel. Moreover, there
lies the dead body of your friend – ah, you know it not! – and defiles all the

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fleet with death, while you seek counsel and hover on our threshold. Bear him
first to his own place and hide him in the tomb. Lead black cattle; be these your
first peace offerings. Only so will you survey the Stygian groves and realms the
living may not tread.” She spoke, and with closed lips was silent.

[156] With sad countenance and downcast eyes, Aeneas wends his way, quit-
ting the cavern, and ponders in his mind the dark issues. At his side goes loyal
Achates, and plants his steps under a like load of care. Much varied discourse
were they weaving, each with each – of what dead comrade spoke the sooth-
sayer, of what body for burial? And as they came, they see on the dry beach
Misenus, cut off by untimely death – Misenus, son of Aeolus, surpassed by
none in stirring men with his bugle’s blare, and in kindling with his clang the god
of war. He had been great Hector’s comrade, at Hector’s side he braved the
fray, glorious for clarion and spear alike; but when Achilles, victorious, stripped
his chief of life, the valiant hero came into the fellowship of Dardan Aeneas,
following no meaner standard. Yet on that day, while by chance he made the
seas ring with his hollow shell – madman – and with his blare calls the gods to
contest, jealous Triton, if the tale can win belief, caught and plunged him in the
foaming waves amid the rocks. So, with loud lament, all were mourning round
him, good Aeneas foremost. Then, weeping, they quickly carry out the Sibyl’s
commands, and toil to pile up trees fro the altar of his tomb and rear it to the
sky. They pass into the forest primeval, the deep lairs of beasts; down drop the
pitchy pines, and the ilex rings to the stroke of the axe; ashen logs and splinter-
ing oak are cleft with wedges, and from the mountains they roll down huge ash

[183] No less Aeneas, first amid such toils, cheers his comrades and girds on
like weapons. And alone he ponders with his own sad heart, gazing on the
boundless forest, and, as it chanced, thus prays: “O if now that golden bough
would show itself to us on the tree in the deep wood! For all things truly – ah,
too truly – did the seer say of you, Misenus.” Scarce had he said these words
when under his very eyes twin doves, as it chanced, came flying from the sky
and lit on the green grass. Then the great hero knew them for his mother’s
birds, and prays with joy: “Be my guides, if any way there be, and through the
air steer a course into the grove, where the rich bough overshades the fruit-
ful ground! And you, goddess-mother, fail not my dark hour!” So speaking,
he checked his steps, marking what signs they bring, where they direct their
course. As eyes could keep them within sight; then, when they came to the
jaws of noisome Avernus, they swiftly rise and, dropping through the unclouded

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air, perch side by side on their chosen goal – a tree, through whose branches
flashed the contrasting glimmer of gold. As in winter’s cold, amid the woods, the
mistletoe, sown of an alien tree, is wont to bloom with strange leafage, and with
yellow fruit embrace the shapely stems: such was the vision of the leafy gold
on the shadowy ilex, so rustled the foil in the gentle breeze. Forthwith Aeneas
plucks it and greedily breaks off the clinging bough, and carries it beneath the
roof of the prophetic Sibyl.

[212] No less meanwhile on the beach the Teucrians were weeping for Misenus
and paying the last dues to the thankless dust. And first they raise a huge pyre,
rich with pitchy pine and oaken logs. Its sides they entwine with somber foliage,
set in front funereal cypresses, and adorn it above with gleaming arms. Some
heat water, setting cauldrons bubbling on the flames, and wash and anoint the
cold body. Loud is the wailing; then, their weeping done, they lay his limbs upon
the couch, and over them cast purple robes, the familiar dress. Some shoul-
dered the heavy bier – sad ministry – and in ancestral fashion, with averted
eyes, held the torch below. The gifts were piled up in the blaze – frankincense,
viands, and bowls of flowing oil. After the ashes fell in and the flame died away,
they washed with wine the remnant of thirsty dust, and Corynaeus, gather-
ing the bones, hid them in a brazen urn. He, too, with pure water thrice encir-
cled his comrades and cleansed them, sprinkling light dew from a fruitful olive
bough, and spoke the words of farewell. But loyal Aeneas heaps over him a
massive tomb, with the soldier’s own arms, his oar and trumpet, beneath a lofty
hill, which now from him is called Misenus, and keeps from age to age an ever
living name.

[236] This done, he fulfils with haste the Sibyl’s behest. A deep cave there was,
yawning wide and vast, of jagged rock, and sheltered by dark lake and wood-
land gloom, over which no flying creatures could safely wing their way; such a
vapour from those black jaws was wafted to the vaulted sky whence the Greeks
spoke of Avernus, the Birdless Place. Here first the priestess set in line four
dark-backed heifers, and pours wine upon their brows; then, plucking the top-
most bristles from between the horns, lays them on the sacred fire for first of-
fering, calling aloud on Hecate, supreme both in Heaven and in Hell. Others set
knives to the throat and catch the warm blood in bowls. Aeneas himself slays
with the sword a black-fleeced lamb to the mother [Night] of the Eumenides
and her great sister [Earth], and to you, Proserpine, a barren heifer. Then for the
Stygian king he inaugurates an altar by night, and lays upon the flames whole
carcasses of bulls, pouring fat oil over the blazing entrails. But just before the

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rays and dawning of the early sun the ground rumbled underfoot, the wood-
ed ridges began to quiver, and through the gloom dogs seemed to howl as the
goddess [Hecate] drew nigh. “Away! away! you that are uninitiated!” shrieks the
seer, “withdraw from all the grove! And you, rush on the road and unsheathe
your sword! Now, Aeneas, is the hour for courage, now for a dauntless heart!”
So much she said, and plunged madly into the opened cave; he, with fearless
steps, keeps pace with his advancing guide.

[264] You gods, who hold the domain of spirits! You voiceless shades! You,
Chaos, and you, Phlegethon, you broad, hushed tracts of night! Suffer me to
tell what I have heard; suffer me of your grace to unfold secrets buried in the
depths and darkness of the earth!

[268] On they went dimly, beneath the lonely night amid the gloom, through
the empty halls of Dis and his phantom realm, even as under the niggard light of
a fitful moon lies a path in the forest, when Jupiter has buried the sky in shade,
and black Night has stolen from the world her hues. Just before the entrance,
even within the very jaws of Hell, Grief and avenging Cares have set their bed;
there pale Diseases dwell, sad Age, and Fear, and Hunger, temptress to sin, and
loathly Want, shapes terrible to view; and Death and Distress; next, Death’s
own brother Sleep, and the soul’s Guilty Joys, and, on the threshold opposite,
the death-dealing War, and the Furies’ iron cells, and maddening Strife, her
snaky locks entwined with bloody ribbons.

[282] In the midst an elm, shadowy and vast, spreads her boughs and aged
arms, the whome which, men say, false Dreams hold, clinging under every leaf.
And many monstrous forms besides of various beasts are stalled at the doors,
Centaurs and double-shaped Scyllas, and he hundredfold Briareus, and the
beast of Lerna, hissing horribly, and the Chimaera armed with flame, Gorgons
and Harpies, and the shape of the three-bodied shade [Geryon]. Here on a sud-
den, in trembling terror, Aeneas grasps his sword, and turns the naked edge
against their coming; and did not his wise companion warn him that these were
but faint, bodiless lives, flitting under a hollow semblance of form, he would
rush upon them and vainly cleave shadows with steel.

[295] From here a road leads to the waters of Tartarean Acheron. Here, thick
with mire and of fathomless flood, a whirlpool seethes and belches into Cocy-
tus all its sand. A grim ferry man guards these waters and streams, terrible in
his squalor – Charon, on whose chin lies a mass of unkempt hoary hair; his eyes

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are staring orbs of flame; his squalid garb hangs by a knot from his shoulders.
Unaided, he poles the boat, tends the sails, and in his murky craft convoys the
dead – now aged, but a god’s old age is hardy and green. Hither rushed all the
throng, streaming to the banks; mothers and men and bodies of high-souled
heroes, their life now done, boys and unwedded girls, and sons placed on the
pyre before their fathers’ eyes; thick as the leaves of the forest that at autumn’s
first frost drop and fall, and thick as the birds that from the seething deep flock
shoreward, when the chill of the year drives them overseas and sends them into
sunny lands. They stood, pleading to be the first ferried across, and stretched
out hands in yearning for the farther shore. But the surly boatman takes now
these, now those, while others he thrusts away, back from the brink.

[317] Then aroused and amazed by the disorder, Aeneas cries: “Tell me, maiden,
what means the crowding to the river? What seek the spirits? By what rule do
these leave the banks, and those sweep the lurid stream with oars?” To him thus
briefly spoke the aged priestess: “Anchises’ son, true offspring of gods, you are
looking at the deep pools of Cocytus and the Stygian marsh, by whose power
the gods fear to swear falsely. All this crowd that you see is helpless and grav-
eless; yonder ferryman is Charon; those whom the flood carries are the bur-
ied. He may not carry them over the dreadful banks and hoarse-voiced waters
until their bones have found a resting place. A hundred years they roam and
flit about these shores; then only are they admitted and revisit the longed-for
pools.” Anchises’ son paused and stayed his steps, pondering much, and pitying
in his heart their unjust lost. There he espies, doleful and reft of death’s hon-
our, Leucaspis and Orontes, captain of the Lycian fleet, whom, while voyaging
together from Troy over windy waters, the South Wind overwhelmed, engulfing
alike ship and sailors.

[337] Lo! there passed the helmsman, Palinurus, who of late, on the Libyan
voyage, while he marked the stars, had fallen from the stern, flung forth in
the midst of the waves. Him, when at last amid the deep gloom he knew the
sorrowful form, he first accosts thus: “What god, Palinurus, tore you from us
and plunged you beneath the open ocean? O tell me! For Apollo, never before
found false, with this one answer tricked my soul, for he foretold that you would
escape the sea and reach Ausonia’s shores. Is this how he keeps his promise?”
But he answered: “Neither did tripod of Phoebus fail you, my captain, Anchis-
es’ son, nor did a god plunge me in the deep. For by chance the helm to which
I clung, steering our course, was violently torn from me, and as I fell headlong, I
dragged it down with me. By the rough seas I sear that not for myself did I feel

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such fear as for your ship, lest, stripped of its gear and deprived of its helmsman,
it might fail amid such surging waves. Three stormy nights over the measureless
seas the South Wind drove me wildly on the water; scarce on the fourth dawn,
aloft on the crest of a wave, I sighted Italy. Little by little I swam shoreward, and
even now was grasping at safety, but as, weighted by dripping garb, I caught
with bent fingers at the rugged cliff-spurs, the barbarous folk assailed me with
the sword, in ignorance deeming me a prize. Now the wave holds me, and the
winds toss me on the beach. Oh, by heaven’s sweet light and air, I beseech you,
by your father, by the rising hope of Iulus, snatch me from these woes, uncon-
quered one! Either case earth on me, for that you can, by seeking again the ha-
ven of Velia; or if there be a way, if your goddess-mother shows you one – for
not without divine favour, I believe, are you trying to sail these great streams
and the Stygian mere – give your hand to one so unhappy, and take me with
you across the waves, that at last in death I may find a quiet resting place!”

[372] So had he spoken, and the soothsayer thus began: “Whence, Palinurus,
comes this wild longing of yours? Are you, unburied, to look upon the Stygian
waters and the Furies” stern river, and unbidden draw near the bank? Cease to
dream that heaven’s decrees may be turned aside by prayer. But hear and re-
member my words, to solace your hard lot; for the neighbouring people, in their
cities far and wide, shall be driven by celestial portents to appease your dust,
and shall build a tomb, and to the tomb pay solemn offerings; and for ever the
place shall bear the name of Palinurus.” By these words his cares are dispelled
and for a little space grief is driven from his anguished heart; the land rejoiced in
the name.

[384] So they pursue the journey begun, and draw near to the river. But when,
even from the Stygian wave, the boatman saw them passing through the silent
wood and turning their feet towards the bank, he first, unhailed, accosts and
rebukes them: “Whoever you are who come to our river in arms, tell me, even
from there, why you come, and check your step. This is the land of Shadows, of
Sleep and drowsy Night; living bodies I may not carry in the Stygian boat. And
in truth it brought me no joy that I took Heracles on his journey over the lake,
or Theseus and Pirithoüs, though sons of gods and invincible in valour. The one
by force sought to drag into chains, even from the monarch’s throne, the ward-
er of Tartarus, and tore him off trembling; these essayed to carry off our queen
from the chamber of Dis.” In answer the Amphyrsian soothsayer spoke briefly:
“No such trickery is here; be not troubled; our weapons offer no force; the huge
doorkeeper may from his cave with endless howl affright the bloodless shades;

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Proserpine may in purity keep within her uncle’s threshold. Trojan Aeneas, fa-
mous for piety and arms, descends to his father, to the lowest shades of Erebus.
If the picture of such piety in no wise moves you, yet know this bough” – and
she shows the bough, hidden in her robe. At this his swelling breast subsides
from its anger. No more is said; but he, marveling at the dread gift, the fate-
ful wand so long unseen, turns his blue barge and nears the shore. Then oth-
er souls that sat on the long thwarts he routs out, and clears the gangways; at
once he takes aboard giant Aeneas. The seamy craft groaned under the weight,
and through its chinks took in marshy flood. At last, across the water, he lands
seer and soldier unharmed on the ugly mire and grey sedge.

[417] These realms huge Cerberus makes ring with his triple-throated baying,
his monstrous bulk crouching in a cavern opposite. To him, seeing the snakes
now bristling on his necks, the seer flung a morsel drowsy with honey and
drugged meal. He, opening his triple throat in ravenous hunger, catches it when
thrown and, with monstrous frame relaxed, sinks to earth and stretches his bulk
over all the den. The warder buried in sleep, Aeneas wins the entrance, and
swiftly leaves the bank of that stream whence none return.

[426] At once are heard voices and wailing sore – the souls of infants weep-
ing, whom, on the very threshold of the sweet life they shared not, torn from
the breast, the black day swept off and plunged in bitter death. Near them
were those on false charge condemned to die. Yet not without lot, not without
a judge, are these places given: Minos, presiding, shakes the urn; he it is who
calls a conclave of the silent, and learns men’s lives and misdeeds. The region
thereafter is held by those sad souls who in innocence wrought their own death
and, loathing the light, flung away their lives. How gladly now, in the air above,
would they bear both want and harsh distress! Fate withstands; the unlovely
mere with its dreary water enchains them and Styx imprisons with his ninefold

[440] Not far from here, outspread on every side, are shown the Mourning
Fields; such is the name they bear. Here those whom stern Love has con-
sumed with cruel wasting are hidden in walks withdrawn, embowered in a
myrtle grove; even in death the pangs leave them not. In this region he sees
Phaedra and Procris, and sad Eriphyle, pointing to the wounds her cruel son
had dealt, and Evadne and Pasiphaë. With them goes Laodamia, and Caene-
us, once a youth, now a woman, and again turned back by Fate into her form
of old. Among them, with wound still fresh, Phoenician Dido was wandering in

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the great forest, and soon as the Trojan hero stood near and knew her, a dim
form amid the shadows – even as, in the early month, one sees or fancies he
has seen the moon rise amid the clouds – he shed tears, and spoke to her in
tender love: “Unhappy Dido! Was the tale true then that came to me, that you
were dead and had sought your doom with the sword? Was I, alas! the cause
of your death? By the stars I swear, by the world above, and whatever is sa-
cred in the grave below, unwillingly, queen, I parted from your shores. But the
gods’ decrees, which now constrain me to pass through these shades, through
lands squalid and forsaken, and through abysmal night, drove me with their be-
hests; nor could I deem my going thence would bring on you distress so deep.
Stay your step and withdraw not from our view. Whom do you flee? This is the
last word Fate suffers me to say to you.” With these words amid springing tears
Aeneas strove to soothe the wrath of the fiery, fierce-eyed queen. She, turn-
ing away, kept her looks fixed on the ground and no more changes her counte-
nance as he essays to speak than if she were set in hard flint or Marpesian rock.
At length she flung herself away and, still his foe, fled back to the shady grove,
where Sychaeus, her lord of former days, responds to her sorrows and gives her
love for love. Yet none the less, stricken by her unjust doom, Aeneas attends her
with tears afar and pities her as she goes.

[477] Thence he toils along the way that offered itself. And now they gained
the farthest fields [the neutral region, neither Elysium nor Tartarus], where
the renowned in war dwell apart. Here Tydeus meets him; here Parthenopae-
us, famed in arms, and the pale shade of Adrastus; here, much wept on earth
above and fallen in war, the Dardan chiefs; whom as he beheld, all in long array,
he moaned – Glaucus and Medon and Thersilochus, the three sons of Anten-
or, and Polyboetes, priest of Ceres, and Idaeus, still keeping his chariot, still his
arms. Round about, on right and left, stand the souls in throngs. To have seen
him once is not enough; they delight to linger, to pace beside him, and to learn
the causes of his coming. But the Danaan princes and Agamemnon’s battalions,
soon as they saw the man and his arms flashing amid the glom, trembled with
mighty fear; some turn to flee, as of old they sought the ships; some raise a
shout – faintly; the cry essayed mocks their gaping mouths.

[494] And here he sees Deiphobus, son of Priam, his whole frame mangled and
his face cruelly torn – his face and either hand – his ears wrenched from de-
spoiled temples, and his nostrils lopped by a shameful wound. Scarce, indeed,
did he know the quivering form that tried to hide its awful punishment; then,
with familiar accents, unhailed, he accosts him: “Deiphobus, strong in battle,

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scion of Teucer’s high lineage, who chose to exact so cruel a penalty! Who had
power to deal thus with you? Rumour told me that on that last night, weary
with endless slaughter of Pelasgians, you had fallen upon a heap of mingled car-
nage. Then I myself set up a cenotaph upon the Rhoetean shore, and with loud
cry called thrice upon your spirit. Your name and arms guard the place; you, my
friend, I could not see, nor bury, as I departed, in your native land.” To this the
son of Priam: “Nothing, my friend, have you left undone; all dues you have paid
to Deiphobus and the dead man’s shade. But me my own fate and the Laconi-
an woman’s [Helen’s] death-dealing crime overwhelmed in these woes. It was
she who left these memorials! For how we spent that last night amid deluding
joys, you know; and all too well must you remember! When the fateful horse
leapt over the heights of Troy, and brought armed infantry to weight its womb,
she feigned a solemn dance and around the city led the Phrygian wives, shriek-
ing in their Bacchic rites; she herself in the midst held a mighty torch and called
the Danaans from the castle-height. Care-worn and sunk in slumber, I was then
inside our ill-starred bridal chamber, sleep weighing upon me as I lay – sweet
and deep, very image of death’s peace. Meanwhile, this peerless wife takes ev-
ery weapon from the house – even from under my head she had withdrawn
my trusty sword; into the house she calls Menelaus and flings wide the door,
hoping, I doubt not, that her lover would find this a great boon, and so the fame
of old misdeeds might be blotted out. Why prolong the story? They burst into
my chambers; with them comes their fellow counsellor of sin, the son of Aeolus
[Ulysses]. O gods, with like penalties repay the Greeks, if with pious lips I pray
for vengeance! But come, tell in turn what chance has brought you here, alive.
Have you come here driven by your ocean-wanderings, or at Heaven’s com-
mand? Or what doom compels you to visit these sad, sunless dwellings, this
land of disorder?”

[535] During this interchange of talk, Dawn, with roseate car, had now crossed
mid-heaven in her skyey course, and perchance in such wise they would have
spent all the allotted time, but the Sibyl beside him gave warning with brief
words: “Night is coming, Aeneas; we waste the hours in weeping. Here is the
place, where the road parts: there to the right, as it runs under the walls of
great Dis, is our way to Elysium, but the left wreaks the punishment of the
wicked, and send them on to pitiless Tartarus.” In reply Deiphobus said: “Be not
angry, great priestess; I will go my way; I will make the count complete and re-
turn to the darkness. Go, you who are our glory, go; enjoy a happier fate!” Thus
much he said and, as he spoke, turned his steps.

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[548] Suddenly Aeneas looks back, and under a cliff on the left sees a broad
castle, girt with triple wall and encircled with a rushing flood of torrent flames –
Tartarean Phlegethon, that rolls along thundering rocks. In front stands a huge
gate, and pillars of solid adamant, that no might of man, nay, not even the sons
of heaven, could uproot in war; there stands an iron tower, soaring high, and
Tisiphone, sitting girt with bloody pall, keeps sleepless watch over the portal
night and day. From it are heard groans, the sound of the savage lash, the clank
of iron and the dragging of chains. Aeneas stopped, and terrified drank in the
tumult. “What forms of crime are these? Say, O maiden! With what penalties
are they scourged? What is this vast wailing on the wind?” Then the seer thus
began to speak: “Famed chieftain of the Teucrians, no pure soul may tread the
accursed threshold; but when Hecate set me over the groves of Avernus, she
taught me the gods’ penalties and guided me through all. Cretan Rhadamanthus
holds here his iron sway; he chastises, and hears the tale of guilt, exacting con-
fession of crimes, whenever in the world above any man, rejoicing in vain deceit,
has put off atonement for sin until death’s late hour. Straightway avenging Tisi-
phone, girt with the lash, leaps on the guilty to scourge them, and with left hand
brandishing her grim snakes, calls on her savage sister band. Then at last, grat-
ing on harsh, jarring hinge, the infernal gates open. Do you see what sentry [Ti-
siphone] sits in the doorway? what shape guards the threshold? The monstrous
Hydra, still fiercer, with her fifty black gaping throats, dwells within. Then Tarta-
rus itself yawns sheer down, stretching into the gloom twice as far as is the up-
ward view of the sky toward heavenly Olympus. Here the ancient sons of Earth,
the Titan’s brood, hurled down by the thunderbolt, writhe in lowest abyss. Here,
too I saw the twin sons of Aloeus, giant in stature, whose hands tried to tear
down high Heaven and thrust down Jove from his realm above. Salmoneus, too,
I saw, who paid cruel penalty while aping Jove’s fires and the thunders of Olym-
pus. Borne by four horses and brandishing a torch, he rode triumphant through
the Greek peoples and his city in the heart of Elis, claiming as his own the hom-
age of deity. Madman, to mimic the storm clouds and inimitable thunder with
brass and the tramp of horn-footed horses! But the Father Almighty amid thick
clouds launched his bolt – no firebrands he, nor pitch-pines’ smoky glare – and
drove him headlong with furious whirlwind. Likewise one might see Tityos,
nursling of Earth the mother of all. Over nine full acres his body is stretched,
and a monstrous vulture with crooked beak gnaws at his deathless liver and
vitals fruitful of anguish; deep within the breast he lodges and gropes for his
feast; nor is any respite given to the filaments that grow anew. Why tell of the
Lapiths, Ixion and Pirithoüs, and of him [Tantalus] over whom hangs a black crag
that seems ready to slip and fall at any moment? High festal couches gleam

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with backs of gold, and before their eyes is spread a banquet in royal splendour.
Reclining hard by, the eldest Fury stays their hands from touch of the table,
springing forth with uplifted torch and thunderous cries.

[608] “Here were they who in lifetime hated their brethren, or smote a sire, and
entangled a client in wrong; or who brooded in solitude over wealth they had
won, nor set aside a portion for their kin – the largest number this; who were
slain for adultery; or who followed the standard of treason, and feared not to
break allegiance with their lords – all these, immured, await their doom. Seek
not to learn that doom, or what form of crime, or fate, overwhelmed them!
Some roll a huge stone, or hang outstretched on spokes of wheels; hapless The-
seus sits and evermore shall sit, and Phlegyas, most unblest, gives warning to
all and with loud voice bears witness amid the gloom: ‘Be warned; learn ye to
be just and not to slight the gods!’ This one sold his country for gold, and fas-
tened on her a tyrant lord; he made and unmade laws for a bribe. This forced
his daughter’s bed and a marriage forbidden. All dared a monstrous sin, and
what they dared attained. Nay, had I a hundred tongues, a hundred mouths, and
voice of iron, I could not sum up all the forms of crime, or rehearse all the tale
of torments.”

[628] So spoke the aged priestess of Phoebus; then adds: “But come now, has-
ten your step and fulfil the task in hand. Let us hasten. I descry the ramparts
reared by Cyclopean forges and the gates with fronting arch, where they bid us
lay the appointed gifts.” She ended, and, advancing side by side along the dusky
way, they haste over the mid-space and draw near the doors. Aeneas wins the
entrance, sprinkles his body with fresh water, and plants the bough full on the

[637] This at length performed and the task of the goddess fulfilled, they came
to a land of joy, the pleasant lawns and happy seats of the Blissful Groves. Here
an ampler ether clothes the meads with roseate light, and they know their own
sun, and stars of their own. Some disport their limbs on the grassy wrestling
ground, vie in sports, and grapple on the yellow sand; some tread the rhythm of
a dance and chant songs. There, too, the long-robed Thracian priest [Orpheus]
matches their measures with the seven clear notes, striking the lyre now with
his fingers, now with is ivory quill. Here is Teucer’s ancient line, family most fair,
high-souled heroes born in happier years – Ilus and Assaracus and Dardanus,
Troy’s founder. From afar he marvels at their phantom arms and chariots. Their
lances stand fixed in the ground, and their unyoked steeds browse freely over

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the plain. The same pride in chariot and arms that was theirs in life, the same
care in keeping sleek steeds, attends them now that they are hidden beneath
the earth. Others he sees, to right and left, feasting on the sward, and chant-
ing in chorus a joyous paean within a fragrant laurel grove, from where the full
flood of the Eridanus rolls upward through the forest.

[660] Here is the band of those who suffered wounds, fighting for their coun-
try; those who in lifetime were priests and pure, good bards, whose songs were
meet for Phoebus; or they who ennobled life by arts discovered and they who
by service have won remembrance among men – the brows of all bound with
headbands white as snow. These, as they streamed round, the Sibyl thus ad-
dressed, Musaeus before all; for he is centre of that vast throng that gazes up
to him, as with shoulders high he towers aloft: “Say, happy souls, and you, best
of bards, what land, what place holds Anchises? For his sake are we come, and
have sailed across the great rivers of Erebus.” And to her the hero thus made
brief reply: “None has a fixed home. We dwell in shady groves, and live on cush-
ioned riverbanks and in meadows fresh with streams. But if the wish in your
heart so inclines, surmount this ridge, and soon I will set you on an easy path.”
He spoke and stepped on before, and from above points out the shining fields.
Then they leave the mountaintops.

[679] But deep in a green vale father Anchises was surveying with earnest
thought the imprisoned souls that were to pass to the light above and, as it
chanced, was counting over the full number of his people and beloved children,
their fates and fortunes, their works and ways. And as he saw Aeneas coming
towards him over the sward, he eagerly stretched forth both hands, while tears
streamed from his eyes and a cry fell from his lips: “Have you come at last, and
has the duty that your father expected vanquished the toilsome way? Is it given
me to see your face, my son, and hear and utter familiar tones? Even so I mused
and deemed the hour would come, counting the days, nor has my yearning
failed me. Over what lands, what wide seas have you journeyed to my welcome!
What dangers have beset you, my son! How I feared the realm of Libya might
work you harm!” But he answered: “Your shade, father, your sad shade, meet-
ing me repeatedly, drove me to seek these portals. My ships ride the Tuscan
sea. Grant me to clasp your hand, grant me, father, and withdraw not from my
embrace!” So he spoke, his face wet with flooding tears. Thrice there he strove
to throw his arms about his neck; thrice the form, vainly clasped, fled from his
hands, even as light winds, and most like a winged dream.

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[703] Meanwhile, in a retired vale, Aeneas sees a sequestered grove and rus-
tling forest thickets, and the river Lethe drifting past those peaceful homes.
About it hovered peoples and tribes unnumbered; even as when, in the mead-
ows, in cloudless summertime, bees light on many-hued blossoms and stream
round lustrous lilies and all the fields murmur with the humming. Aeneas is star-
tled by the sudden sight and, knowing not, asks the cause – what is that river
yonder, and who are the men thronging the banks in such a host? Then said
father Anchises: “Spirits they are, to whom second bodies are owed by Fate, and
at the water of Lethe’s stream they drink the soothing draught and long forget-
fulness. These in truth I have long yearned to tell and show you to your face,
yea, to count this, my children’s seed, that so you may rejoice with me the more
at finding Italy.” “But, father, must we think that any souls pass aloft from here
to the world above and return a second time to bodily fetters? What mad long-
ing for life possesses their sorry hearts?” “I will surely tell you, my son, and keep
you not in doubt,” Anchises replies and reveals each truth in order.

[724] “First, know that heaven and earth and the watery plains the moon’s
bright sphere and Titan’s star, a spirit within sustains; in all the limbs mind
moves the mass and mingles with the mighty frame. Thence springs the races
of man and beast, the life of winged creatures, and the monsters that ocean
bears beneath his marble surface. Fiery is the vigour and divine the source of
those seeds of life, so far as harmful bodies clog them not, or earthly limbs and
frames born but to die. Hence their fears and desires, their griefs and joys; nor
do they discern the heavenly light, penned as they are in the gloom of their dark
dungeon. Still more! When life’s last ray has fled, the wretches are not entire-
ly freed from all evil and all the plagues of the body; and it needs must be that
many a taint, long ingrained, should in wondrous wise become deeply rooted
in their being. Therefore are they schooled with punishments, and pay penance
for bygone sins. Some are hung stretched out to the empty winds; from others
the stain of guilt is washed away under swirling floods or burned out by fire till
length of days, when time’s cycle is complete, has removed the inbred taint and
leaves unsoiled the ethereal sense and pure flame of spirit: each of us under-
goes his own purgatory. Then we are sent to spacious Elysium, a few of us to
possess the blissful fields. All these that you see, when they have rolled time’s
wheel through a thousand years, the god summons in vast throng to Lethe’s riv-
er, so that, their memories effaced, they may once more revisit the vault above
and conceive the desire of return to the body.”

[752] Anchises paused, and drew his son and with him the Sibyl into the heart

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of the assembly and buzzing throng, then chose a mound whence he might
scan face to face the whole of the long procession and note their faces as they

[756] “Now then, the glory henceforth to attend the Trojan race, what children
of Italian stock are held in store by fate, glorious souls waiting to inherit our
name, this shall I reveal in speech and inform you of your destiny. The youth
you see leaning on an untipped spear holds by lot of life the most immediate
place: he first shall rise into the upper air with Italian blood in his veins, Silvius
of Alban name, last-born of your children, whom late in your old age your wife
Lavinia shall rear in the woodlands, a king and father of kings, with whom our
race shall hold sway in Alba Longa. He next is Procas, pride of the Trojan nation,
then Capys and Numitor and he who will resurrect you by his name, Aeneas
Silvius, no less eminent in goodness and in arms, if ever he come to reign over
Alba. What fine young men are these! Mark the strength they display and the
civic oak that shades their brows! These to your honour will build Nomentum
and Gabii and Fidena’s town; these shall crown hills with Collatia’s towers, and
Pometii, the Fort of Inuus, Bola and Cora: one day to be famous names, these
now are nameless places. Further, a son of Mars shall keep his grandsire com-
pany, Romulus, whom his mother Ilia shall bear of Assaracus’ stock. Do you see
how twin plumes stand upright on his head and how the Father of the gods
stamps him with divine majesty? Lo, under his auspices, my son, shall that glo-
rious Rome extend her empire to earth’s ends, her ambitions to the skies, and
shall embrace seven hills with a single city’s wall, blessed in a brood of heroes;
even as the Berecyntian mother [Cybele], turret-crowned, rides in her chariot
through Phrygian towns, happy in a progeny of gods, clasping a hundred grand-
sons, all denizens of heaven, all tenants of the celestial heights.

[788] “Turn hither now your two-eyed gaze, and behold this nation, the Romans
that are yours. Here is Caesar and all the seed of Iulus destined to pass under
heaven’s spacious sphere. And this in truth is he whom you so often hear prom-
ised you, Augustus Caesar, son of a god, who will again establish a golden age in
Latium amid fields once ruled by Saturn; he will advance his empire beyond the
Garamants and Indians to a land which lies beyond our stars, beyond the path
of year and sun, where sky-bearing Atlas wheels on his shoulders the blazing
star-studded sphere. Against his coming both Caspian realms and the Maeotic
land even now shudder at the oracles of their gods, and the mouths of seven-
fold Nile quiver in alarm. Not even Hercules traversed so much of earth’s ex-
tent, though he pierced the stag of brazen foot, quieted the woods of Eryman-

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thus, and made Lerna tremble at his bow; nor he either, who guides his car with
vine-leaf reins, triumphant Bacchus, driving his tigers down from Nysa’s lofty
peaks. And do we still hesitate to make known our worth by exploits or shrink in
fear from settling on Western soil?

[808] “but who is he apart, crowned with sprays of live, offering sacrifice? Ah, I
recognize the hoary hair and beard of that king of Rome [Numa] who will make
the infant city secure on a basis of laws, called from the needy land of low-
ly Cures to sovereign might. Him shall Tullus next succeed, the breaker of his
country’s peace, who will rouse to war an inactive folk and armies long unused
to triumphs. Hard on his heels follows over-boastful Ancus, who even now en-
joys too much the breeze by popular favour. Would you also see the Tarquin
kings, the proud spirit of Brutus the Avenger, and the fasces regained? He first
shall receive a consul’s power and the cruel axes, and when his sons would stir
up revolt, the father will hale them to execution in fair freedom’s name, unhap-
py man, however later ages will extol that deed; yet shall a patriot’s love prevail
and unquenched third for fame.

[824] “Now behold over there the Decii and the Drusi, Torquatus of the cruel
axe, and Camillus bringing the standards home! But they whom you see, re-
splendent in matching arms, souls now in harmony and as long as they are im-
prisoned in night, alas, if once they attain the light of life, what mutual strife,
what battles and bloodshed will they cause, the bride’s father swooping from
Alpine ramparts and Monoeus’ fort, her husband confronting him with forc-
es from the East! Steel not your hearts, my sons, to such wicked war nor vent
violent valour on the vitals of your land. And you who draw your lineage from
heaven, be you the first to show mercy; cast the sword from your hand, child of
my blood! . . .

[836] “He yonder [Lucius Mummius], triumphant over Corinth, shall drive a vic-
tor’s chariot to the lofty Capitol, famed for Achaeans he has slain. Yon other
[Luxius Aemilius Paullus] shall uproot Argos, Agamemnon’s Mycenae, and even
an heir of Aeacus, seed of mighty Achilles: he will avenge his Trojan sires and
Minerva’s polluted shrine. Who, lordly Cato, could leave you unsung, of you,
Cossus; who the Gracchan race or the Scipios twain, two thunderbolts of war
and the ruin of Carthage, or Favricius, in penury a prince, or you, Serranus, sow-
ing seed in the soil? Whither, O Fabii, do ye hurry me all breathless? You re he,
the mightest [Quinus Fabius Maximus], who could, s no one else, through inac-
tion preserve our state. Others, I doubt not, shall with softer mould beast out

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the breathing bronze, coax from the marble features to life, plead cases with
greater eloquence and with a pointer trace heaven’s motions and predict the
risings of the stars: you, Roman, be sure to rule the world (be these your arts),
to crown peace with justice, to spare the vanquished and to crush the proud.”

[854] Thus Father Anchises, and as they marvel, adds: “Behold how Marcellus
advances, graced with the spoils of the chief he slew, and towers triumphant
over all! When the Roman state is reeling under a brutal shock, he will steady
it, will ride down Carthaginians and the insurgent Gaul, and offer up to Father
Quirinus a third set of spoils.”

[860] At this Aeneas said – for by his side he saw a youth of passing beauty in
resplendent arms, but with joyless mien and eyes downcast: “Who, father, is he
that thus attends the warrior on his way? Is it his son, or some other of his prog-
eny’s heroic line? What a stir among his entourage! What majesty is his! But
death’s dark shadow flickers mournfully about his head.”

[867] Then, as his tears well up, Father Anchises begins: “My son, seek not to
taste the bitter grief of your people; only a glimpse of him will fate give earth
nor suffer him to stay long. Too powerful, O gods above, you deemed the Ro-
man people, had these gifts of yours been lasting. What sobbing of the brave
will the famed Field waft to Mars’ mighty city! What a cortege will you behold,
Father Tiber, as you glide past the new-build tomb! No youth of Trojan stock will
ever raise his Latin ancestry so high in hope nor the land of Romulus ever boast
of any son like this. Alas for his goodness, alas for his chivalrous honour and his
sword arm unconquerable in the fight! In arms none would have faced him un-
scathed, marched he on foot against his foe or dug with spurs the flanks of his
foaming steed. Child of a nation’s sorrow, could you but shatter the cruel barri-
er of fate! You are to be Marcellus. Grant me scatter in handfuls lilies of purple
blossom, to heap at least these gifts on my descendant’s shade and perform an
unavailing duty.” Thus they wander at large over the whole region in the wide
airy plain, taking note of all. After Anchises had led his son over every scene,
kindling his soul, with longing for the glory that was to be, he then tells of the
wars that the hero next must wage, the Laurentine peoples and Latinus’ town,
and how is to face or flee each peril.

[893] Two gates of Sleep there are, whereof the one, they say, is horn and of-
fers a ready exit to true shades, the other shining with the sheen of polished
ivory, but delusive dreams issue upward through it from the world below. Thith-

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er Anchises, discoursing thus, escorts his son and with him the Sibyl, and sends
them forth by the ivory gate: Aeneas speeds his way to the ships and rejoins his
comrades; then straight along the shore he sails for Caieta’s haven. The anchor
is cast from the prow; the sterns stand ranged on the shore.


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The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri
Inferno, cantos 1–6, 12, 34; Paradisio, canto 33

(Video) Labyrinth of Lies: The Truth Behind the Winchester Mystery House

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 21



Introduction to the Divine Comedy
The Wood and the Mountain

When half way through the journey of our life
I found that I was in a gloomy wood,
because the path which led aright was lost.
And ah, how hard it is to say just what
this wild and rough and stubborn woodland was,
the very thought of which renews my fear!
So bitter ’t is, that death is little worse;
but of the good to treat which there I found,
I ’ll speak of what I else discovered there.
I cannot well say how I entered it,
so full of slumber was I at the moment
when I forsook the pathway of the truth;
but after I had reached a mountain’s foot,
where that vale ended which had pierced my heart
with fear, I looked on high,
and saw its shoulders
mantled already with that planet’s rays
which leadeth one aright o’er every path.
Then quieted a little was the fear,
which in the lake-depths of my heart had lasted
throughout the night I passed so piteously.[[5]]
And even as he who, from the deep emerged
with sorely troubled breath upon the shore,
turns round, and gazes at the dangerous water;
even so my mind, which still was fleeing on,
turned back to look again upon the pass
which ne’er permitted any one to live.
When I had somewhat eased my weary body,
o’er the lone slope I so resumed my way,
that e’er the lower was my steady foot.
Then lo, not far from where the ascent began,

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Dante and Virgil in the Gloomy WoodThe Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 23

a Leopard which, exceeding light and swift,
was covered over with a spotted hide,
and from my presence did not move away;
nay, rather, she so hindered my advance,
that more than once I turned me to go back.
Some time had now from early morn elapsed,
and with those very stars the sun was rising
that in his escort were, when Love Divine
in the beginning moved those beauteous things;
I therefore had as cause for hoping well
of that wild beast with gaily mottled skin,
the hour of daytime and the year’s sweet season;
but not so, that I should not fear the sight,
which next appeared before me, of a Lion,
— against me this one seemed to be advancing
with head erect and with such raging hunger,
that even the air seemed terrified thereby —
and of a she-Wolf, which with every lust
seemed in her leanness laden, and had caused
many ere now to lead unhappy lives.
The latter so oppressed me with the fear
that issued from her aspect, that I lost
the hope I had of winning to the top.
And such as he is, who is glad to gain,
and who, when times arrive that make him lose,
weeps and is saddened in his every thought;
such did that peaceless animal make me,
which, ’gainst me coming, pushed me, step by step,
back to the place where silent is the sun.
While toward the lowland I was falling fast,
the sight of one was offered to mine eyes,
who seemed, through long continued silence, weak.
When him in that vast wilderness I saw,
“Have pity on me,” I cried out to him,
“whate’er thou be, or shade, or very man!”
“Not man,” he answered, “I was once a man;
and both my parents were of Lombardy,
and Mantuans with respect to fatherland.

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’Neath Julius was I born, though somewhat late,
and under good Augustus’ rule I lived
in Rome, in days of false and lying gods.
I was a poet, and of that just man,
Anchises’ son, I sang, who came from Troy
after proud Ilion had been consumed.
But thou, to such sore trouble why return?
Why climbst thou not the Mountain of Delight,
which is of every joy the source and cause?”
“Art thou that Virgil, then, that fountain-head
which poureth forth so broad a stream of speech?”
I answered him with shame upon my brow.
“O light and glory of the other poets,
let the long study, and the ardent love
which made me con thy book, avail me now.
Thou art my teacher and authority;
thou only art the one from whom I took
the lovely manner which hath done me honor.
Behold the beast on whose account I turned;
from her protect me, O thou famous Sage,
for she makes both my veins and pulses tremble!”
“A different course from this must thou pursue,”
he answered, when he saw me shedding tears,
“if from this wilderness thou wouldst escape;
for this wild beast, on whose account thou criest,
alloweth none to pass along her way,
but hinders him so greatly, that she kills;
and is by nature so malign and guilty,
that never doth she sate her greedy lust,
but after food is hungrier than before.
Many are the animals with which she mates,
and still more will there be, until the Hound
shall come, and bring her to a painful death.
He shall not feed on either land or wealth,
but wisdom, love and power shall be his food,
and ’tween two Feltros shall his birth take place.
Of that low Italy he ’ll be the savior,

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for which the maid Camilla died of wounds,
with Turnus, Nisus and Eurỳalus.
And he shall drive her out of every town,
till he have put her back again in Hell,
from which the earliest envy sent her forth.
I therefore think and judge it best for thee
to follow me; and I shall be thy guide,
and lead thee hence through an eternal place,
where thou shalt hear the shrieks of hopelessness
of those tormented spirits of old times,
each one of whom bewails the second death;
then those shalt thou behold who, though in fire,
contented are, because they hope to come,
whene’er it be, unto the blessèd folk;
to whom, thereafter, if thou wouldst ascend,
there ’ll be for that a worthier soul than I.
With her at my departure I shall leave thee,
because the Emperor who rules up there,
since I was not obedient to His law,
wills none shall come into His town through me.
He rules as emperor everywhere, and there
as king; there is His town and lofty throne.
O happy he whom He thereto elects!”
And I to him: “O Poet, I beseech thee,
even by the God it was not thine to know,
so may I from this ill and worse escape,
conduct me thither where thou saidst just now,
that I may see Saint Peter’s Gate, and those
whom thou describest as so whelmed with woe.”
He then moved on, and I behind him kept.



Introduction to the Inferno | The Mission of Virgil

Daylight was going, and the dusky air
was now releasing from their weary toil

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all living things on earth; and I alone
was making ready to sustain the war
both of the road and of the sympathy,
which my unerring memory will relate.
O Muses, O high Genius, help me now!
O Memory, that wrotest what I saw,
herewith shall thy nobility appear!
I then began: “Consider, Poet, thou
that guidest me, if strong my virtue be,
or e’er thou trust me to the arduous course.
Thou sayest that the sire of Silvio entered,
when still corruptible, the immortal world,
and that while in his body he was there.
Hence, that to him the Opponent of all ill
was courteous, considering the great result
that was to come from him, both who, and what,
seems not unfitting to a thoughtful man;
for he of fostering Rome and of her sway
in the Empyrean Heaven was chosen as sire;
and both of these, if one would tell the truth,
were foreordained unto the holy place,
where greatest Peter’s follower hath his seat.
While on this quest, for which thou giv’st him praise,
he heard the things which of his victory
the causes were, and of the Papal Robe.
The Chosen Vessel went there afterward,
to bring thence confirmation in the faith,
through which one enters on salvation’s path.
But why should I go there, or who concedes it?
I ’m not Aeneas, nor yet Paul am I;
me worthy of this, nor I nor others deem.
If, therefore, I consent to come, I fear
lest foolish be my coming; thou art wise,
and canst much better judge than I can talk.”
And such as he who unwills what he willed,
and changes so his purpose through new thoughts,
that what he had begun he wholly leaves;
such on that gloomy slope did I become;

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for, as I thought it over, I gave up
the enterprise so hastily commenced.
“If I have rightly understood thy words,”
replied the shade of that Great-hearted man,
“thy soul is hurt by shameful cowardice,
which many times so sorely hinders one,
that from an honored enterprise it turns him,
as seeing falsely doth a shying beast.
In order that thou rid thee of this fear,
I ’ll tell thee why I came, and what I heard
the first time I was grieved on thy account.
Among the intermediate souls I was,
when me a Lady called, so beautiful
and happy, that I begged her to command.
Her eyes were shining brighter than a star,
when sweetly and softly she began to say,
as with an angel’s voice she spoke to me:
‘O courteous Mantuan spirit, thou whose fame
is still enduring in the world above,
and will endure as long as lasts the world,
a friend of mine, but not a friend of Fortune,
is on his journey o’er the lonely slope
obstructed so, that he hath turned through fear;
and, from what I have heard of him in Heaven,
I fear lest he may now have strayed so far,
that I have risen too late to give him help.
Bestir thee, then, and with thy finished speech,
and with whatever his escape may need,
assist him so that I may be consoled.
I, who now have thee go, am Beatrice;
thence come I, whither I would fain return;
’t was love that moved me, love that makes me speak.
When in the presence of my Lord again,
often shall I commend thee unto Him.’
Thereat she ceased to speak, and I began:
‘O Lady of virtue, thou through whom alone
the human race excels all things contained

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within the heaven that hath the smallest circles,
thy bidding pleases me so much, that late
I ’d be, hadst thou already been obeyed;
thou needst but to disclose to me thy will.
But tell me why thou dost not mind descending
into this center from that ample place,
whither thou art so eager to return.’
‘Since thou wouldst know thereof so inwardly,
I ’ll tell thee briefly,’ she replied to me,
‘why I am not afraid to enter here.
Of those things only should one be afraid,
that have the power of doing injury;
not of the rest, for they should not be feared.
I, of His mercy, am so made by God,
that me your wretchedness doth not affect,
nor any flame of yonder fire molest.
There is a Gentle Lady up in Heaven,
who grieves so at this check, whereto I send thee,
that broken is stern judgment there above.
She called Lucìa in her prayer, and said:
‘Now hath thy faithful servant need of thee,
and I, too, recommend him to thy care.’
Lucìa, hostile to all cruelty,
set forth thereat, and came unto the place,
where I with ancient Rachel had my seat.
‘Why, Beatrice,’ she said, ‘true Praise of God,
dost thou not succour him who loved thee so,
that for thy sake he left the common herd?
Dost thou not hear the anguish of his cry?
see’st not the death that fights him on the flood,
o’er which the sea availeth not to boast?
Ne’er were there any in the world so swift
to seek their profit and avoid their loss,
as I, after such words as these were uttered,
descended hither from my blessèd seat,
confiding in that noble speech of thine,
which honors thee and whosoe’er has heard it.’
Then, after she had spoken to me thus,

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weeping she turned her shining eyes away;
which made me hasten all the more to come;
and, even as she wished, I came to thee,
and led thee from the presence of the beast,
which robbed thee of the fair Mount’s short approach.
What is it, then? Why, why dost thou hold back?
Why dost thou lodge such baseness in thy heart,
and wherefore free and daring art thou not,
since three so blessèd Ladies care for thee
within the court of Heaven, and my words, too,
give thee the promise of so much that’s good?”
As little flowers by the chill of night
bowed down and closed, when brightened by the sun,
stand all erect and open on their stems;
so likewise with my wearied strength did I;
and such good daring coursed into my heart,
that I began as one who had been freed:
“O piteous she who hastened to my help,
and courteous thou, that didst at once obey
the words of truth that she addressed to thee!
Thou hast with such desire disposed my heart
toward going on, by reason of thy words,
that to my first intention I ’ve returned.
Go on now, since we two have but one will;
thou Leader, and thou Lord, and Teacher thou!”
I thus addressed him; then, when he had moved,
I entered on the wild and arduous course.[[27]]

The Gate and Vestibule of Hell. Cowards and Neutrals. Acheron

Through me one goes into the town of woe,
through me one goes into eternal pain,
through me among the people that are lost.
Justice inspired my high exalted Maker;
I was created by the Might divine,
the highest Wisdom and the primal Love.

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Before me there was naught created, save
eternal things, and I eternal last;
all hope abandon, ye that enter here!
These words of gloomy color I beheld
inscribed upon the summit of a gate;
whence I: “Their meaning, Teacher, troubles me.”
And he to me, like one aware, replied:
“All fearfulness must here be left behind;
all forms of cowardice must here be dead.
We ’ve reached the place where, as I said to thee,
thou ’lt see the sad folk who have lost the Good
which is the object of the intellect.”
Then, after he had placed his hand in mine
with cheerful face, whence I was comforted,
he led me in among the hidden things.
There sighs and wails and piercing cries of woe
reverberated through the starless air;
hence I, at first, shed tears of sympathy.
Strange languages, and frightful forms of speech,
words caused by pain, accents of anger, voices
both loud and faint, and smiting hands withal,
a mighty tumult made, which sweeps around
forever in that timelessly dark air,
as sand is wont, whene’er a whirlwind blows.
And I, whose head was girt about with horror,
said: “Teacher, what is this I hear? What folk
is this, that seems so overwhelmed with woe?”
And he to me: “This wretched kind of life
the miserable spirits lead of those
who lived with neither infamy nor praise.
Commingled are they with that worthless choir
of Angels who did not rebel, nor yet
were true to God, but sided with themselves.
The heavens, in order not to be less fair,
expelled them; nor doth nether Hell receive them,
because the bad would get some glory thence.”
And I: “What is it, Teacher, grieves them so,
it causes them so loudly to lament?”

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“I ’ll tell thee very briefly,” he replied.
“These have no hope of death, and so low down
is this unseeing life of theirs, that envious
they are of every other destiny.
The world allows no fame of them to live;
Mercy and Justice hold them in contempt.
Let us not talk of them; but look, and pass!”
And I, who gazed intently, saw a flag,
which, whirling, moved so swiftly that to me
contemptuous it appeared of all repose;
and after it there came so long a line
of people, that I never would have thought
that death so great a number had undone.
When some I ’d recognized, I saw and knew
the shade of him who through his cowardice
the great Refusal made. I understood
immediately, and was assured that this
the band of cowards was, who both to God
displeasing are, and to His enemies.
These wretched souls, who never were alive,
were naked, and were sorely spurred to action
by means of wasps and hornets that were there.
The latter streaked their faces with their blood,
which, after it had mingled with their tears,
was at their feet sucked up by loathsome worms.
When I had given myself to peering further,
people I saw upon a great stream’s bank;
I therefore said: “Now, Teacher, grant to me
that I may know who these are, and what law
makes them appear so eager to cross over,
as in this dim light I perceive they are.”
And he to me: “These things will be made clear
to thee, as soon as on the dismal strand
of Acheron we shall have stayed our steps.”
Thereat, with shame-suffused and downcast eyes,
and fearing lest my talking might annoy him,
up to the river I abstained from speech.

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Behold then, coming toward us in a boat,
an agèd man, all white with ancient hair,
who shouted: “Woe to you, ye souls depraved!
Give up all hope of ever seeing Heaven!
I come to take you to the other shore,
into eternal darkness, heat and cold.
And thou that yonder art, a living soul,
withdraw thee from those fellows that are dead.”
But when he saw that I did not withdraw,
he said: “By other roads and other ferries
shalt thou attain a shore to pass across,
not here; a lighter boat must carry thee.”
To him my Leader: “Charon, be not vexed;
thus is it yonder willed, where there is power
to do whate’er is willed; so ask no more!”
Thereat were quieted the woolly cheeks
of that old boatman of the murky swamp,
who round about his eyes had wheels of flame.
Those spirits, though, who nude and weary were,
their color changed, and gnashed their teeth together,
as soon as they had heard the cruel words.
They kept blaspheming God, and their own parents,
the human species, and the place, and time,
and seed of their conception and their birth.
Then each and all of them drew on together,
weeping aloud, to that accursèd shore
which waits for every man that fears not God.
Charon, the demon, with his ember eyes
makes beckoning signs to them, collects them all,
and with his oar beats whoso takes his ease.
Even as in autumn leaves detach themselves,
now one and now another, till their branch
sees all its stripped off clothing on the ground;
so, one by one, the evil seed of Adam
cast themselves down that river-bank at signals,
as doth a bird to its recalling lure.
Thus o’er the dusky waves they wend their way;
and ere they land upon the other side,

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another crowd collects again on this.
“My son,” the courteous Teacher said to me,
“all those that perish in the wrath of God
from every country come together here;
and eager are to pass across the stream,
because Justice Divine so spurs them on,
that what was fear is turned into desire.
A good soul never goes across from hence;
if Charon, therefore, findeth fault with thee,
well canst thou now know what his words imply.”
The darkling plain, when this was ended, quaked
so greatly, that the memory of my terror
bathes me even now with sweat.
The tear-stained ground
gave forth a wind, whence flashed vermilion light
which in me overcame all consciousness;
and down I fell like one whom sleep o’ertakes.

The First Circle. The BorderlandUnbaptized Worthies. Illustrious Pagans

A heavy thunder-clap broke the deep sleep
within my head, so that I roused myself,
as would a person who is waked by force;
and standing up erect, my rested eyes
I moved around, and with a steady gaze
I looked about to know where I might be.
Truth is I found myself upon the verge
of pain’s abysmal valley, which collects
the thunder-roll of everlasting woes.
So dark it was, so deep and full of mist,
that, howsoe’er I gazed into its depths,
nothing at all did I discern therein.
“Into this blind world let us now descend!”
the Poet, who was death-like pale, began,

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“I will be first, and thou shalt second be.”
And I, who of his color was aware,
said: “How am I to come, if thou take fright,
who ’rt wont to be my comfort when afraid?”
“The anguish of the people here below,”
he said to me, “brings out upon my face
the sympathy which thou dost take for fear.
Since our long journey drives us, let us go!”
Thus he set forth, and thus he had me enter
the first of circles girding the abyss.
Therein, as far as one could judge by list’ning,
there was no lamentation, saving sighs
which caused a trembling in the eternal air;
and this came from the grief devoid of torture
felt by the throngs, which many were and great,
of infants and of women and of men.
To me then my good Teacher: “Dost not ask
what spirits these are whom thou seest here?
Now I would have thee know, ere thou go further,
that these sinned not; and though they merits have,
’t is not enough, for they did not have baptism,
the gateway of the creed believed by thee;
and if before Christianity they lived,
they did not with due worship honor God;
and one of such as these am I myself.
For such defects, and for no other guilt,
we ’re lost, and only hurt to this extent,
that, in desire, we live deprived of hope.”
Great sorrow filled my heart on hearing this,
because I knew of people of great worth,
who in that Borderland suspended were.
“Tell me, my Teacher, tell me, thou my Lord,”
I then began, through wishing to be sure
about the faith which conquers every error;
“came any ever, by his own deserts,
or by another’s, hence, who then was blest?”
And he, who understood my covert speech,

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replied: “To this condition I was come
but newly, when I saw a Mighty One
come here, crowned with the sign of victory.
From hence He drew the earliest parent’s shade,
and that of his son, Abel, that of Noah,
and Moses the law-giver and obedient;
Abram the patriarch, and David king,
Israel, with both his father and his sons,
and Rachel, too, for whom he did so much,
and many others; and He made them blest;
and I would have thee know that, earlier
than these, there were no human spirits saved.”
Because he talked we ceased not moving on,
but all the while were passing through the wood,
the wood, I mean, of thickly crowded shades.
Nor far this side of where I fell asleep
had we yet gone, when I beheld a fire,
which overcame a hemisphere of gloom.
Somewhat away from it we were as yet,
but not so far, but I could dimly see
that honorable people held that place.
“O thou that honorest both art and science,
who are these people that such honor have,
that it divides them from the others’ life?”
And he to me: “The honorable fame,
which speaks of them in thy live world above,
in Heaven wins grace, which thus advances them.”
And hereupon a voice was heard by me:
“Do honor to the loftiest of poets!
his shade, which had departed, now returns.”
And when the voice had ceased and was at rest,
four mighty shades I saw approaching us;
their looks were neither sorrowful nor glad.
My kindly Teacher then began to say:
“Look at the one who comes with sword in hand
before the three, as if their lord he were.
Homer he is, the sovreign poet; Horace,
the satirist, the one that cometh next;

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the third is Ovid, Lucan is the last.
Since each of them in common shares with me
the title which the voice of one proclaimed,
they do me honor, and therein do well.”
Thus gathered I beheld the fair assembly
of those the masters of the loftiest song,
which soareth like an eagle o’er the rest.
Then, having talked among themselves awhile,
they turned around to me with signs of greeting;
and, when he noticed this, my Teacher smiled.
And even greater honor still they did me,
for one of their own company they made me,
so that amid such wisdom I was sixth.
Thus on we went as far as to the light,
talking of things whereof is silence here
becoming, even as speech was, where we spoke.
We reached a noble Castle’s foot, seven times
encircled by high walls, and all around
defended by a lovely little stream.
This last we crossed as if dry land it were;
through seven gates with these sages I went in,
and to a meadow of fresh grass we came.
There people were with slow and serious eyes,
and, in their looks, of great authority;
they spoke but seldom and with gentle voice.
We therefore to one side of it drew back
into an open place so luminous
and high, that each and all could be perceived.
There on the green enamel opposite
were shown to me the spirits of the great,
for seeing whom I glory in myself.
I saw Electra with companions many,
of whom I knew both Hector and Aeneas,
and Caesar armed, with shining falcon eyes.
I saw Camilla with Penthesilea
upon the other side, and King Latinus,
who with Lavinia, his own daughter, sat.
I saw that Brutus who drove Tarquin out,

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Lucretia, Julia, Martia and Cornelia,
and, all alone, I saw the Saladin.
Then, having raised my brows a little higher,
the Teacher I beheld of those that know,
seated amid a philosophic group.
They all look up to him, all honor him;
there Socrates and Plato I beheld,
who nearer than the rest are at his side;
Democritus, who thinks the world chance-born,
Diogenes, Anaxagoras and Thales,
Empedocles, Heraclitus, and Zeno;
of qualities I saw the good collector,
Dioscorides I mean; Orpheus I saw,
Tully and Livy, and moral Seneca;
Euclid, the geometer, and Ptolemy,
Hippocrates, Avicenna, Galen,
Averrhoès, who made the famous comment.
I cannot speak of all of them in full,
because my long theme drives me on so fast,
that oft my words fall short of what I did.
The sixfold band now dwindles down to two;
my wise Guide leads me by a different path
out of the calm into the trembling air;
and to a place I come, where naught gives light.

The Second Circle. Sexual Intemperance
The Lascivious and Adulterers

Thus from the first of circles I went down
into the second, which surrounds less space,
and all the greater pain, which goads to wailing.
There Minos stands in horrid guise, and snarls;
inside the entrance he examines sins,
judges, and, as he girds himself, commits.
I mean that when an ill-born soul appears

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before him, it confesses itself wholly;
and thereupon that Connoisseur of sins
perceives what place in Hell belongs to it,
and girds him with his tail as many times,
as are the grades he wishes it sent down.
Before him there are always many standing;
they go to judgment, each one in his turn;
they speak and hear, and then are downward hurled.
“O thou that comest to the inn of woe,”
said Minos, giving up, on seeing me,
the execution of so great a charge,
“see how thou enter, and in whom thou put
thy trust; let not the gate-way’s width deceive thee!”
To him my Leader: “Why dost thou, too, cry?
Hinder thou not his fate-ordained advance;
thus is it yonder willed, where there is power
to do whate’er is willed; so ask no more!”
And now the woeful sounds of actual pain
begin to break upon mine ears; I now
am come to where much wailing smiteth me.
I reached a region silent of all light,
which bellows as the sea doth in a storm,
if lashed and beaten by opposing winds.
The infernal hurricane, which never stops,
carries the spirits onward with its sweep,
and, as it whirls and smites them, gives them pain.
Whene’er they come before the shattered rock,
there lamentations, moans and shrieks are heard;
there, cursing, they blaspheme the Power Divine.
I understood that to this kind of pain
are doomed those carnal sinners, who subject
their reason to their sensual appetite.
And as their wings bear starlings on their way,
when days are cold, in full and wide-spread flocks;
so doth that blast the evil spirits bear;
this way and that, and up and down it leads them;
nor only doth no hope of rest, but none
of lesser suffering, ever comfort them.

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And even as cranes move on and sing their lays,
forming the while a long line in the air;
thus saw I coming, uttering cries of pain,
shades borne along upon the aforesaid storm;
I therefore said: “Who, Teacher, are the people
the gloomy air so cruelly chastises?”
“The first of those of whom thou wouldst have news,”
the latter thereupon said unto me,
“was empress over lands of many tongues.
To sexual vice so wholly was she given,
that lust she rendered lawful in her laws,
thus to remove the blame she had incurred.
Semiramis she is, of whom one reads
that she gave suck to Ninus, and became
his wife; she held the land the Soldan rules.
The next is she who killed herself through love,
and to Sichaeus’ ashes broke her faith;
the lustful Cleopatra follows her.
See Helen, for whose sake so long a time
of guilt rolled by, and great Achilles see,
who fought with love when at the end of life.
Paris and Tristan see;” and then he showed me,
and pointed out by name, a thousand shades
and more, whom love had from our life cut off.
When I had heard my Leader speak the names
of ladies and their knights of olden times,
pity o’ercame me, and I almost swooned.
“Poet,” I then began, “I ’d gladly talk
with those two yonder who together go,
and seem to be so light upon the wind.”
“Thou ’lt see thy chance when nearer us they are;”
said he, “beseech them then by that same love
which leadeth them along, and they will come.”
Soon as the wind toward us had bent their course.
I cried: “O toil-worn souls, come speak with us,
so be it that One Else forbid it not!”
As doves, when called by their desire, come flying

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with raised and steady pinions through the air
to their sweet nest, borne on by their own will;
so from the band where Dido is they issued,
advancing through the noisome air toward us,
so strong with love the tone of my appeal.
“O thou benign and gracious living creature,
that goest through the gloomy purple air
to visit us, who stained the world blood-red;
if friendly were the universal King,
for thy peace would we pray to Him, since pity
thou showest for this wretched woe of ours.
Of whatsoever it may please you hear
and speak, we will both hear and speak with you,
while yet, as now it is, the wind is hushed.
The town where I was born sits on the shore,
whither the Po descends to be at peace
together with the streams that follow him.
Love, which soon seizes on a well-born heart,
seized him for that fair body’s sake, whereof
I was deprived; and still the way offends me.
Love, which absolves from loving none that ’s loved,
seized me so strongly for his love of me,
that, as thou see’st, it doth not leave me yet.
Love to a death in common led us on;
Cain’s ice awaiteth him who quenched our life.”
These words were wafted down to us from them.
When I had heard those sorely troubled souls,
I bowed my head, and long I held it low,
until the Poet said: “What thinkest thou?”
When I made answer I began: “Alas!
how many tender thoughts and what desire
induced these souls to take the woeful step!”
I then turned back to them again and spoke,
and I began: “Thine agonies, Francesca,
cause me to weep with grief and sympathy.
But tell me: at the time of tender sighs,
whereby and how did Love concede to you
that ye should know each other’s veiled desires?”

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And she to me: “There is no greater pain
than to remember happy days in days
of misery; and this thy Leader knows.
But if to know the first root of our love
so yearning a desire possesses thee,
I ’ll do as one who weepeth while he speaks.
One day, for pastime merely, we were reading
of Launcelot, and how love o’erpowered him;
alone we were, and free from all misgiving.
Oft did that reading cause our eyes to meet,
and often take the color from our faces;
and yet one passage only overcame us.
When we had read of how the longed-for smile
was kissed by such a lover, this one here,
who nevermore shall be divided from me,
trembling all over, kissed me on my mouth.
A Gallehault the book, and he who wrote it!
No further in it did we read that day.”
While one was saying this, the other spirit
so sorely wept, that out of sympathy
I swooned away as though about to die,
and fell as falls a body that is dead.

The Third Circle. Intemperance in Food

On my return to consciousness, which closed
before the kindred couple’s piteous case,
which utterly confounded me with grief,
new torments all around me I behold,
and new tormented ones, where’er I move,
where’er I turn, and wheresoe’er I gaze.
In the third circle am I, that of rain
eternal, cursèd, cold and burdensome;
its measure and quality are never new.

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Coarse hail, and snow, and dirty-colored water
through the dark air are ever pouring down;
and foully smells the ground receiving them.
A wild beast, Cerberus, uncouth and cruel,
is barking with three throats, as would a dog,
over the people that are there submerged.
Red eyes he hath, a dark and greasy beard,
a belly big, and talons on his hands;
he claws the spirits, flays and quarters them.
The rainfall causes them to howl like dogs;
with one side they make shelter for the other;
oft do the poor profaners turn about.
When Cerberus, the mighty worm, perceived us,
his mouths he opened, showing us his fangs;
nor had he any limb that he kept still.
My Leader then stretched out his opened palms,
and took some earth, and with his fists well filled,
he threw it down into the greedy throats.
And like a dog that, barking, yearns for food,
and, when he comes to bite it, is appeased,
since only to devour it doth he strain
and fight; even such became those filthy faces
of demon Cerberus, who, thundering, stuns
the spirits so, that they would fain be deaf.
Over the shades the heavy rain beats down
we then were passing, as our feet we set
upon their unreal bodies which seem real.
They each and all were lying on the ground,
excepting one, which rose and sat upright,
when it perceived us pass in front of it.
“O thou that through this Hell art being led,”
it said to me, “recall me, if thou canst;
for thou, before I unmade was, wast made.”
And I to it: “The anguish thou art in
perchance withdraws thee from my memory so,
it doth not seem that thee I ever saw.
But tell me who thou art, that in so painful
a place art set, and to such punishment,

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that none, though greater, so repulsive is.”
And he to me: “Thy town, which is so full
of envy that the bag o’erflows already,
owned me when I was in the peaceful life.
Ciacco, you townsmen used to call me then;
for my injurious fault of gluttony
I ’m broken, as thou seest, by the rain;
nor yet am I, sad soul, the only one,
for all these here are subject, for like fault,
unto like pain.” Thereat he spoke no more.
“Thy trouble, Ciacco,” I replied to him,
“so burdens me that it invites my tears;
but tell me, if thou canst, to what will come
the citizens of our divided town;
if any one therein is just; and tell me
the reason why such discord hath assailed her.”
And he to me then: “After struggling long
they ’ll come to bloodshed, and the boorish party
will drive the other out with much offence.
Then, afterward, the latter needs must fall
within three suns, and the other party rise,
by help of one who now is ‘on the fence.’
A long time will it hold its forehead up,
keeping the other under grievous weights,
howe’er it weep therefor, and be ashamed.
Two men are just, but are not heeded there;
the three sparks that have set men’s hearts on fire,
are overweening pride, envy and greed.”
Herewith he closed his tear-inspiring speech.
And I to him: “I ’d have thee teach me still,
and grant the favor of some further talk.
Farinàta and Tegghiàio, who so worthy were,
Jàcopo Rusticùcci, Arrigo and Mosca,
and the others who were set on doing good,
tell me where these are, and let me know of them;
for great desire constraineth me to learn
if Heaven now sweeten, or Hell poison them.”

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And he: “Among the blackest souls are these;
a different fault weighs toward the bottom each;
if thou descend so far, thou mayst behold them.
But when in the sweet world thou art again,
recall me, prithee, unto others’ minds;
I tell no more, nor further answer thee.”
His fixed eyes thereupon he turned askance;
a while he looked at me, then bowed his head,
and fell therewith among the other blind.
Then said my Leader: “He ’ll not wake again
on this side of the angel-trumpet’s sound.
What time the hostile Podestà shall come,
each soul will find again its dismal tomb,
each will take on again its flesh and shape,
and hear what through eternity resounds.”
We thus passed through with slowly moving steps
the filthy mixture of the shades and rain,
talking a little of the future life;
because of which I said: “These torments, Teacher,
after the Final Sentence will they grow,
or less become, or burn the same as now.”
And he to me: “Return thou to thy science,
which holdeth that the more a thing is perfect,
so much the more it feels of weal or woe.
Although this cursèd folk shall nevermore
arrive at true perfection, it expects
to be more perfect after, than before.”
As in a circle, round that road we went,
speaking at greater length than I repeat,
and came unto a place where one descends;
there found we Plutus, the great enemy.

The Seventh Circle. The First Ring. Violence against one’s Fellow Man. Murderers and Spoilers.

The place, where to descend the bank we came,

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was Alp-like, and, through what was also there,
such that all eyes would be repelled by it.
As is that downfall on the hither side
of Trent, which sidewise smote the Àdige,
through earthquake or through failure of support;
since from the mountain’s summit, whence it moved
down to the plain, the rock is shattered so,
that it would yield a path for one above;
even such was the descent of that ravine;
and on the border of the broken bank
was stretched at length the Infamy of Crete,
who in the seeming heifer was conceived;
and when he saw us there he bit himself,
like one whom inward anger overcomes.
In his direction then my Sage cried out:
“Dost thou, perhaps, think Athens’ duke is here,
who gave thee death when in the world above?
Begone, thou beast! for this man cometh not
taught by thy sister, but is going by,
in order to behold your punishments.”
As doth a bull, who from his leash breaks free
the moment he receives the mortal blow,
and cannot walk, but plunges here and there;
so doing I beheld the Minotaur;
and he, aware, cried out: “Run to the pass!
’t is well that, while he rages, thou descend.”
Thereat we made our way adown that heap
of fallen rocks, which often ’neath my feet
were moved, because of their unwonted load.
I went along in thought; and he: “Perchance
thou thinkest of this landslide, which is guarded
by that beast’s anger which I quenched just now.
Now I would have thee know that, when down here
to nether Hell I came, that other time,
this mass of rock had not yet fallen down.
But certainly, if I remember well,
not long ere He arrived, who carried off
from Dis the highest circle’s mighty prey,

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on every side the deep and foul abyss
so trembled that I thought the universe
had felt the love, whereby, as some believe,
the world to Chaos hath been oft reduced;
and at that moment this old mass of rock
was thus, both here and elsewhere, overthrown.
But turn thine eyes down yonder now; for lo,
the stream of blood is drawing near to us,
wherein boils who by violence harms others.”[[131]] . . .

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Dante and Virgil meet the MinotaurThe Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 48

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 49

The Ninth Circle. Treachery. Cocytus
Traitors to their Benefactors. Lucifer

. . . Raising mine eyes, I thought that I should still
see Lucifer the same as when I left him;
but I beheld him with his legs held up.
And thereupon, if I became perplexed,
let those dull people think, who do not see
what kind of point that was which I had passed.
“Stand up” my Teacher said, “upon thy feet!
the way is long and difficult the road,
and now to middle-tierce the sun returns.”
It was no palace hallway where we were,
but just a natural passage under ground,
which had a wretched floor and lack of light.
“Before I tear myself from this abyss,
Teacher,” said I on rising, “talk to me
a little, and correct my wrong ideas.[[395]]
Where is the ice? And how is this one fixed
thus upside down? And in so short a time
how hath the sun from evening crossed to morn?”
Then he to me: “Thou thinkest thou art still
beyond the center where I seized the hair
of that bad Worm who perforates the world.
While I was going down, thou wast beyond it;
but when I turned, thou then didst pass the point
to which all weights are drawn on every side;
thou now art come beneath the hemisphere
opposed to that the great dry land o’ercovers,
and ’neath whose zenith was destroyed the Man,
who without sinfulness was born and died;
thy feet thou hast upon the little sphere,
which forms the other surface of Judecca.
’T is morning here, whenever evening there;
and he who made our ladder with his hair,
is still fixed fast, ev’n as he was before.
He fell on this side out of Heaven; whereat,
the land, which hitherto was spread out here,

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through fear of him made of the sea a veil,
and came into our hemisphere; perhaps
to flee from him, what is on this side seen
left the place empty here, and upward rushed.”
There is a place down there, as far removed
from Beelzebub, as e’er his tomb extends,
not known by sight, but by a brooklet’s sound,[[397]]
which flows down through a hole there in the rock,
gnawed in it by the water’s spiral course,
which slightly slopes. My Leader then, and I,
in order to regain the world of light,
entered upon that dark and hidden path;
and, without caring for repose, went up,
he going on ahead, and I behind,
till through a rounded opening I beheld
some of the lovely things the sky contains;
thence we came out, and saw again the stars.

The Empyrean. GOD. St. Bernard’s Prayer to Mary
The Vision of God. Ultimate Salvation

“O Virgin Mother, Daughter of thy Son,
humbler and loftier than any creature,
eternal counsel’s predetermined goal,
thou art the one that such nobility
didst lend to human nature, that its Maker
scorned not to make Himself what He had made.
Within thy womb rekindled was the Love,
through whose warm influence in the eternal Peace
this Flower hath blossomed thus. Here unto us
thou art a noonday torch of Charity;
and down below ’mong mortal men, thou art
a living fount of Hope. Lady, so great
thou art, and hast such worth, that one who longs
for Grace, and unto thee hath not recourse,
wingless would wish to have his longing fly.

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Not only doth thy Kindliness give help
to him that asketh it, but many times
it freely runs ahead of his request.
In thee is Mercy, Pity is in thee,
in thee Magnificence, and all there is
of Goodness in a creature meets in thee.[[387]]
Now doth this man, who from the lowest drain
of the Universe hath one by one beheld,
as far as here, the forms of spirit-life,
beseech thee, of thy grace, for so much strength
that with his eyes he may uplift himself
toward Ultimate Salvation higher still.
And I, who never for mine own sight burned
more than I do for his, offer thee all
my prayers, and pray that they be not too poor,
that thou with thy prayers so dissolve each cloud
of his mortality, that unto him
the Highest Pleasure may unfold Itself.
And furthermore, I pray to thee, O Queen,
who canst whate’er thou wilt, that, after such
a sight, thou keep all his affections sound.
His human promptings let thy care defeat;
see with how many blest ones Beatrice
is clasping for my prayers her hands to thee!”
The eyes belovèd and revered by God,
intent on him who prayed, revealed to us
how grateful unto her are earnest prayers.
Thence they addressed them to the Eternal Light,
wherein it may not be believed the eye
of any creature finds so clear a way.
And I, who to the End of all desires
was drawing near, within me, as I ought,
brought to its goal the ardor of desire.
Bernard was smiling, and was making signs
for me to look on high; but, as he wished,
I was already of mine own accord;
because my sight, as purer it became,
was penetrating more and more the radiance

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of that High Light, which of Itself is true.
From this time onward greater was my sight
than is our speech, which yields to such a vision,
and memory also yields to such excess.
And such as he, who seeth in a dream,
and after it, the imprinted feeling stays,
while all the rest returns not to his mind;
even such am I; for almost wholly fades
my vision, yet the sweetness which was born
of it is dripping still into my heart.
Even thus the snow is in the sun dissolved;
even thus the Sibyl’s oracles, inscribed
on flying leaves, were lost adown the wind.
O Light Supreme, that dost uplift Thyself
so far from mortal thought, relend my mind
a little of what Thou didst seem to be,
and cause my tongue to be so powerful,
that of Thy Glory it may leave at least
a spark unto the people still to come;
for to my mem’ry if it but a while
return, and speak a little in these lines,
more of Thy Victory will be conceived.
I think the keenness of the living Ray
which I endured would have confounded me,
if from it I had turned away mine eyes.
And I recall that I, because of this,
the bolder was to bear it, till I made
my vision one with Value Infinite.
O the abundant Grace, whereby I dared
to pierce the Light Eternal with my gaze,
until I had therein exhausted sight!
I saw that far within its depths there lies,
by Love together in one volume bound,
that which in leaves lies scattered through the world;
substance and accident, and modes thereof,
fused, as it were, in such a way, that that,
whereof I speak, is but One Simple Light.
This union’s general form I think I saw,

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since, saying so, I feel that I the more
rejoice. Of more forgetfulness for me
one moment is, than centuries twenty-five
are for the enterprise which once caused Neptune
to wonder at the shadow Argo cast.
My mind, thus wholly in suspense, was gazing
steadfast and motionless, and all intent,
and, gazing, grew enkindled more and more.
Such in that Light doth one at last become,
that one can never possibly consent
to turn therefrom for any other sight;
because the Good, which is the will’s real object,
is therein wholly gathered, and, outside,
that is defective which is perfect there.
Ev’n as to what I do remember, mine
will now be shorter than an infant’s speech,
who at the breast still bathes his tongue. ’T was not
that there was other than a simple semblance
within the Living Light wherein I gazed,
which always is what It hath been before;
but through my sight, which in me, as I looked,
was gathering strength, because I changed, one sole
appearance underwent a change for me.
Within the Lofty Light’s profound and clear
subsistence there appeared to me three Rings,
of threefold color and of one content;
and one, as Rainbow is by Rainbow, seemed
reflected by the other, while the third
seemed like a Fire breathed equally from both.
Oh, how, to my conception, short and weak
is speech! And this, to what I saw, is such,
that it is not enough to call it small.
O Light Eternal, that alone dost dwell
within Thyself, alone dost understand
Thyself, and love and smile upon Thyself,
Self-understanding and Self-understood!
That Circle which appeared to be conceived
within Thyself as a Reflected Light,

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ParadiseThe Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 55

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


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(No. 2 of ‘Four Quartets’)


In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.

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Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.


What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly

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Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.

That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes. There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.

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The Magician’s Nephew
Chapter one: the wrong door

This is a story about something that happened long ago when your grandfather
was a child. It is a very important story because it shows how all the comings
and goings between our own world and the land of Narnia first began.
In those days Mr Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bas-
tables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road. In those days, if you
were a boy you had to wear a stiff Eton collar every day, and schools were usu-
ally nastier than now. But meals were nicer; and as for sweets, I won’t tell you
how cheap and good they were, because it would only make your mouth water
in vain. And in those days there lived in London a girl called Polly Plummer.
She lived in one of a long row of houses which were all joined together. One
morning she was out in the back garden when a boy scrambled up from the gar-
den next door and put his face over the wall. Polly was very surprised because
up till now there had never been any children in that house, but only Mr Ketter-
ley and Miss Ketterley, a brother and sister, old bachelor and old maid, living to-
gether. So she looked up, full of curiosity. The face of the strange boy was very
grubby. It could hardly have been grubbier if he had first rubbed his hands in the
earth, and then had a good cry, and then dried his face with his hands. As a mat-
ter of fact, this was very nearly what he had been doing.

“Hullo,” said Polly.
“Hullo,” said the boy. “What’s your name?”
“Polly,” said Polly. “What’s yours?”
“Digory,” said the boy.
“I say, what a funny name!” said Polly.
“It isn’t half so funny as Polly,” said Digory.
“Yes it is,” said Polly.
“No, it isn’t,” said Digory.

“At any rate I do wash my face,” said Polly, “Which is what you need to do; es-
pecially after -” and then she stopped. She had been going to say “After you’ve
been blubbing,” but she thought that wouldn’t be polite.

“Alright, I have then,” said Digory in a much louder voice, like a boy who was so miser-
able that he didn’t care who knew he had been crying. “And so would you,” he went
on, “if you’d lived all your life in the country and had a pony, and a river at the bottom
of the garden, and then been brought to live in a beastly Hole like this.”

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“London isn’t a Hole,” said Polly indignantly. But the boy was too wound up to
take any notice of her, and he went on “And if your father was away in India –
and you had to come and live with an Aunt and an Uncle who’s mad (who would
like that?) – and if the reason was that they were looking after your Mother – and
if your Mother was ill and was going to – going to – die.”

Then his face went the wrong sort of shape as it does if you’re trying to keep
back your tears.

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry,” said Polly humbly. And then, because she hardly knew
what to say, and also to turn Digory’s mind to cheerful subjects, she asked:
“Is Mr Ketterley really mad?”

“Well either he’s mad,” said Digory, “or there’s some other mystery. He has a
study on the top floor and Aunt Letty says I must never go up there. Well, that
looks fishy to begin with. And then there’s another thing. Whenever he tries to
say anything to me at meal times – he never even tries to talk to her – she al-
ways shuts him up. She says, “Don’t worry the boy, Andrew” or “I’m sure Digory
doesn’t want to hear about that” or else “Now, Digory, wouldn’t you like to go
out and play in the garden?”

“What sort of things does he try to say?”

“I don’t know. He never gets far enough. But there’s more than that. One night
– it was last night in fact – as I was going past the foot of the attic-stairs on my
way to bed (and I don’t much care for going past them either) I’m sure I heard a
yell.” “Perhaps he keeps a mad wife shut up there.”

“Yes, I’ve thought of that.”
“Or perhaps he’s a coiner.”
“Or he might have been a pirate, like the man at the beginning of Treasure Island,
and be always hiding from his old shipmates.”
“How exciting!” said Polly, “I never knew your house was so interesting.”

“You may think it interesting,” said Digory. “But you wouldn’t like it if you had to
sleep there. How would you like to lie awake listening for Uncle Andrew’s step
to come creeping along the passage to your room? And he has such awful eyes.”

That was how Polly and Digory got to know one another: and as it was just the

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beginning of the summer holidays and neither of them was going to the sea that
year, they met nearly every day. Their adventures began chiefly because it was
one of the wettest and coldest summers there had been for years. That drove
them to do indoor things: you might say, indoor exploration. It is wonderful how
much exploring you can do with a stump of candle in a big house, or in a row of
houses. Polly had discovered long ago that if you opened a certain little door in
the box-room attic of her house you would find the cistern and a dark place be-
hind it which you could get into by a little careful climbing. The dark place was
like a long tunnel with brick wall on one side and sloping roof on the other. In
the roof there were little chunks of light between the slates. There was no floor
in this tunnel: you had to step from rafter to rafter, and between them there
was only plaster. If you stepped on this you would find yourself falling through
the ceiling of the room below. Polly had used the bit of the tunnel just beside
the cistern as a smugglers’ cave. She had brought up bits of old packing cases
and the seats of broken kitchen chairs, and things of that sort, and spread them
across from rafter to rafter so as to make a bit of floor. Here she kept a cash-box
containing various treasures, and a story she was writing and usually a few ap-
ples. She had often drunk a quiet bottle of ginger-beer in there: the old bottles
made it look more like a smugglers’ cave.

Digory quite liked the cave (she wouldn’t let him see the story) but he was more
interested in exploring. “Look here,” he said. “How long does this tunnel go on
for? I mean, does it stop where your house ends?”

“No,” said Polly. “The walls don’t go out to the roof. It goes on. I don’t know how

“Then we could get the length of the whole row of houses.”

“So we could,” said Polly, “And oh, I say!”
“We could get into the other houses.”
“Yes, and get taken up for burglars! No thanks.”
“Don’t be so jolly clever. I was thinking of the house beyond yours.” , “What
about it?”

“Why, it’s the empty one. Daddy says it’s always been empty since we came
here.” “I suppose we ought to have a look at it then,” said Digory. He was a good
deal more excited than you’d have thought from the way he spoke. For of course

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he was thinking, just as you would have been, of all the reasons why the house
might have been empty so long. So was Polly. Neither of them said the word
“haunted”. And both felt that once the thing had been suggested, it would be
feeble not to do it.

“Shall we go and try it now?” said Digory.
“Alright,” said Polly.
“Don’t if you’d rather not,” said Digory.
“I’m game if you are,” said she.

“How are we to know we’re in the next house but one?” They decided they
would have to go out into the boxroom and walk across it taking steps as long
as the steps from one rafter to the next. That would give them an idea of how
many rafters went to a room. Then they would allow about four more for the
passage between the two attics in Polly’s house, and then the same number for
the maid’s bedroom as for the box-room. That would give them the length of
the house. When they had done that distance twice they would be at the end of
Digory’s house; any door they came to after that would let them into an attic of
the empty house.

“But I don’t expect it’s really empty at all,” said Digory.
“What do you expect?”
“I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a
dark lantern. We shall probably discover a gang of desperate criminals and get
a reward. It’s all rot to say a house would be empty all those years unless there
was some mystery.”
“Daddy thought it must be the drains,” said Polly.

“Pooh! Grown-ups are always thinking of uninteresting explanations,” said Digo-
ry. Now that they were talking by daylight in the attic instead of by candlelight in
the Smugglers’ Cave it seemed much less likely that the empty house would be

When they had measured the attic they had to get a pencil and do a sum. They
both got different answers to it at first, and even when they agreed I am not
sure they got it right. They were in a hurry to start on the exploration.

“We mustn’t make a sound,” said Polly as they climbed in again behind the cis-
tern. Because it was such an important occasion they took a candle each (Polly

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had a good store of them in her cave).

It was very dark and dusty and draughty and they stepped from rafter to rafter
without a word except when they whispered to one another, “We’re opposite
your attic now” or “this must be halfway through our house”. And neither of
them stumbled and the candles didn’t go out, and at last they came where they
could see a little door in the brick wall on their right. There was no bolt or handle
on this side of it, of course, for the door had been made for getting in, not for
getting out; but there was a catch (as there often is on the inside of a cupboard
door) which they felt sure they would be able to turn.

“Shall I?” said Digory.
“I’m game if you are,” said Polly, just as she had said before. Both felt that it was
becoming very serious, but neither would draw back. Digory pushed round the
catch with some difficultly. The door swung open and the sudden daylight made
them blink. Then, with a great shock, they saw that they were looking, not into
a deserted attic, but into a furnished room. But it seemed empty enough. It was
dead silent. Polly’s curiosity got the better of her. She blew out her candle and
stepped out into the strange room, making no more noise than a mouse.
It was shaped, of course, like an attic, but furnished as a sitting-room. Every bit
of the walls was lined with shelves and every bit of the shelves was full of books.
A fire was burning in the grate (you remember that it was a very cold wet sum-
mer that year) and in front of the fire-place with its back towards them was a
high-backed armchair. Between the chair and Polly, and filling most of the mid-
dle of the room, was a big table piled with all sorts of things: printed books, and
books of the sort you write in, and ink bottles and pens and sealing-wax and
a microscope. But what she noticed first was a bright red wooden tray with a
number of rings on it. They were in pairs – a yellow one and a green one togeth-
er, then a little space, and then another yellow one and another green one.

They were no bigger than ordinary rings, and no one could help noticing them
because they were so bright. They were the most beautiful shiny little things you
can imagine. If Polly had been a very little younger she would have wanted to
put one in her mouth.

The room was so quiet that you noticed the ticking of the clock at once. And
yet, as she now found, it was not absolutely quiet either. There was a faint – a
very, very faint – humming sound. If Hoovers had been invented in those days
Polly would have thought it was the sound of a Hoover being worked a long way

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off—several rooms away and several floors below. But it was a nicer sound than
that, a more musical tone: only so faint that you could hardly hear it. “It’s alright;
there’s no one here,” said Polly over her shoulder to Digory. She was speaking
above a whisper now. And Digory came out, blinking and looking extremely dirty
—as indeed Polly was too.

“This is no good,” he said. “It’s not an empty house at all. We’d better bunk be-
fore anyone comes.”

“What do you think those are?” said Polly, pointing at the coloured rings.’
“Oh come on,” said Digory. “The sooner–”

He never finished what he was going to say for at that moment something hap-
pened. The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly and there rose
up out of it—like a pantomime demon coming up out of a trapdoor the alarming
form of Uncle Andrew. They were not in the empty house at all; they were in
Digory’s house and in the forbidden study! Both children said “O-o-oh” and real-
ized their terrible mistake. They felt they ought to have known all along that they
hadn’t gone nearly far enough.

Uncle Andrew was tall and very thin. He had a long clean-shaven face with a
sharply-pointed nose and extremely bright eyes and a great tousled mop of grey

Digory was quite speechless, for Uncle Andrew looked a thousand times more
alarming than he had ever looked before. Polly was not so frightened yet; but
she soon was. For the very first thing Uncle Andrew did was to walk across
to the door of the room, shut it, and turn the key in the lock. Then he turned
round, fixed the children with his bright eyes, and smiled, showing all his teeth.

“There!” he said. “Now my fool of a sister can’t get at you!”

It was dreadfully unlike anything a grown-up would be expected to do. Polly’s
heart came into her mouth, and she and Digory started backing towards the
little door they had come in by. Uncle Andrew was too quick for them. He got
behind them and shut that door too and stood in front of it. Then he rubbed his
hands and made his knuckles crack. He had very long, beautifully white, fingers.

“I am delighted to see you,” he said. “Two children are just what I wanted.”

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“Please, Mr Ketterley,” said Polly. “It’s nearly my dinner time and I’ve got to go
home. Will you let us out, please?”

“Not just yet,” said Uncle Andrew. “This is too good an opportunity to miss. I
wanted two children. You see, I’m in the middle of a great experiment. I’ve tried
it on a guinea-pig and it seemed to work. But then a guinea-pig can’t tell you
anything. And you can’t explain to it how to come back.”

“Look here, Uncle Andrew,” said Digory, “it really is dinner time and they’ll be
looking for us in a moment. You must let us out.”

“Must?” said Uncle Andrew.

Digory and Polly glanced at one another. They dared not say anything, but the
glances meant “Isn’t this dreadful?” and “We must humour him.”

“If you let us go for our dinner now,” said Polly, “we could come back after din-
ner.” “Ah, but how do I know that you would?” said Uncle Andrew with a cunning
smile. Then he seemed to change his mind.

“Well, well,” he said, “if you really must go, I suppose you must. I can’t expect
two youngsters like you to find it much fun talking to an old buffer like me.” He
sighed and went on. “You’ve no idea how lonely I sometimes am. But no matter.
Go to your dinner. But I must give you a present before you go. It’s not every
day that I see a little girl in my dingy old study; especially, if I may say so, such a
very attractive young lady as yourself.”

Polly began to think he might not really be mad after all.
“Wouldn’t you like a ring, my dear?” said Uncle Andrew to Polly.
“Do you mean one of those yellow or green ones?” said Polly. “How lovely!”
“Not a green one,” said Uncle Andrew. “I’m afraid I can’t give the green ones
away. But I’d be delighted to give you any of the yellow ones: with my love.
Come and try one on.”

Polly had now quite got over her fright and felt sure that the old gentleman was
not mad; and there was certainly something strangely attractive about those
bright rings. She moved over to the tray.

“Why! I declare,” she said. “That humming noise gets louder here. It’s almost as if

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the rings were making it.”

“What a funny fancy, my dear,” said Uncle Andrew with a laugh. It sounded a
very natural laugh, but Digory had seen an eager, almost a greedy, look on his
face. “Polly! Don’t be a fool!” he shouted. “Don’t touch them.”

It was too late. Exactly as he spoke, Polly’s hand went out to touch one of the
rings. And immediately, without a flash or a noise or a warning of any sort, there
was no Polly. Digory and his Uncle were alone in the room.

Chapter two: digory and his uncle

It was so sudden, and so horribly unlike anything that had ever happened to
Digory even in a nightmare, that he let out a scream. Instantly Uncle Andrew’s
hand was over his mouth. “None of that!” he hissed in Digory’s ear. “If you start
making a noise your Mother’ll hear it. And you know what a fright might do to

As Digory said afterwards, the horrible meanness of getting at a chap in that
way, almost made him sick. But of course he didn’t scream again.

“That’s better,” said Uncle Andrew. “Perhaps you couldn’t help it. It is a shock
when you first see someone vanish. Why, it gave even me a turn when the guin-
ea-pig did it the other night.”

“Was that when you yelled?” asked Digory.
“Oh, you heard that, did you? I hope you haven’t been spying on me?”
“No, I haven’t,” said Digory indignantly. “But what’s happened to Polly?”
“Congratulate me, my dear boy,” said Uncle Andrew, rubbing his hands. “My ex-
periment has succeeded. The little girl’s gone – vanished – right out of the world.”

“What have you done to her?”
“Sent her to – well – to another place.”
“What do you mean?” asked Digory.

Uncle Andrew sat down and said, “Well, I’ll tell you all about it. Have you ever
heard of old Mrs Lefay?”
“Wasn’t she a great-aunt or something?” said Digory.

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“Not exactly,” said Uncle Andrew. “She was my godmother. That’s her, there, on
the wall.”

Digory looked and saw a faded photograph: it showed the face of an old woman
in a bonnet. And he could now remember that he had once seen a photo of the
same face in an old drawer, at home, in the country. He had asked his Mother
who it was and Mother had not seemed to want to talk about the subject much.
It was not at all a nice face, Digory thought, though of course with those early
photographs one could never really tell.

“Was there – wasn’t there – something wrong about her, Uncle Andrew?” he
asked. “Well,” said Uncle Andrew with a chuckle, “it depends what you call
wrong. People are so narrow-minded. She certainly got very queer in later life.
Did very unwise things. That was why they shut her up.”

“In an asylum, do you mean?”

“Oh no, no, no,” said Uncle Andrew in a shocked voice. “Nothing of that sort.
Only in prison.”
“I say!” said Digory. “What had she done?”
“Ah, poor woman,” said Uncle Andrew. “She had been very unwise. There were
a good many different things. We needn’t go into all that. She was always very
kind to me.”

“But look here, what has all this got to do with Polly? I do wish you’d—”
“All in good time, my boy,” said Uncle Andrew. “They let old Mrs Lefay out before
he died and I was one of the very few people whom she would allow to see her
in her last illness. She had got to dislike ordinary, ignorant people, you under-
stand. I do myself. But she and I were interested in the same sort of things. It
was only a few days before her death that she told me to go to an old bureau in
her house and open a secret drawer and bring her a little box that I would find
there. The moment I picked up that box I could tell by the pricking in my fingers
that I held some great secret in my hands. She gave it me and made me promise
that as soon as she was dead I would burn it, unopened, with certain ceremo-
nies. That promise I did not keep.”

“Well, then, it was jolly rotten of you,” said Digory.
“Rotten?” said Uncle Andrew with a puzzled look.
“Oh, I see. You mean that little boys ought to keep their promises. Very true:

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most right and proper, I’m sure, and I’m very glad you have been taught to do
it. But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excel-
lent they may be for little boys – and servants – and women – and even people
in general, can’t possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great
thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are
freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours,
my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

As he said this he sighed and looked so grave and noble and mysterious that for
a second Digory really thought he was saying something rather fine. But then he
remembered the ugly look he had seen on his Uncle’s face the moment before
Polly had vanished: and all at once he saw through Uncle Andrew’s grand words.
“All it means,” he said to himself, “Is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to
get anything he wants.”

“Of course,” said Uncle Andrew, “I didn’t dare to open the box for a long time,
for I knew it might contain something highly dangerous. For my godmother
was a very remarkable woman. The truth is, she was one of the last mortals in
this country who had fairy blood in her. (She said there had been two others in
her time. One was a duchess and the other was a charwoman.) In fact, Digory,
you are now talking to the last man (possibly) who really had a fairy godmother.
There! That’ll be something for you to remember when you are an old man your-

“I bet she was a bad fairy,” thought Digory; and added out loud. “But what about

“How you do harp on that!” said Uncle Andrew. “As if that was what mattered!
My first task was of course to study the box itself. It was very ancient. And I
knew enough even then to know that it wasn’t Greek, or Old Egyptian, or Bab-
ylonian, or Hittite, or Chinese. It was older than any of those nations. Ah—that
was a great day when I at last found out the truth. The box was Atlantean; it
came from the lost island of Atlantis. That meant it was centuries older than any
of the stone-age things they dig up in Europe. And it wasn’t a rough, crude thing
like them either. For in the very dawn of time Atlantis was already a great city
with palaces and temples and learned men.”

He paused for a moment as if he expected Digory to say something. But Digory
was disliking his Uncle more every minute, so he said nothing.

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“Meanwhile,” continued Uncle Andrew, “I was learning a good deal in other ways
(it wouldn’t be proper to explain them to a child) about Magic in general. That
meant that I came to have a fair idea what sort of things might be in the box. By
various tests I narrowed down the possibilities. I had to get to know some—well,
some devilish queer people, and go through some very disagreeable experienc-
es. That was what turned my head grey. One doesn’t become a magician for
nothing. My health broke down in the end. But I got better. And at last I actually

Although there was not really the least chance of anyone overhearing them, he
leaned forward and almost whispered as he said: “The Atlantean box contained
something that had been brought from another world when our world was only
just beginning.”

“What?” asked Digory, who was now interested in spite of himself.

“Only dust,” said Uncle Andrew. “Fine, dry dust. Nothing much to look at. Not
much to show for a lifetime of toil, you might say. Ah, but when I looked at that
dust (I took jolly good care not to touch it) and thought that every grain had
once been in another world—I don’t mean another planet, you know; they’re
part of our world and you could get to them if you went far enough—but a really
Other World—another Nature another universe—somewhere you would nev-
er reach even if you travelled through the space of this universe for ever and
ever—a world that could be reached only by Magic—well!” Here Uncle Andrew
rubbed his hands till his knuckles cracked like fireworks.

“I knew,” he went on, “that if only you could get it into the right form, that dust
would draw you back to the place it had come from. But the difficulty was to get
it into the right form. My earlier experiments were all failures. I tried them on
guinea-pigs. Some of them only died. Some exploded like little bombs—”

“It was a jolly cruel thing to do,” said Digory who had once had a guinea-pig of
his own.

“How you do keep getting off the point!” said Uncle Andrew. “That’s what the
creatures were for. I’d bought them myself. Let me see—where was I? Ah yes. At
last I succeeded in making the rings: the yellow rings. But now a new difficulty
arose. I was pretty sure, now, that a yellow ring would send any creature that
touched it into the Other Pace. But what would be the good of that if I couldn’t

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get them back to tell me what they had found there?”
“And what about them?” said Digory. “A nice mess they’d be in if they couldn’t
get back!”

“You will keep on looking at everything from the wrong point of view,” said Un-
cle Andrew with a look of impatience. “Can’t you understand that the thing is a
great experiment? The whole point of sending anyone into the Other Place is
that I want to find out what it’s like.”
“Well why didn’t you go yourself then?”

Digory had hardly ever seen anyone so surprised and offended as his Uncle did
at this simple question. “Me? Me?” he exclaimed. “The boy must be mad! A man
at my time of life, and in my state of health, to risk the shock and the dangers of
being flung suddenly into a different universe? I never heard anything so prepos-
terous in my life! Do you realize what you’re saying? Think what Another World
means – you might meet anything anything.”

“And I suppose you’ve sent Polly into it then,” said Digory. His cheeks were flam-
ing with anger now. “And all I can say,” he added, “even if you are my Uncle—is
that you’ve behaved like a coward, sending a girl to a place you’re afraid to go to

“Silence, sir!” said Uncle Andrew, bringing his hand down on the table. “I will not
be talked to like that by a little, dirty, schoolboy. You don’t understand. I am the
great scholar, the magician, the adept, who is doing the experiment. Of course
I need subjects to do it on. Bless my soul, you’ll be telling me next that I ought
to have asked the guinea-pigs’ permission before I used them! No great wisdom
can be reached without sacrifice. But the idea of my going myself is ridiculous.
It’s like asking a general to fight as a common soldier. Supposing I got killed, what
would become of my life’s work?”

“Oh, do stop jawing,” said Digory. “Are you going to bring Polly back?”

“I was going to tell you, when you so rudely interrupted me,” said Uncle Andrew,
“that I did at last find out a way of doing the return journey. The green rings
draw you back.”

“But Polly hasn’t got a green ring.”
“No “ said Uncle Andrew with a cruel smile.

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“Then she can’t get back,” shouted Digory. “And it’s exactly the same as if you’d
murdered her.

“She can get back,” said Uncle Andrew, “if someone else will go after her, wear-
ing a yellow ring himself and taking two green rings, one to bring himself back
and one to bring her back.”

And now of course Digory saw the trap in which he was caught: and he stared
at Uncle Andrew, saying nothing, with his mouth wide open. His cheeks had
gone very pale.

“I hope,” said Uncle Andrew presently in a very high and mighty voice, just as if
he were a perfect Uncle who had given one a handsome tip and some good ad-
vice, “I hope, Digory, you are not given to showing the white feather. I should be
very sorry to think that anyone of our family had not enough honour and chival-
ry to go to the aid of—er—a lady in distress.”

“Oh shut up!” said Digory. “If you had any honour and all that, you’d be going
yourself. But I know you won’t. Alright. I see I’ve got to go. But you are a beast.
I suppose you planned the whole thing, so that she’d go without knowing it and
then I’d have to go after her.”

“Of course,” said Uncle Andrew with his hateful smile.

“Very well. I’ll go. But there’s one thing I jolly well mean to say first. I didn’t be-
lieve in Magic till today. I see now it’s real. Well if it is, I suppose all the old fairy
tales are more or less true. And you’re simply a wicked, cruel magician like the
ones in the stories. Well, I’ve never read a story in which people of that sort
weren’t paid out in the end, and I bet you will be. And serve you right.”

Of all the things Digory had said this was the first that really went home. Un-
cle Andrew started and there came over his face a look of such horror that,
beast though he was, you could almost feel sorry for him. But a second later he
smoothed it all away and said with a rather forced laugh, “Well, well, I suppose
that is a natural thing for a child to think—brought up among women, as you
have been. Old wives’ tales, eh? I don’t think you need worry about my danger,
Digory. Wouldn’t it be better to worry about the danger of your little friend?
She’s been gone some time. If there are any dangers Over There—well, it would
be a pity to arrive a moment too late.”

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“A lot you care,” said Digory fiercely. “But I’m sick of this jaw. What have I got to

“You really must learn to control that temper of yours, my boy,” said Uncle An-
drew coolly. “Otherwise you’ll grow up like your Aunt Letty. Now. Attend to me.”
He got up, put on a pair of gloves, and walked over to the tray that contained
the rings. “They only work,” he said, “if they’re actually touching your skin. Wear-
ing gloves, I can pick them up—like this—and nothing happens. If you carried one
in your pocket nothing would happen: but of course you’d have to be careful
not to put your hand in your pocket and touch it by accident. The moment you
touch a yellow ring, you vanish out of this world. When you are in the Other
Place I expect—of course this hasn’t been tested yet, but I expect—that the mo-
ment you touch a green ring you vanish out of that world and—I expect—reap-
pear in this. Now. I take these two greens and drop them into your right-hand
pocket. Remember very carefully which pocket the greens are in. G for green
and R for right. G.R. you see: which are the first two letters of green. One for
you and one for the little girl. And now you pick up a yellow one for yourself. I
should put it on on your finger—if I were you. There’ll be less chance of dropping

Digory had almost picked up the yellow ring when he suddenly checked himself.
“Look here,” he said. “What about Mother? Supposing she asks where I am?”
“The sooner you go, the sooner you’ll be back,” said Uncle Andrew cheerfully.
“But you don’t really know whether I can get back.”

Uncle Andrew shrugged his shoulders, walked across to the door, unlocked it,
threw it open, and said: “Oh very’ well then. Just as you please. Go down and
have your dinner. Leave the little girl to be eaten by wild animals or drowned or
starved in Otherworld or lost there for good, if that’s what you prefer. It’s all one
to me. Perhaps before tea time you’d better drop in on Mrs Plummer and explain
that she’ll never see her daughter again; because you were afraid to put on a

“By gum,” said Digory, “don’t I just wish I was big enough to punch your head!”
Then he buttoned up his coat, took a deep breath, and picked up the ring. And
he thought then, as he always thought afterwards too, that he could not decent-
ly have done anything else.

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Chapter three : The wood between the worlds

Uncle Andrew and his study vanished instantly. Then, for a moment, everything
became muddled. The next thing Digory knew was that there was a soft green
light coming down on him from above, and darkness below. He didn’t seem to
be standing on anything, or sitting, or lying. Nothing appeared to be touching
him. “I believe I’m in water,” said Digory. “Or under water.” This frightened him
for a second, but almost at once he could feel that he was rushing upwards.
Then his head suddenly came out into the air and, he found himself scrambling
ashore, out on to smooth grassy ground at the edge of a pool.

As he rose to his feet he noticed that he was neither dripping nor panting for
breath as anyone would expect after being under water. His clothes were per-
fectly dry. He was standing by the edge of a small pool – not more than ten feet
from side to side in a wood. The trees grew close together and were so leafy
that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came
through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for
this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could
possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You
could almost feel the trees growing. The pool he had just got out of was not
the only pool. There were dozens of others – a pool every few yards as far as
his eyes could reach. You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with
their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it after-
wards Digory always said, “It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake.”

The strangest thing was that, almost before he had looked about him, Digo-
ry had half forgotten how he had come there. At any rate, he was certainly not
thinking about Polly, or Uncle Andrew, or even his Mother. He was not in the
least frightened, or excited, or curious. If anyone had asked him “Where did you
come from?” he would probably have said, “I’ve always been here.” That was
what it felt like – as if one had always been in that place and never been bored
although nothing had ever happened. As he said long afterwards, “It’s not the
sort of place where things happen. The trees go on growing, that’s all.”

After Digory had looked at the wood for a long time he noticed that there was a
girl lying on her back at the foot of a tree a few yards away. Her eyes were near-
ly shut but not quite, as if she were just between sleeping and waking. So he
looked at her for a long time and said nothing. And at last she opened her eyes
and looked at him for a long time and she also said nothing. Then she spoke, in a

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dreamy, contented sort of voice.

“I think I’ve seen you before,” she said.
“I rather think so too,” said Digory. “Have you been here long?”
“Oh, always,” said the girl. “At least – I don’t know a very long time.”
“So have I,” said Digory.
“No you haven’t, said she. “I’ve just seen you come up out of that pool.”
“Yes, I suppose I did,” said Digory with a puzzled air, “I’d forgotten.” Then for quite
a long time neither said any more.

“Look here,” said the girl presently, “I wonder did we ever really meet before? I
had a sort of idea – a sort of picture in my head – of a boy and a girl, like us – liv-
ing somewhere quite different – and doing all sorts of things. Perhaps it was only
a dream.”

“I’ve had that same dream, I think,” said Digory. “About a boy and a girl, living
next door – and something about crawling among rafters. I remember the girl
had a dirty face.”

“Aren’t you getting it mixed? In my dream it was the boy who had the dirty face.”
“I can’t remember the boy’s face,” said Digory: and then added, “Hullo! What’s
that?” “Why! it’s a guinea-pig,” said the girl. And it was – a fat guinea-pig, nosing
about in he grass. But round the middle of the guinea-pig there ran a tape, and,
tied on to it by the tape, was a bright yellow ring.

“Look! look,” cried Digory, “The ring! And look! You’ve got one on your finger.
And so have I.”

The girl now sat up, really interested at last. They stared very hard at one an-
other, trying to remember. And then, at exactly the same moment, she shouted
out “Mr Ketterley” and he shouted out “Uncle Andrew”, and they knew who they
were and began to remember the whole story. After a few minutes hard talking
they had got it straight. Digory explained how beastly Uncle Andrew had been.
“What do we do now?” said Polly. “Take the guinea-pig and go home?”

“There’s no hurry,” said Digory with a huge yawn.

“I think there is,” said Polly. “This place is too quiet. It’s so – so dreamy. You’re
almost asleep. If we once give in to it we shall just lie down and drowse for ever

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and ever.”
“It’s very nice here,” said Digory.
“Yes, it is,” said Polly.

“But we’ve got to get back.” She stood up and began to go cautiously towards
the guinea-pig. But then she changed her mind.

“We might as well leave the guinea-pig,” she said. “It’s perfectly happy here, and
your uncle will only do something horrid to it if we take it home.”
“I bet he would,” answered Digory. “Look at the way he’s treated us. By the way,
how do we get home?”
“Go back into the pool, I expect.”
They came and stood together at the edge looking down into the smooth water.
It was full of the reflection of the green, leafy branches; they made it look very

“We haven’t any bathing things,” said Polly.
“We shan’t need them, silly,” said Digory. “We’re going in with our clothes on.
Don’t you remember it didn’t wet us on the way up?”
“Can you swim?”
“A bit. Can you?”
“Well – not much.”
“I don’t think we shall need to swim,” said Digory “We want to go down, don’t

Neither of them much liked the idea of jumping into that pool, but neither said
so to the other. They took hands and said “One—Two—Three—Go” and jumped.
There was a great splash and of course they closed their eyes. But when they
opened them again they found they were still standing, hand in hand, in the
green wood, and hardly up to their ankles in water. The pool was apparently only
a couple of inches deep. They splashed back on to the dry ground.

“What on earth’s gone wrong?” said Polly in a frightened voice; but not quite so
frightened as you might expect, because it is hard to feel really frightened in that
wood. The place is too peaceful.

“Oh! I know,” said Digory, “Of course it won’t work. We’re still wearing our yel-
low rings. They’re for the outward journey, you know. The green ones take you
home. We must change rings. Have you got pockets? Good. Put your yellow ring

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 76

in your left. I’ve got two greens. Here’s one for you.”
They put on their green rings and came back to the pool. But before they tried
another jump Digory gave a long “O-ooh!”
“What’s the matter?” said Polly.
“I’ve just had a really wonderful idea,” said Digory. “What are all the other pools?”
“How do you mean?”
“Why, if awe can get back to our own world by jumping into this pool, mightn’t
we get somewhere else by jumping into one of the others? Supposing there was
a world at the bottom of every pool.”

“But I thought we were already in your Uncle Andrew’s Other World or Other
Place or whatever he called it. Didn’t you say -”
“Oh bother Uncle Andrew,” interrupted Digory. “I don’t believe he knows any-
thing about it. He never had the pluck to come here himself. He only talked of
one Other World. But suppose there were dozens?”
“You mean, this wood might be only one of them?”
“No, I don’t believe this wood is a world at all. I think it’s just a sort of in-be-
tween place.”

Polly looked puzzled. “Don’t you see?” said Digory. “No, do listen. Think of our
tunnel under the slates at home. It isn’t a room in any of the houses. In a way, it
isn’t really part of any of the houses. But once you’re in the tunnel you can go
along it and come into any of the houses in the row. Mightn’t this wood be the
same? – a place that isn’t in any of the worlds, but once you’ve found that place
you can get into them all.”

“Well, even if you can—” began Polly, but Digory went on as if he hadn’t heard
her. “And of course that explains everything,” he said. “That’s why it is so quiet
and sleepy here. Nothing ever happens here. Like at home. It’s in the houses
that people talk, and do things, and have meals. Nothing goes on in the inbe-
tween places, behind the walls and above the ceilings and under the floor, or
in our own tunnel. But when you come out of our tunnel you may find yourself
in any house. I think we can get out of this place into jolly well Anywhere! We
don’t need to jump back into the same pool we came up by. Or not just yet.”
“The Wood between the Worlds,” said Polly dreamily. “It sounds rather nice.”
“Come on,” said Digory. “Which pool shall we try?”

“Look here,” said Polly, “I’m not going to try any new pool till we’ve made sure
that we can get back by the old one. We’re not even sure if it’ll work yet.”

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 77

“Yes,” said Digory. “And get caught by Uncle Andrew and have our rings taken
away before we’ve had any fun. No thanks.”

“Couldn’t we just go part of the way down into our own pool,” said Polly. “Just
to see if it works. Then if it does, we’ll change rings and come up again before
we’re really back in Mr Ketterley’s study.”

“Can we go part of the way down?
“Well, it took time coming up. I suppose it’ll take a little time going back.”

Digory made rather a fuss about agreeing to this, but he had to in the end be-
cause Polly absolutely refused to do any exploring in new worlds until she had
made sure about getting back to the old one. She was quite as brave as he
about some dangers (wasps, for instance) but she was not so interested in find-
ing out things nobody had ever heard of before; for Digory was the sort of per-
son who wants to know everything, and when he grew up he became the fa-
mous Professor Kirke who comes into other books.

After a good deal of arguing they agreed to put on their green rings (“Green for
safety,” said Digory, “so you can’t help remembering which is which”) and hold
hands and jump. But as soon as they seemed to be getting back to Uncle An-
drew’s study, or even to their own world, Polly was to shout “Change” and they
would slip off their greens and put on their yellows. Digory wanted to be the
one who shouted “Change” but Polly wouldn’t agree.

They put on the green rings, took hands, and once more shouted “One—Two
—Three—Go”. This time it worked. It is very hard to tell you what it felt like, for
everything happened so quickly. At first there were bright lights moving about
in a black sky; Digory always thinks these were stars and even swears that he
saw Jupiter quite close -close enough to see its moon. But almost at once there
were rows and rows of roofs and chimney pots about them, and they could see
St Paul’s and knew they were looking at London. But you could see through the
walls of all the houses. Then they could see Uncle Andrew, very vague and shad-
owy, but getting clearer and more solid-looking all the time, just as if he were
coming into focus. But before he became quite real Polly shouted “Change”, and
they did change, and our world faded away like a dream, and the green light
above grew stronger and stronger, till their heads came out of the pool and they
scrambled ashore. And there was the wood all about them, as green and bright
and still as ever. The whole thing had taken less than a minute.

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 78

“There!” said Digory. “That’s alright. Now for the adventure. Any pool will do.
Come on. Let’s try that one.”
“Stop!” said Polly- “Aren’t we going to mark this pool?”

They stared at each other and turned quite white as they realized the dreadful
thing that Digory had just been going to do. For there were any number of pools
in the wood, and the pools were all alike and the trees were all alike, so that if
they had once left behind the pool that led to our own world without making
some sort of landmark, the chances would have been a hundred to one against
their ever finding it again.

Digory’s hand was shaking as he opened his penknife and cut out a long strip of
turf on the bank of the pool. The soil (which smelled nice) was of a rich reddish
brown and showed up well against the green. “It’s a good thing one of us has
some sense,” said Polly.

“Well don’t keep on gassing about it,” said Digory. “Come along, I want to see
what’s in one of the other pools.” And Polly gave him a pretty sharp answer and
he said something even nastier in reply. The quarrel lasted for several minutes
but it would be dull to write it all down. Let us skip on to the moment at which
they stood with beating hearts and rather scared faces on the edge of the un-
known pool with their yellow rings on and held hands and once more said “One

Splash! Once again it hadn’t worked. This pool, too, appeared to be only a pud-
dle. Instead of reaching a new world they only got their feet wet and splashed
their legs for the second time that morning (if it was a morning: it seems to be
always the same time in the Wood between the Worlds).

“Blast and botheration!” exclaimed Digory. “What’s gone wrong now? We’ve put
our yellow rings on all right. He said yellow for the outward journey.”

Now the truth was that Uncle Andrew, who knew nothing about the Wood be-
tween the Worlds, had quite a wrong idea about the rings. The yellow ones
weren’t “outward” rings and the green ones weren’t “homeward” rings; at least,
not in the way he thought. The stuff of which both were made had all come
from the wood. The stuff in the yellow rings had the power of drawing you into
the wood; it was stuff that wanted to get back to its own place, the in-between
place. But the stuff in the green rings is stuff that is trying to get out of its own

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 79

place: so that a green ring would take you out of the wood into a world. Uncle
Andrew, you see, was working with things he did not really understand; most
magicians are. Of course Digory did not realize the truth quite clearly either, or
not till later. But when they had talked it over, they decided to try their green
rings on the new pool, just to see what happened.

“I’m game if you are,” said Polly. But she really said this because, in her heart of
hearts, she now felt sure that neither kind of ring was going to work at all in the
new pool, and so there was nothing worse to be afraid of than another splash. I
am not quite sure that Digory had not the same feeling. At any rate, when they
had both put on their greens and come back to the edge of the water, and taken
hands again, they were certainly a good deal more cheerful and less solemn than
they had been the first time.

“One—Two—Three—Go!” said Digory. And they jumped.

The Labyrinth of Initiation, the sacred grove and the Under/After World p. 80

The Prison

Borges on his childhood nightmares, (from a 1977 lecture):

Let us into the nightmare, into nightmares. Mine are always the same. I have two nightmares which
often become confused with one another. I have the nightmare of the labyrinth, which comes, in part,
from a steel engraving I saw in a French book when I was a child. In this engraving were the Seven
Wonders of the World, among them the labyrinth of Crete. The labyrinth was a great amphitheater, a
very high amphitheater (and this was apparent because it was higher than the cypresses and the men
outside it). In this closed structure—ominously closed—there were cracks. I believed when I was a child
(or I now believe I believed) that if one had a magnifying glass powerful enough, one could look
through the cracks and see the Minotaur in the terrible center of the labyrinth.

My other nightmare is that of the mirror. The two are not distinct, as it only takes two facing mirrors
to construct a labyrinth. I remember seeing, in the house of Dora de Alvear in the Begrano district, a
circular room whose walls and doors were mirrored, so that whoever entered the room found himself
at the center of a truly infinite labyrinth.

The House of Asterion was inspired by George
F. Watts 1885 painting, The Minotaur.

The lonely gazes out to sea, heedless of the
bird crushed beneath his paw. Borges saw in
the painting a loneliness that sparked pity for
the minotaur, even as it also depicts his casual

I know they accuse me of arrogance, and perhaps misanthropy, and perhaps of
madness. Such accusations (for which I shall exact punishment in due time) are
derisory. It is true that I never leave my house, but it is also true that its doors
(whose numbers are infinite) (footnote: The original says fourteen, but there is ample
reason to infer that, as used by Asterion, this numeral stands for infinite.) are open
day and night to men and to animals as well. . . he will also find a house like no other
on the face of this earth. (There are those who declare there is a similar one in Egypt,
but they lie.) Even my detractors admit there is not one single piece of furniture in
the house. Another ridiculous falsehood has it that I, Asterion, am a prisoner. Shall I
repeat that there are no locked doors, shall I add that there are no locks?

Of course, Asterion’s home is the labyrinth, a place so convoluted
that even Daedalus could scarely find his way out.

Sometimes I run like a charging ram through the halls of
stone until I tumble dizzily to ground; sometimes I
crouch in the shadow of a wellhead or at a corner in
one of the corridors and pretend I am being hunted.
There are rooftops from which I can hurl myself until I
am bloody …. But of all the games, the one I like best is
pretending that there is another Asterion. I pretend
that he has come to visit me, and I show him around
the house. With great obeisance I say to him “Now we
shall return to the first intersection” or “Now we shall
come out into another courtyard” Or “I knew you
would like the drain” or “Now you will see a pool that
was filled with sand” or “You will soon see how the
cellar branches out”. Sometimes I make a mistake and
the two of us laugh heartily.

The house is as big as the world—or rather, it is the world.
Nevertheless, by making my way through every single
courtyard with its wellhead and every single dusty gallery
of gray stone, I have come out into the street and seen
the temple of the Axes and the sea.

(Video) To Solve the Labyrinth: An Essay Film About a Fantasy Film

That sight, I did not understand until a night vision
revealed to me that there are also fourteen (an infinite
number of) seas and temples. Everything exists many
times, fourteen times, but there are two things in the
world that apparently exist but once—on high, the
intricate sun, and below, Asterion. Perhaps I have created
the stars and the sun and this huge house, and no longer
remember it.

Every nine years nine men enter the house so that I
may deliver them from evil. I hear their steps or their
voices in the depths of the stone galleries and I run
joyfully to find them. The ceremony lasts a few
minutes. They fall one after another without my having
to bloody my hands. They remain where they fell and
their bodies help distinguish one gallery from another. I
do not know who they are, but I know that one of them
prophesied, at the moment of his death, that some day
my redeemer would come. Since then my loneliness
does not pain me, because I know my redeemer lives
and he will finally rise above the dust. If my ear could
capture all the sounds of the world, I should hear his
steps. I hope he will take me to a place with fewer
galleries fewer doors. What will my redeemer be like? I
ask myself. Will he be a bull or a man? will he perhaps
be a bull with the face of a man? or will he be like me?

Can you believe it, Ariadne?’ said Theseus. ‘The
Minotaur scarcely defended itself.’

Contemporary Bulgarian author. , one of
the most translated contemporary
Bulgarian writers. His first novel, Natural
Novel was published by Dalkey Archive
Press in 2005 and was praised by
the New Yorker, New York Times, and
several other prestigious review outlets. A
collection of his short stories, And Other
Stories was published by Northwestern
University Press. The Physics of Sorrow is
his second novel.

Georgi Gospodinov

The unnamed narrator of Georgi Gospodinov’s inventive,
ambitious novel The Physics of Sorrow suffers from
“pathological empathy or obsessive empathetic-somatic
syndrome,” most acutely in his childhood. “Over the years the
attacks became easier to control and lost their most acute
manifestations, without disappearing entirely. Just as in
empathy . . . we never know where the person wanders when
he is in such a fit.”

As the novel opens, the narrator has wandered into a memory
of his Grandfather’s—he becomes his Grandfather at a fair in a
small Bulgarian town in the mid-1920’s, being ushered into a
tent to encounter a Minotaur. The myth of the Minotaur,
concealed within a labyrinth until he is killed by Theseus, is a
guiding theme in the novel, as is the myth of Scheherazade,
who told other people’s stories to keep herself alive.—from
The Literary Review online.

The Physics of Sorrow has many endings (as it has
many beginnings) because both Gospodinov and his
narrator have made it clear that they like to leave
stories open for other possible turns (like a
labyrinth). The favorite of my endings finds Theseus
encountering the Minotaur and protesting that he has
no desire to kill it. “Someone forced me into this story,”
he explains, and together they leave the labyrinth.
“I see them,” the narrator tells us, “walking along
together . . . weaving parallel labyrinths from the
threads of their stories, themselves entangled in
them. And nothing can ever separate them again, the
storyteller and his killer.”—from The Literary Review

The Yellow House

There was something excessive and inhuman
in that howling or bellowing, something from
the mazes of the night Oooooohhhh . . . That
endless Ooooohh dug tunnels in the silence
of the early November evening. . .

The porter more or less had to be
there, but he was probably dozing
drunk . . . That saved the howler,
who would have otherwise
undergo the traditional ice-cold
shower under the garden hose. It
was said that they sprayed them
with water directly in their rooms
(“cells” is the more precise term)
through the bars of the window . .

I walked around that house on that
Sunday evening, the gloomy corridors of
that howl sucking me in even deeper. I
was afraid to enter it. Whatever was
inside was not fit for the human eye and
ear. But my body continued to move
mechanically in a circle, I sensed that I
was beginning to slip away from myself.
Just a bit more and I’ll enter the corridors
of the scream, I’ll embed myself in the
body of the screamer.

Just then a hand grabs me firmly by the
shoulder; started, I return to myself like a
snail withdrawing into its shell. My father.

Ten years later, when I came
down with that constant ringing
in my ear, I knew that that
howling-bellowing-crying thing
was settled in there for good. In
the very center, in the cave of
the skull, from there to the
tympanic membrane, the hammer
and theanvil, in the very labyrinth
of the inner ear, as the doctors
put it.

Side Corridor:
{digression on the perils and benefits of reading}

The tendency toward empathy is strongest between
the ages of seven and twelve. The most recent
research is focused on the so-called mirror neurons,
localized in the anterior portion of the insular cortex
(insula). To put it simply, they react in a similar
fashion when a person feels pain, sorrow, or
happiness, or when one observes these emotions in
another person. Some animals also experience
empathy. The connection between shared emotional
experiences and mirror neurons has not been well
studied; experiments are in the works. Researchers
believe that the conscious cultivation of empathy,
including through the reading of novels (see S.
Keen), will make communication far easier and will
save us from future world cataclysms.
—The Journal of Community and Cortex

My Brother the Minotaur
{artwork by George Micalef}

The narrator speculates:

That inhuman howl really was inhuman, and it wasn’t O000h, but M0000. And it
came from a half-man, half-bull locked up in there. (I’d already seen one such boy in
my grandfather’s hidden memory.) The human doctor hadn’t been able to do
anything for the human, so they had decided to treat the bull. Of course, they
called the best (and only, incidentally) veterinarian in town: my father. There was
another, darker version of the story, also fine-tuned at length during those lonely
childhood afternoons. That half-humanhalf-bull boy was not just anybody, but my
“stillborn brother,” whom I’d heard them whispering about. Actually, he’d been born
alive, but with a bull’s head and they’d put him in the home. They had abandoned
him. With the best of intentions. So he wouldn’t disturb his healthy brother.

I was born to my own father and mother,
but that doesn’t make me any less of a
minotaur. I continued spending long days
alone, at the window, paging through a

Bronze sculpture by Beth Carter

H.P. L o v e c r a f t

Born a nd lived his life in Providence, Rhode Island,
with a stint in New York. He had an overprotective
mother, and he inherited money from his maternal
grandfather that let him live simply a nd focus on his
writing a nd voluminous correspondence. Married for
two years to an older woman , Sonia Greene. A night
owl, Lovecraft rarely went out after dark.

Lovecraft ach ieved fame posthumously. During his
lifetime he published in pulp fiction publications, but
he never ach ieved any critical or widespread
recognit ion or respect. However, highly sensitive to
rejection, he frequently didn’t try very hard to get
his work published.

He wrote around 100,000 letters to various

H o w d o w e classify H.P. L o v e c r a f t ? Horror? We i rd F ic t ion? S c i e n c e Fict ion? Fantasy?

In a cosmos w i thout abso lute va lues . . .
there is only o n e a n c h o r o f fixity . . . , a n d
tha t a n c h o r is tradit ion, the p o t e n t
emot iona l l e g a c y b e q u e a t h e d to us b y the
massed exper i ence o f our ancestors ,
indiv idua l or nat iona l , b io log ica l or cultural .
Tradit ion m e a n s noth ing cosmica l ly , b u t it
m e a n s everyth ing loca l ly a n d p ragmat i ca l l y
b e c a u s e w e h a v e n ot h in g else t o shield us
f rom a d e vas t a t i n g sense o f “lostness” in
endless t im e a n d s p a c e .

—H. P. Lovecraft , Se lec ted Letters


Common Themes in Lovecra f t :

Folklore a n d tradit ion

Forb idden k n o w l e d g e

Inher i ted gui lt a n d fa te

(Human ) civi l ization under threat

Rac ia lpur ity/monstrosity o f hybr idity

Dangers o f scientif ic k n o w l e d g e

Juxtaposit ion/l ink b e t w e e n m a g i c a n d sc ience

Rel ig ion a n d hosti le n o n – h u m a n deit ies

N e w Eng land a n d c osm ic settings

Lovecra f t i an themes in th i s s to ry :

Forb idden k n o w l e d g e
(Human ) civi l ization under threat
Dangers o f scientif ic k n o w l e d g e
Juxtaposit ion/l ink b e t w e e n m a g i c a n d sc ience
Rel ig ion a n d hosti le n o n – h u m a n deit ies

Curiously, like other late Lovecraftian stories, this story
subverts his earlier handing of themes. For instance, are the
aliens really hostile . . . ? Is it actually human civilization that
is under threat?

Lovecraft wrote this story with a young friend, Kenneth
Sterling, at Sterling’s suggestion. Kenneth had basically
knocked on Lovecraft’s door, introduced himself, and
proposed that they become friends. Lovecraft agreed, and he
also rewrote Sterling’s original draft of the story. As you can
see, it was published in Weird Tales—although it is arguably
much less weird than many of Lovecraft’s stories, and more
purely “science fiction” than many.

Sterling went on to become a very prominent doctor and
researcher in his field.

One of the intriguing references early in the story, before the
labyrinth, is when the narrator checks his watch after
encountering a narcotic Venusian plant and notes that it is
only 4:20—from his perception, far more time had elapsed.

4:20, as you might know, is the international ”time” or code
for smoking pot. It could well be that the group of California
students who originated this slang term were influenced by
Lovecraft’s story.

In the Lovecraft story, the plant is a danger; “tripping” on
Venus could prove fatal.

Narratively speaking, what is the purpose of these early incidents and observations in the story? Arguably,
there are two mazes in Eryx: the first one is the psychological fog caused by the mirage plant:

I realised all I need do was retreat from the dangerous blossoms; heading away from the source of the
pulsations, and cutting a path blindly—regardless of what might seem to swirl around me—until safely out of
the plant’s effective radius. Although everything was spinning perilously, I tried to start in the right direction
and hack my way ahead. My route must have been far from straight, for it seemed hours before I was free of
the mirage-plant’s pervasive influence. Gradually the dancing lights began to disappear, and the shimmering
spectral scenery began to assume the aspect of solidity. When I did get wholly clear I looked at my watch and
was astonished to find that the time was only 4:20. Though eternities had seemed to pass, the whole
experience could have consumed little

There must be a great deposit of crystals within a
thousand miles, though I suppose those damnable
man-lizards always watch and guard it. Possibly
they think we are just as foolish for coming to
Venus to hunt the stuff as we think they are for
grovelling in the mud whenever they see a piece
of it, or for keeping that great mass on a pedestal
in their temple. I wish they’d get a new religion,
for they have no use for the crystals except to
pray to. Barring theology, they would let us take
all we want—and even if they learned to tap them
for power there’d be more than enough for their
planet and the earth besides. I for one am tired of
passing up the main deposits and merely seeking
separate crystals out of jungle river-beds.

The Mission: get the crystals

The dirty little place was impenetrably black except in one
spot, where he perceived an unusual glow of light.
Approaching this, he discovered it to be the crystal egg,
which was standing on the corner of the counter towards
the window. A thin ray smote through a crack in the
shutters, impinged upon the object, and seemed as it were
to fill its entire interior. . . He approached the crystal
nearly, peering into it and round it, with a transient revival
of the scientific curiosity that in his youth had determined
his choice of a calling. He was surprised to find the light
not steady, but writhing within the substance of the egg,
as though that object was a hollow sphere of some
luminous vapour.

Possible Influence: H.G. Wells’s The Crystal Egg

Ancient Eryx, a prosperous Elymian and Carthaginian
city, boasted a well-known temple to a Phoenician
fertility goddess, Astarte (later identified with Venus
and worshipped by the Romans). The original
settlement was probably founded by the Elymian
people of western Sicily.

According to legend, the town was named after Eryx,
the son of Aphrodite and Brutes the Argonaut, who
died after a boxing match with Hercules and was buried
at that location. The Aeneid places Eryx as the location
of a temple to Venus/Aphrodite founded and
constructed by Aenaes and his group during their stop
in Sicily. The area is also supposedly the burial location
of Anchises.

Greed or enthusiasm leads to a lack of caution.
Although he sees his dead colleague, he assumes that
he himself will make it to the center and back out
again. That assessment proves to be fatally flawed.

Who or what is Theseus, the Minotaur, and Ariadne in this story?

The House of Asterion
by Jorge Luis Borges

And the queen gave birth to a child who was called Asterion.
—Apollodorus Biblioteca Book III. I

I know they accuse me of arrogance, and perhaps misanthropy, and perhaps of madness. Such
accusations (for which I shall exact punishment in due time) are derisory. It is true that I never
leave my house, but it is also true that its doors (whose numbers are infinite)*1 are open day
and night to men and to animals as well. Anyone may enter. He will find here no female pomp
nor gallant court formality, but he will find quiet and solitude. And he will also find a house like
no other on the face of this earth. (There are those who declare there is a similar one in Egypt,
but they lie.) Even my detractors admit there is not one single piece of furniture in the house.
Another ridiculous falsehood has it that I, Asterion, am a prisoner. Shall I repeat that there are
no locked doors, shall I add that there are no locks? Besides, one afternoon I did step into the
street; If I returned before night, I did so because of the fear that the faces of the common
people inspired in me, faces as discolored and flat as the palm of one’s hand. the sun had
already set, but the helpless crying of a child and the rude supplications of the faithful told me
I had been recognized. The people prayed, fled, prostrated themselves; some climbed onto the
stylobate of the temple of the axes, others gathered stones. One of them, I believe, hid himself
beneath the sea. Not for nothing was my mother a queen; I cannot be confused with the
populace, though my modesty might so desire. The fact is that that I am unique. I am not
interested in what one man may transmit to other men; like the philosopher I think that
nothing is communicable by the art of writing. Bothersome and trivial details have no place in
my spirit, which is prepared for all that is vast and grand; I have never retained the difference
between one letter and another. A certain generous impatience has not permitted that I learn
to read. Sometimes I deplore this, for the nights and days are long.

Of course, I am not without distractions. Like the ram about to charge, I run through the stone
galleries until I fall dizzy to the floor. I crouch in the shadow of a pool or around a corner and
pretend I am being followed. There are roofs from which I let myself fall until I am bloody. At
any time I can pretend to be asleep, with my eyes closed and my breathing heavy. (Sometimes
I really sleep, sometimes the color of day has changed when I open my eyes.) But of all the
games, I prefer the one about the other Asterion. I pretend that he comes to visit me and
that I show him my house. With great obeisance I say to him “Now we shall return to the first
intersection” or “Now we shall come out into another courtyard” Or “I knew you would like the
drain” or “Now you will see a pool that was filled with sand” or “You will soon see how the
cellar branches out”. Sometimes I make a mistake and the two of us laugh heartily.

Not only have I imagined these games, I have also meditated on the house. All parts of the
house are repeated many times, any place is another place. There is no one pool, courtyard,
drinking trough, manger; the mangers, drinking troughs, court-yards pools are fourteen
(infinite) in number. The house is the same size as the world; or rather it is the world.
However, by dint of exhausting the courtyards with pools and dusty gray stone galleries I
have reached the street and seen the temple of the Axes and the sea. I did not understand

*1 The original says fourteen, but there is ample reason to infer that, as used by Asterion, this numeral stands for

this until a night vision revealed to me that the seas and temples are also fourteen
(infinite) in number. Everything is repeated many times, fourteen times, but two things in
the world seem to be repeated only once: above, the intricate sun; below Asterion.
Perhaps I have created the stars and the sun and this enormous house, but I no longer

Every nine years nine men enter the house so that I may deliver them from evil. I hear
their steps or their voices in the depths of the stone galleries and I run joyfully to find
them. The ceremony lasts a few minutes. They fall one after another without my having
to bloody my hands. They remain where they fell and their bodies help distinguish one
gallery from another. I do not know who they are, but I know that one of them
prophesied, at the moment of his death, that some day my redeemer would come. Since
then my loneliness does not pain me, because I know my redeemer lives and he will finally
rise above the dust. If my ear could capture all the sounds of the world, I should hear his
steps. I hope he will take me to a place with fewer galleries, fewer doors. What will my
redeemer be like? I ask myself. Will he be a bull or a man? will he perhaps be a bull with
the face of a man? or will he be like me?

The morning sun reverberated from the bronze sword. There was no longer even a
vestige of blood. “Would you believe it, Ariadne?” said Theseus “The Minotaur scarcely
defended himself.”

  • Blank Page

In the Walls of Eryx

By H. P. Lovecraft with Kenneth Sterling

Before I try to rest I will set down these notes in preparation for the report I
must make. What I have found is so singular, and so contrary to all past experi-
ence and expectations, that it deserves a very careful description.

I reached the main landing on Venus March 18, terrestrial time; VI, 9 of the
planet’s calendar. Being put in the main group under Miller, I received my equip-
ment—watch tuned to Venus’s slightly quicker rotation—and went through the
usual mask drill. After two days I was pronounced fit for duty.

Leaving the Crystal Company’s post at Terra Nova around dawn, VI, 12, I fol-
lowed the southerly route which Anderson had mapped out from the air. The
going was bad, for these jungles are always half impassable after a rain. It must
be the moisture that gives the tangled vines and creepers that leathery tough-
ness; a toughness so great that a knife has to work ten minutes on some of
them. By noon it was dryer—the vegetation getting soft and rubbery so that
the knife went through it easily—but even then I could not make much speed.
These Carter oxygen masks are too heavy—just carrying one half wears an ordi-
nary man out. A Dubois mask with sponge-reservoir instead of tubes would give
just as good air at half the weight.

The crystal-detector seemed to function well, pointing steadily in a direction
verifying Anderson’s report. It is curious how that principle of affinity works—
without any of the fakery of the old ‘divining rods’ back home. There must be a
great deposit of crystals within a thousand miles, though I suppose those dam-
nable man-lizards always watch and guard it. Possibly they think we are just as
foolish for coming to Venus to hunt the stuff as we think they are for grovelling
in the mud whenever they see a piece of it, or for keeping that great mass on a
pedestal in their temple. I wish they’d get a new religion, for they have no use
for the crystals except to pray to. Barring theology, they would let us take all
we want—and even if they learned to tap them for power there’d be more than
enough for their planet and the earth besides. I for one am tired of passing up
the main deposits and merely seeking separate crystals out of jungle river-beds.

Sometime I’ll urge the wiping out of these scaly beggars by a good stiff army
from home. About twenty ships could bring enough troops across to turn the
trick. One can’t call the damned things men for all their “cities” and towers.
They haven’t any skill except building—and using swords and poison darts—and
I don’t believe their so-called “cities” mean much more than ant-hills or bea-
ver-dams. I doubt if they even have a real language—all the talk about psycho-
logical communication through those tentacles down their chests strikes me as
bunk. What misleads people is their upright posture; just an accidental physical
resemblance to terrestrial man.

I’d like to go through a Venus jungle for once without having to watch out for
skulking groups of them or dodge their cursed darts. They may have been all
right before we began to take the crystals, but they’re certainly a bad enough
nuisance now—with their dart-shooting and their cutting of our water pipes.
More and more I come to believe that they have a special sense like our crys-
tal-detectors. No one ever knew them to bother a man—apart from long-dis-
tance sniping—who didn’t have crystals on him.

Around 1 p.m. a dart nearly took my helmet off, and I thought for a second one
of my oxygen tubes was punctured. The sly devils hadn’t made a sound, but
three of them were closing in on me. I got them all by sweeping in a circle with
my flame pistol, for even though their colour blended with the jungle, I could
spot the moving creepers. One of them was fully eight feet tall, with a snout like
a tapir’s. The other two were average seven-footers. All that makes them hold
their own is sheer numbers—even a single regiment of flame throwers could
raise hell with them. It is curious, though, how they’ve come to be dominant on
the planet. Not another living thing higher than the wriggling akmans and sko-
rahs, or the flying tukahs of the other continent—unless of course those holes
in the Dionaean Plateau hide something.

About two o’clock my detector veered westward, indicating isolated crystals
ahead on the right. This checked up with Anderson, and I turned my course ac-
cordingly. It was harder going—not only because the ground was rising, but be-
cause the animal life and carnivorous plants were thicker. I was always slashing
ugrats and stepping on skorahs, and my leather suit was all speckled from the
bursting darohs which struck it from all sides. The sunlight was all the worse
because of the mist, and did not seem to dry up the mud in the least. Every
time I stepped my feet sank down five or six inches, and there was a sucking
sort of blup every time I pulled them out. I wish somebody would invent a safe

kind of suiting other than leather for this climate. Cloth of course would rot; but
some thin metallic tissue that couldn’t tear—like the surface of this revolving
decay-proof record scroll—ought to be feasible some time.

I ate about 3:30—if slipping these wretched food tablets through my mask can
be called eating. Soon after that I noticed a decided change in the landscape—
the bright, poisonous-looking flowers shifting in colour and getting wraith-like.
The outlines of everything shimmered rhythmically, and bright points of light
appeared and danced in the same slow, steady tempo. After that the tempera-
ture seemed to fluctuate in unison with a peculiar rhythmic drumming.

The whole universe seemed to be throbbing in deep, regular pulsations that
filled every corner of space and flowed through my body and mind alike. I lost
all sense of equilibrium and staggered dizzily, nor did it change things in the
least when I shut my eyes and covered my ears with my hands. However, my
mind was still clear, and in a very few minutes I realised what had happened.

I had encountered at last one of those curious mirage-plants about which so
many of our men told stories. Anderson had warned me of them, and described
their appearance very closely—the shaggy stalk, the spiky leaves, and the mot-
tled blossoms whose gaseous, dream-breeding exhalations penetrate every ex-
isting make of mask.

Recalling what happened to Bailey three years ago, I fell into a momentary pan-
ic, and began to dash and stagger about in the crazy, chaotic world which the
plant’s exhalations had woven around me. Then good sense came back, and I
realised all I need do was retreat from the dangerous blossoms; heading away
from the source of the pulsations, and cutting a path blindly—regardless of what
might seem to swirl around me—until safely out of the plant’s effective radius.

Although everything was spinning perilously, I tried to start in the right direc-
tion and hack my way ahead. My route must have been far from straight, for it
seemed hours before I was free of the mirage-plant’s pervasive influence. Grad-
ually the dancing lights began to disappear, and the shimmering spectral scen-
ery began to assume the aspect of solidity. When I did get wholly clear I looked
at my watch and was astonished to find that the time was only 4:20. Though
eternities had seemed to pass, the whole experience could have consumed little
more than a half-hour.

Every delay, however, was irksome, and I had lost ground in my retreat from the
plant. I now pushed ahead in the uphill direction indicated by the crystal-detec-
tor, bending every energy toward making better time. The jungle was still thick,
though there was less animal life. Once a carnivorous blossom engulfed my
right foot and held it so tightly that I had to hack it free with my knife; reducing
the flower to strips before it let go.

In less than an hour I saw that the jungle growths were thinning out, and by five
o’clock—after passing through a belt of tree-ferns with very little underbrush—I
emerged on a broad mossy plateau. My progress now became rapid, and I saw
by the wavering of my detector-needle that I was getting relatively close to the
crystal I sought. This was odd, for most of the scattered, egg-like spheroids oc-
curred in jungle streams of a sort not likely to be found on this treeless upland.

The terrain sloped upward, ending in a definite crest. I reached the top about
5:30, and saw ahead of me a very extensive plain with forests in the distance.
This, without question, was the plateau mapped by Matsugawa from the air fifty
years ago, and called on our maps “Eryx” or the “Erycinian Highland.” But what
made my heart leap was a smaller detail, whose position could not have been
far from the plain’s exact centre. It was a single point of light, blazing through
the mist and seeming to draw a piercing, concentrated luminescence from
the yellowish, vapour-dulled sunbeams. This, without doubt, was the crystal I
sought—a thing possibly no larger than a hen’s egg, yet containing enough pow-
er to keep a city warm for a year. I could hardly wonder, as I glimpsed the dis-
tant glow, that those miserable man-lizards worship such crystals. And yet they
have not the least notion of the powers they contain.

Breaking into a rapid run, I tried to reach the unexpected prize as soon as pos-
sible; and was annoyed when the firm moss gave place to a thin, singularly
detestable mud studded with occasional patches of weeds and creepers. But
I splashed on heedlessly—scarcely thinking to look around for any of the skulk-
ing man-lizards. In this open space I was not very likely to be waylaid. As I ad-
vanced, the light ahead seemed to grow in size and brilliancy, and I began to no-
tice some peculiarity in its situation. Clearly, this was a crystal of the very finest
quality, and my elation grew with every spattering step.

It is now that I must begin to be careful in making my report, since what I shall
henceforward have to say involves unprecedented—though fortunately ver-
ifiable—matters. I was racing ahead with mounting eagerness, and had come

within an hundred yards or so of the crystal—whose position on a sort of raised
place in the omnipresent slime seemed very odd—when a sudden, overpower-
ing force struck my chest and the knuckles of my clenched fists and knocked
me over backward into the mud. The splash of my fall was terrific, nor did the
softness of the ground and the presence of some slimy weeds and creepers
save my head from a bewildering jarring. For a moment I lay supine, too utter-
ly startled to think. Then I half-mechanically stumbled to my feet and began to
scrape the worst of the mud and scum from my leather suit.

Of what I had encountered I could not form the faintest idea. I had seen noth-
ing which could have caused the shock, and I saw nothing now. Had I, after
all, merely slipped in the mud? My sore knuckles and aching chest forbade me
to think so. Or was this whole incident an illusion brought on by some hidden
mirage-plant? It hardly seemed probable, since I had none of the usual symp-
toms, and since there was no place near by where so vivid and typical a growth
could lurk unseen. Had I been on the earth, I would have suspected a barrier of
N-force laid down by some government to mark a forbidden zone, but in this
humanless region such a notion would have been absurd.

Finally pulling myself together, I decided to investigate in a cautious way. Hold-
ing my knife as far as possible ahead of me, so that it might be first to feel the
strange force, I started once more for the shining crystal—preparing to advance
step by step with the greatest deliberation. At the third step I was brought up
short by the impact of the knife-point on an apparently solid surface—a solid
surface where my eyes saw nothing.

After a moment’s recoil I gained boldness. Extending my gloved left hand, I ver-
ified the presence of invisible solid matter—or a tactile illusion of solid matter—
ahead of me. Upon moving my hand I found that the barrier was of substantial
extent, and of an almost glassy smoothness, with no evidence of the joining
of separate blocks. Nerving myself for further experiments, I removed a glove
and tested the thing with my bare hand. It was indeed hard and glassy, and of
a curious coldness as contrasted with the air around. I strained my eyesight to
the utmost in an effort to glimpse some trace of the obstructing substance, but
could discern nothing whatsoever. There was not even any evidence of refrac-
tive power as judged by the aspect of the landscape ahead. Absence of reflec-
tive power was proved by the lack of a glowing image of the sun at any point.

Burning curiosity began to displace all other feelings, and I enlarged my in-

vestigations as best I could. Exploring with my hands, I found that the barrier
extended from the ground to some level higher than I could reach, and that
it stretched off indefinitely on both sides. It was, then, a wall of some kind—
though all guesses as to its materials and its purpose were beyond me. Again I
thought of the mirage-plant and the dreams it induced, but a moment’s reason-
ing put this out of my head.

Knocking sharply on the barrier with the hilt of my knife, and kicking at it with
my heavy boots, I tried to interpret the sounds thus made. There was something
suggestive of cement or concrete in these reverberations, though my hands had
found the surface more glassy or metallic in feel. Certainly, I was confronting
something strange beyond all previous experience.

The next logical move was to get some idea of the wall’s dimensions. The height
problem would be hard if not insoluble, but the length and shape problem could
perhaps be sooner dealt with. Stretching out my arms and pressing close to the
barrier, I began to edge gradually to the left—keeping very careful track of the
way I faced. After several steps I concluded that the wall was not straight, but
that I was following part of some vast circle or ellipse. And then my attention
was distracted by something wholly different—something connected with the
still-distant crystal which had formed the object of my quest.

I have said that even from a greater distance the shining object’s position
seemed indefinably queer—on a slight mound rising from the slime. Now—at
about an hundred yards—I could see plainly despite the engulfing mist just what
that mound was. It was the body of a man in one of the Crystal Company’s
leather suits, lying on his back, and with his oxygen mask half buried in the mud
a few inches away. In his right hand, crushed convulsively against his chest,
was the crystal which had led me here—a spheroid of incredible size, so large
that the dead fingers could scarcely close over it. Even at the given distance I
could see that the body was a recent one. There was little visible decay, and I
reflected that in this climate such a thing meant death not more than a day be-
fore. Soon the hateful farnoth-flies would begin to cluster about the corpse. I
wondered who the man was. Surely no one I had seen on this trip. It must have
been one of the old-timers absent on a long roving commission, who had come
to this especial region independently of Anderson’s survey. There he lay, past all
trouble, and with the rays of the great crystal streaming out from between his
stiffened fingers.

For fully five minutes I stood there staring in bewilderment and apprehension.
A curious dread assailed me, and I had an unreasonable impulse to run away.
It could not have been done by those slinking man-lizards, for he still held the
crystal he had found. Was there any connexion with the invisible wall? Where
had he found the crystal? Anderson’s instrument had indicated one in this quar-
ter well before this man could have perished. I now began to regard the unseen
barrier as something sinister, and recoiled from it with a shudder. Yet I knew I
must probe the mystery all the more quickly and thoroughly because of this re-
cent tragedy.

Suddenly—wrenching my mind back to the problem I faced—I thought of a
possible means of testing the wall’s height, or at least of finding whether or
not it extended indefinitely upward. Seizing a handful of mud, I let it drain un-
til it gained some coherence and then flung it high in the air toward the utterly
transparent barrier. At a height of perhaps fourteen feet it struck the invisible
surface with a resounding splash, disintegrating at once and oozing downward
in disappearing streams with surprising rapidity. Plainly, the wall was a lofty one.
A second handful, hurled at an even sharper angle, hit the surface about eigh-
teen feet from the ground and disappeared as quickly as the first.

I now summoned up all my strength and prepared to throw a third handful as
high as I possibly could. Letting the mud drain, and squeezing it to maximum
dryness, I flung it up so steeply that I feared it might not reach the obstructing
surface at all. It did, however, and this time it crossed the barrier and fell in the
mud beyond with a violent spattering. At last I had a rough idea of the height of
the wall, for the crossing had evidently occurred some twenty or 21 feet aloft.

With a nineteen- or twenty-foot vertical wall of glassy flatness, ascent was
clearly impossible. I must, then, continue to circle the barrier in the hope of
finding a gate, an ending, or some sort of interruption. Did the obstacle form
a complete round or other closed figure, or was it merely an arc or semicircle?
Acting on my decision, I resumed my slow leftward circling, moving my hands
up and down over the unseen surface on the chance of finding some window
or other small aperture. Before starting, I tried to mark my position by kicking
a hole in the mud, but found the slime too thin to hold any impression. I did,
though, gauge the place approximately by noting a tall cycad in the distant for-
est which seemed just on a line with the gleaming crystal an hundred yards
away. If no gate or break existed I could now tell when I had completely circum-
navigated the wall.

I had not progressed far before I decided that the curvature indicated a circu-
lar enclosure of about an hundred yards’ diameter—provided the outline was
regular. This would mean that the dead man lay near the wall at a point almost
opposite the region where I had started. Was he just inside or just outside the
enclosure? This I would soon ascertain.

As I slowly rounded the barrier without finding any gate, window, or other
break, I decided that the body was lying within. On closer view, the features
of the dead man seemed vaguely disturbing. I found something alarming in his
expression, and in the way the glassy eyes stared. By the time I was very near
I believed I recognised him as Dwight, a veteran whom I had never known, but
who was pointed out to me at the post last year. The crystal he clutched was
certainly a prize—the largest single specimen I had ever seen.

I was so near the body that I could—but for the barrier—have touched it, when
my exploring left hand encountered a corner in the unseen surface. In a second
I had learned that there was an opening about three feet wide, extending from
the ground to a height greater than I could reach. There was no door, nor any
evidence of hinge-marks bespeaking a former door. Without a moment’s hesi-
tation I stepped through and advanced two paces to the prostrate body—which
lay at right angles to the hallway I had entered, in what seemed to be an inter-
secting doorless corridor. It gave me a fresh curiosity to find that the interior of
this vast enclosure was divided by partitions.

Bending to examine the corpse, I discovered that it bore no wounds. This
scarcely surprised me, since the continued presence of the crystal argued
against the pseudo-reptilian natives. Looking about for some possible cause of
death, my eyes lit upon the oxygen mask lying close to the body’s feet. Here,
indeed, was something significant. Without this device no human being could
breathe the air of Venus for more than thirty seconds, and Dwight—if it were
he—had obviously lost his. Probably it had been carelessly buckled, so that the
weight of the tubes worked the straps loose—a thing which could not happen
with a Dubois sponge-reservoir mask. The half-minute of grace had been too
short to allow the man to stoop and recover his protection—or else the cyano-
gen content of the atmosphere was abnormally high at the time. Probably he
had been busy admiring the crystal—wherever he may have found it. He had,
apparently, just taken it from the pouch in his suit, for the flap was unbuttoned.

I now proceeded to extricate the huge crystal from the dead prospector’s fin-
gers—a task which the body’s stiffness made very difficult. The spheroid was
larger than a man’s fist, and glowed as if alive in the reddish rays of the wes-
tering sun. As I touched the gleaming surface I shuddered involuntarily—as if
by taking this precious object I had transferred to myself the doom which had
overtaken its earlier bearer. However, my qualms soon passed, and I carefully
buttoned the crystal into the pouch of my leather suit. Superstition has never
been one of my failings.

Placing the man’s helmet over his dead, staring face, I straightened up and
stepped back through the unseen doorway to the entrance hall of the great
enclosure. All my curiosity about the strange edifice now returned, and I racked
my brain with speculations regarding its material, origin, and purpose. That the
hands of men had reared it I could not for a moment believe. Our ships first
reached Venus only 72 years ago, and the only human beings on the planet
have been those at Terra Nova. Nor does human knowledge include any per-
fectly transparent, non-refractive solid such as the substance of this building.
Prehistoric human invasions of Venus can be pretty well ruled out, so that one
must turn to the idea of native construction. Did a forgotten race of high-
ly evolved beings precede the man-lizards as masters of Venus? Despite their
elaborately built cities, it seemed hard to credit the pseudo-reptiles with any-
thing of this kind. There must have been another race aeons ago, of which this
is perhaps the last relique. Or will other ruins of kindred origin be found by fu-
ture expeditions? The purpose of such a structure passes all conjecture—but its
strange and seemingly non-practical material suggests a religious use.

Realising my inability to solve these problems, I decided that all I could do was
to explore the invisible structure itself. That various rooms and corridors ex-
tended over the seemingly unbroken plain of mud I felt convinced; and I be-
lieved that a knowledge of their plan might lead to something significant. So,
feeling my way back through the doorway and edging past the body, I began to
advance along the corridor toward those interior regions whence the dead man
had presumably come. Later on I would investigate the hallway I had left.

Groping like a blind man despite the misty sunlight, I moved slowly onward.
Soon the corridor turned sharply and began to spiral in toward the centre in
ever-diminishing curves. Now and then my touch would reveal a doorless in-
tersecting passage, and I several times encountered junctions with two, three,
or four diverging avenues. In these latter cases I always followed the inmost

route, which seemed to form a continuation of the one I had been traversing.
There would be plenty of time to examine the branches after I had reached and
returned from the main regions. I can scarcely describe the strangeness of the
experience—threading the unseen ways of an invisible structure reared by for-
gotten hands on an alien planet!

At last, still stumbling and groping, I felt the corridor end in a sizeable open
space. Fumbling about, I found I was in a circular chamber about ten feet
across; and from the position of the dead man against certain distant forest
landmarks I judged that this chamber lay at or near the centre of the edifice.
Out of it opened five corridors besides the one through which I had entered,
but I kept the latter in mind by sighting very carefully past the body to a particu-
lar tree on the horizon as I stood just within the entrance.

There was nothing in this room to distinguish it—merely the floor of thin mud
which was everywhere present. Wondering whether this part of the building
had any roof, I repeated my experiment with an upward-flung handful of mud,
and found at once that no covering existed. If there had ever been one, it must
have fallen long ago, for not a trace of debris or scattered blocks ever halted my
feet. As I reflected, it struck me as distinctly odd that this apparently primordial
structure should be so devoid of tumbling masonry, gaps in the walls, and other
common attributes of dilapidation.

What was it? What had it ever been? Of what was it made? Why was there no
evidence of separate blocks in the glassy, bafflingly homogeneous walls? Why
were there no traces of doors, either interior or exterior? I knew only that I was
in a round, roofless, doorless edifice of some hard, smooth, perfectly transpar-
ent, non-refractive, and non-reflective material, an hundred yards in diameter,
with many corridors, and with a small circular room at the centre. More than
this I could never learn from a direct investigation.

I now observed that the sun was sinking very low in the west—a golden-ruddy
disc floating in a pool of scarlet and orange above the mist-clouded trees of the
horizon. Plainly, I would have to hurry if I expected to choose a sleeping-spot
on dry ground before dark. I had long before decided to camp for the night
on the firm, mossy rim of the plateau near the crest whence I had first spied
the shining crystal, trusting to my usual luck to save me from an attack by the
man-lizards. It has always been my contention that we ought to travel in par-
ties of two or more, so that someone can be on guard during sleeping hours,

but the really small number of night attacks makes the Company careless about
such things. Those scaly wretches seem to have difficulty in seeing at night,
even with curious glow-torches.

Having picked out again the hallway through which I had come, I started to re-
turn to the structure’s entrance. Additional exploration could wait for another
day. Groping a course as best I could through the spiral corridor—with only gen-
eral sense, memory, and a vague recognition of some of the ill-defined weed
patches on the plain as guides—I soon found myself once more in close prox-
imity to the corpse. There were now one or two farnoth-flies swooping over
the helmet-covered face, and I knew that decay was setting in. With a futile
instinctive loathing I raised my hand to brush away this vanguard of the scaven-
gers—when a strange and astonishing thing became manifest. An invisible wall,
checking the sweep of my arm, told me that—notwithstanding my careful re-
tracing of the way—I had not indeed returned to the corridor in which the body
lay. Instead, I was in a parallel hallway, having no doubt taken some wrong turn
or fork among the intricate passages behind.

Hoping to find a doorway to the exit hall ahead, I continued my advance, but
presently came to a blank wall. I would, then, have to return to the central
chamber and steer my course anew. Exactly where I had made my mistake I
could not tell. I glanced at the ground to see if by any miracle guiding footprints
had remained, but at once realised that the thin mud held impressions only for
a very few moments. There was little difficulty in finding my way to the cen-
tre again, and once there I carefully reflected on the proper outward course. I
had kept too far to the right before. This time I must take a more leftward fork
somewhere—just where, I could decide as I went.

As I groped ahead a second time I felt quite confident of my correctness, and
diverged to the left at a junction I was sure I remembered. The spiralling contin-
ued, and I was careful not to stray into any intersecting passages. Soon, howev-
er, I saw to my disgust that I was passing the body at a considerable distance;
this passage evidently reached the outer wall at a point much beyond it. In the
hope that another exit might exist in the half of the wall I had not yet explored,
I pressed forward for several paces, but eventually came once more to a solid
barrier. Clearly, the plan of the building was even more complicated than I had

I now debated whether to return to the centre again or whether to try some of

the lateral corridors extending toward the body. If I chose this second alterna-
tive, I would run the risk of breaking my mental pattern of where I was; hence
I had better not attempt it unless I could think of some way of leaving a visible
trail behind me. Just how to leave a trail would be quite a problem, and I ran-
sacked my mind for a solution. There seemed to be nothing about my person
which could leave a mark on anything, nor any material which I could scatter—or
minutely subdivide and scatter.

My pen had no effect on the invisible wall, and I could not lay a trail of my pre-
cious food tablets. Even had I been willing to spare the latter, there would not
have been even nearly enough—besides which the small pellets would have
instantly sunk from sight in the thin mud. I searched my pockets for an old-fash-
ioned notebook—often used unofficially on Venus despite the quick rotting-rate
of paper in the planet’s atmosphere—whose pages I could tear up and scatter,
but could find none. It was obviously impossible to tear the tough, thin metal
of this revolving decay-proof record scroll, nor did my clothing offer any possi-
bilities. In Venus’s peculiar atmosphere I could not safely spare my stout leather
suit, and underwear had been eliminated because of the climate.

I tried to smear mud on the smooth, invisible walls after squeezing it as dry as
possible, but found that it slipped from sight as quickly as did the height-testing
handfuls I had previously thrown. Finally I drew out my knife and attempted to
scratch a line on the glassy, phantom surface—something I could recognise with
my hand, even though I would not have the advantage of seeing it from afar. It
was useless, however, for the blade made not the slightest impression on the
baffling, unknown material.

Frustrated in all attempts to blaze a trail, I again sought the round central cham-
ber through memory. It seemed easier to get back to this room than to steer
a definite, predetermined course away from it, and I had little difficulty in find-
ing it anew. This time I listed on my record scroll every turn I made—drawing a
crude hypothetical diagram of my route, and marking all diverging corridors. It
was, of course, maddeningly slow work when everything had to be determined
by touch, and the possibilities of error were infinite; but I believed it would pay
in the long run.

The long twilight of Venus was thick when I reached the central room, but I
still had hopes of gaining the outside before dark. Comparing my fresh diagram
with previous recollections, I believed I had located my original mistake, so once

more set out confidently along the invisible hallways. I veered further to the left
than during my previous attempts, and tried to keep track of my turnings on the
record scroll in case I was still mistaken. In the gathering dusk I could see the
dim line of the corpse, now the centre of a loathsome cloud of farnoth-flies.
Before long, no doubt, the mud-dwelling sificlighs would be oozing in from the
plain to complete the ghastly work. Approaching the body with some reluc-
tance, I was preparing to step past it when a sudden collision with a wall told
me I was again astray.

I now realised plainly that I was lost. The complications of this building were
too much for offhand solution, and I would probably have to do some careful
checking before I could hope to emerge. Still, I was eager to get to dry ground
before total darkness set in; hence I returned once more to the centre and be-
gan a rather aimless series of trials and errors—making notes by the light of my
electric lamp. When I used this device I noticed with interest that it produced
no reflection—not even the faintest glistening—in the transparent walls around
me. I was, however, prepared for this; since the sun had at no time formed a
gleaming image in the strange material.

I was still groping about when the dusk became total. A heavy mist obscured
most of the stars and planets, but the earth was plainly visible as a glowing, blu-
ish-green point in the southeast. It was just past opposition, and would have
been a glorious sight in a telescope. I could even make out the moon beside
it whenever the vapours momentarily thinned. It was now impossible to see
the corpse—my only landmark—so I blundered back to the central chamber af-
ter a few false turns. After all, I would have to give up hope of sleeping on dry
ground. Nothing could be done till daylight, and I might as well make the best of
it here. Lying down in the mud would not be pleasant, but in my leather suit it
could be done. On former expeditions I had slept under even worse conditions,
and now sheer exhaustion would help to conquer repugnance.

So here I am, squatting in the slime of the central room and making these notes
on my record scroll by the light of the electric lamp. There is something al-
most humorous in my strange, unprecedented plight. Lost in a building without
doors—a building which I cannot see! I shall doubtless get out early in the morn-
ing, and ought to be back at Terra Nova with the crystal by late afternoon. It
certainly is a beauty—with surprising lustre even in the feeble light of this lamp.
I have just had it out examining it. Despite my fatigue, sleep is slow in coming,
so I find myself writing at great length. I must stop now. Not much danger of

being bothered by those cursed natives in this place. The thing I like least is the
corpse—but fortunately my oxygen mask saves me from the worst effects. I am
using the chlorate cubes very sparingly. Will take a couple of food tablets now
and turn in. More later.

Later—Afternoon, VI, 13

There has been more trouble than I expected. I am still in the building, and will
have to work quickly and wisely if I expect to rest on dry ground tonight. It took
me a long time to get to sleep, and I did not wake till almost noon today. As it
was, I would have slept longer but for the glare of the sun through the haze.
The corpse was a rather bad sight—wriggling with sificlighs, and with a cloud of
farnoth-flies around it. Something had pushed the helmet away from the face,
and it was better not to look at it. I was doubly glad of my oxygen mask when I
thought of the situation.

At length I shook and brushed myself dry, took a couple of food tablets, and put
a new potassium chlorate cube in the electrolyser of the mask. I am using these
cubes slowly, but wish I had a larger supply. I felt much better after my sleep,
and expected to get out of the building very shortly.

Consulting the notes and sketches I had jotted down, I was impressed by the
complexity of the hallways, and by the possibility that I had made a fundamen-
tal error. Of the six openings leading out of the central space, I had chosen a
certain one as that by which I had entered—using a sighting-arrangement as a
guide. When I stood just within the opening, the corpse fifty yards away was
exactly in line with a particular lepidodendron in the far-off forest. Now it oc-
curred to me that this sighting might not have been of sufficient accuracy—the
distance of the corpse making its difference of direction in relation to the hori-
zon comparatively slight when viewed from the openings next to that of my first
ingress. Moreover, the tree did not differ as distinctly as it might from other lep-
idodendra on the horizon.

Putting the matter to a test, I found to my chagrin that I could not be sure
which of three openings was the right one. Had I traversed a different set of
windings at each attempted exit? This time I would be sure. It struck me that
despite the impossibility of trailblazing there was one marker I could leave.
Though I could not spare my suit, I could—because of my thick head of hair—
spare my helmet; and this was large and light enough to remain visible above

the thin mud. Accordingly I removed the roughly hemispherical device and laid it
at the entrance of one of the corridors—the right-hand one of the three I must
I would follow this corridor on the assumption that it was correct; repeating
what I seemed to recall as the proper turns, and constantly consulting and mak-
ing notes. If I did not get out, I would systematically exhaust all possible varia-
tions; and if these failed, I would proceed to cover the avenues extending from
the next opening in the same way—continuing to the third opening if necessary.
Sooner or later I could not avoid hitting the right path to the exit, but I must use
patience. Even at worst, I could scarcely fail to reach the open plain in time for a
dry night’s sleep.

Immediate results were rather discouraging, though they helped me eliminate
the right-hand opening in little more than an hour. Only a succession of blind
alleys, each ending at a great distance from the corpse, seemed to branch from
this hallway; and I saw very soon that it had not figured at all in the previous
afternoon’s wanderings. As before, however, I always found it relatively easy to
grope back to the central chamber.

About 1 p.m. I shifted my helmet marker to the next opening and began to ex-
plore the hallways beyond it. At first I thought I recognised the turnings, but
soon found myself in a wholly unfamiliar set of corridors. I could not get near
the corpse, and this time seemed cut off from the central chamber as well, even
though I thought I had recorded every move I made. There seemed to be tricky
twists and crossings too subtle for me to capture in my crude diagrams, and I
began to develop a kind of mixed anger and discouragement. While patience
would of course win in the end, I saw that my searching would have to be min-
ute, tireless, and long-continued.

Two o’clock found me still wandering vainly through strange corridors—con-
stantly feeling my way, looking alternately at my helmet and at the corpse, and
jotting data on my scroll with decreasing confidence. I cursed the stupidity and
idle curiosity which had drawn me into this tangle of unseen walls—reflecting
that if I had let the thing alone and headed back as soon as I had taken the
crystal from the body, I would even now be safe at Terra Nova.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I might be able to tunnel under the invisible
walls with my knife, and thus effect a short cut to the outside—or to some
outward-leading corridor. I had no means of knowing how deep the building’s

foundations were, but the omnipresent mud argued the absence of any floor
save the earth. Facing the distant and increasingly horrible corpse, I began a
course of feverish digging with the broad, sharp blade.

There was about six inches of semi-liquid mud, below which the density of
the soil increased sharply. This lower soil seemed to be of a different colour—a
greyish clay rather like the formations near Venus’s north pole. As I continued
downward close to the unseen barrier I saw that the ground was getting hard-
er and harder. Watery mud rushed into the excavation as fast as I removed the
clay, but I reached through it and kept on working. If I could bore any kind of a
passage beneath the wall, the mud would not stop my wriggling out.

About three feet down, however, the hardness of the soil halted my digging
seriously. Its tenacity was beyond anything I had encountered before, even on
this planet, and was linked with an anomalous heaviness. My knife had to split
and chip the tightly packed clay, and the fragments I brought up were like solid
stones or bits of metal. Finally even this splitting and chipping became impossi-
ble, and I had to cease my work with no lower edge of wall in reach.

The hour-long attempt was a wasteful as well as futile one, for it used up great
stores of my energy and forced me both to take an extra food tablet, and to put
an additional chlorate cube in the oxygen mask. It has also brought a pause in
the day’s gropings, for I am still much too exhausted to walk. After cleaning my
hands and arms of the worst of the mud I sat down to write these notes—lean-
ing against an invisible wall and facing away from the corpse.

That body is simply a writhing mass of vermin now—the odour has begun to
draw some of the slimy akmans from the far-off jungle. I notice that many of
the efjeh-weeds on the plain are reaching out necrophagous feelers toward the
thing; but I doubt if any are long enough to reach it. I wish some really carnivo-
rous organisms like the skorahs would appear, for then they might scent me and
wriggle a course through the building toward me. Things like that have an odd
sense of direction. I could watch them as they came, and jot down their approx-
imate route if they failed to form a continuous line. Even that would be a great
help. When I met any the pistol would make short work of them.

But I can hardly hope for as much as that. Now that these notes are made I
shall rest a while longer, and later will do some more groping. As soon as I get
back to the central chamber—which ought to be fairly easy—I shall try the ex-

treme left-hand opening. Perhaps I can get outside by dusk after all.

Night—VI, 13

New trouble. My escape will be tremendously difficult, for there are elements I
had not suspected. Another night here in the mud, and a fight on my hands to-
morrow. I cut my rest short and was up and groping again by four o’clock. After
about fifteen minutes I reached the central chamber and moved my helmet to
mark the last of the three possible doorways. Starting through this opening, I
seemed to find the going more familiar, but was brought up short in less than
five minutes by a sight that jolted me more than I can describe.

the forest far off across the plain. I could not see them distinctly at that dis-
tance, but thought they paused and turned toward the trees to gesticulate, af-
ter which they were joined by fully a dozen more. The augmented party now
began to advance directly toward the invisible building, and as they approached
I studied them carefully. I had never before had a close view of the things out-
side the steamy shadows of the jungle.

The resemblance to reptiles was perceptible, though I knew it was only an ap-
parent one, since these beings have no point of contact with terrestrial life.
When they drew nearer they seemed less truly reptilian—only the flat head
and the green, slimy, frog-like skin carrying out the idea. They walked erect on
their odd, thick stumps, and their suction-discs made curious noises in the mud.
These were average specimens, about seven feet in height, and with four long,
ropy pectoral tentacles. The motions of those tentacles—if the theories of Fogg,
Ekberg, and Janat are right, which I formerly doubted but am now more ready
to believe—indicated that the things were in animated conversation.

I drew my flame pistol and was ready for a hard fight. The odds were bad, but
the weapon gave me a certain advantage. If the things knew this building they
would come through it after me, and in this way would form a key to getting
out, just as carnivorous skorahs might have done. That they would attack me
seemed certain; for even though they could not see the crystal in my pouch,
they could divine its presence through that special sense of theirs.

Yet, surprisingly enough, they did not attack me. Instead they scattered and
formed a vast circle around me—at a distance which indicated that they were

pressing close to the unseen wall. Standing there in a ring, the beings stared
silently and inquisitively at me, waving their tentacles and sometimes nodding
their heads and gesturing with their upper limbs. After a while I saw others is-
sue from the forest, and these advanced and joined the curious crowd. Those
near the corpse looked briefly at it but made no move to disturb it. It was a hor-
rible sight, yet the man-lizards seemed quite unconcerned. Now and then one
of them would brush away the farnoth-flies with its limbs or tentacles, or crush
a wriggling sificligh or akman, or an out-reaching efjeh-weed, with the suction
discs on its stumps.

Staring back at these grotesque and unexpected intruders, and wondering un-
easily why they did not attack me at once, I lost for the time being the will pow-
er and nervous energy to continue my search for a way out. Instead I leaned
limply against the invisible wall of the passage where I stood, letting my wonder
merge gradually into a chain of the wildest speculations. An hundred mysteries
which had previously baffled me seemed all at once to take on a new and sinis-
ter significance, and I trembled with an acute fear unlike anything I had experi-
enced before.

I believed I knew why these repulsive beings were hovering expectantly around
me. I believed, too, that I had the secret of the transparent structure at last. The
alluring crystal which I had seized, the body of the man who had seized it be-
fore me—all these things began to acquire a dark and threatening meaning.

It was no common series of mischances which had made me lose my way in this
roofless, unseen tangle of corridors. Far from it. Beyond doubt, the place was
a genuine maze—a labyrinth deliberately built by these hellish beings whose
craft and mentality I had so badly underestimated. Might I not have suspected
this before, knowing of their uncanny architectural skill? The purpose was all
too plain. It was a trap—a trap set to catch human beings, and with the crystal
spheroid as bait. These reptilian things, in their war on the takers of crystals,
had turned to strategy and were using our own cupidity against us.

Dwight—if this rotting corpse were indeed he—was a victim. He must have
been trapped some time ago, and had failed to find his way out. Lack of water
had doubtless maddened him, and perhaps he had run out of chlorate cubes as
well. Probably his mask had not slipped accidentally after all. Suicide was a likeli-
er thing. Rather than face a lingering death he had solved the issue by removing
the mask deliberately and letting the lethal atmosphere do its work at once. The

horrible irony of his fate lay in his position—only a few feet from the saving exit
he had failed to find. One minute more of searching and he would have been
And now I was trapped as he had been. Trapped, and with this circling herd of
curious starers to mock at my predicament. The thought was maddening, and
as it sank in I was seized with a sudden flash of panic which set me running
aimlessly through the unseen hallways. For several moments I was essentially
a maniac—stumbling, tripping, bruising myself on the invisible walls, and finally
collapsing in the mud as a panting, lacerated heap of mindless, bleeding flesh.

The fall sobered me a bit, so that when I slowly struggled to my feet I could
notice things and exercise my reason. The circling watchers were swaying their
tentacles in an odd, irregular way suggestive of sly, alien laughter, and I shook
my fist savagely at them as I rose. My gesture seemed to increase their hid-
eous mirth—a few of them clumsily imitating it with their greenish upper limbs.
Shamed into sense, I tried to collect my faculties and take stock of the situation.

After all, I was not as badly off as Dwight had been. Unlike him, I knew what the
situation was—and forewarned is forearmed. I had proof that the exit was at-
tainable in the end, and would not repeat his tragic act of impatient despair. The
body—or skeleton, as it would soon be—was constantly before me as a guide to
the sought-for aperture, and dogged patience would certainly take me to it if I
worked long and intelligently enough.

I had, however, the disadvantage of being surrounded by these reptilian devils.
Now that I realised the nature of the trap—whose invisible material argued a
science and technology beyond anything on earth—I could no longer discount
the mentality and resources of my enemies. Even with my flame pistol I would
have a bad time getting away—though boldness and quickness would doubtless
see me through in the long run.

But first I must reach the exterior—unless I could lure or provoke some of the
creatures to advance toward me. As I prepared my pistol for action and count-
ed over my generous supply of ammunition it occurred to me to try the effect
of its blasts on the invisible walls. Had I overlooked a feasible means of es-
cape? There was no clue to the chemical composition of the transparent barri-
er, and conceivably it might be something which a tongue of fire could cut like
cheese. Choosing a section facing the corpse, I carefully discharged the pistol
at close range and felt with my knife where the blast had been aimed. Nothing

was changed. I had seen the flame spread when it struck the surface, and now
I realised that my hope had been vain. Only a long, tedious search for the exit
would ever bring me to the outside.

So, swallowing another food tablet and putting another cube in the electrolyser
of my mask, I recommenced the long quest; retracing my steps to the central
chamber and starting out anew. I constantly consulted my notes and sketches,
and made fresh ones—taking one false turn after another, but staggering on in
desperation till the afternoon light grew very dim. As I persisted in my quest I
looked from time to time at the silent circle of mocking starers, and noticed a
gradual replacement in their ranks. Every now and then a few would return to
the forest, while others would arrive to take their places. The more I thought
of their tactics the less I liked them, for they gave me a hint of the creatures’
possible motives. At any time these devils could have advanced and fought me,
but they seemed to prefer watching my struggles to escape. I could not but in-
fer that they enjoyed the spectacle—and this made me shrink with double force
from the prospect of falling into their hands.

With the dark I ceased my searching, and sat down in the mud to rest. Now I
am writing in the light of my lamp, and will soon try to get some sleep. I hope
tomorrow will see me out; for my canteen is low, and lacol tablets are a poor
substitute for water. I would hardly dare to try the moisture in this slime, for
none of the water in the mud-regions is potable except when distilled. That
is why we run such long pipe lines to the yellow clay regions—or depend on
rain-water when those devils find and cut our pipes. I have none too many chlo-
rate cubes either, and must try to cut down my oxygen consumption as much
as I can. My tunnelling attempt of the early afternoon, and my later panic flight,
burned up a perilous amount of air. Tomorrow I will reduce physical exertion to
the barest minimum until I meet the reptiles and have to deal with them. I must
have a good cube supply for the journey back to Terra Nova. My enemies are
still on hand; I can see a circle of their feeble glow-torches around me. There is
a horror about those lights which will keep me awake.

Night—VI, 14

Another full day of searching and still no way out! I am beginning to be worried
about the water problem, for my canteen went dry at noon. In the afternoon
there was a burst of rain, and I went back to the central chamber for the helmet

which I had left as a marker—using this as a bowl and getting about two cupfuls
of water. I drank most of it, but have put the slight remainder in my canteen. La-
col tablets make little headway against real thirst, and I hope there will be more
rain in the night. I am leaving my helmet bottom up to catch any that falls. Food
tablets are none too plentiful, but not dangerously low. I shall halve my rations
from now on. The chlorate cubes are my real worry, for even without violent ex-
ercise the day’s endless tramping burned a dangerous number. I feel weak from
my forced economies in oxygen, and from my constantly mounting thirst. When
I reduce my food I suppose I shall feel still weaker.

There is something damnable—something uncanny—about this labyrinth. I could
swear that I had eliminated certain turns through charting, and yet each new tri-
al belies some assumption I had thought established. Never before did I realise
how lost we are without visual landmarks. A blind man might do better—but for
most of us sight is the king of the senses. The effect of all these fruitless wan-
derings is one of profound discouragement. I can understand how poor Dwight
must have felt. His corpse is now just a skeleton, and the sificlighs and akmans
and farnoth-flies are gone. The efjeh-weeds are nipping the leather clothing to
pieces, for they were longer and faster-growing than I had expected. And all the
while those relays of tentacled starers stand gloatingly around the barrier laugh-
ing at me and enjoying my misery. Another day and I shall go mad if I do not
drop dead from exhaustion.

However, there is nothing to do but persevere. Dwight would have got out if he
had kept on a minute longer. It is just possible that somebody from Terra Nova
will come looking for me before long, although this is only my third day out. My
muscles ache horribly, and I can’t seem to rest at all lying down in this loath-
some mud. Last night, despite my terrific fatigue, I slept only fifully, and tonight
I fear will be no better. I live in an endless nightmare—poised between waking
and sleeping, yet neither truly awake nor truly asleep. My hand shakes, I can
write no more for the time being. That circle of feeble glow-torches is hideous.

Late Afternoon—VI, 15

Substantial progress! Looks good. Very weak, and did not sleep much till day-
light. Then I dozed till noon, though without being at all rested. No rain, and
thirst leaves me very weak. Ate an extra food tablet to keep me going, but with-
out water it didn’t help much. I dared to try a little of the slime water just once,

but it made me violently sick and left me even thirstier than before. Must save
chlorate cubes, so am nearly suffocating for lack of oxygen. Can’t walk much of
the time, but manage to crawl in the mud. About 2 p.m. I thought I recognised
some passages, and got substantially nearer to the corpse—or skeleton—than I
had been since the first day’s trials. I was sidetracked once in a blind alley, but
recovered the main trail with the aid of my chart and notes. The trouble with
these jottings is that there are so many of them. They must cover three feet of
the record scroll, and I have to stop for long periods to untangle them.

My head is weak from thirst, suffocation, and exhaustion, and I cannot under-
stand all I have set down. Those damnable green things keep staring and laugh-
ing with their tentacles, and sometimes they gesticulate in a way that makes me
think they share some terrible joke just beyond my perception.

It was three o’clock when I really struck my stride. There was a doorway which,
according to my notes, I had not traversed before; and when I tried it I found
I could crawl circuitously toward the weed-twined skeleton. The route was a
sort of spiral, much like that by which I had first reached the central chamber.
Whenever I came to a lateral doorway or junction I would keep to the course
which seemed best to repeat that original journey. As I circled nearer and nearer
to my gruesome landmark, the watchers outside intensified their cryptic ges-
ticulations and sardonic silent laughter. Evidently they saw something grimly
amusing in my progress—perceiving no doubt how helpless I would be in any
encounter with them. I was content to leave them to their mirth; for although I
realised my extreme weakness, I counted on the flame pistol and its numerous
extra magazines to get me through the vile reptilian phalanx.

Hope now soared high, but I did not attempt to rise to my feet. Better to crawl
now, and save my strength for the coming encounter with the man-lizards. My
advance was very slow, and the danger of straying into some blind alley very
great, but none the less I seemed to curve steadily toward my osseous goal. The
prospect gave me new strength, and for the nonce I ceased to worry about my
pain, my thirst, and my scant supply of cubes. The creatures were now all mass-
ing around the entrance—gesturing, leaping, and laughing with their tentacles.
Soon, I reflected, I would have to face the entire horde—and perhaps such rein-
forcements as they would receive from the forest.

I am now only a few yards from the skeleton, and am pausing to make this entry
before emerging and breaking through the noxious band of entities. I feel con-

fident that with my last ounce of strength I can put them to flight despite their
numbers, for the range of this pistol is tremendous. Then a camp on the dry
moss at the plateau’s edge, and in the morning a weary trip through the jungle
to Terra Nova. I shall be glad to see living men and the buildings of human be-
ings again. The teeth of that skull gleam and grin horribly.

Toward Night—VI, 15

Horror and despair. Baffled again! After making the previous entry I approached
still closer to the skeleton, but suddenly encountered an intervening wall. I
had been deceived once more, and was apparently back where I had been
three days before, on my first futile attempt to leave the labyrinth Whether
I screamed aloud I do not know—perhaps I was too weak to utter a sound. I
merely lay dazed in the mud for a long period, while the greenish things outside
leaped and laughed and gestured.

After a time I became more fully conscious. My thirst and weakness and suf-
focation were fast gaining on me, and with my last bit of strength I put a new
cube in the electrolyser—recklessly, and without regard for the needs of my
journey to Terra Nova. The fresh oxygen revived me slightly, and enabled me to
look about more alertly.

It seemed as if I were slightly more distant from poor Dwight than I had been at
that first disappointment, and I dully wondered if I could be in some other cor-
ridor a trifle more remote. With this faint shadow of hope I laboriously dragged
myself forward—but after a few feet encountered a dead end as I had on the
former occasion.

This, then, was the end. Three days had taken me nowhere, and my strength
was gone. I would soon go mad from thirst, and I could no longer count on
cubes enough to get me back. I feebly wondered why the nightmare things had
gathered so thickly around the entrance as they mocked me. Probably this was
part of the mockery—to make me think I was approaching an egress which they
knew did not exist.

I shall not last long, though I am resolved not to hasten matters as Dwight did.
His grinning skull has just turned toward me, shifted by the groping of one of
the efjeh-weeds that are devouring his leather suit. The ghoulish stare of those

empty eye-sockets is worse than the staring of those lizard horrors. It lends a
hideous meaning to that dead, white-toothed grin.

I shall lie very still in the mud and save all the strength I can. This record—which
I hope may reach and warn those who come after me—will soon be done. After
I stop writing I shall rest a long while. Then, when it is too dark for those fright-
ful creatures to see, I shall muster up my last reserves of strength and try to
toss the record scroll over the wall and the intervening corridor to the plain out-
side. I shall take care to send it toward the left, where it will not hit the leaping
band of mocking beleaguerers. Perhaps it will be lost forever in the thin mud—
but perhaps it will land in some widespread clump of weeds and ultimately
reach the hands of men.

If it does survive to be read, I hope it may do more than merely warn men of
this trap. I hope it may teach our race to let those shining crystals stay where
they are. They belong to Venus alone. Our planet does not truly need them, and
I believe we have violated some obscure and mysterious law—some law buried
deep in the arcana of the cosmos—in our attempts to take them. Who can tell
what dark, potent, and widespread forces spur on these reptilian things who
guard their treasure so strangely? Dwight and I have paid, as others have paid
and will pay. But it may be that these scattered deaths are only the prelude of
greater horrors to come. Let us leave to Venus that which belongs only to Ve-

* * *

I am very near death now, and fear I may not be able to throw the scroll when
dusk comes. If I cannot, I suppose the man-lizards will seize it, for they will
probably realise what it is. They will not wish anyone to be warned of the laby-
rinth—and they will not know that my message holds a plea in their own behalf.
As the end approaches I feel more kindly toward the things. In the scale of cos-
mic entity who can say which species stands higher, or more nearly approaches
a space-wide organic norm—theirs or mine?

* * *

I have just taken the great crystal out of my pouch to look at in my last mo-
ments. It shines fiercely and menacingly in the red rays of the dying day. The
leaping horde have noticed it, and their gestures have changed in a way I can-

not understand. I wonder why they keep clustered around the entrance instead
of concentrating at a still closer point in the transparent wall.

* * *

I am growing numb and cannot write much more. Things whirl around me, yet I
do not lose consciousness. Can I throw this over the wall? That crystal glows so,
yet the twilight is deepening.

* * *

Dark. Very weak. They are still laughing and leaping around the doorway, and
have started those hellish glow-torches.

* * *

Are they going away? I dreamed I heard a sound . . . light in the sky.

* * *


(Terra Nova on Venus—VI, 16)

Our Operative A-49, Kenton J. Stanfield of 5317 Marshall Street, Richmond, Va.,
left Terra Nova early on VI, 12, for a short-term trip indicated by detector. Due
back 13th or 14th. Did not appear by evening of 15th, so Scouting Plane FR-58
with five men under my command set out at 8 p.m. to follow route with detec-
tor. Needle shewed no change from earlier readings.

Followed needle to Erycinian Highland, played strong searchlights all the way.
Triple-range flame-guns and D-radiation-cylinders could have dispersed any
ordinary hostile force of natives, or any dangerous aggregation of carnivorous

When over the open plain on Eryx we saw a group of moving lights which we
knew were native glow-torches. As we approached, they scattered into the for-
est. Probably 75 to 100 in all. Detector indicated crystal on spot where they

had been. Sailing low over this spot, our lights picked out objects on the ground.
Skeleton tangled in efjeh-weeds, and complete body ten feet from it. Brought
plane down near bodies, and corner of wing crashed on unseen obstruction.

Approaching bodies on foot, we came up short against a smooth, invisible bar-
rier which puzzled us enormously. Feeling along it near the skeleton, we struck
an opening, beyond which was a space with another opening leading to the
skeleton. The latter, though robbed of clothing by weeds, had one of the com-
pany’s numbered metal helmets beside it. It was Operative B-9, Frederick N.
Dwight of Koenig’s division, who had been out of Terra Nova for two months
on a long commission.

Between this skeleton and the complete body there seemed to be another wall,
but we could easily identify the second man as Stanfield. He had a record scroll
in his left hand and a pen in his right, and seemed to have been writing when
he died. No crystal was visible, but the detector indicated a huge specimen near
Stanfield’s body.

We had great difficulty in getting at Stanfield, but finally succeeded. The body
was still warm, and a great crystal lay beside it, covered by the shallow mud. We
at once studied the record scroll in the left hand, and prepared to take certain
steps based on its data. The contents of the scroll forms the long narrative pre-
fixed to this report; a narrative whose main descriptions we have verified, and
which we append as an explanation of what was found. The later parts of this
account shew mental decay, but there is no reason to doubt the bulk of it. Stan-
field obviously died of a combination of thirst, suffocation, cardiac strain, and
psychological depression. His mask was in place, and freely generating oxygen
despite an alarmingly low cube supply.

Our plane being damaged, we sent a wireless and called out Anderson with Re-
pair Plane FG-7, a crew of wreckers, and a set of blasting materials. By morning
FR-58 was fixed, and went back under Anderson carrying the two bodies and
the crystal. We shall bury Dwight and Stanfield in the company graveyard, and
ship the crystal to Chicago on the next earth-bound liner. Later, we shall adopt
Stanfield’s suggestion—the sound one in the saner, earlier part of his report—
and bring across enough troops to wipe out the natives altogether. With a clear
field, there can be scarcely any limit to the amount of crystal we can secure.

In the afternoon we studied the invisible building or trap with great care, explor-

ing it with the aid of long guiding cords, and preparing a complete chart for our
archives. We were much impressed by the design, and shall keep specimens of
the substance for chemical analysis. All such knowledge will be useful when we
take over the various cities of the natives. Our type C diamond drills were able
to bite into the unseen material, and wreckers are now planting dynamite pre-
paratory to a thorough blasting. Nothing will be left when we are done. The edi-
fice forms a distinct menace to aërial and other possible traffic.

In considering the plan of the labyrinth one is impressed not only with the iro-
ny of Dwight’s fate, but with that of Stanfield’s as well. When trying to reach
the second body from the skeleton, we could find no access on the right, but
Markheim found a doorway from the first inner space some fifteen feet past
Dwight and four or five past Stanfield. Beyond this was a long hall which we did
not explore till later, but on the right-hand side of that hall was another door-
way leading directly to the body. Stanfield could have reached the outside en-
trance by walking 22 or 23 feet if he had found the opening which lay directly
behind him—an opening which he overlooked in his exhaustion and despair.

moulded of the same material with golden stems, alternating with
cypresses no more than two paces tall, while the boxes were one pace
high. The beds were filled with a marvellous imitation of various
simples, elegantly trimmed as in nature, and with gaily varied forms of
flowers in distinét and delightful colours. The flattened edges of these
square open beds, or rather containers, were adorned with a little
cornice of gold, finished and decorated with subtle lineaments. Its
beautiful fascia was of glass plaques gilded on the inside and curiously
decorated with wonderful engraving, enclosed and gripped by golden
frames; and these continued around, with the lower socle two inches
high. This orchard was fenced by carefully spaced, swelling columns of
the same material, clothed with convolvulus flowers; and on either side
of them protruded square, fluted pilasters of gold, arching over from
one to another, with the requisite beam, zophorus and cornice projects
ing the proper distance above the glass capital of the round column.
The body of the latter, beneath the vines, was an imitation of jasper
with many bright colours, while the vines stood out a fair distance from
the solid surface. The vaults of the arches were filled with transparent
glass lozenges a third as long as they were wide, similarly enclosed in
double’grooved frames and surrounded by various encaustic paintings,

very gratifying to the senses.
The whole site was paved with small glass roundels and other ap’

propriate and supremely graceful figures, fitted together and cohering
firmly. It had a gem’like radiance, without any addition of foliage. A
remarkable fragrance emanated from the flowers, which had been
rubbed with an ointment and watered.

Sweet’voiced Logistica now made an eloquent speech with pene’
trating remarks in praise of the splendid craft, the nobility of the
material, the artistry and the invention (such as one would not find in
Murano), but disparaging its nature and saying ‘Poliphilo, let us go up
to this fine tower near the garden.’ Leaving Thelemia behind, we leapt
nimbly up the spiral staircase to the flat top, where she showed me, and
explained with divine eloquence, a wide circular garden made in the
form of a complex and intricate labyrinth. Its circular paths were not
walkable but navigable, for in place of streets there ran rivulets of water.
This was a mysterious place with salubrious meadows and rich soil,
pleasant and fertile, supplied with an abundance of sweet fruits and
ornamented with generous springs, rejoicing in flowering greenery, and
offering everywhere solace and recreation. Logistica said: ‘I think,

Poliphilo, that you do not understand the conditions that obtain in this
marvellous site. Listen: whoever enters cannot turn back, but, as you
can see clearly, these towers placed here and there divide seven circuits
from one another. The great danger run by those who enter is that a
deadly dragon, voracious and invisible, dwells in the open entrance of
that central tower; and the worst of it is that he lurks now in one place,
now in another, yet one cannot see him, and, horror of horrors, cannot
escape him. He flies to the entrance or to further on, where he has his
lair, and devours those who enter; but if he does not kill them between
one tower and another, they can pass the sevenfold circuit safely as far as
the nearest tower.

‘You can see on this first tower the title written in Greek, and take
heed of it: LOZA KOMIKHQ HOMOAY. Those entering
here travel on their boat with a following breeze and no trouble or care;
fruits and flowers fall into their vessel, and they cover the seven revolu,
tions as far as the second tower with the utmost delight and jollity. Now
notice, Poliphilo, the clarity of the air in this first part: how it increases
as far as the middle tower, then gradually declines toward the centre
until it becomes dark and lightless.

‘In this first tower there dwells and presides eternally a pious matron
who is kind and generous; firmly placed before her is an ancient and
fateful urn, ornamented with these seven Greek letters: OEHION. It
is crammed with future fates, and she gives one to everyone who enters,
politely and freely, without rcspeét to their condition but according to
what will eventually happen to them. After receiving these, they go
forward and begin to sail in the labyrinth, whose channels are divided
by roses and fruit’trees. When they have completed the first long circuit
of the seven revolutions, which are navigable to the very end of the
spiral, and reach the second tower, they find innumerable girls of all
conditions who ask them all to show them their futures. After these have
been shown them, the girls easily recognize one particular destined
future and, embracing him, welcome him as a guest and invite him to
travel the second seven circuits with them. Each one is led as far as the
third tower in a manner and speed conforming to his inclinations. If
anyone wishes to proceed through this place with his companion, she
will never abandon him, but since other, more attraclive maidens are to
be found here many repudiate the first and join up with a new one As
they leave this second tower to go to the third, they find the water some,
what contrary and have to make use of oars. After they have arrived at


Start reading here

the third and set out toward the fourth, they find the water more con,

trary, although in these seven oblique courses great pleasure can still be

found, albeit variable and inconstant. On attaining the fourth tower,

they find different maidens who are athletic and aggressive, and thes�,

after examining their original futures, admit the suitable ones into their

acl:ivities and allow those who are unlike them to remain with their own

women. The water in these circuits is even more rough, demanding

great effort and heavy exertions in rowing.
‘When they land at the fifth tower they find the water smooth as a

mirror, in which they admire the beauty of their reflecl:ions, and, with

their minds riveted by this pleasant and satisfying entertainment, they

succeed only with difficulty in passing through. It is here that one

clearly understands the motto and golden saying, ‘Blessed ar� they_ w�

keep to the mean’ – not the linear or local °:ean, but th� mi_d,po
mt m

time between what is past and the end. A smcere exammauon reveals

this mean, at which one gathers the happiness or blessings either of

intelligence or of riches; but if one does not have them, it is more diffi,

cult to acquire them in what follows.
‘As they travel onward from there, the water in the tortuous circ_les

begins to lessen its speed, right up to the final centre; thus they are carn�d

with little or no rowing to the sixth tower. Here they find elegant ladies

with chaste and modest looks, intent on religious observance, whose

divine appearance captivates the guests, making them rejecl: their pr�vi,

ous companions and turning their love to nausea. They enter mto

tranquil relations with the new ones, and calmly traverse the seven revo,

‘Once these are past, a rapid voyage ensues through foggy air and a

very uncomfortable and difficult route, for as the revolutions of the

channels approach the centre, they grow ever shorter, and_one fli
es with

irresistible speed between the slippery banks to the whirlpool of _the

central tower. With great affl.icl:ion of soul, one recalls the beautiful

places and the company left behind, and is all the more aware of being

unable to reverse or turn the prow of one’s boat, because the prows of

the other boats are continually at one’s stern. Thus one comes with great

suffering to the frightful inscription over the entrance of the central

tower, carved in Greek letters: 8EON A YKOL /1 YL AArHTOL.

And considering this disagreable motto, they regret having ever entered

this labyrinthine orchard, which includes so many delights but submits

them to such miserable and inevitable necessity.’ Logistica then smiled,


adding as though inspired, ‘Poliphilo, in this voracious mouth there sits
a severe judge; she holds a scale and judges those who enter, scrupu,
lously weighing their acl:ions on the balance. By this means they obtain a

[h4] better or a worse fate. And because it would take too long to tell you all,
this is enough to say for the present. Let us go down to our companion
Thelemia.’ When the latter asked what had delayed us, Logistica re,
plied: ‘It was not enough for our curious Poliphilo simply to see, but I
had to give him information about that which matter cannot penetrate,
so that at least he could know it by hearing my interpretation.’ And
after that, Thelemia said:

‘Let us walk to the other garden adjoining the right wing of the
great, proud and royal palace, which is no less full of pleasures and
delights than the glass one.’ And when we came into it, I stood
astounded and amazed to see a work not only difficult to make, but also
to describe. It was the same size as the glass garden, with a similar
arrangement of containers edged with elaborate cornices and a golden
socle, except for the construcl:ion of the dividing walls and the material,
for this was all excellently made from silk. There were silken box,trees
and cypresses with golden stems and branches, appropriately seeded
with gems, and the containers were filled with simples that Mother
Nature would have envied, flowering and most desirable with every
exquisite colour, and fragrant just like the glass flowers. The surround,
ing enclosures were all astonishingly made, with incredible expense,
from pearl. I could see that all the surfaces were covered with a crowded
mass of clear, medium,sized pearls tightly cohering, while creeping
green ivy was growing over them out of the containers, its leaves
hanging down in front of the pearls. The golden stems were artificially
bent into serpentine forms, and the slender tendrils crept around the
pearls with the most exquisite refinement, while gemstone berries were
attached to the clusters. The enclosure was splendidly divided by square
pilasters, with their golden capitals and a masterly sequence of beam,
zophorus and corona of gold.

The faces of the containers were embroidered in Arras,work with
scenes of love and hunting done in gold, silver and silken threads,
unequalled in its imitation of painting. The ground of the level area
appeared to be of green silken velvet, like a lovely meadow, and in its
centre there stood a round enclosure with a tall cupola, made from
golden rods and covered in a distincl:ive manner with flowering rose,
bushes of the same material, so that I would have said that they were


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The true antiquity of the song cannot be proved and yet it seems to be more than an amusing metaphor for
acknowledging the origin of ale or whiskey. It is hard not to find connections between John Barleycorn and
the ancient culture heroes of the bronze age who are cur down only to rise up again reborn with the annual
new growth. Many of the ‘so called’ mystery cults of the Middle East with their familiar heroes, Damuzi, Attis,
Adonis, may share something with our more homely, John Barleycorn. That they are connected with herb
(vegetable) and grain crops can be readily demonstrated. Osiris, one of the most popular of the culture heroes
of ancient Egypt was said to have brought the arts of civilization to the Black Lands, including knowledge of
cultivation. Osiris was threatened by his brother Set, Lord of the storm and desert places, and aided by his
sister and wife, Isis, who restored him to life after he was cut down by Set, by gathering up the pieces of his
scattered body.—


John Barleycorn

Crete and the Mediterranean Worship of the Bull

In actual history, Minoan Crete did worship the bull, a popular symbol of fertility and also vegetation.
Many cave cultures used bulls in rites for the dead. Parts of Spain worshiped the bull during the same
period, and the bull is the most important animal at the Neolithic shrines at Çatalhöyük, an ancient
Turkish civilization from 7000 B.C.—

Cretan Bull

The Origins of Greek Religion By Bernard C. Dietrich

Post modern literary theory:
Postmodern literature is a form of literature that is characterized by the use
of metafiction, unreliable narration, self-reflexivity, intertextuality, and which often
thematizes both historical and political issues. Sometimes the term “postmodernism”
is used to discuss many different things ranging from architecture, to historical theory,
to philosophy and film. Because of this fact, several people distinguish between
several forms of postmodernism and thus suggest that there are three forms of
postmodernism: (1) Postmodernity is understood as a historical period from the mid-
1960s to the present, which is different from the (2) theoretical postmodernism,
which encompasses the theories developed by thinkers such as Roland
Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and others. The third category is the
“cultural postmodernism,” which includes film, literature, visual arts, etc. that feature
postmodern elements. Postmodern literature is, in this sense, part of cultural

(Video) The Writers' Lunch: How Journal Writing Can Support Your Writing Practice

ROLAND BARTHES on The Pleasures of a Text:
Roland Barthes describes a text as . . . “a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning;
it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be
the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can read, they are indeterminable…the systems
of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the
infinity of language…” (1974 translation)What he is basically saying is that a text is like a tangled ball of
threads which needs unravelling so we can separate out the colours. Once we start to unravel a text, we
encounter an absolute plurality of potential meanings. We can start by looking at a narrative in one way, from
one viewpoint, bringing to bear one set of previous experience, and create one meaning for that text. You can
continue by unravelling the narrative from a different angle, by pulling a different thread if you like, and
create an entirely different meaning. And so on. An infinite number of times. If you wanted to.
Barthes wanted to – he was a semiotics professor in the 1950s and 1960s who got paid to spend all day
unravelling little bits of texts and then writing about the process of doing so. All you need to know, again, very
basically, is that texts may be ´open´ (ie unravelled in a lot of different ways) or ´closed´ (there is only one
obvious thread to pull on). (MediaKnowall site)BORROWED FROM


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