The Tryst of the Worlds

She knew what she must do. But she felt, as she stood, that she could no more do it than he. She could never bear that fear. The knowledge of being burnt alive, of the flames, of the faces, of the prolongation of pain. She knew what she must do. She opened her mouth and could not speak. In front of her, alone in his foul Marian prison, unaware of the secret means the Lord he worshipped was working swiftly for his peace, believing and unbelieving, her ancestor stood centuries off in his spiritual desolation and preluding agony of sweat. He could not see beyond the years the child of his house who strove with herself behind and before him. The morning was coming; his heart was drained. Another spasm shook him; even now he might recant. Pauline could not see the prison, but she saw him. She tried to choose and to speak.

Behind her, her own voice said: "Give it to me, John Struther." He heard it, in his cell and chains, as the first dawn of the day of his martyrdom broke beyond the prison. It spoke and sprang in his drained heart; and drove the riotous blood again through his veins: "Give it to me, give it to me, John Struther." He stretched out his arms again: he called: "Lord, Lord!" It was a devotion and an adoration; it accepted and thanked. Pauline heard it, trembling, for she knew what stood behind her and spoke. It said again: "Give". He fell on his knees, and in a great roar of triumph he called out: "I have seen the salvation of my God."

Charles Williams : "Descent into Hell" (Chapter 9)

An interesting essay on William James and Charles Williams can be found at
(Click on title above)... entitled "A terrible good: William James, Charles Williams and divided consciousness".

A very useful comparison of two important writers, but useful for our purposes for the insights into Williams and, in particular, "Descent into Hell".

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The Hobbit on LP

This set of LP records include an eight-page booklet with pictures of J.R.R. Tolkein and reader Nicol Williamson; track list/synopses; notes on the recording by Argo founder Harley Usill; and essay by producer Lissa Demetriou. This rare, eight-side version of 'The Hobbit' is one of the great spoken-word recordings of the past fifty years and a must-have for all lovers of Tolkein's classic.

An anonymous reader/reviewer at Amazon's UK site wrote, "My favourite version is read by Nicol Williamson - This recording is one of the few actually authorised by Professor Tolkien. The story is well edited and Nicol Williamson's narration is brilliant. The accents he uses for the various characters are perfect: Bilbo is from the West Country; the spiders are Irish; Gollom is Welsh; and so on. The edition is a bit difficult to track down now - I wish someone would re-release it."

(Of course, this blogmaster has a copy)!
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Friday, 4th July, 1947

(Jack & Warnie)

After dinner I read about half of the batch of [the new] Hobbit* which Tollers** sent me: how does he keep it up? The crossing of the marshes by Frodo, Sam and Gollum in particular is magnificent.. After tea another walk...While I was hesitating in the wet grey twilight, a corncrake started up in a field of young wheat, and no nightingale could have ravished me as did its harsh song... As I plodded home in the rain, under weather conditions themselves extraordinarily reminiscent of old days, my mind was full of pictures evoked by the corncrake: particularly of smoking cigarettes with Jack on the top of the bow of the study window, reached by climbing out of our bedroom window.

But while my thoughts are tender, I could not summon a single regret; at 52 I may be nearing the end of the race, but how infinitely preferable it is to be 52 rather than 16! It is astonishing to me that practically the whole weight of literature takes it as axiomatic that nothing can make up for the loss of youth; at least Lamb and Stevenson are the only two men I can think of at the moment who have anything to say on the other side.

Meditating as I walked, I came to the conclusion that discontent and envy made the permanent background of my youth -- envy, hopeless permanent envy of those who were good at games: of those with attractive manners: of those who got their clothes made in town and owned motorbikes: even of those who were good looking: and all coupled with that self consciousness which at 15 or 16 can be a perfect torment...

No, give me the level road of the 'fifties', and anyone who likes may sigh for the ecstasies of youth. Ecstasies there are to be sure: I remember as if it were last week the first time I walked up College with a double first: but then so do I remember the time when I was senior enough to suffer agonies at being snubbed by the head of the House.

Warren H. Lewis, Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis, (ed. Clyde S. Kilby & Marjorie Lamp Mead, 1982) Posted by Picasa

Show me the Road that I must walk...

Waitonga Path, Ruapehu, New Zealand

"The road goes on forever," said Pippen; "but I can't without our rest. It is high time for lunch." He sat down on the bank at the side of the road and looked away east into the haze, beyond which lay the River, and the end of the Shire in which he had spent all his life. Sam stood by him. His round eyes were wide open -- but he was looking across lands he had never seen to a new horizon.

"Do Elves live in those woods?" he asked.

"Not that I ever heard," said Pippen. Frodo was silent. He too was gazing eastward along the road, as if he had never seen it before. Suddenly he spoke, aloud but as if to himself, saying slowly:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.

Written by Bilbo and quoted by Frodo: 'Bilbo's walking song'. There is a wonderful piece of prose accompanying it, comparing the Road to a river, with every path a tributary, and every doorstep a spring; very JRRT. In the the whole Tolkien corpus many paths and errands do indeed meet, giving his work the sense of 'depth' readers so much enjoy. In the Ring trilogy, the 'fellowship of the ring' increases both in size and bravery; likewise, the forces of evil grow in intensity and malice. In the end, we rejoice because of the faithful fellowship. After months of danger, conflict, terror, and fatigue, the forces of evil simply cannot stand against the gentle, poorly armed hobbits, who persist in their mission to the very end, even unto death.

But did Tolkien, a devout Catholic Christian have another source for his muse?

"For my enemy has sought my life, crushed me to the ground, and made me live in dark places like those who are long dead. My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. I remember the time passed; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. I spread out my hands to you; my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land. Oh Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; do not hide your face from me or I shall be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear of your loving kindness in the morning, for I put my trust in you; show me the Road that I must walk, for I lift up my soul to you." (Psalm 143)
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Leaf by Niggle

"That was probably the last time Niggle's name ever came up in conversation. However, Atkins preserved the odd corner. Most of it crumbled; but one beautiful leaf remained intact. Atkins had it framed. Later he left it to the Town Museum, anf for a long while 'Leaf: by Niggle' hung there in a recess, and was noticed by a few eyes. But eventually the Museum was burnt down, and the leaf, and Niggle, were entirely forgotten in his old country.

J.R.R. Tolkien "Tree and Leaf"  Posted by Picasa