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The swallowed land - The Ex-Communicator

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June 16th, 2009


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05:02 pm - The swallowed land
I have been reading and listening to The Wasteland, so here is a slightly stupid pastiche which doubles as a little bit of Doctor Who fanfic set at the time when he's living as that human schoolmaster, and is visited by an old friend.

The swallowed land

Master of situations, the famous spiritualist and magician
Appeared distracted, nevertheless
Is known to be the wickedest man in Europe
Contacts the dead, as efficient as the post office.
‘Are you a Medium?’
‘I’ve never had any complaints’.
His smile engages my attention.
‘Have I seen you before?’
He did not answer, gestured towards my face.

Here, said he,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor
(He has forgotten that he is reborn).
Here is the outer rim of the world, where the water falls perpetually;
The stars, reflected in a pool of hydrogen,
Here is the man with a tin heart, and here the chariot.
And this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries in his pocket
Which you are forbidden to see.

I see the two of us
Fighting on the airless surfaces of meteors
Mon semblable,
From out of the thunderhead he spoke,
‘I invoke Shango
His sacred number is Ten, and all numbers,
His symbol is the oshe axe, which represents swift justice
He perpetuates the human seed into the Milky Way
He is owner of the double-headed drums.’

And this card shows the paired lovers
Wound white and red, like the tape at a crime scene
Like the chirurgeon’s pole:
He who heals by cutting.
Fear loss of companions.
Fear your other half
Il ferait volontiers de la terre un débris
Et dans un bâillement avalerait le monde

He willingly makes debris of the Earth
And in his mouth he swallows everything.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:several_bees
Date:June 16th, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
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I like the Waste Land so much - I am often aware of how much it has shaped my comprehension of London, and of northern hemisphere seasons and cities, since I knew it before I knew any of those things. It is such a haphazard jumble of a thing, and I was thinking the other day that I would like to turn it into a game that runs across London. It already sounds a bit like a scavenger hunt, in places ("Where St Mary Woolnoth kept the hours").
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 16th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
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That would be great. Are you still running those? Do they have themes like that?
[User Picture]
From:several_bees
Date:June 16th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, they're still going - there's the Sandpit, which is a monthly event with a pile of different games, plus there are occasional one-offs. The monthly events tend to have themes - we've had "the end of the world", "spying and lying", "listening", "G.K. Chesterton" for example (the last because he wrote about playful city stuff, and lived in Battersea, and that month we were in Battersea Arts Centre). I am really keen to have one that's poetry-themed - probably not till February 2010, as that's the next time we will be in a venue that's appropriate to poetry and don't already have a theme picked.

But I could use it to test out parts of the game, and then run a larger one in April... though the poem's still in copyright of course.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:June 16th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Not having read The Wasteland, I don't know how this compares, but it is certainly evocative. I snatch fragments of meaning from it, like things half-seen through water.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 17th, 2009 07:20 am (UTC)
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That's exactly what I wanted. I'm afraid any good bits are a direct steal.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:June 17th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC)
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I'm afraid any good bits are a direct steal.
Really?

The bits that caught my eye were:

(He has forgotten that he is reborn).

The stars, reflected in a pool of hydrogen,

And this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries in his pocket
Which you are forbidden to see.


His sacred number is Ten, and all numbers,
His symbol is the oshe axe, which represents swift justice
He perpetuates the human seed into the Milky Way
He is owner of the double-headed drums.’


He who heals by cutting.
Fear loss of companions.


He willingly makes debris of the Earth
And in his mouth he swallows everything.

[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:June 17th, 2009 11:04 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's so great when someone reads a poem with interest, I can't tell you. The 'something he carries' is more or less a steal from Eliot, and the final quote is a translation of Baudelaire.

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