The Anathemata

Rite and Fore-time (continued)

as is Felicity.1

Through the same Lord

that gave the naiad her habitat

which is his proto-sign.a

How else from the weathered mantle-rock

and the dark humus spread

(where is exacted the night-labour

where the essential and labouring worm

saps micro-workings all the dark day long2

for his creature of air)

should his barlies grow

who said

I am your Bread?


David Jones notes

1 The commemoration of the dead in the Latin rite follows the consecration and begins: ‘Remember them, O Lord, thy servants’. This prayer for the departed is followed immediately by: ‘To us also, sinners, grant some part . . . with John, etc., Felicity, etc., . . . into whose company admit us ... through Christ our Lord’. The prayer concludes with a kind of recalling of the fruits of the land (‘hallow, quicken and bless these and give them to us’) without which no sacrament could be.

2 Darwin, in The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms, Ch. 1, says in effect that worms do their ‘day-labour light deny’d’ in two senses, in that they work only by night and are blind, yet are far from being insensitive to light.

In the text, there follows the General Note to Section 1, which I have also placed in my Introductory Remarks since it applies not just to Section 1 but to the poem as a whole.

The findings of the physical sciences are necessarily mutable and change with fresh evidence or with fresh interpretation of the same evidence. This is an important point to remember with regard to the whole of this section of my text where I employ ideas based on more or less current interpretations of archaeological and anthropological data. Such interpretations, of whatever degree of probability, remain hypothetical. The layman can but employ for his own purposes the pattern available during his lifetime. The poet in c. 1200 could make good use of a current supposition that a hill in Palestine was the centre of the world. The poet of the seventeenth-century could make use of the notion of gravitational pull. The abiding truth behind those two notions would now, in both cases (I am told), be differently expressed. But the poet, of whatever century, is concerned only with how he can use a current notion to express a permanent mythus.

additional notes

DJ note1: We have DJ’s word for it that ‘we can also read the text as meaning “as John is, which it is felicity to think of”. Just as a secondary idea.’ (Hague, p. 82). John here refers to John the Baptist.

The prayer referred to is in the original beautiful Latin ‘Memento etiam, Domine, famulorum, famularumque tuarum qui nos praecesserunt cum signo fidei et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas, deprecamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.’ Remember also, O Lord, Thy servants and handmaids, who have gone before us with the sign of faith, and sleep the sleep of peace. To these, O Lord, and to all who rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, of light, and of peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

‘Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam, et societatem donare digneris, cum tuis sanctis Apostolis et Martyribus: cum Joanne, Stephano, Matthia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Caecilia, Anastasia, et omnibus Sanctis tuis: intra quorum nos consortium, non aestimator meriti sed veniae, quaesumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum’. To us sinners, also, Thy servants, who put our trust in the multitude of Thy mercies, vouchsafe to grant some part and fellowship with Thy holy apostles and martyrs: with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and with all Thy saints. Into their company do Thou, we beseech Thee, admit us, not weighing our merits, but freely pardoning our offences: through Christ our Lord.

In the Tridentine form of the Mass, which is the one DJ was familiar with, the priest says this part of the Canon inaudibly, except that he speaks the phrase ‘Nobis quoque peccatoribus’ in a slightly audible voice. The revised missal directs that the priest may say the whole prayer aloud.

When the priest refers to ‘these bountiful gifts’ which are to be hallowed, quickened and blessed, his hands are over the bread and wine on the altar.

a clear water is not only the medium for the river-nymph to live in but it is also in baptism the first ‘outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace’.


So we have ended where we began. The Mass at the start of the section was, I take it, a Mass for the departed.

semantic structures