The Anathemata

Middle-sea and Lear-sea (continued)

breasting the gulled grey, westing

over wave, wind’s daughter

over billow, son of wave.

Lying to, or going free

before a soldier’s winda

southers nording him

sou’westerlies nor’easting him

or the blow backs

and easters west him off.

Now (true to a touched stone?)b

north, with the happy veer

and by good management.

Now north by east

over the nine white grindersc

riding the daughters of the quern of islands1

kouroi from over yr eigion2

making Dylan’s môroedd3

holding on towards

Igraine’s dylanau4

the eyes of her

towards the waters

of the son of Amblet’s daughter.5

David Jones notes

1 The Scandinavian sea-god Ægir (‘sea’) was surnamed ‘the island mill’ and his nine daughters are the waves that grind the rocks or skerries.

2 Yr eigion, the deep (from the Latin, Oceanus), pronounce urr ei-gion, accent on first syllable of eigion, ‘g’ hard, ei as in height.

3 môroedd, seas, mōrr-oithe,

4 dylanau, seas, dul-an-ei (as ei in height), accent on middle syllable. This common noun is derived from the proper noun Dylan (dul-an, accent on first syllable). Dylan was the son of the virgin Aranrhod ; he took at his birth the nature of the waves.

5 The name of Arthur’s mother in Romance literature is Igraine, the Welsh form is Eigr and eigr as a common noun means belle or maiden. She was one of the daughters of Anlawdd Wledig.

Cf. the theory that relates Anlawdd Wledig with Abloyc son of Cunedda Wledig and in turn equates these names with Hamlet prince of Denmark through such forms as e.g. Amlodi, Amblethus, Hamblet. (See Israel Gollancz, The Sources of Hamlet.)

additional notes

a A wind coming directly from behind (so that even a soldier could sail the ship).

b the lodestone (magnetic rock) was known to the ancient Greeks by the 6th century BCE, as was the fact that the magnetic property could be transferred to an iron object by touching or stroking with an already magnetised one.

c As an example of the complexity of DJ’s poetic mind, I quote the following comment from Hague (p. 118) ‘nine white grinders: may be interpreted in more senses than one. The vessel is travelling over the white waves (which grind rock, timber and even men); she is riding the waves (the daughters of the mill-stone island, Scilly); but behind this is the notion that she is travelling past the rocks or reefs of the islands, the teeth (“white grinders”), and those teeth are the daughters of the mill-stone. kouroi: the crew. the eyes of her is the vessel, the bows; a little elasticity will include Igraine looking towards her Cornish husband’. All this does not seem to me to be too fanciful.


This paragraph describes the sailing towards the Scillies before encountering the Channel fog of the previous paragraph.

semantic structures