The Anathemata

Middle-sea and Lear-sea (continued)

Her loosed hair for dog-vane,a marking the grain of the gale, awaiting with confidence her gale-gift, Lamia waits at her sea-gate, within her land-lair.

Yet his scarfedb stem

furrows the hull’s lair

the knee of the head of her

ploughing the grinders

white the wash

up over her flare to where her straked sides tumble home.

Over her top-strake

green heads inboard rinse her floors to brine her up to her risings.1

O how he cons her!

the old Pelasgian!

It might be Manannan himself, or the helmsman with the other claves,c  the gladiatorial vicar of seas.2

He yet holds on

he’s weathered Ocrinum

already he stands on

toward Bolerion.3

Drove of world-wind, sun’s obedient daughter

hove down of wind, wave’s mother

pooped of billow, son of wave.

David Jones notes

1 Risings (or stringers) are pieces of timber running lengthways of a craft, into which the thwart-boards, on which the rowers sit, are fixed.

2 Cf. the Keys of Man; the sea-god Manannan (Manawydan) gave his name to that island; bearing also in mind the Keys of the Fisherman with the sword.

3 Land’s End.

additional notes

a dog-vane: ‘a small vane, made of thread, cork and feathers, or bunting, placed on the weather gunwale to show the direction of the wind’ [OED].

b A scarf joint is a method of joining two members end to end in woodworking, used when the material being joined is not available in the length required. The two pieces are cut with matching diagonal slopes which rest on each other and are then glued together and screwed through. ‘his’ refers to the sea captain as owning the ship.


The last three lines apply to the vessel under the command of her master.

semantic structures


c claves: keys (Latin).