The Anathemata

Middle-sea and Lear-sea (continued)

Now he stands her in for the isthmusa

bearing nor’ nor’ west three-quarter west.

Shipping a sea

yet he rounds her to

now are the eyes of her

due toward her destined haven

due over the bow-wash

a sky-shaft brights the whited mole

wind-hauled the grinders

white the darked bay’s wide bowl

white echeloned daughters of the island mill

deploy from twenty-fathom water to the inner shoal

spume-blind into the skerry-mill

he bears on his port of callb

distant three leagues and a quarter.

David Jones notes

additional notes

a the narrow neck of land between Mount’s Bay and St. Ives, which would be on the bearing given.

b i.e. Ictis, the tin-trade port (St. Michael’s Mount, according to most scholars).


The syntax and hence the reading needs a bit of care here. Assume a stop (or semicolon) after ‘rounds her to’; and another after ‘her destined haven’ since it is the sky-shaft which is due over the bow-wash; and another after ‘whited mole’, and after ‘wide bowl’ and after ‘shoal’. The ‘grinders’ are the wind-driven waves. For the ‘white echeloned daughters’ see page 99 note 1.

Here is what Diodorus, writing about 50 BCE, says about the tin trade in the time of Pytheas (end of 4th century BCE) :

‘The inhabitants of that part of Britain which is called Belerion are very fond of strangers and from their intercourse with foreign merchants are civilised in their manner of life. They prepare the tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced. The ground is rocky but it contains earthy veins, the produce of which is ground down, smelted and purified. They beat the metal into masses shaped like knuckle-bones and carry it off to a certain island off Britain called Iktis. During the ebb of the tide the intervening space is left dry and they carry over to the island the tin in abundance in their wagons ... Here then the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul, and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhone.’

semantic structures