The Anathemata

Angle-land (continued)

past the weathered thorps and

the Thorpea

that bore, that bred

him whom Nikeb did bear

her tears at flood

and over the scatter of the fore brace bittsc

down to the orlopd

at twenty five minutes after one of the clock

in the afternoon, on a Monday

twelve days before the Calends of November

outside the Pillarse

where they closed like a forest

. . . in 13 fathoms’ water

unanchored in the worsening weather.1

Far drawn on away from the island’s field-floor, upwards of a hundred fathoms over where, beyond where, in the fifties, toward the sixties, north latitude

all our easting waters

are confluent with the fathering riverf and tributary to him: where Tamesis, Great Ouse, Tyne from the Wall’s end, demarking Tweed, Forth that winds the middle march, Tummel and wide looping Tay (that laps the wading files when Birnam boughs deploy toward Dunsinane—out toward the Goat Flats).

David Jones notes

1 See Collingwood’s dispatch to the Admiralty Lords as reported in a contemporary edition of The Times, giving particulars of the action on Monday, October 21, 1805 and also James, Naval History, Vol. IV, 1837 edtn.

‘Seeing by the direction of her course that the Victory was about to follow the example of the Royal-Sovereign, the French and Spanish ships ahead of the British weather column closed like a forest.’ p. 38.

‘To add to the perilous condition of the British fleet and prizes, the ships were then in 13 fathoms’ water, with the shoals of Trafalgar but a few miles to leeward.’ p. 87.

additional notes

a Admiral Nelson was born at Burnham Thorpe on the north coast of Norfolk.

b Nike (pronounced Nye-ky) was the Greek goddess of Victory (the name of Nelson’s flagship). Hague (p. 143) says that when he wrote this line DJ had in mind the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a 2nd-century BCE marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike. Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world. It has been described as ‘the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture’.

c The fore brace bitts are two stout oak timbers bolted to the deck to which are belayed the braces (of rope) of the yards of the fore mast (i.e. the cross pieces from which the sails were slung). The spot where Nelson fell was littered with fragments of timber from these bitts (Hague p. 144).

d The orlop is the lowest deck in a ship. It is the deck or part of a deck where the cables are stowed, usually below the water line.

e The Pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar). Nelson, like Hector and Jesus, dies ‘outside the walls’.

f DJ is (I think) referring to the suggestion that thousands of years ago, before the last ice age reached its maximum extent (i.e. before the Scottish and Scandinavian ice-sheets merged and so impounded the glacial lake that became the North Sea), the Rhine flowed into what is now the North Sea but was then land, and then turned northwards towards the arctic ocean. All the rivers mentioned would have been tributaries of this ancestral Rhine.

I have not been able to locate the Goat Flats.


semantic structures