The Anathemata




did he make the estuary?

was the Cant smiling

and the Knock smooth?

Did our Tidal Father bear him

by Lower Hope to Half Reach?

Did he berth in the Greenlanda or was she moored

in the Pool?c

Did he tie up across the water

or did she toss at the Surrey shore?

Had he business at Dockhead?

Did he sign Tom Bowlinec on:


in place of the drownded Syro-Phoenician?d

Did he bespeak

of Eb Bradshaw, Princes Stair:

listed replacement of sheaves to the running-blocks, new dead-eyes to the standing shrouds, some spare hearts for the stays, a heavy repair in the chains, some nice work up at the hounde

. . . would he expedite.

It ’ld be well worth his while—for a tidy consideration could she have preference—for she must weigh on time or the dues ’ld ruin ’em—would he, for once, oil an elbow— would he please to hustle the job—and not so over nice with the finish.

Not for a gratis load of the sound teak in

Breaker’s Yard

and that we could well do with.

Not for a dozen cords of Norweyan, red nor yaIler, paid for, carried and stacked.

Not for a choice of the best float of Oregon in the mast-pond.

David Jones notes

additional notes

Cant, Knock: underwater features (shoal, channel) in the Thames estuary.

Lower Hope, Half Reach: stretches of the river as it approaches London.

(See this contemporary useful and interesting Sailing Manual for the above information.)

a Greenland: the Greenland Dock was next to the Lady and Lavender (see next section).

b the Pool: Originally, the Pool was the stretch of the River Thames along Billingsgate on the south side of the City of London where all imported cargoes had to be delivered for inspection and assessment by Customs Officers.The term was later used more generally to refer to the stretch of the river from Rotherhithe upriver to London Bridge, with the venerable bridge being the farthest reach that could be navigated by a tall-masted vessel. For more history, see Wikipedia.

c Tom Bowline: originally Tom Bowling, an honest seaman in Smollett’s Roderick Random.

d the drownded Syro-Phoenician: Palinurus. In Virgil Aeneid book v, Palinurus is the one whom the gods will sacrifice to guarantee safe passage to Italy for the Trojans: unum pro multis dabitur caput, ‘one single life shall be offered to save many’. Drugged by the god of sleep, he falls overboard. Christian commentators saw an anticipation of the sacrifice of Christ in Palinurus—‘unum pro multis dabitur caput ’ prefigures the biblical ‘that one man should die for the people’ (John 11:50).

e hound: a wooden projection attached to the masthead which acts as a support for the platform on which the lookout stands.


We begin this section with DJ’s usual linkage to the previous voyage (of 1400 years ago).

semantic structures