The Anathemata

Redriff (continued)

[p. 118] Not for as many cubic fathoms of best Indies lignum vitaea

as ’ld stock us till we re-sheave the blocks for master-bargees plying the Styx.

Not for a pickin’ of all the bonded stuffs passed over the quays in a full working week between the Bridge and Battlebridge Stairs1

and there’s a tidy jorumb

to pile a mint in sterling—to rig out Ann my wife like Suky Tawdry.c

Not at the price of half the freights, felled of the living wood, a lent o’ tides, brings to all the wharves, from here round to the Royal Vi’t’lin’, when Proserpine unbinds the Baltic.2

Not if he signed me fair a note of hand for all the gold on his fleece.d

Nor for this port’s authorities

and I’m a citizen.

Not if the Trinity Brethren

and Clemens himself3

stood caps in hand for a month of Sundays

and them I must needs respect.

Not if the Holy Ghost made ready to blow on his mainsail.

Nor for a boozed Murphy’s bull in curial-cursive and leadede  from the scarlet pontiff o’ the West.

And, as for next Thor’s Day’s night tide

tell the Wop, to-go-to


David Jones notes

1 That is to say on the Surrey shore between London Bridge and the waterstairs called Battlebridge Stairs east of Hays Wharf. Warehouses set aside for goods in bond being situated between these two points.

2 The Rotherhithe timber-trade was particularly brisk in the spring when the ice melted and freed the ships in the Baltic. The victualling yard is at Deptford.

3 St Clement of Alexandria is the patron saint of Trinity House—because of the Pharos at Alexandria? I do not know, perhaps some reader may.

additional notes

DJ note 3: In 1514, a Royal Charter was presented to ‘The Master Wardens and Assistants of the Guild Fraternity or Brotherhood of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity and of Saint Clement in the Parish of Deptford Strond in the County of Kent’, the Corporation’s full name to this day. This established Trinity House, the regulatory body for safety of navigation in coastal waters, inclusing lighthouses and pilotage. The name ‘Trinity House’ derives from the church of Holy Trinity and St Clement, which adjoined the dockyard. So the question now is, why was the church so dedicated?

a lignum vitae: one of the hardest of woods, from a tree of the genus Guaiacum. Due to its density and natural oils, it rarely requires replacement, despite the severity of typical marine weathering conditions. The sheaves of blocks on sailing vessels were made of lignum vitae until the introduction of modern synthetics.

c Suky Tawdry: Partridge Dictionary of Slang glosses this as ‘a slatternly woman in fine tawdry’ (lace), 1820-1850. But DJ may also have had in mind the fictional character, one of several prostitutes who associate with the gangster Macheath (‘Mack the Knife’), in The Threepenny Opera (1928) by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

d Murphy: see the introduction to this section. Papal edicts or ‘bulls’ are written in the special cursive hand of the Curia and have a leaden bulla or seal attached in order to authenticate it.

e The captain is named, perhaps derogatively, as ‘Jason’ on page 121.


semantic structures


b jorum: a large bowl or jug used for serving drinks such as tea or punch.