The Anathemata

The Lady of the Pool (continued)

Or him from Aleppo comea 

the master o’ the Mary.

Wot a tiger!b His beard full of gale.

Overdue a nine month, writ-off for lost bottomryc by the brokers long since, loanees and loaners as much in charity as a Tib and a Towser . . .

but not a loss

and fetching it, though by hollow seas tossed and laboured of hard blows from every point of the card.

Making it:

one morning, very early, on the second day of the week at the rising, the dawn began but whiles it were yet but darkish—they would ’a’ said the mattins, but as yet, no mass-bell—on a quadragesimal quarter-day and a rent-Monday too and washing-day, the wind like a scornpion and straight from Novgorod—a good drier!

But: the young sun

is in the fecund Ram, Gabriel already has said Ave! and stark wood lissoms.1

Coming up on a spring tide

with her Rotherhithe mate and her Limehouse skipperd and a Sittingbourne bred pilot in her conning-house

his flag in the blow

in the morning.

Her main top-mast by the board, a stick of a jurye for foremast, her mizzen-mast rakedf more nor natural and cantedg  somewhat athwartships,h sprung,i woolded,j but entire.

Her yards and spritsk 

and all her spars, all woolded; what you could see of her clewed-upl main course were patched as a Welshman’s quilt.

David Jones notes

1 See the Mass of St Gabriel, March 24; both Tract and Gospel contain Gabriel’s salutation to Mary. The next day, March 25, is the Spring Equinox, the Feast of the Annunciation and Quarter-Day; it usually falls in Lent. The sun is in Aries from the second week of March to the same time in April.

additional notes

a ‘Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master of the Tiger’ says the First Witch at the beginning of Macbeth, I.3; and later on she refers to his ‘shipman’s card’ (page 135) and curses him: ‘...Though his bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest-tost...’.

b Wot a tiger! when DJ wrote this he must have had in mind, in addition to Macbeth, a meeting with Christopher Dawson, on the sea-front at Sidmouth, in 1935. DJ was with a friend who had not met Dawson before. They conversed for a few minutes, and as DJ and his friend walked away, the latter, impressed in that short time by the extent of Dawson’s learning, said to DJ, ‘My God! what a tiger!’ DJ, in consequence, and some of his friends, would often speak of ‘Tiger Dawson’. (Hague, p. 171.)

c lost bottomry: loss of a ship pledged as security for a loan, so that both borrowers and lenders are as much dependent on charity as any homeless cat or dog.

d ‘What shall we do with a Drunken Sailor?’. See here for text.


Elen now moves on to her next lover, another sea captain. From here to the bottom of page 149 we have a description of the troubles of the Mary as told by the master to Elen and retold by her in the narrative.

There are already hints of the Annunciation and of the Resurrection. DJ says ‘Here I used bits of each of the four evangelist accounts of the hour of the Resurrection, and the ship comes into port on the morning of the feast of the Annunciation’ (quoted in Hague p. 172).

semantic structures


e jury-mast: a temporary mast which has been put up in place of one that has been broken or carried away.

f raked: at an angle to the perpendicular.

 g canted: bent at an angle.

h athwartships: across the vessel sideways.

i sprung: cracked.

j woolded: describes a broken spar which has been patched up by lashing it to a wooden splint.

k sprit: a small pole which crosses a sail diagonally from the mast so as to extend and elevate it.

l clew up (verb): to haul the lower corners of a square-rig sail up to the yard.