The Anathemata

Sherthursdaye and Venus day


He that was her son

is now her lover

signed with the quest-sign

at the down-rusher’s ford.1 

Bough-bearer,a  harrower2 

torrent-drinker,3 restitutor. b 

He, by way of her

of her his gristle and his mother-wit.

White and ruddy her

beautiful in his shirt

errantc  for her now

his limbs like pillars.4 

David Jones notes

1 Cf. the meaning of Jordan, ‘down-rusher’, according to G. Adam Smith in Hist. Geo. of the Holy Land.

2 Cf. the theme which is first referred to in Peter’s first epistle ‘he went and preached to the spirits in prison’; and which is made credal in ‘he descended into hell’, and which was elaborated in fourth-century apocryphal writings from which the medieval miracle plays entitled ‘The Harrowing of Hell’ drew part of their material.

3 Cf. Ps. Dixit Dominus, last verse, ‘He shall drink of the brook (torrente) in the way’.

4 Cf. Isaias LXIII, 7. (Vul.) iste formosus in stola sua and Song of Songs, V, 10 and 15 (A.V.).

additional notes

DJ note 4: Isaiah 63:1 (not 7) ‘Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, who is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?’ The word stola indicates a rather more formal full-length garment than ‘shirt’ usually implies, but the use of the informal word here will be deliberate. ‘beautiful in his shirt’ is a single noun phrase (beautiful-in-his-shirt) following the adjective ‘her‘.

Song of Songs 5:10 ‘My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.’
Song of Songs 5:15 ‘His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold.’

a bough-bearer: In the Aeneid Book VI, Virgil tells how Aeneas arrives in Italy where he intends to found a city for his people. Once there, Deiphobe, the sibyl of Cumae, then an old woman over seven hundred years old, consents to escort him on a journey into the underworld to comply with his wish to see the ‘shade’ of his deceased father. The Golden Bough, a branch broken off a sacred tree, was Aeneas’s token for entry into Hades. This was the starting point for Frazer’s book of that name. DJ will also have found there the idea that a dying fertility god at harvest-time is not only the son of his eternal fertility goddess/mother but also re-inseminates her in order to produce the crop for the next spring — though the idea that Mary is representative of –or intercedes for– all mankind is a more straightforward interpretation of the second line.

b restitutor: restorer (Latin).

c errant: wandering in the sense of following a chivalrous mission, as in knight-errant.


The section starts by showing Jesus as mythic hero. The descent into hell is an important theme for DJ, hence its relation here to Aeneas’s descent into Hades. What is restored is the souls of the righteous –who have been awaiting this moment– to Heaven. This was his quest.

semantic structures