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‘In Middle Earth’
The Lake of Ravary, Chapter Fourteen, The Worm Ouroboros, pgs 197-205

Of the Furtherance given by Queen Sophonisba, Fosterling of the Gods, to Lord Juss and Lord Brandoch Daha; with how the Hippogriff’s Egg was hatched beside the Enchanted Lake, and what Ensued Therefrom.

Heroically attempting to scale the unscalable mountain, an “accursed” Everest dominating their near horizon yet forever unreachable, the two Demonlords, Juss and Daha spend an entire season with the orphan girl of the gods.

This virgin goddess does what she can to keep Juss with her, a good English-style Circe. Her machinations include coming to Mivrash, the doomed servant of the heroes, in a dream and convincing him to take the Hippogriff egg that she has urged Juss to sleep with, so it might hatch and the beast fly Juss to the top of the accursed Zora Rach. Mivrash is, of course killed in this, those who fear for their lives being ever the prods which the gods use to nudge heroes along their fraught way.

With Juss despairing the sacrifice of his loyal servant and determined to gain the mountaintop, he ends up in a coma, unwilling to give up the quest. Then comes a touching, even cute, form of heroism, something reminiscent of a visionary dream, considering how Eddison employs the little martlets who attend the queen and narrate the story as dream avatars. Just as Arthur’s nights journeyed far and wide in search of the Grail, Sophonisba’s martlets fly to all points of the compass in search of the last hippogriff egg.

Eddison’s prose are stilted in their usual beautiful way throughout:

“At length when winter was gone in middle earth, and the spring far spent, back came that last little martlet on weary wing…”

And the spirit of heroism is not submerged by the author’s many sylvan nods to the serenity of highly cultured living:

“Blame us not overmuch, dear Queen. Who shoots at the mid-day sun, though he be sure he shall never hit his mark, yet as sure he is he shall shoot higher than who aims but at a bush.”

Diction of Note

Sovran: a literary word for sovereign

Tarn: a small mountain lake

Glome: a prominent rounded part of the frog of a horse's hoof on each side of the cleft.

Laudanum: an alcoholic morphine solution, prepared from opium and formerly used as a narcotic painkiller

Wot: what, informal, humorous

Couchant: the posture of a four-legged animal lying on its legs with head raised, like an alert, resting lion

The Pale Usher

Impressions of Moby Dick: Herman Melville and Modern Man?s Transcendental Journey

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