Halloween..

Just a very quick post, to draw attention to Julia Baird’s op-ed column in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, which quotes yours truly a couple of times, one from my book In Hollow Lands, once from my controversial piece the other day. It’s generally about Halloween; and she has interesting things to say. (By the way, she’s the Herald’s opinions editor).

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Niall
Niall
2022 years ago

Halloween, or rather “all hallows eve” is in the first half of the year, essentially at the end of April. Not 30-31 October.

peggy sue
peggy sue
2022 years ago

What are you talking about Niall?

Halloween = All Hallows Eve is the day before All Hallows.

All Hallows = All Saints Day, which is 1st November

It’s been this date for a very long time. Bede (who died in 735) records the celebration of All Saints Day in Engliand on 1 November.

13th May was also celebrated as All Saints Day, but by the 12th Century, 1st November was the only official date.

The “ghosts and witches” Halloween celebrations hark back to Celtic end of summer ceremonies. They certainly were not in April.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Sophie, just wondering if the title of your book is drawn from a poem by Ernest Dowson – Last Word (1899):

Let us go hence – the night is now at hand;
The day is overworn, the birds all flown;
And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown,
Despair and death; deep darkness o’er the land,
Broods like an owl; we cannot understand
Laughter or tears, for we have only known
Surpassing vanity: vain things alone
Have driven our perverse and aimless band.

Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold,
To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust
Find end of labour, where’s rest for the old,
Freedom to all from love and fear and lust.
Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold
Our life-sick hears and turn them into dust.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Last line should read:

Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust.

And I need to work on my html tags!

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

I didn’t know that poem at all, Mark; what a beautiful thing!If I’d known of it, it would certainly have been a source. But I actually got my title from several sources: the idea of fairyland–the homeland of the Sidhe of Celtic story–as being the ‘hollow hills’, or Neolithic tumuli found all over Europe; two lines in Yeats’ beautiful poem, ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, which I quote as an epigram in my novel; and the whole idea of thefairy countries being a kind of hollow simulacrum of the human world, an idea that’s found in nearly all fairy literature, from folk sources right through to the wonderful Aussie ‘fairy’ novel, Christopher Koch’s The Doubleman, and on to Susanna Clarke’s, ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.’

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, Sophie – that’s very interesting. I don’t know if you know the work of the fantasy writer Michael Moorcock – he has a fondness for quoting Dowson and Wheldrake which led me to seek out an edition of Dowson’s complete works – fascinating guy – very fin de siecle character – associated with Wilde, Beerbohm, Beardsley and the Yellow Book crowd – died in 1900 at the age of 33.

wen
wen
2022 years ago

Mark,

some lovely synchronicities here! A possible title for my novel is The Sad Waters of Separation, from another Dowson poem, Exile (1896). And I’ve been wondering whether Beardsley might even provide an appropriate cover….

By the sad waters of separation
Where we have wandered by divers ways,
I have but the shadow and imitation
Of the old memorial days.

In music I have no consolation,
No roses are pale enough for me;
The sound of the waters of separation
Surpasseth roses and melody.

By the sad waters of separation
Dimly I hear from an hidden place
The sigh of mine ancient adoration:
Hardly can I remember your face.

If you be dead, no proclamation
Sprang to me over the waste, gray sea:
Living, the waters of separation
Sever for ever your soul from me.

No man knoweth our desolation;
Memory pales of the old delight;
While the sad waters of separation
Bear us on the the ultimate night.

sophie
sophie
2022 years ago

Right, it’s the same poet! A very melancholy man, it seems..
I do know Michael Moorcock’s work of course–one of the greats of fantasy writing, though fairly uneven in my opinion. Dowson certainly sounds like a really interesting guy..
Talking of another interesting, strange sort of writer too, does anyone know Arthur Machen’s work? There was an interesting article about him in the Books section of yesterday’s Guardian–I’ve got one of his books, a haunting, chilling incantatory evocation of the numinous and the unknown..obviously based on his own ‘otherworldly’ experiences..and the article intimates he had an encounter with something numinous that inspired a great deal of his work.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

As the opposite of numinous, Moorcock in his early days was apparently capable of writing a book in three days flat, which explains why his output was uneven.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Sophie, Dowson’s work is hard to find – the edition I have of his poetry was printed in the 50s – lovely book btw. Most of the information I’ve been able to garner is from general works on the 1890s aesthetic. A google search will turn up a few more poems than the one I quoted, if you feel inclined to have a look.

David, one of the nice things about Moorcock’s work is I kinda grew up with him – reading the potboiler Elric and Runestaff novels when I was a kid, and then graduating to the richer fantasy novels, Jerry Cornelius, the Dancers at the End of Time sequence, the Colonel Pyat books, Gloriana, etc. as I grew older. I also like him as a political and literary polemicist.

TimT
2022 years ago

I’ve always had a suspicion that Wheldrake was a poet invented by M. Moorcock.

Dowson was a gloomy bastard, wasn’t he? In my old Novocastria blog I wrote a parody romantic poem along those lines:

Fuck, I’m depressed!
I just want to die!
I’m exceedingly gloomy!
(Very deep sigh)

This city’s a shithole
This world is a dump
My friend’s tell me to cheer up –
Well, they can go jump.

(etc, etc)

Must look up Arthur Machen…

TimT
2022 years ago

Also work on MY html tags…

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

TimT – I guess dying of syphilis, being madly but platonically in love with a 12 year old girl and converting to Catholicism while all this is going on weren’t particularly conducive to light and sunshine!

TimT
2022 years ago

Yes, that would seem to be a little downheartening, Mark… must admit, I don’t know much about his biography. I originally wrote that piece after reading parts of In Memorian AHH by Tennyson. Another sublimely depressing poem.

I looked up Wheldrake on the internet; turns out it was a pseudonym used by Algernon Charles Swinburne, mostly while writing reviews. Seems he has since been adopted by Moorcock, one of the many semi-real semi-mythical characters in the rich social and historical tapestry that runs throughout his novels. (If that makes sense).

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Thanks, Tim – that’s interesting. I wonder if Swinburne or Moorcock wrote the Wheldrake poems that feature in the Dancers at the End of Time books. To quote Captain Bastable – “Oh Wheldrake, ever apt.” – to which Mrs Amelia Underwood responds – “Oh, bother Wheldrake” – very strong language coming from her!

Niall
Niall
2022 years ago

My error, Peggy. I meant to be a little more lucid. I’m referring to the real origins for Halloween, or ‘all hallows eve’. Celtic pagan religious beliefs.

trackback
2022 years ago

It’s NOT Halloween!

I’m noticing an ever growing awareness in this country of the Northern Hemisphere commercialisation of the pagan celtic sabbat known…

trackback
2022 years ago

It’s NOT Halloween!

I’m noticing an ever growing awareness in this country of the Northern Hemisphere commercialisation of the pagan celtic sabbat known…