From here where all is night, I see a foolish fire

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Abgeschickt von Birgit am 12 Maerz, 2005 um 17:01:31:

Throughout the LC there are specific images and metaphors consistently associated with certain characters, and here especially with Lymond and Philippa. I have hesitantly called this a leitmotif, for want of a better word. There are recurring themes directly related to Lymond and Philippa, which form part of the underlying structure of the story, and the musical analogy seems to me fitting for a Dunnett book.

I caught on to this while examining the architectural space metaphors. I haven't subjected all of the LC to the same scrutiny as the architectural space theory, haven't finecombed the books yet in quite the same way, I'm still in the middle of doing that. But here is an update on the general outline of the theory and some of the passages that caught my eye and seem to support the theory.

There is the idea thata single connection of ideas or images can be articulated in different guises to create a single poetic meaning. The context can be as diverse as single-word meanings, formulae, quotes, similes or extensive descriptions and imagery used. Ideas are clothed into words.

There is the image of sunshine, warmth and brightness in reference to Philippa. She radiates brightness, clarity and warmth. She shines and illuminates.

Lymond's world, on the other hand is painfully bleak and mostly dark. His tower is a cold place, and a dark one. He is often described in terms of snow and coldness: Icy, sharp, glittering, wintry adjectives.

Take the 'house of opium' scene:
"The silence of the room flowed out like a snowfield.

Not that it was cold. The morning sun filled the wide, pleasant chamber...
... the white, creaseless pillowbere and the coverlet, smooth as fresh-fallen snow on a casket"

But in his dream for Lymond this same room is :"This silent, night-filled room today"

There's his moment of blood frenzy after Oonagh's death, where he is likened to:
"a longhouse, a settlement laid suddenly bare by cold, sea-sucked sand..."

At Volos, Jerott and Marthe are outside Lymond's room, Marthe with "her cheek pressed to the cold wall". And Jerott, unable to bear it for long, goes to sit in the sunshine. Marthe in the end, joins Lymond and helps him through the night literally and metaphorically. "She stayed all afternoon and evening, and all through the night...At last as the light slowly brightened...he began without her a poem, a poem Marthe had not chosen."

Lymond sits in his cold tower, but he secretly yearns for the sunlight. Remember his thoughts when he sees Richard at Dieppe: "It was Richard, alive...the splendid athlete one watched from one's books in the cold tower window, while outside in the sunshine he rode at the ring..."

All of the Somervilles (the name!)radiate an earthiness, warmth and brightness, to which Lymond cannot help but succumb. To both Gideon and Kate, and then of course, on a grand scale, to Philippa (who "standing on her mother's shoulder" encompasses the best of her two parents and more)

"Kate's music room was filled with sunlight and the smells of warmed wood and fruity earth from Kate's pot plants."

Succumbing to the Somerville spell he opens up to Gideon a little, allows him a little insight into his bleak and cold inner state:

"Now in dry, now in wete,
Now in snaw, now in slete,
When my shone freys to my fete -
It's not, Mr Somerville, all easy."

(Now in dry, now in wet,
now in snow, now in sleet
when my shoes freeze to my feet)

Take the scene in DK in Flaw Valleys with Kate trying to get Lymond to take a rest:

"There were two big chairs near him, one of them in the immediate path of the flood of sunshine creeping over the polished floor from her big western windows. Kate sat on the arm of the other...Oh, Christ, said Lymond, rudely, and sat down on the other chair...So much for her plans. As the soporific sunlight began to embrace his chair, Francis Crawford leaped to his feet with such force that the seat crashed to the floor behind him."

He isn't quite ready to be defrosted yet, this task will fall to Philippa.

Her awareness of his inner state grows as the story proceeds. At the beginning of RC, she discovers his room and "she shivered, as the bleak cold of the room struck her through her lightly gowned body."

Even in PiF, in the immediate aftermath of the chess game, spending the night in the same room with Lymond she senses this. She has that "divining ear which the Somervilles bent upon everybody". Alerted by the coldness radiating from Lymond she offers him warmth. "She awoke an hour later or two shivering, and recalled with a great drop of the heart where she was sleeping and why. It had become very cold...she did not realize that he was awake until his head turned, his eyes dark as a lynx in the night...
All Kate's maternal instincts and her own common sense rose and drowned Philippa's qualms. She said, "I'm cold. And if I'm cold you must be freezing. Put that quilt back on the bed and come and sleep on the other side...You're frozen."
And for a little while, with warmth enfolding him, Lymond finds some fragile peace, or if not that, is at least able to rest: "The cold must have kept him awake a long time, for once there, he slipped almost at once into sleep." So, even in his darkest night, she is able to provide some comfort for him. For a short time. Of course, none of them realizes it and indeed it doesn't last long. Lymond will continue his journey into the metaphorical world of ice and darkness. Will adopt the frozen state he is in through most of RC. It will be a long time before he can sleep comfortably in Philippa's arms.

Which brings me to the famous anvil moment, when the ice is shattered:

"But Mr Crawford, on the other hand, sparkled, paralysingly bright and sharp as an icicle; and it was only listening to him, with the inner divining ear which the Somervilles bent upon everybody, that Philippa noted that the easiness she had felt for a moment had gone. With a sigh and a flip of her sock-hat, Philippa set herself to restore him."

"a sunny, sparkling day...his quilted shirt sleeves white in the sun..his sunlit head...outside the sun was still shining...."

So Lymond's heart is melting. And back in his room "he watched the sun rise, clean and virginal and bright from the east."

But he still tries to hide in his cold place. Only after Philippa's sacrifice in CM does he step out. "She had granted him the moral sanction to bring his love into the sunlight."

His immediate instinct is to retreat, to go back to darkness and ice, to return to Russia. He is "blind" on many levels, he is incapable of seeing a way out of the darkness. When Philippa catches up with him after Ludo's death she literally tells him: "You are standing under a lamp..." but he can't see, literally and figuratively: "he stared into the darkness."

When reaching the ship at the end of RC, Lymond thinking he is going back to Russia, contemplates the journey ahead, thinking of the refuge he'll find in Muscovy: "when one dropped anchor after the days of strain and hunger and deprivation; of fogs and white, sheathing ice and the growl of the whirlpool.."

Only to find that his journey is not one towards darkness and ice, but that Philippa has set him on a course towards sunrise:

"with many hands helping until he stood presently safe at the top, seeing dry and clean and swelling above him the wings of the new sails, pink with the high spreading radiance of sunrise....moving incandescent towards the dawn sun."

Deep down Lymond does not want to die locked up alone in a cold and lonely place. Hence the plan with the mills on the Authie. And take the scene when caught by Margaret Lennox:

"He was in an unused tower, and it was daylight, but how far advanced he did not know, nor if the tower was part of a habitable building. The window was to high to look out of, and the floor to cold to lie upon, so he sat, curled like a cat in the corner under the window, and concentrated all his senses on listening."

"He was collecting the strength to lift his limbs from the stone when the man with the broken nose entered, grinning and shot a pailful of icy water over his head and body..."

"Ironic now that without food, without water, without warmth, one should watch the day give way to the night and the night give way to the day..."

"In rebellion he had made his preparations; and in rebellion composed himself, as the shamans do, to reduce the shivering husk of the body to one spark of life, conserving what it has: feeling cold and hunger and thirst no more than a plant does, laid in its sap on an icefield."

"For what came after that, his only regret lay in the Lennoxes' triumph. And that death should come without grace, instead of the way he had planned it in the Authie, in the open air among men, in a moment of verve and of freedom."

It is also what Richard senses: "There could have been no quicker death. And in the open, with friends not far off."

But of course, then he finds Philippa "waiting, as he used to wait outside her room, to join with him her hands and her warmth and her comfort."

He calls her "Eye of Ra"

So Lymond is continously associated with sea and water images. Ice-water, but ice that burns. While Philippa is described in more earthy images, her shining brown hair and eyes, sunshine, brightness and warmth.

When those two elements meet, their most positive aspects are brought out. Take the pivotal scene during the flight through the fog at Lyon:

"A heady experience, for an only child accustomed to single-thread happiness, and not to the moment of creation that occurs when the warp is interlocked with the weft. When the singer is matched with the sounding board; the dream with the poet.

When the sun and the fountain first meet one another."

Right from the beginning in GoK descriptions of Lymond abound with water and sea imagery.

"Lymond is back.'
It was known soon after the Sea-Catte reached Scotland from Campvere...

Among the reeds of the Nor'Loch, a man quietly stripped to silk shirt and hose and stood listening, before sliding softly into the water.

And for Crawford of Lymond, now parting the flat waters of the Nor'Loch like an oriflamme in the wake of the boat.

I am a narwhal looking for my virgin. I have sucked up the sea like Charybdis and failing other entertainment will spew it three times daily, for a fee.

Tell Richard his bride has yet to meet her brother-in-law, her Sea-Catte, her Sea-Scorpion, beautiful in the breeding season...

...and an alien and unknown yellow head rose from the serpentine depths, a nautilus from the shell."

Not surprisingly Christian Steward is also described in terms of warmth and sunshine. If not defrosting Lymond she is at least warming him: "Boghall. Yes. You were throroughly cold and damp..."

When he is at his most dionysian, in his Thady Boy persona he is consistently described in soggy, warm, watery terms: "a soiled raindrop", "a soggy gristle next to sugar plums", damp, soggy, a shabby bundle of sops, clammy hot, sodden clothing.
But always water imagery abounds.

What a contrast to his Apollonian side, which truly brings out the ice, first in his Vervassal prototype and later as the Voevoda Bolshoia:
"piercing and concentrated as a needle of ice", "a detachment as dark and icy", "Lymond himself, looking like ice.."

This overriding theme or leitmotif is in Lymond's very own words in his letter to Agnes Herries:
"From here where all is night, I see a foolish fire, and stretch my hand toward it and hope for miracles". It sets the theme. The true meaning of the words is not lost on Sybilla when she hears them.

And from here we can trace Lymond's journey into this metaphorical world of ice and darkness he inhabits. His world, dark and cold as it is, at first hasn't quite turned into the icy place it is later on, culminating in his shock-frosted state in RC. But the theme is laid out from the start.

The temperature drops a little, after having been forced to subject Philippa to questioning during his first visit to Flaw Valleys: "During the ride..,Lymond made no secret of his mood. His eyes were savage and his voice, freezingly hostile, rang out again and again..

His hair shone like glass and his voice glittered to match..."

In QP, meeting Margaret Lennox and O'Liam Roe in his Herold persona:

"The shrillness of temperament you might have suspected from that opening sentence was not in fact there, rather there was, nearly concealed, a sort of residual power, clear as blown glass, piercing and concentrated as a needle of ice."

"...And now there was a face she had never quite seen, circumstances she did not know, an intellect she recognized,...pressed and frozen together into a detachment as dark and icy as O'Liam Roe's, for example, was shallow and warm."

So, witnessed by Sybilla, we have Lymond's words in GoK:
"From here where all is night, I see a foolish-fire, and stretch my hand toward it and hope for miracles."

This theme, this leitmotif underlying Lymond's and Philippa's whole story, is perfectly brought to a close at the end of CM, when Lymond has at long last reached the end of his journey. In a beautiful correspondence, echoing the passage in GoK, Sybilla witnesses Lymond's words once more.

Sitting in the dark, listening to Lymond and Philippa in the bright music room she hears her son formally speaking:

"So cler and so light hit wes, that joye ther was ynough.
Treon ther were, ful of frut, wel thikke on everich bough.
Hit was evere more dai, hi fonde nevere nyght;
Hi ne wende fynde in no stede so moch cler light..."

So clear and so light it was, that there was joy enough.
There were trees full of fruit, thick on every bough.
It was day evermore, he never found night.
He thought not to find in any place so much clear light.

(translation by Pat Barker)

We are left with the image of Lymond joyfully acknowledging that he has left behind for good his world of darkness and has found his place at Philippa's side, in the clear bright daylight, ready to enjoy life to the full.



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