Faint gibbering heard from somewhere near the restricted stacks
Tag Archives: quest
There was no secret cave of the wood’s womb
Where we might kiss all day without a start
Of fear that meant to stay and must depart,
Nor any corner where the sea’s perfume
Might shelter love in some wave-carven tomb.
But Maytime shone in us; with words of art
I drew her down reluctant to my heart,
When night was silence and my bed the gloom.
So without sin we took strange sacrament,
Whose wine was kisses, and whose bread the flower
Of fast and fervent cleaving breast to breast.
As lily bend to lily we were bent,
Not as mere man to woman: all the dower
Of martyred Virgins crowned our dangerous quest.
That poem of Browning owes much of its haunting charm to this very circumstance, that the reader is never told who Childe Roland is, or why he wants to get to the Dark Tower, or what he expects to find when he does get there. There is a skillfully constructed atmosphere of Giants, and Ogres, and Hunchbacks, and the rest of the apparatus of fairy-tales; but there is no trace of the influence of Bædeker in the style. Now this is really very irritating to anybody who happens to be seriously concerned to get to that tower. I remember, as a boy, what misery I suffered over this poem. Had Browning been alive, I think I would have sought him out, so seriously did I take the Quest.
From Ritual to Romance by Jessie L Weston, part of the Mythos / Bollingen series, a 1993 paperback from Princeton University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“Acknowledged by T.S. Eliot as crucial to understanding ‘The Waste Land,’ Jessie Weston’s book has continued to attract readers interested in ancient religion, myth, and especially Arthurian legend. Here she reinterprets the saga of the Grail by exploring the legend’s Gnostic roots.
Drawing from J.G. Frazer, who studied ancient nature cults that associated the physical condition of the king with the productivity of the land, Weston considers how the legend of the Grail related to fertility rites—with the lance and the cup serving as a sexual symbols. She traces its origins to a Gnostic text that served as a link between ancient vegetation cults and the Celts and Christians who elaborated on the story. Conceiving of the grail saga as a literary outgrowth of ancient ritual, she seeks a Gnostic Christian interpretation that unites the quest for fertility with the striving for mystical oneness with God.” — back cover
“Rebel Angels is a digital-first comic book series about a revolution in Hell ten thousand years after Eve bit into that juicy apple and Satan took on The Big Guy. The demon masses are wising up and asking themselves “What the hell were we thinking?” Join fallen angel Balthazar on his quest for meaning and redemption in a mad, morally inverted world where the bad rule the good and hope is a sin.” [via]
“It means a turning away from the pursuit of the popular ideals of the outer world, in the conviction that those ideals are but shadows, images and temporal substitutions for the eternal Reality that underlies them, to the keen and undivertible quest of that Reality itself and the recovery of those genuine secrets of our being which lie buried and hidden at ‘the centre’ or innermost part of our souls.” [via]
“I am the king: you know it, friend! We wed.
That is the tale of how my wooing sped.
And oh! the quest: half won—incredible?
I am so brave, and pure—folk love me well.
But oh! my life, my being! That is dead,
And my whole soul—a whirlwind out of hell!” [via]