Channel Island of Guernsey
The old and the new
Leaving the entrance to Le Creux és Faies passage tomb behind them, Quintin and Miranda struck out south beside a long sea wall that separated the road from a wide expanse of rock and sand-flat that the tide had left glistening with water. Small boats were dotted here and there, leaning as though in acceptance of an enforced break from activity. The water was disappearing fast. Quintin breathed in the fresh sea air.
'There's a huge tidal range here,' he said. 'Those boats won't be floating again until late this evening, and if anyone wants to make an early start out tomorrow morning, they'll find the boats resting on the sand and the rocks again. You have to plan your trips carefully down here. That rock over there will be well under water this evening. Can you see the tide mark on the cliffs in the distance?'
Up and down, around and around,' said Miranda, and she tapped her smartphone.
'And if the babe is born a boy,
he's given to a Woman Old,
who nails him down upon a rock,
catches his shrieks in cups of gold...
'Her fingers number every nerve,
just as a miser counts his gold;
she lives upon his shrieks and cries,
and she grows young as he grows old.
''Til he becomes a bleeding youth,
and she becomes a virgin bright;
then he rends up his manacles
and binds her down for his delight.
'He plants himself in all her nerves,
just as a husbandman his mould;
and she becomes his dwelling place
and garden fruitful seventy-fold.
'An aged shadow soon he fades,
wandering round an Earthly cot,
full filled all with gems and gold
which he by industry has got…
'He feeds the beggar and the Poor
and the wayfaring Traveller:
for ever open is his door.
'His grief is their eternal joy;
they make the walls and roofs to ring;
'til from the fire on the hearth
a little female babe does spring...
'But She comes to the Man she loves,
if young or old, or rich or poor;
they soon drive out the aged Host
a beggar at another's door.
'He wanders weeping far away,
until some other take him in;
oft blind & age-bent, sore distrest,
until he can a Maiden win.
'The honey of her infant lips,
the bread and wine of her sweet smile,
the wild game of her roving eye,
does him to infancy beguile;
'For as he eats and drinks he grows
younger and younger every day;
and on the desert wild they both
wander in terror and dismay...
''Til he becomes a wayward babe
and she a weeping woman old.
Then many a lover wanders here;
the sun and stars are nearer rolled...
But when they find the frowning babe,
terror strikes through the region wide.
They cry: "The Babe! the Babe is born!"
and flee away on every side...
And none can touch that frowning form,
except it be a Woman Old;
she nails him down upon the rock,
and all is done as I have told.
abridged from The Mental Traveller, by William Blake.