From: "Andrew Bollen"
Subject: Re: (urth) Trees & transformations Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 16:01:21 +1100 > Doh! I hoped to be the first to reveal this connection between Silk and Llew > Llaw Gyffes. It's not the only connection between the two either. It goes on > and on. > > --Crush Crush - I just came across your interesting site, and had a couple of questions. In the intro, you say: "[Wolfe has] recreated Gwydion's riddle as exegeted by Robert Graves in his The White Goddess.." I assume you mean "Gwion/Taliesin's" riddle, no? The one which goes: "An impartial Chief Bard Am I to Elphin. My accustomed country Is the land of the Cherubim. Johannes the Diviner I was called by Merddin, At length every King Will call me Taliesin. I was nine months almost In the belly of the hag Ceridwen; I was at first little Gwion, At length I am Taliesin." etc. Would love to here more on this! As far as I can recall, RG's (rather tortured) exegesis is in terms of recreating the tree-alphabet from the answers to the sections of the riddle, and finally a holy-name-of-god. A fair amount of the imagery involved seems to be correspond with Wolfe's imagery, but beyond that I am unclear on the connection. Ditto for the connection between Llew and Silk? Other Wolfean tie-ins to Graves at random: - Jesus as "Balaam the Lame". The corresponding laming of Llew, as I think you allude to. - The primeval Adam as "Son of the terebrinth (tree)" and the earth mother, which should interest Marc. - Gwydion the magician is Odin (and Mercury/Hermes, at least for RG and others), and hence maybe some connection to SilkHorn, particularly in his magician aspect. Also, I seem to recall RG conceived of Gwydion in his historical aspect as a major religious innovator, bound up with "The Battle of the Trees", which RG sees as a poetic record of a major shift in Celtic relgiious observance (whose details totally escape me - hopefully my google-assisted memories are not too distorted). This would be fitting for SilkHorn, of course, and the tree-stuff continues to speak in a rather haunting way to Marc's thesis. Is there anything about SilkHorn which resonates with Gwydion's most remembered act - the creation of Bloedwedd from flowers? Dunno. - The whole tension between the ambiguous, female deities and powers of the Sea & Wolfe's male heroes in the cycle, which is pretty damned Gravesian. Googling RG once again, from the conclusion of "The White Goddess" - "... there can be no escape from the present more than usually miserable state of the world until a new Battle of the Trees is fought: "A renewal of conflict / Such as Gwydion made,..." and the supreme Godhead thereby redefined; until the repressed desire of the Western races, which is for some practical form of Goddess worship, with her love not limited to maternal benevolence and her afterworld not deprived of a Sea, finds satisfaction at last." It's possible (for me, anyway) to see a Wolfean debate - a respectful debate - with that view, all through the work. Both SilkHorn and Severian (assuming they are not the same entiity) are at least engaged with the female powers of the Sea; and the ambiguity of the relationship is kind of reminiscent of RG's Jesus' relationship with ancient female, sea-related deities; at once beloved and enemy. It's obviously possible to make too much of this. Wolfe may borrow or allude to bits & pieces of imagery and thematic fragments, but I see them as mainly "chrome" on the important things - the narrative, the characterization, the moral issues bound up in them. --