Friday, January 19, 2007

Atlas

I am currently reading amoung other things "Weight" by Jeanette Winterson. It is a re-telling of the myth of Atlas and Heracles. It is beautifully written and I just want to share a slice of its prose which I found especially vivid. This is Atlas talking about his parents.

"My father was Poseidon. My Mother was the Earth. My father loved the strong outlines of my mother's body. He loved her demarcations and her boundaries. He knew where he stood with her. She was solid, certain, shaped and material.

My mother loved my father becaused he recognised no boundaries. His ambitions were tidal. he swept, he sank, he flooded, he re-formed. Poseidon was a deluge of a man. Power flowed off him. He was deep, sometimes calm, but never still.

When my father wooed my mother she lapped it up. He was playful, he was warm, he waited for her in the bright blue shallows and came a little closer, then drew back, and his pull was to leave her a little gift on the shore; a peice of coral, mother of pearl, a shell spiralled as a dream.

Sometimes he was a long way out and she missed him and the beached fishes gasped for breath. Then he was all over her again, and they were mermaids together, because there was always something feminine about my father, for all his power. Earth and water are the same kind, just as fire and air are thier opposites.

She loved him because he showed him to herself. He was her moving mirror. He took her around the world, the world that she was, and held it up for her to see, her beauty of forests and cliffs and coastlines and wild places. To him she was both paradise and fear and he loved both. Together they went where no human had ever been. Places only they could go, places only they could be. Wherever he went, she was there; a gentle restraint, a serious reminder. He knew though, that while he could not cover the whole of her, she underpinned the whole of him. For all his strength, she was strong."