Friday, February 05, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I finally read a book, the first one since the earthquake. I chose one that I knew very well (I first remember reading it as a seven year old in boarding school and have read it many times since), and also one that my daughter and I talked about the night of the earthquake as we tried to sleep on the soccer field: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Chapter Twelve is called "The Dark Island." The Dawn Treader sails towards what at first they think is a dark mountain. Later "they could see that it was not land at all, nor even, in an ordinary sense, a mist. It was a darkness." It turns out that this is the island where dreams come true. At first the sailors are excited by this and begin suggesting things that will happen once they arrive. The haggard, terrified man they have picked up says to them, "'Fools!...That is the sort of talk that brought me here....Do you hear what I say? This is where dreams - dreams, do you understand - come to life, come real. Not daydreams: dreams." The people on board begin to think of various nightmares they have had and turn to sail out of the darkness. There comes a moment when they have been sailing out longer than they sailed in, and they start to wonder if they will ever escape from the darkness, or if they will be trapped there forever.

Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, "Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now." The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little - a very, very little - better. "After all, nothing has really happened to us yet," she thought.

"Look!" cried Rynelf's voice hoarsely from the bows. There was a tiny speck of light ahead, and while they watched, a broad beam of light fell from it upon the ship. It did not alter the surrounded darkness, but the whole ship was lit up as if by searchlight. Caspian blinked, stared round, saw the faces of his companions all with wild, fixed expressions. Everyone was staring in the same direction: behind everyone lay his black, sharply edged shadow.

Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, "Courage, dear heart," and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan's, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.

When I said to my daughter that night, "Courage, dear heart," she knew exactly what I meant and I think she felt a little - a very, very little - better.

So that was Book #3 of 2010.

(Books #1 and #2, which I read in those far-off pre-earthquake days and can hardly remember, were Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin and Nightlight: A Parody by the Harvard Lampoon.)

This post is linked to the February 6th Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon.


Janet said...

An excellent 3rd book. I can see why you'd read it now. I do love that scene.

I'm so glad you're writing here and allowing us to feel a part of all that you're going through. I read every post, and I'm praying for you and your family.

Sherry said...

Oh, dear one, I am still praying for you and your family and for the the people of that not Godforsaken country where you live.