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June 2014

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Lavandyss and Ralph Vaughan Williams

Hearing a piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams in church yesterday brought me back to a long standing puzzle.  One of the true strangenesses of Robert Holdstock's Lavondyss is that the aged Ralph Vaughan Williams is a character.  The composer, probably best known for The Lark Ascending, has a set of intense dialogs with the main character of the novel, a girl named Tallis.

There are lots of interesting external connections.  One of the other beloved RVM compositions is A Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.  The subtitle of Lavondyss is Journey into an Unknown Region which is similar in title to a reworking of a Walt Whitman poem Darest though now O Soul into the RVM composition Toward the Unknown Region.

At first, I thought that perhaps RVM was a practitioner.  He was a close friend of Robert Graves and at the time of his death was working on an operatic mashup of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer.  Those two ballads have been noted by RJ Stewart as being initiatory in nature. But this is largely beside the point.  What I think is important in terms of our pagan history is that works like The Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis evoke the spirit of the Land itself. That is a piece of magic in and of itself and the reason, IMHO, that Holdstock tips his hat to him so directly.

Comments

Ah, things I know nothing about and have to check out! Thanks for sharing.