Monday, December 21, 2009

When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse

A casual drunkard's-walk of link following through tvtropes lead me to this page:

Which casually mentions that two chapters of the book, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" (where the title of the Pink Floyd album came from) and "Wayfarers All", are "often cut from modern editions".

I don't remember much of that book, not having re-read it since being about 8 years old, but after re-reading those two chapters on the net (, fortunately it's public domain), I suddenly remember being, for lack of a better word, entranced by them.

"Piper" describes something like what C. S. Lewis called "Sehnsucht", and to me at least is successful in actually inducing that feeling in the reader.

"It's gone!" sighed the Rat, sinking back in his seat again. "So beautiful and strange and new! Since it was to end so soon, I almost wish I had never heard it. For it has roused a longing in me that is pain, and nothing seems worth while but just to hear that sound once more and go on listening to it for ever. No! There it is again!" he cried, alert once more. Entranced, he was silent for a long space, spellbound.

"Now it passes on and I begin to lose it," he said presently. "O Mole! the beauty of it! The merry bubble and joy, the thin, clear, happy call of the distant piping! Such music I never dreamed of, and the call in it is stronger even than the music is sweet! Row on, Mole, row! For the music and the call must be for us."

The Mole, greatly wondering, obeyed. "I hear nothing myself," he said, "but the wind playing in the reeds and rushes and osiers."

"Wayfarer's All", while not involving anything as mind-blowing as a random encounter with the god Pan in a 19th century English childrens book, furnishes choice quotes like this:

"And you, you will come too, young brother; for the days pass, and never return, and the South still waits for you. Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! 'Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company. You can easily overtake me on the road, for you are young, and I am ageing and go softly. I will linger, and look back; and at last I will surely see you coming, eager and light-hearted, with all the South in your face!"

Cut from modern editions? What. The. Hell! Yes I know they are weird (especially "Piper") and generally have nothing to do with Mr. Toad's adventures, but... damn..

I shed a manly tear for the omission of these chapters.