AMAZON RAT – Continued

“Death,” Hermano gulped, “Then we aren’t immortal at all?”

As Hermano stared at poor Raoul’s old body he suddenly noticed a trail of soldier ants marching towards his grandfather and nosing at him, as if they would pick him up and carry him away.

“And where is he going?” asked Hermano.  “What will happen to him now?”

Yage looked at Hermano’s grandmother significantly, and she looked at Yage and they both looked at Hermano, but they said nothing, as the little tree rat went on crying.

So at last it was finished though, the strange new modern Depository in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest, built on someone else’s doorstep. But because it was indeed automated, very few of the humans worked inside it, among its rows and rows of teeming shelves and booths and cubby holes, stacked with stuff.  Except for the Robot machines that trundled up and down its gangways in the dark. Day and night trucks would arrive to deposit things too, or to take them away again, for special delivery all around the World, in boxes stamped with strange letters like UPS, DHL and FedX.

One day though, as is very common, Hermano’s curiosity just got the better of him. You see, while he wasn’t trying to make up stories, after Grandpapa Raoul’s very natural but very upsetting death, Hermano had been dreaming too, day and night. Hermano had been dreaming of all the things his grandpapa had said, and of travelling too, like his great great grandfather to America and like his grandfather too. But dreaming of a wall to keep out travellers too and of a place called Gansevoort pier, on some Hudson River.  Yet Hermano could not decide if these places were real or just a story, even a dream, and he thought too that his great great grandfather and this human writer must have lived a very long time ago.

Hermano had been dreaming too of all the things inside the great new Depository though, but especially of books. Of one book in particular, that story by a human called Hermano, and of a great white whale, or perhaps of God, or even the Devil, that his own grandfather had tried to tell him before he died, but never really finished.  So one evening, late at night, Hermano decided to have a look inside the depository and find the book for himself.  Hermano plucked up all his spiny courage, what was left of it anyway, and ran down the stem of his Graviola tree and scurried across the forest floor towards the giant building that had killed his parents.

Beyond in the human clearing Hermano found the great metal roller doors  of the Depository closed, but since the little tree rat was very good at getting into small and awkward places, like all clever little rats, Hermano found a drainpipe that led him straight inside. Now Hermano found himself sitting on a workbench, his huge tail hanging down the side, with the kink at the end, gazing at the astonishing place in the moonlight pouring through the vast windows – the Amazonian Depository, that had made a hole in the forest.

The warehouse in the jungle was huge, huger than even Hermano’s little dreams, or so it seemed, and the shelves and stacks crammed now with modern stuff seemed to stretch for miles and miles. So down Hermano hopped in the darkness and started to run along the rows of human things, gazing all around, like a child in a toy shop at Christmas time. It was amazing what Hermano saw there in the moonlight. Not only were there new human toys and tools and furniture sitting waiting on the shelves, but there were salt and pepper mills, and pots and pans, computers and radios, toasters and smart new coffee making machines. It certainly all looked so amazingly modern. There were even boxes stacked there, but coloured boxes to put in ordinary boxes and more packages than Hermano had ever seen before.  Hermano wondered why humans would want to put boxes inside boxes and needed so many packages.

Yet now something strange happened, as Hermano looked down the rows, because it was as if a clock was suddenly ticking inside his head and his twisted tail twitched and Hermano found himself immediately counting all the things there, almost instantaneously. It was as if little Hermano could actually see numbers in his head. As he went on again though Hermano began to wonder who had made all these things in the Depository, this modern temple to human stuff, and what on earth the humans used them for, and what they paid for them in their paper money, and why there was so much of it.  Hermano wondered who really needed it all. Hermano thought too that although the place was amazing and very modern too, none of it was as beautiful as his living rainforest, or his ancient Brazil nut tree. Nor worth the lives of his mamma and his papa and all his family. Yage had been right.  Hermano began to grow depressed too, just like grandfather Raoul with his Great Depression, because nowhere he looked could Hermano find the thing he was really looking for now, the book.

Hermano stopped, somewhere in the middle of all those rows, wanting to find his way back to his drainpipe, out into the lovely air and moonlight again. But the poor tree rat could not remember which row he had come down – he was lost in the Depository.   Suddenly Hermano’s spines were tingling again too and standing up on end.

“Hey man,” said a voice and the tree rat nearly jumped out of his skin, among all those things, “Hermano. What you doing in here, little brother? A modern warehouse isn’t for little rats.”

Hermano looked up to see none other than Che, the cheerful Communist cockroach, gazing down at him and laughing.  As much as a cockroach can laugh, for they have very still faces indeed, being insects. Perhaps Che’s eyes were laughing.

“I’m looking for something, Che,” answered Hermano gravely, his spines relaxing a little. “I’m looking for a very special book to help me make up Shaman stories that will light a fire in animal’s hearts. But I can’t find it anywhere. The book.”

“This way then,” said the cucaracha, “if it’s books and stories you’re after, little brother. At the far end of the Depository.  Though you may be disappointed.”

“Disappointed?” said Hermano, as the tree rat followed on behind the cockroach. “But why?”

“Because in the modern human world no one really reads anymore, Hermano, not like in the old days anyway,” answered the cockroach wisely. “And when they do it’s often not on real paper pages anyhow, man, but on screens and computers and laptops.”

“Screens?” said Hermano, remembering his Grandfather talking about some Web. “Laptops?”

“Sure, Hermano.  I mean with computers and the Internet, with iPads and Kindles,” said the Cockroach gravely, “with all those human boys and girls staring at their smart phones, playing games too, or sending texts, I hear they can read the words there. So why buy real books at all, even if they were interested? They have something called EBooks too now, Hermano, millions of them, so you can never choose a good one to read.  Anyhow, here we are at last.”

The cockroach turned the corner and Hermano was very disappointed indeed at what he saw.  In front of them were not lovely hard backs and paperbacks, not beautiful picture books and pop-up books, not hefty tomes or slim little novellas, all waiting to be read and pawed over and thought about, but rows and rows of empty metal shelves. Except right at the far end, on its own, was just one very thin book waiting to be shipped across the world.

“But Grandpapa said this was a priceless Book Depository,” said Hermano, hardly able to disguise his disappointment.

“I know,” said the cockroach wearily. “But nowadays they don’t even have to print physical books beforehand, because they can print and make them here in the warehouse instead, as soon as someone orders one, automatically. With a special machine.”


Hermano looked miserable, but he was looking up and trying to read the title of the book. A book which wasn’t a story, or a history, a travel book, or a clever book on food or politics, but a book on Self Help.  Hermano suddenly felt very embarrassed indeed though because the spiny tree rat realised that although he had become better at making up stories himself, if not quite Shaman stories yet, he had never even learnt to read.

“But is this book by a Hermano, Che, or a Herman?” Hermano asked, “Herman Belleville, I think it was. He’s my namesake, Che. He wrote a story about the sea once, and an angry captain with a wooden leg and a huge white whale who bit his leg off. So the Captain wanted revenge, or perhaps revenge on God himself. So he set off to hunt him down, but killed everyone trying. The shaman man who wrote it worked at Pier 54 and my great great grandfather even made friends with him, with a human being.”

For some reason Pier 54 was so specific it had lodged in Hermano’s head. Perhaps it was his mysterious talent with numbers too.

“No, Hermano,” said the colourful cockroach, looking at the book spine. “It isn’t that one.  This is called The Secret.”

“Oh.  And just one book,” said Hermano, “How sad.”

“Yes, Hermano. It’s not like the old days, or the great Library of Congress in America. There they have a copy, a real one, of every single printed book ever made. Ever.”

“Ever, Che?”

“Billions and billions and billions of books they have.  And though the humans publish words online now, millions of them every day, it’s not the same. Because each book has its own individual character, like a person or an animal, brother, or even like the people who have read and loved the stories. Think of that.”

Hermano wondered now if these numbers could be right though and there really were billions of real books in the world.

“America,” whispered Hermano though, “Now that I’d like to see, Che, and New York City and this great Library too.  Just as I’d love to travel.”

“Well you can’t,” said Che quickly.

“Can’t? Why not, Che?  Because of this Wall they’re building?”

“That, yes,” answered the Cucaracha, frowning as much as an insect can frown, “but then there’s Immigration too.”


“At the borders, and Customs, that stop strange and illegal things going in and out, and passports that you need to travel with and tickets that cost you human money, sometimes lots of it.”

Hermano was horrified.

“But I’ve got money,” he said though, “The Dollar bill in our Soursop tree.”

“Oh, that old thing,” laughed Che, “that was out of date years ago, Hermano, so you can’t use it anymore. Besides,” said Che, seeing Hermano was getting depressed again, “who would want to go there really, brother?  I mean we’re the country, Hermano, the forest, the true adventure, freedom itself.  Not great big human cities like Boston, San Francisco, or New York. So it’s here that anyone should travel, to really see the World, not there.  The living world, that is.”

“New York,” said Hermano wonderingly though, if he thought too of what Yage had said of seeing the wonder of Nature in the forest.

“Yup,” nodded Che, “The City that never sleeps, that’s New York.”

Hermano thought of what Yage had said of everything being alive, even a rock, and wondered what a city that never sleeps dreams about.

“But you’re staying put, right here, little brother, in the rainforest, forever.  Although there won’t be any forest left soon, the way the humans carry on.  Because whatever they do, good or bad, Hermano, they ALWAYS carry on. There are just so many of them now, billions, although of course it’s us insects that will inherit the Earth one day, they say. Since insects, especially ants, are the wisest thing there are.”

Hermano thought of the ants beside his grandpapa, as Che led his friend back through the warehouse.  Hermano was feeling rather sad again, because although he loved his home and the Amazon rainforest, and all the amazing animals in it, he still wanted to travel and see the World.  Hermano realised that he never could though. While he had listened to what the cucaracha had said of the humans always carrying on, and wondered how long his home would even survive.

“Che,” said Hermano after a while though, and it was as if a light had suddenly come on in his head. “I wonder if I could travel to the Human who owns the Depository and ask them to stop cutting down our beautiful trees and making a hole in the forest? Perhaps then I can make friends with them too, just like my great great Grandfather did, long ago.”

Che wasn’t listening because the cucaracha had just found a set of flying, modern, battery operated drones on the warehouse shelves, with camera eyes, waiting to be sent out around the world, and which looked like him. So the cockroach had hopped up to try and make friends with them, even though they were made of plastic.  Che would never have dreamt of trying to make friends with humans, even though he was a communist Cucaracha. Meanwhile Hermano thought he had got back to his workbench near the drainpipe, but when he scuttled up, passed an open cardboard box sitting on the floor, he cried out:  “HELP!”

Hermano found his legs slipping from under him, and as he started to run, frantically, along the rollers the little tree rat was on, faster and faster, he got nowhere at all. Hermano started to giggle though, because he found it rather funny, running there, without getting anywhere, like being on a treadmill, or like being a slave.  It was with that that somewhere far away, in the very modern land of America, someone clicked a button on a little computer. A button that, because everything is more and more connected nowadays, automated too, sent an order to a machine.  That sent an order to a company that sent an order to distant Brazil and to the new Depository in the heart of the Amazonian jungle.

So, as Hermano ran there on the spot and his spines began to bristle again, as he sensed something big about to happen, something else started to move, in the Automated Jungle Depository. It was a robot trolley that set off down the endless aisles and picked up some stuff, a smart new Transformer toy, and trundled it back to the rollers.  So a strange robot toy plucked from one of the shelves was suddenly coming toward Hermano, pushing at the tree rat’s very long nose and shoving him off the bench altogether:  “Woooooooooah.”

Hermano was falling, falling into the cardboard box, filled with bubble wrap, and metal arms were closing the lid and sealing it automatically with brown tape and a stamp was coming down on the lid, hard, with Hermano sealed inside, marking it FedX- NEW YORK CITY. 


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AMAZON RAT – continued


“And I want to travel,” said Hermano eagerly now, “I want to travel all over the world, Grandpapa, and to see everything there is in it, Yage. I want to hear all the stories, good and sad, and bad and mad, and go to America too.”

“In time, Hermano,” whispered Raoul wisely among the leaves, “in time. You’re still only little.”

“No, Hermano,” said Yage disapprovingly though, “you should stay safe and secret deep in the deepest rainforest, little brother. Here, with us.”

“But why, Yage?”

“Because it’s dangerous out there in the Human world, Hermano,” answered the tree frog, “very dangerous indeed sometimes, even more dangerous than the jungle floor. It is in fact gruzzly. Sometimes nowadays it is filled with Terror too. Terror! But here the animals are free and safe and secret. Besides, they wouldn’t let you in now, into America.”

“Wouldn’t let me in?” said Hermano indignantly, wondering what Terror was, “but why not Yage?”

“Because then you’d be an Immigrant, Hermano,” answered Yage gravely, “A Foreigner. Not having been born there. And I hear now that, since they like building things like the depository, and making their money doing it, in America they are even putting up an enormous Wall, to keep little rats out, and humans too.”

“A Wall?” whispered Hermano in horror, his eyes opening wide, because he had seen walls around those vanished cities.

“It’s true,” said Grandpa Raoul gravely, looking even more depressed, “the humans seem to fear each other more and more nowadays, Hermano, and it would be hard to get into America, perhaps even impossible.”

Hermano was appalled, as his grandfather sighed, and he thought it very unfair that people should come to his rainforest, cut down his trees, and murder his family, then build a horrid wall to stop him going where he wanted in life. Wasn’t it a free World after all, like it was in the Amazon?

“But there’s another way of travelling,” said his Grandpa, to reassure the spiny tree rat.

“Another way?” said Hermano hopefully.

“Oh yes, Hermano. Through stories, so in your own imagination, like the dreams you have at night. Because no matter what they do to you in life, what life does to you too, Hermano, no-one can ever stop you dreaming.”

Hermano smiled and a tear dried on his cheek.

“Just like how your great, great grandfather, my father’s father, met and made friends with that human writer in America,” said Raoul softly, “whose name was Hermano too, or sort of. Herman, it was.  Your namesake.”


“Yes. Though this Human collected money all day long, working at Gansevoort Pier on the Hudson River in New York City, pier 54 I think it was, he travelled as well. Both in life and in his mind, he travelled on the wide ocean, and then in time too, through something called History. So he wrote a famous story of a great white whale, that a man with a wooden leg was hunting for. A whale his hero came to believe was perhaps God himself, or the Devil.”

Hermano thought this sounded amazing and wondered if God was really a great white whale and what it looked like.  But it was all so long ago it sounded too like those lost human civilizations in the heart of the forest.

“I don’t believe it Raoul,” said Yage the tree frog though. “To make friends with a human?  It’s impossible, Raoul.  Besides, only Shaman animals can see God, in everything there is.”

“But this Herman human helped to change the world, Hermano,” insisted Raoul nonetheless, “by simply sitting still and thinking and writing.  It is great stories you can really rely on in life, you see. While a very famous tree-rat writer once said that “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”. And so we must all aspire to be like that Hermano, to make something really big happen in life and be a hero, be a real rainmaker.”

“A rainmaker?” said Hermano, as they sat there together in the seething, dripping rainforest and the shaman frog looked rather embarrassed, since he couldn’t think of a Shaman story himself, and the building went on and on.

So Hermano did begin trying to tell his stories, in his plan to be a writer and an artist, making up tales about everything that happened in the Amazon, and those temples in the forest too, playing with his crooked tail as he did so.  His were stories about all the creatures and plants there, as some of the other animals came to listen to him. Though, being rather nervous, Hermano would sometimes trip over his stories and lose his way and somehow Hermano didn’t quite feel big enough to be a true Shaman storyteller yet.

But then, one day, something terrible happened, or something very sad indeed, that wasn’t a story at all, but the end of one.  Hermano woke up one bright Amazonian morning to the strange, exotic noises and ran to his grandfather to ask him something. But he found Raoul as still as stone and when the little tree rat touched him with his nose he was colder than that temple.

“He’s gone, Hermano,” whispered his grandmother mournfully, coming sadly along the branch of the Soursop plant, “my darling Raoul has gone to sleep forever.”

“Gone, Grandmamma?”

“Death, Hermano,” said Yage gravely, hopping up beside them with a tear in his viscous frog eye, “it’s just called Death, Hermano. It comes to us all in the end, quite naturally. Like those great human civilizations that just passed away.”

Hermano was very sad indeed as he looked at his dear grandfather and felt even more alone, as the tears began to come again, like a little river.

“Death,” he gulped, “Then we aren’t immortal at all?”

As Hermano stared at poor Raoul’s old body he suddenly noticed a trail of soldier ants marching towards his grandfather and nosing at him, as if they would pick him up and carry him away.

“And where is he going?” asked Hermano.  “What will happen to him now?”

Yage looked at Hermano’s grandmother significantly, and she looked at Yage and they both looked at Hermano, but they said nothing, as the little tree rat went on crying.


To be continued…

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“Deposi-tree, Grandpapa?” whispered the prickly arboreal rat, in a confused little voice.

“Yes Hermano, or sort of. It’s a modern place where humans store things,” explained Raoul.  “A warehouse. Store things like toys, and clothes, like furniture and tools. Deposit them.”

“Oh,” said Hermano, wondering why and what these things were anyway.

“So when people ask for them, Hermano, and put a price on them…” Raoul went on.

“Price, Grandfather?”

“What they pay for them with money, Hermano.”

“What’s money, grandpapa?” asked Hermano.

Raoul frowned but turned and ran to a hole in the Graviola tree and with his long nose the old tree rat pushed something out, a scrunched-up ball, made of old paper, that he rolled back along the branch towards his grandson.  He unrolled it and Hermano saw a kind of multi-coloured leaf.

“That’s money,” declared Raoul, with a sigh, looking unhappily at the old US dollar bill. “They make it out of paper and things. Humans give each other these, Hermano, so they can buy things. Like the things in the depository that they then package up and send out, all around the World. To countries called China and India, to Australia and to Samoa, to Italy and to France, and even to a place called the United Kingdom. To places far, far away, my brave little Hermano.”

Raoul smiled knowingly, because he used to boast that he was a very world wise old tree rat himself.  Indeed Raoul had once told Hermano the story of how his own father had even been to the country called America, far to the North of the great Amazon jungle.    Now Hermano, who was naturally very inquisitive indeed and keen to learn all about the mysterious World himself, twitched his long brown snout.

“But if those places are so far away, Grandpapa,” he whispered, thinking again of those lost civilizations in the rainforest, “why do they have the things here then, in our secret home, just to send them there, and why are they cutting down all our lovely trees?”

It was Raoul’s turn to shrug and shake his head.

“Progress, Hermano, that’s what humans call it, I think, progress,” he answered, a little doubtfully. “And because things are always changing, and growing too, like the forest trees.  But in life you will find that people like to dump their garbage on other people’s doorsteps,” he added, looking at the hole in the trees.  “Although I suppose to them their Depository is a kind of temple to their things.”

Hermano’s huge eyes looked sad and he wanted to cry again. He thought of Cartel calling him garbage and felt like it too, as a teardrop ran down his cheek.

“Besides, it’s the modern world, Hermano,” said Raoul philosophically. “And we all have to be modern now. That’s the future. So I hear that with their computers and their laptops now, their tablets, and personal devices, the Humans have invented something called the Internet.”

“Internet?” muttered Hermano, thinking immediately of the giant spider’s webs that hang in the forest and catch flies and even little birds sometimes.

“Oh yes, Hermano. Which means they can talk to each other, but without really talking to each other, like real animals do in the forest. Humans talk online instead now, you see, and so order things in secret from giant companies, at the press of a button, from anywhere in the World. That is called Globalisation, Hermano, and the Web.”

Now this all sounded very strange and mysterious indeed to a little spiny tree rat, something Hermano could not even see, like this Internet or this web. But clever Hermano realised immediately that although he did not understand it, this modern world out there had certainly affected his life already.

“So now too they have special machines,” Raoul went on, frowning even more deeply, “and something called electricity, that makes things move on their own, Hermano. So everything can be automated inside the Depository, with hardly any people there at all, to make more and more money, for the people who own the factory anyway. That is something humans call economics.”

Hermano wondered if Che had been wrong, because how could that ever help the poor human people working on the building, if this strange Depository was automated? Yage the tree frog though, who was listening nearby, raised a green frog eyebrow.

“But it sounds horrible, grandpapa,” said Hermano, his spines tingling again.

“Hmmm,” said Raoul, with a heavy sigh, “Perhaps it does, Hermano. Except there will be one great bonus.”

“Bonus, Grandpa?”

“Inside there they will have things too that you cannot put a real price on, ever. Priceless things.”

“What priceless things, grandpapa?” asked Hermano more eagerly, cheering up a little.

“Books, Hermano,” declared Raoul delightedly, “books and stories and ideas inside. For this too will be a great Amazonian book depository.”


Hermano’s bright brown eyes lit up in wonder now, because in all the things his grandpapa had told him already about the world, just like the rest of the family, Raoul had taught him to love the idea of books and stories.  Books, that Hermano’s father had said were made by humans from trees, and sometimes even covered in bark, but which had pages of paper and ink and writing on them. Things to make up tales of the world, or tell the long tale of time itself and of the human civilizations too that had been and gone already. Like Hermano’s family. In fact, both his father and Raoul had told Hermano the name of many made-up stories they had heard, by famous human writers, like The Hump-back Whale of Notre Dames and The Lizard of Oz.  Wonderful titles, which had filled Hermano’s head with amazing dreams.

“Books,” croaked Yage though, rather sourly too, “there’s only one book ever worth really reading, Hermano, the secret book of the mighty rainforest itself. There, if you journey with Shaman eyes like mine, you can know the whole world too. The whole of Nature and all the amazing things in it. But without having to destroy it all, like the humans do. Or make a hole in it either.”

“Destroy it?” said Hermano, wondering where his parents had gone, his tail curling like the creepers on that broken face on the temple, as another tear ran down his cheek.

“Right, Hermano,” said Yage very angrily now, “since humans are the most destructive animals on Earth and what the humans always forget is what a Shaman like me knows instinctively.”

“And what’s that, Yage?” whispered Hermano keenly.

 “That there is life in everything, Hermano,” declared the shaman frog. “In the animals and insects, in the birds and bees. But in the flowers and plants too, and in the trees and even the rocks, and that everything is connected somehow. That’s a Shaman’s true wisdom, Hermano.”

Hermano nodded but he wondered how there could be life in a rock, or that stony human face in the trees.

“But I’ll tell you another deep secret of the forest too, Hermano,” whispered Yage gravely, looking all around them now, “in fact, the very deepest. Which is this, Hermano: because everything in the forest is really alive, it has memory too, a very ancient memory.”

Hermano felt very strange and Yage noticed the tears welling in his eyes again.

“So remember this, Hermano, that if you ever cry looking at what you see and learn of the World, at all its sadness too sometimes, its darkness, to look only with good eyes, and to remember that in life there are good tears and there are bad tears.”

Hermano gulped and wondered what Yage meant, but old Raoul scowled.

“Now, now, Yage,” he scolded softly, “don’t teach Hermano things he doesn’t understand yet. Hermano must grow and be brave, not full of fear, and know how to find his own story in life.”

Hermano looked at both the adults and felt very small and wondered if he would ever find a story.

“He must remember too, never do harm to anything less than yourself, and that if you strike, you must always strikes upwards, even as high as the stars themselves,” said Raoul and Hermano felt almost dizzy. “And I love human books, Yage, and their stories,” Raoul went on eagerly, “Like the one written long ago by that man in the land of America, in a city called New York.  My grandfather went there, he always told me, long, long ago, and made friends of the human, and my own father visited too, in the time of something called The Great Depression. So in a way we have a connection to America, Hermano. And I will tell you the story the human wrote one day. All of it.”

Yage and Hermano smiled, for Hermano’s Grandpapa was always talking of this Great Depression and the other animals of the Amazon said it was why he was always so depressed.

“I want to be a writer,” said Hermano suddenly, “and to write books too, grandpapa.”

“Yes, Hermano,” said his grandfather approvingly, though with a smile, “the great thing in life is to be an artist.  Then perhaps you can really be immortal.”

“Immortal?” said Hermano.

“It means you’ll live forever, my little rat.”

Hermano wondered what it wold be like to live forever.

“Stories,” said the Shaman tree frog though, “Write not just books but great stories, Hermano. So if you must be an artist, which is always a hard life, don’t be just any old writer, Hermano, but a magic, shaman storyteller. Be a teller of tales then that really change the world.”

“Change the world?” gulped Hermano.

 “But by changing the way we see.  Stories that always tell the truth too, of course.”

“Truth?” said Hermano nervously.

 “Yes. And special stories to light a fire in other’s hearts, Hermano.  Though with a tail like that,” added Yage, with a froggy wink, “Perhaps stories with a little twist in them too.”

Then it was that Hermano the spiny tree rat decided that this was a very good idea indeed and that he would do exactly that in his life and be an artist and a writer.


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AMAZON RAT – a summer serialisation


By David Clement Davies

For the planet, Greta Thurnberg and the extinction rebels

AMAZON RAT or a tail that soaked New York



Hey there, I bet you’ve never heard this amazingly true story, my gruzzly little brothers and sisters.  The true but some say incredible tale of Hermano, the spiny tree rat, who lived in the wild and once very wooded forests of the great Amazonian jungle.  A tree rat who saved the Planet! Now the Amazon is a very hot and steamy place indeed, in deepest South America, and mainly in a modern country called Brazil.   Although the magical animals of the jungle there, the brightly coloured sugar birds and the slithering, writhing ground snakes, the snapping Cayman crocodiles and the ants, bees and insects, don’t exactly use Human names for things. No, you see animals, birds and insects have a quite different understanding of the World, so a different way of looking at things too.

Hermano was an exception to these dumb animals without words though, like all exceptional little creatures.  Hermano’s family had had dealings with the humans once, you see. So, despite several bad things happening to them, as they do to all families, sometimes, they had come to love the humans’ words, their stories and even their books. So, at his birth in a giant Brazil nut tree, soaring so very high up there above everything, our hero’s father had given his son a human name, Hermano, which means brother, my gruzzly little cousins.

It was a name Hermano whispered in his deepest dreams, as he listened to the strange sounds of the mighty Amazonian rainforest, talking to him in the darkest night. Listened wrapped around a great big brazil nut for comfort, and food too, since above all Hermano loved gnawing on delicious nuts and sharpening his teeth. There Hermano heard the soothing drip of the great forest canopy too and the buzzing fizz of flashing fire flies, heard the wailing whoop of howler monkeys and the screech of ten thousand Amazonian birds.

Hermano heard that gurgling too, that came from the mighty river that runs through his jungle home, and right across the vast continent of South America – the longest in the world, called the Amazon. They were sounds that were filled with wonder and mystery, but sometimes with threat too. Among these strange noises though, for a time, also came the steady sound of his father’s strong, reassuring voice, softly telling Hermano stories, to help Hermano go to sleep. For all good parents should tell their children stories. Stories that were sometimes made up and sometimes true, and of both the animals and the Humans, in the great lands of the Americas.

Hermano heard tales of the human cities too then and the lost civilizations of the Aztecs, Incas and the Maya, that had come into being many hundreds of years before. One day Hermano’s father had even taken his son deep into the rainforest, past a thundering jade-green waterfall, and shown him a great carved stone face, giant stone steps and a human temple. All of which were now abandoned though, broken down and covered in ivy and vines.  Hermano’s father said these were the remnants of human civilisations, that had once been. Which had been so powerful that they had had chains of mountain runners moving through the rainforests like army ants to bring them news, or to warn of threat and tens of thousands of human slaves too, to do their bidding. Civilisations which had vanished altogether though, so that some said the place was haunted, and had been abandoned and disappeared with time. As Hermano’s father suddenly disappeared. For one day poor gruzzly Hermano was something called an orphan, and so completely alone in the world, abandoned himself.

It happened very suddenly and like this.  Soon after Hermano had seen that lost temple in the forest, there had come other angry noises in the jungle night, but this time made by humans. Among the sounds of animals then little Hermano had heard the sudden snarl of a vicious knife with glinting metal teeth called a chainsaw, and the growling thunder of a moving bulldozer too, with lights like Jaguar’s eyes. So the humans had suddenly come in the night to cut down Hermano’s ancient Brazil nut tree, and many others too. That’s how Hermano’s entire family had been squashed, in an instant – THWACK.  Their home had been bulldozed and snapped up by the horrid machines and the heavy falling branches, along with many other little creatures of the forest. Creatures that to humans are often invisible. It was terrible.

Hermano only just survived himself though because, half asleep, wrapped around a brazil nut, he had pushed out his spines in fright, as he always did when he sensed something bad was about to happen, and rolled like a yucca fruit.  So Hermano had fallen into a soft clump of purple forest flowers, safe and sound. Safe as a gruzzly little orphan can be, at least.  For if truth be told, the jungle is not always a very safe place at all, sometimes, with the hungry snakes, and the biting bullet ants, with the soaring condors that can swoop so low and pluck little creatures from the ground to gobble them up. With the fires too that can burst out on their own in the heat, or start when the humans are close by and being careless.    Meanwhile, in his spiny fall to safety, Hermano had landed on his tail, ouch, and from there-on-in Hermano’s tail had a kink in it. It made Hermano feel different, and very alone indeed, with his family suddenly gone.  It made him feel rather prickly and out of place.

Happily, the free creatures of the Amazon are rarely really ever alone though, and besides, in the countries of South America not only is family everything, but there they have things called extended families too, that try to look after one another in trouble.  So Hermano had been taken in by his Grandfather, Raoul, a kind, wise old white-faced spiny tree Rat. If Raoul was always very sad and melancholy too, often depressed in fact, with drooping grey whiskers and gentle wrinkled paws.

At first Raoul had invited his grandson high up into the branches of another great tree, the very giant of the forest, a Kapok tree. But looking up at it Hermano had started to shake like a maraca, and stuck out his spines and burst into floods of tears too, now frightened at the sheer height of the thing. Perhaps it was the fall.  So Raoul had moved both his wife and his grandson into the branches of a Graviola tree instead, also called a Soursop, much closer to the ground. There Raoul taught Hermano how to bury nuts and told him especially how he must always keep clean and be tidy, for to be clean was a sacred thing. So they started a new life on the edge of the human devastation.

Devastation? Yes. For that’s what poor Hermano saw now with his huge brown eyes, which were often crying, as he looked out at the hole the humans had cut in the great rainforest that had killed his family. For in front of Hermano in the Amazon jungle now were a carpet of fallen trees, like discarded matches, and a space like five football pitches, football being a game they love to play across Brazil, almost as much as they love to make music and to dance.

“A hole,” Hermano whispered, “They’ve made a hole in it. They’ve made a hole in me.”

Since Hermano had once loved trees, being an arboreal rat, loved scurrying up and down their mossy trunks and swinging with his huge tail from their tangling branches, clever Hermano could not understand why the humans should want to do such a dreadful thing, let alone murder his whole family. It hurt his heart and Hermano had a very big heart indeed.

Until one day Hermano’s spines began to tingle again and prick up on his back as more humans arrived in the rainforest. There were hundreds of them now though, in hard, yellow plastic hats, and  stomping black boots, not only to clear the fallen trees, but with metal poles and diggers and strange rotating machines with huge mouths to mix something called cement.  You see, the humans had begun to build something on the edge of Hermano’s beautiful rainforest, an edge that is always getting smaller, as the Humans eat into it all. Something that soon became a place of much heated speculation among the animals round about the land of Brazil, something almost as strange as that temple covered in jungle vines.

Whatever is it they can be making there, the animals all wondered in the chattering Amazon night, and what did the humans want to do inside it?  Could it be some strange laboratory, on the edge of nowhere, for secret and terrible scientific experiments in space and time?  Could it be some kind of cruel prison for the humans to punish each other in, or to keep as their slaves? Or could it be the start of a new Mayan Mega-City that one day would simply swallow up the Amazon rainforest altogether and all the animals, birds and insects in it too?

Che, the cheeky Cucaracha, a cockroach who lived on the next door Soursop fruit, chirruped that it was to bring the humans work, so that they could feed their families. And because he was something called a Communist too, Che thought this was a very good thing indeed, to help the poor human peoples of Brazil. Yage the tree frog though, who claimed he could call to the Brazilian Rain Gods themselves, and see secret things by travelling in his dreams, croaked and rolled his huge frog eyes, as he licked his sticky tongue across his own Emerald green back. Then Yage croaked that it was a terrible sign of Evil and the end of the whole World too and only a Shaman knew it.  It was the very first time that Hermano had heard that strange word, Shaman, which means a creature of vision and magic power.  For Yage himself claimed that he could see strange things with his mysterious gifts.

Hermano’s crooked cousin though, a vicious toothed water rat called Cartel, who hung out along the winding banks of the Amazon River, told Hermano that it was all just the way of the wicked world, which was always on the move. That Hermano shouldn’t worry about it and that the only way to be in life was to turn to crime like Cartel. So to really make it in the modern jungle, as a dirty rat. Brutal faced Cartel would look at Hermano though and shake his head doubtfully.  Because Hermano was so nervous and gentle, not to mention afraid of climbing and often bursting into tears.  While, unlike all Brazilian rats and most Brazilian animals, even the humans, Hermano couldn’t even really dance. Hey, gruzzles, think of that, a Brazilian tree rat that can’t dance!

“Spineless,” snorted Cartel one day, “and always blubbing too, like a baby. You’ll never be modern, stupid little Hermano, or happy in your own skin, or hard as a Brazil nut, like me, or a really dirty rat either.  In fact you’re just a worthless piece of Amazon rubbish.” This made Hermano feel very small and sad indeed.  As for the strange building, near which the humans had placed large plastic barrels to collect their drinking water from the rainfall, it was Grandfather Raoul,  who watching the work day and night, looking as mournful as ever, realised just what it really was.  Raoul guessed it when the noisy vans began to arrive, down the concrete access roads, that the humans had laid in the forest, to deliver things to be stored on the endless rows of metal shelves that the men were putting up inside.

“Please tell me what they’re doing in there, grandpapa,” said Hermano with concern one day, as they watched together through the huge, rubbery leaves, dripping with globes of moisture like enormous tear drops, “What is it the humans are making?”

“A Depository,” declared Raoul softly and very sadly, as he looked out at the rainforest, “I think it’s called a Depository, Hermano.”

“Deposi-tree, Grandpapa?” whispered the prickly arboreal rat, in a confused little voice.



To be continued…..

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A very happy New Year’s Eve and a toast to a brilliant, realised and joy filled 2019

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Phoenix Ark's Blog

Well, forget the rats, or a journey down into the terrible Paris sewers, and sing of the wonder Bobolan feels seeing Paris and just being alive…!


What a city this is, what a brave new world
What people, what wonders, what streets
There’s everything here, like a banner unfurled,
Like a star-spattered heaven, where worlds have been hurled
Or a heart, that eternally beats.

What a town this is, what a marvelous dream
What houses, what buildings, what lights
A place that’s forever, where all can be seen
From a lord to a beggar, a cat to a Queen
From crime, to earthly delights
What a City is this?


Walk through the city, seeking a home
People all dreaming and people all scheming
And people all alone.
Lost in the city, walk on your own
Guard for the danger that creeps in…

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Well, dears, I can’t help it if nobody listens, but as Bobolan watches and dreams of the theatre and being an actor, so comes the return of the great Monsieur Moliere himself! Of course, longing to be a great tragedian, he was always better at comedy, but right now he is in great singing voice….

LYRICS – Mr Moliere’s Song

Some build ships, others fight
Some make pots of clay,
But since I was a boy I’ve longed to write,
To pen a marvellous play.
Some bake cakes, others sew,
Some just watch the sky,
But since I was lad, I’ve planned the show
To make you laugh and cry.

Look who’s back here in Paris
Just the name you should know
Life’s a marvel in Paris,
We’re hungry for a show.

Some stay young, others age
Some just turn to drink
But all I ever need is…

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But if the Mousettes are both troubled and noisy, and Victor is obsessed with practicalities, our stuttering hero Bobolan simply must go on dreaming…


Dreams, we’re all made of dreams
Or so it seems.
Dreams, we’re all in a dream
What can dreams mean?
I dreamt last night
While I wandered the moon
That her snout was made of cheese.
And I dreamt the earth
As I dozed in my room
Was rich with kindness and ease.
Dreams, we’re just made of dreams
Or so it seems.
Dreams, we’re all in a dream
What can dreams mean?
I dreamt one day that I’d walk like a King
And climb on a marvellous throne
Then love a girl on a beautiful swing
With her I’m never alone.
Oh Dreams, we’re all made of dreams
Or so it seems.
Dreams, we’re all in a dream
What can dreams mean?

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For a bit of a laugh and to say Happy Christmas and New Year to Pietrasanta and one and all, the opening of the Musical Cheese (AKA Mr Moliere’s Mouse) workshopped all those years ago at The Royal Academy of Music in London.  ‘N as the man says, God Bless Us Every One!


Where is this and what are we
Wondering what our fate will be?
Marching bravely through the light and shadows,
Paris raises alters and a gallows
Seeking our destiny
Bondage or liberty

Waiting gaily till they serve our supper
Slaving daily for our bread and butter
Yearning for a thrill
Learning how to kill

Look – we’re called the mob
That’s our job!

Have you known such poverty
Can they want equality?!
Sewing clothes that cover toff or peasant
Making, baking, plucking scrawny pheasant,
Theatres, for you to see
Prisons, won’t…

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By David Clement-Davies

“The time is out of joint.” Hamlet

Whatever side you are on in the Brexit agony, perhaps there is another way of seeing things too, highlighted by a rapidly approaching celebration next month, St Lucy’s Day, depending on if and when you actually celebrate it. It’s long been argued here that Shakespeare’s age represented a sea change in ideas, especially for England, perhaps even some kind of shift in human consciousness. Perhaps only equalled by what is happening now, a mere four or five hundred years later, a pin-prick in Geological time.  Because of the explosion of Printing in Europe, seeing the dissemination of something like 6 Million printed books by 1500, equivalent to the number of books hand made in the past 15 centuries, along with penny pamphlets, and vital maps rearranging the World and knowledge, depending on how things were being discovered. Then with the rise of Protestantism and Henry VIII’s Reformation and split from Rome, the true start of a modern Capitalist system, so much centred on London.  The dawn of the modern, Capitalist world, that so defines us now. Represented by Joint Stock ventures,  reflected by new theatrical companies too,  stocks and shares, the creation of a Tudor navy, Merchant Adventurers and the formation of Globally expansionist but essentially private Companies, like the East India Company . Which would also create private armies too, though in the name of the Crown, and by 1607 had established its first fort outpost in Madras, bristling with cannon. Of course our major Protestant allies by then, The Dutch, were much at work too, hence that race for the Americas, beyond the fight with Spain, and New York once being called New Amsterdam. While if Endomol or Euromillions concern you, plantings in the New World where engineered as early as 1611 with public ‘Lotteries’.  Today’s sea change and equivalent in both possibility and threat though would be the Internet, which has reeked such havoc in the publishing and bookshop trades, online lives lived against the new map of hyperspace, Globalisation, and for the UK the trauma of maintaining an identity within or outside the European system, perhaps reflective of the old Catholic, Rome-centred world.

If that is a little simplistic, the equivalent sense of trauma is certainly not. Many have argued that Shakespeare’s plays so often attempt to heal a profound emotional dislocation going on in England then, both intellectual and religious, or in our terms perhaps ‘spiritual’ , if you are not an Atheist.  Like Henry  V, if not using primarily Catholic language, appealing to the troops before Agincourt by thrilling reference to “St Crispin’s Day”, the feast of those twin saints “Crispin Crispianus”, patron saints of shoemakers, if kit is all, and in one of the most rousing patriotic speeches and calls to arms ever penned.  There are many examples of a tryst with a changing world and sensibility, but the most obvious is Hamlet.  That troubled Prince of Northern European and by then Protestant Denmark crying “The Time is Out of Joint, Oh Cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right“, in his metaphysical anguish. Of course the time is out of joint for idealistic Hamlet for many reasons, not least the appearance of a ghost he is not sure he believes in, his father’s murder and what his duty is to do about it. It resulted in what the World considers, when talking about it, as the very greatest tragedy.

But by 1587 the time was very literally out of joint with the Continent in Elizabethan England, because of the Papal Bull Intergravissimus. Which introduced the  Gregorian Calendar across Catholic Europe, as opposed to the old Julian Calendar, used in Britain until 1750. It’s importance is no mere historical foot note, because it must have been as significant in terms of attempted systemisation as leaving the Gold Standard, matching weights and measures, linking rail and road networks or Decimalisation. It is very possible too that the Papacy issued it in that year as a specific forerunner to trying to re-assert authority over England with Spain’s thwarted Armada invasion of 1588.

Before Brexiteers or Non-believers carp that everything that emanates from Brussels or Europe though is some kind of enemy plot, the Gregorian Calendar charting our Solar orbit and correcting annually for inaccuracies, is more accurate and more scientific than the Julian, and the one the West uses universally today. In that sense England and other protestant countries were simply wrong and remained so for nearly 200 years. Yet something else was simultaneously taking hold, the dominance of a Meridian line and Greenwich Mean Time, centred at Greenwich in London, which was by no means a given and only established as a now universal ‘Time and place Zero’ because of the success of British Naval and then Imperial expansion. Other claimed meridians have included Rome, Washington, Paris and Jerusalem and of course the Meridian point was essential to recording Longitudes at sea and therefore travel, exploration and mapping The Globe.

So though, because of dual Western calendars, in terms of dates and festivals an actual time slip had begun with now Protestant England and the Catholic Continent,  that can produce errors in the records too, which would eventually produce a mis-match of between eight and tens days. Just as London street and place names were rapidly changed from old Catholic locae, as would happen during the French Revolution. Does this have any special resonance or significance though, except that shared holidays like Christmas would not be celebrated on the same day, and Continental Saint’s Feast days were supressed, as the machine of working Capitalism engaged?  For a long while in England too a New Year was not celebrated on December 31st, but on March 25th, the Festival of the Annunciation of the Virgin’s  pregnancy, Lady Day, and also the day contracts, leases and debts fell due. Of course that average human incubation span takes you straight to Christmas Day, December 25th. Well, it was two years work looking for Shakespeare’s youngest brother Edmund in London that led to a link with the tavern in Southwark where he died, or was staying before his death in 1607, The Vine, and a Church called St Margaret’s. The little Norman Church stood on Long Southwark, today’s Borough High Street, more or less, and very literally that ‘Canterbury Road’ of Chaucer’s famous pilgrims, mouthing so marvellously and often very cynically in Middle English. Because the real Tabard inn, where it all starts, was right opposite. The Church is no longer there, but today is the site of the old town hall, at a building a bit like a miniature Flat-Iron building in New York. Now occupied in part by the Slug and Lettuce bar chain, in one of history’s lovely ironies.


On the right of the current War memorial on Southwark’s Borough High Street is The Slug and Lettuce bar. A plaque on the side of the building is all that commemorates the site of St Margaret’s Church

Vanished St Margaret’s Norman Church had the most astonishing history on that both real and fictional “Canterbury Road”. It was the place where the Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor William Waynflete, who founded Magdalene College Oxford, met the rebel Jack Cade, after the battle of London Bridge, who had camped in the White Hart inn just down from the Tabard. Cade, that rather dubious figure in the second of Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy, whose men of course marched to The London Stone and executed several nobles, was double crossed later, tracked down and his dead body brought back to London in a cart, with his head in his lap. Waynflete was acting during the regency of the young Henry VI, but in 1460 that very troubled Monarch granted rights by a Charter at Westminster to the wardens of the Southwark church to form a little Fraternity, called The Brotherhood of Our Lady of Assumption. So allowing them to wear a livery, collect alms and above all to buy land and property in Southwark.  They started investing in two taverns especially, along the riverside so associated with brothels, gambling, bear and bull baiting and of course the rise of the new theatres, the Haxe or Axe, mis-logged in the London Metropolitan archives as the Har-, and The Vine.  They were also paying ‘purse money’ up to the later much criticised Bishops of Winchester. Especially Henry Beaufort, who had been blamed for betraying England by ceding Anjou and Maine to France, though of course he was in fact Henri de Beaufort, in a world intimately entwined with France and Europe.

The very Catholic Church would be supressed at Henry’s Reformation, which also attacked and dissolved the Monasteries and Chantries, in one of the greatest land grabs in history.  I’m yet to decipher the scrawled Latin documents, ‘Testi 1-5’, that suggest the five wardens, among them Watermen and Joiners, were accused of nefarious dealings, just as one record of the Axe in Henry VI’s day refers to an argument with a Flemish lady, in an area of many Dutch incomers at the southern gate to then walled London, over London bridge.  Just too as local St Thomas’s hospital was shut for being a ‘bawdy house’ and the Stewes or brothels, protected since the 12th Century, were thrown down by Royal proclamation and ‘a blast of the trumpet’.  Not for long.  That Church became a little Compter prison and court though, where the man who built The Swan Theatre and Lord of The Manor in Paris Gardens, Sir Francis Langely, was brought up for not paying his dues, or keeping the ways clean. It would later be The King’s Head tavern, ‘in the middle of the King’s highway’ under James but it also stood right at St Margaret’s Cross where that World War II soldier now stands, and the famous, rowdy and often riotous Southwark Fair began. Later immortalised in Hogarth’s famous painting, which I think may well depict the claimed St George’s Church just down the road but St Margaret’s, and certainly making much of a reference to Henry VI.

The hand written Church records are the most fascinating little journey down a river of time, giving insights into its swelling ambitions, new roofing, and a new grave yard, in the then very intimate style of dating, taking you from a said year in the reigns of Harry V, Harry VI, Richard III, to both Henrys and it’s fall.  That year-of-monarch dating rather echoes the intimacy of a closeness to both Crown and individuals in a far smaller world echoed in Shakespeare’s Crispin Day speech, but ran in parallel to the Anno Domini system, like 1460. But just in tiny details there too opens an emotional and imaginative doorway straight back to Chaucer and those Canterbury tales, on that part real and part fictive Canterbury Road. One I think in a sense was dammed up both by Reformation and Shakespeare’s transcendent genius, in also so rewriting the English language. Because the church documents record money being paid to ‘players’ too there, since before the time of Henry VI, on both St Margaret’s and St Lucy’s dayes:  The type of travelling players performing Mystery and Miracle plays, before thy were banned by Reformation, or became professional companies with the rise of permanent and secular London theatre houses by 1550. St Margaret’s day was the Catholic festival of the Church’s Patron Saint, but it was St Lucy’s Day that caught my attention.

In today’s Catholic Calendar the Feast of Santa Lucia falls on December 13th,  supposedly celebrating a 3rd Century Christian Martyr who brought food, via candlelight, to Roman Christians hiding in the catacombs.  Or so the story goes. But take into account that 8-10 day shift with the change from the Julian and Gregorian calendars and where does that festival of lights, much celebrated in both Italy but also Northern Scandinavian countries by maidens wearing wreaths of burning candles, somewhat witch like, take you back (or forwards) to?  December 21-22 and The Winter Solstice, the day, coming up in barely a month, that the Earth begins to turn in its orbit back towards the Sun.  Just as the Feast of Christmas on December 25th was in the Ancient Roman Calendar the Feast of Sol Invictus, and effectively the birth and rebirth of the Sun.

Can this throw any light though on our current re or mis-alignments or Brexit fears and woes? Well, from my viewpoint, just as Shakespeare’s power springs so much from nature, essentially ‘pagan’ festivals bound inextricably with the seasons, and in human storytelling celebrating, as in so many faiths, the triumph of light over darkness and the rebirth of the Earth, could only underline both an ancient link with Europe, as Shakespeare and Renaissance London certainly had, but now the whole Planet. So the disaster of ignoring the warnings of Climate Change, and the dramatic need for Environmental protections and initiatives, like the Paris Accord, abandoned by Trump and so little talked about by Brexiteers, very keen on Fracking in the UK too. It is a major reason for my opposing Brexit, yet still questioning much about Europe and the way its individual member countries do things. As I would argue that though Shakespeare did give a changing England the most extraordinary language of National identity, the cannon is far more complex than that, as is the poet playwright’s journey towards Truth, meaning and above all dramatic effect. Before the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg dared to summon his name to push a Cameron towards a Referendum he assumed he’d win. “The time is out of joint” said Hamlet, “Oh brave, new World, that hath such people in it” declares Miranda in The Tempest, as does every new generation perhaps.  Yet what ‘modern’ Super Capitalist or ‘brave, New World’ can the Planet afford now? Perhaps we have forgotten though that in both that storytelling language of Faiths, and in the attempt at absolute Scientific Truths, like dates and times and spacetimes, both are also kinds of languages, that so often collide when they think they are right alone, or are even saying the same thing. If you are trying to have a conversation then, at least learn to hear what others are trying to say, before you dismiss it as right or wrong, in perhaps a never ending journey down a part real and always part fictional road.

As for the Solstice, or  St Lucy’s Day, the fact they once talked to each other, trying to find a road, or a diverging path, is proved beyond doubt by another famous London inhabitant of Shakespeare’s day, the soldier, Dean of St Paul’s, father of 11, and Metaphysical poet John Donne. Because he titles his “Nocturnal Upon St Lucy’s Day“,  partly writing in mourning for the death of his favourite daughter Lucy, as “Being the shortest day of the year“. Namely not December 13th of the current Catholic Calendar, but The Winter Solstice.  It itself is the most beautiful, heart breaking act of anguish, combing faith with astrology, alchemy and an emerging scientific language too, to try and find confirmation and hope in great darkness, above all in the search for some higher love.

‘TIS the year’s midnight, and it
is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;
⁠The sun is spent, and now his flasks
⁠Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;
⁠The world’s whole sap is sunk;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring;
⁠For I am every dead thing,
⁠In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
⁠For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have;
⁠I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
⁠Of all, that’s nothing. Oft a flood
⁠Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown;
⁠Were I a man, that I were one
⁠I needs must know; I should prefer,
⁠If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
⁠At this time to the Goat is run
⁠To fetch new lust, and give it you,
⁠Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s and the day’s deep midnight is.



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