Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Sea-Madness

(Anndra) goes down through the wilderness locally called The Broken Rocks. When he is there, he is a strong man, leaping like a goat - swift and furtive. At times he strips himself bare, and sits on a rock staring at the sun. Oftenest he walks along the shore, or goes stumbling among weedy boulders, calling loudly upon the sea. His friend, of whom I have spoken, told me that he had again and again seen Anndra stoop and lift handfuls out of the running wave and throw the water above his head while he screamed or shouted strange Gaelic words, some incoherent, some old as the grey rocks. Once he was seen striding into the sea, batting it with his hands, smiting the tide-swell, and defying it and deriding it, with stifled laughters that gave way to cries and sobs of broken hate and love.

He sang songs to it. He threw bracken, and branches, and stones at it, cursing: then falling on his knees would pray, and lift the water to his lips, and put it on his head. He loved the sea as a man loves a woman. It was his light o' love: his love: his God. Than that desire of his I have not heard of any more terrible. To love the wind and the salt wave, and be for ever mocked of the one and baffled of the other; to lift a heart of flame, and have the bleak air quench it; to stoop, whispering, and kiss the wave, and have its saltiness sting the lips and blind the eyes: this indeed is to know that bitter thing of which so many have died after tears, broken hearts, and madness.

-- Fiona MacLeod


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