Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Pathetic Fallacy II

In the concluding section of Poul Anderson's "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth," headed "374," two things approach, a storm and the Huns. They are almost identified.

Ermanaric seated alone sees the stars above, hears wind whimper and wolves howl, watches sunset smolder westward and blue-black thunderheads gather in the east, the direction from which the Huns approach; they have crossed the river and smashed an army "underhoof" (Time Patrol, p. 464).

"Those clouds now loomed across a fourth of heaven. Lightnings played through their caverns. Before dawn, the storm would be here. As yet, though, only its forerunner wind had arrived, winter-cold in the middle of summer. Elsewhere the stars still shone in their hordes." (pp. 463-464)

Caverns in clouds! Ermanaric sees the stars as pitiless. Nature and his feelings are identical. He mumbles that he did not heed the gods but trusted in his own strength. Has he learned guilt? No. He accuses the gods of trickery and cruelty. But he realizes that he killed the men who would with him have cast back the Huns. And, as he kills himself, the thunder sounds like Hunnish horse hooves.

How appropriate that, as we turn the page, we stay with the mythological world view and read about the goddess, Niaerdh, creating life.

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