…Bearer of Time
Gnomon of Eternity
You must have seen a thing or two
During your torturous sojourn…
How best can we understand our predicament?”
“As Death is the Lord of life…
Life must be the Lord of death.”
“Well, he was here,” said Sputnik,” I saw him from outside, standing by the corner of the window.”
Maggot studied the door lock, the corridor and the stairs beyond, and then he walked slowly across the room and stood by the window-sill.
“You ever heard of spontaneous human dissipation, Sputters?” he said quietly.
“You reckon that is what it was?” replied Sputnik, incredulously.
“Something similar,” shrugged Maggot.
“Wouldn’t it leave some sort of trace?” asked Sputnik,
tugging at his sticky-white shirt and thin tie.
“I expect so,” said Maggot trailing his forefinger idly through viscous liquid…
…There is lots of real depth in this little story.
It is culled from the pages of, ‘Folk Tales of the British Isles’ and is full of that rare and ever dwindling commodity known as Folk Wisdom.
This re-telling then is necessarily based on the translation of Sean O’Sullivan who reports thirty-two other versions of the tale none of which, sadly, now appear to be freely available.
The tale fairly bristles with three-fold quandaries and displays an initial three-fold structure which ultimately, and to the apparent chagrin of the story-teller, shifts to four.
This inter-play between Form and Content can hardly be accidental.
Ostensibly an answer the riddle tale, as is the way with these things, it throws up more questions than it answers.
At the forefront of which are:
Why does Death curl around the hearth ?
Why does a tied sheep stand for Strength?
Why is Youth housed below stairs?
There are more, loads more…
For over Two-Thousand years
Fine minds have
Pondered the problem
Of philosophical dualism.
The living soul
A quickening spirit.
This dilemma, perhaps, can
Best be approached by
Considering three questions.
Clean the house
Before a birth?
Tidy the house
Before a guest?
And what must have
occurred before one
Is able to
Do these things?
– Count Jack Black