The Moon’s Miracle by Walter de la Mare

“All is wrong: that I am old and full of wear, that Life, the sorceress, is wearying of me; soon she will play the jilt. And here I sit, cudgelling my jaded brains for to evade the one event. But even the Count is mortal, and his palace of youth evanished in a golden mist of memories. Now the worms’ banqueting hour is at hand, now wails the Banshee.”

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Every count comes to an end, I guess, but not before the last blast of memory, as this Count recalls the heroic younger battles he fought, as told by a narrator who tonight sees what the Count sees. The most breath-taking moments in any literature, even if sometimes WDLM’s drawbacks seem to be a mock antiquity of style. Here they are wondrous sights as visionary truths of the city that gradually appears in the night sky as lit by the moon, amid cockcrow at midnight. And, around it, the war games, all too real, but all too idealised, between nightsmen and moonsmen, above the trees and our otherwise unwatching houses. Tumult and meteor ricochet as collateral effects. A synergy over Wimbledon of William Blake and Lord Dunsany, I guess. With, say, a rear attack under cover of earth’s shadow and the ‘night khaki’ of tents encamped within moon’s sight. 

“…the Count, in his own conceit, was Commander-in-Chief of the celestial aliens. […] …it seemed that all the combatants were clean without knowledge of the earth. Theirs only was the universe. If I may again quote the Count: ‘Why, sir, even the camp followers are Napoleons’” —

“…it is, nevertheless, remarkable that these extramundane noctivagators should have so convinced us that (as the Count said) this fat, palpable, complacent world suddenly grew spectre-thin and stalked out of reality into a mist of dreams.”

“Maybe the combatants fought on, and the world left them behind; maybe they are superior inhabitants of far places and will appear to us no more;…”

Yet, I glumly see, the ultimate PLOT SPOILER… “Optimism is not unfrequently the harbinger of pessimism. At the first stir of the housekeeper’s rising the Count made morosely for bed.”

***

My other reviews of WDLM: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2022/11/02/my-reviews-of-walter-de-la-mare-in-alphabetical-order/

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