Dunsasay castle

In a Wood Older Than Record

The fantasy of Lord Dunsany succeeds highly, first because of his gifted use of universalities. For example, The Fortress Unvanquishable, Save for Sacnoth, a Dunsanian short story from which all illustrations in this essay are taken, begins thus:

In a wood older than record, a foster brother of the hills, stood the village of Allathurion; and there was peace between the people of that village and all the folk who walked in the dark ways of the wood, whether they were human or of the tribes of the beasts or of the race of the fairies and the elves and the little sacred spirits of trees and streams.2

Here at once, Dunsany introduces a wealth of words which strike a common chord in human hearts.

"In a wood older than record . . . " One of Dunsany's favourite universal themes is that of time, both the romance of the things from which it separates us and our frailty in the face of its passing. In Sacnoth, describing the door of the Fortress Unvanquishable, he compares its vastness to that of "the marble quarry, Sacremona, from which of old men cut enormous slabs to build the Abbey of the Holy Tears." (p. 55) He speaks of Queens with jewels in their hair, "each jewel having a historian all to itself, who wrote no other chronicles all his days." (p. 59)

This sense of history pervades all that Dunsany wrote, and sheds a light of immense significance upon the things and persons which populate his stories. It also casts a shadow of poignancy and loss, reminiscent of the world-weary pessimism of Ecclesiastes. The concluding passage of Sacnoth is typical of Dunsany:

The gardener hath gathered up this autumn's leaves. Who shall see them again, or who wot of them? And who shall say what hath befallen in the days of long ago? (p. 68)

Dunsany delights in painting pictures for us of the wonders of mighty cities built by man, but never ceases to remind us that they fall. So at the destruction of the dream-palace of the magician Gaznak:

. . . the tall pinnacles went down into the earth, and the wide fair terraces all rolled away, and the court was gone like the dew, and a wind came and the colonnades drifted thence, and all the colossal halls of Gaznak fell. And the abysses closed up suddenly as the mouth of a man who, having told a tale, will for ever speak no more. (p. 67)

Wikipedia _ HERE




Tara Tara Tara

Please contact for any questions:  anitagreg@gmail.com


 "...On a dark night , Tara must be able to see the stars..."

Colm Toibin


valley of the White Mare...

Lismullin stone

Lismullin Stone




 Old pages