Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Dark Necklace

The Eleanor Dark necklace has been created in honour of Australia Day 2009. It features pearls found in the depths of "Waterway," Angus & Robertson Publishers 1979 (first published by William Collins, London 1938).

It was this place that you saw, this pale, flat water between dark headlands; but the headlands were not Blue's Point and Potts Point, Longnose Point and Slaughter-house Point. They were Warringarea and Yarranabbe, Yeroulbine and Tarrah. Far along that slowly brightening waterway you could see a little island, dark in the middle of its silver path - not Pinchgut, where miserable convicts suffered or hung in chains, not a foolish little fortress, staidly renamed Fort Denison, but a lovely soaring column of weather-worn rock, holy place of your people - Mattewaya...

But you must return with joy to your own life or it becomes a worthless thing. You must weigh its beauties and its uglinesses with detachment, and God help you if its beauties seem the less!

They were not messages which the windows framed, but symbols. Fragments of their lives, as though, denied a complete intermingling, they might still say: "Here is some of myself for you. This was my thought to-day, this was my mood, at this I was working, this is what I saw, or felt."

It would not really matter, for instance, if you had to go to Manly every day to serve behind a shop counter - the beginning and the end of your day were still voyages in miniature, lit with glamours which had also attended the journeys of Marco Polo and Diaz, Vasco da Gama and Magellan, Christopher Columbus and Captain Cook! You had the strange movement of the sea under your feet, and the salty breath of it blowing into your lungs; you saw gulls and heard their wild crying; for a few minutes as you passed the Heads there was nothing between you and the edge of the world but blue ocean.

She saw the bare, brown legs of Sim and the grey-patterned skirts of Lady Hegarty go by, and she shut her eyes in case they should speak to her, taking refuge in a pretence of that devotional abandonment to sunshine in which one may remain as undisturbed as if one were at prayer.

Lost in her thoughts she shook her head. Hostile - no. It had never descended far enough from its majestic aloofness to be hostile. There it was, here it is still, untouched. Not it, she thought, but we, its invaders, have changed. We have built cities and roads and railways over it, we have torn gold and coal out of it, we have pastured sheep and cattle on it, we have spread fields of wheat, fields of maize, fields of sugar-cane across it like a bright carpet - and we have not altered it by one iota. It has altered us.

For him the knowledge that they were alive was all-sufficient; his physical bond with them was so slight, and played so small a part in his love for them, that they could be, to him, an almost purely intellectual joy. But for her there was the old, inescapable torment of the flesh which makes maternity at once so invincible and so dangerous. The savage possessiveness of a creature who will give her life not only in defence of her young, but slowly, unspectacularly, by inches, to serve their daily well-being, may become, insidiously, a possessiveness which demands their life of them.

A little sailing boat with all her canvas out was racing for the Heads, making for the harbour like a bird homing.


eurolush said...

Happy Australia Day, Eleanor!

Some day I hope to visit your beautiful country...and challenge you to "The-Greatest-Dance-Off Down-Under-There's-Ever-Been."

Until then, I feel glad knowing you live in such a gorgeous part of the world. You Aussies are a lucky bunch.

PS-I liked reading about Eleanor Dark and the "pearls" from her writings.

Tuli said...

Eleanor, the pearl necklaces you are making are so beautiful.

Thanks for sharing them with us.