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Epitaph

Gormenghast

During the past forty years or so, I have written several epitaphs, each reflective of my state of mind, each supplanting the last with some newer notion of who I am. Here is the latest iteration and its source. 

Not quite half way through Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy, I’ve become a true believer. While the books are astounding, there is also a worthy BBC adaptation from 2000 which merits your attention… remarkably true, it seems to me, to the vastness of Peake’s conception in only four hours. [Not incidentally, half the cast seem to have come from “Harry Potter” and “Nanny McPhee”!] 

The opening credits of the BBC Gormenghast are accompanied by the music of Richard Rodney Bennett: a setting for boy soprano of a Peake poem given to the tutors at Titus Groan’s school, I offer the lyrics here for their melancholy:

Hold fast
To the law
Of the last
Cold tome,
When the earth
Of the truth lies thick
Upon the page.
And the loam
Of faith
In the ink
Long fled
From the drone
Of the nib
Flows on.
Till the last
Of the first
Depart,
And the least
Of the past is dust,
And the dust
Is lost.
Hold fast!
Gormenghast!

This is the shorter version of a much longer poem at the heart of the book and will appear on what passes for my tombstone. 


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