Saturday, October 02, 2004

The True Nature of Gnomes

New pictures of Roger's tour of Oxford can be found at the bottom of the page here. The Narnia Window at The Quarry Church is beautiful!

Paracelsus somewhere in his writings tells us

A gnome moves through earth like an arrow in the air,
At home like a fish within the seamless, foamless
Liberty of the water that yields to it everywhere.

Beguiled with pictures, I fancied in my childhood
Subterranean rivers beside glimmering wharfs,
Hammers upon anvils, pattering and yammering,
Torches and tunnels, the cities of the dwarfs;

But in perfect blackness underneath the surface,
In a silence unbroken till the planet cracks,
Their sinewy bodies through the dense continuum
Move without resistance and leave no tracks.

Gravel, marl, blue clay--all's one to travel in;
Only one obstacle can impede a gnome--
A cave or a mine-shaft. Not their very bravest
Would venture across it for a short cut home.

There is the unbridgeable. To a gnome the air is
utter vacuity. If he thrust out his face
Into a cavern, his face would break in splinters,
Bursting as a man would burst in interstallar space.

With toiling lungs a gnome can breath the soil in,
Rocks are like a headwind, stiff against his chest,
Chief 'midst his pleasures is the quiet leaf mould,
Like air in meadowy valleys when the wind's at rest.

Like silvan freshness are the lodes of silver,
Cold, clammy, fog-like are the leaden veins
Those of gold are prodigally sweet like roses,
Gems stab coolly like the small spring rains.
~C.S. Lewis, Poems, "The True Nature of Gnomes" (first pub. in Punch, October 14, 1946)

View more gemstone pics at The

2 Comment(s):

At Sat Oct 02, 08:49:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Here is a section from THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES by Manly P. Hall [1928], "The Elements and Their Inhabitants", on Paracelsus' writings:

Concerning the elemental ethers in which the Nature spirits exist, Paracelsus wrote: "They live in the four elements: the Nymphæ in the element of water, the Sylphes in that of the air, the Pigmies in the earth, and the Salamanders in fire. They are also called Undinæ, Sylvestres, Gnomi, Vulcani, &c. Each species moves only in the element to which it belongs, and neither of them can go out of its appropriate element, which is to them as the air is to us, or the water to fishes; and none of them can live in the element belonging to another class. To each elemental being the element in which it lives is transparent, invisible and respirable, as the atmosphere is to ourselves." (Philosophia Occulta [1526], translated by Franz Hartmann.)

How much do you want to bet that C.S. Lewis read the original, untranslated Philosophia Occulta?

Link to the page on is here.

At Sun Jun 03, 04:28:00 AM EDT, Blogger Celestial Elf said...

Great Post thank you :D
I thought you might enjoy my new machinima film Narration Of The Gnome, Bright Blessings ~


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