Monday, April 04, 2005

Sub(-marine) Creation

"It's our shadow! - the shadow of the Dawn Treader," said Lucy. "Our shadow running along on the bottom of the sea. That time when it got bigger it went over a hill. But in that case the water must be clearer than I thought! Good gracious, I must be seeing the bottom of the sea; fathoms and fathoms down."

As soon as she had said this she realized that the great silvery expanse which she had been seeing (without noticing) for some time was really the sand on the sea-bed and that all sorts of darker or brighter patches were not lights and shadows on the surface but real things on the bottom. At present, for instance, they were passing over a mass of soft purply green with a broad, winding strip of pale grey in the middle of it But now that she knew it was on the bottom she saw it much better. She could see that bits of the dark stuff were much higher than other bits and were waving gently. "Just like trees in a wind," said Lucy. "And do believe that's what they are. It's a submarine forest."

They passed on above it and presently the pale streak was joined by another pale streak. "If I was down there," thought Lucy, "that streak would be just like a road through the wood. And that place where it joins the other would be a crossroads. Oh, I do wish I was. Hallo! the forest is coming to an end. And I do believe the streak really was a road! I can still see it going on across the open sand. It's a different colour. And it's marked out with something at the edges - dotted lines. Perhaps they are stones. And now it's getting wider."

But it was not really getting wider, it was getting nearer. She realized this because of the way in which the shadow of the ship came rushing up towards her. And the road she felt sure it was a road now - began to go in zigzags. Obviously it was climbing up a steep hill. And when she held her head sideways and looked back, what she saw was very like what you see when you look down a winding road from the top of a hill. She could even see the shafts of sunlight falling through the deep water on to the wooded valley - and, in the extreme distance, everything melting away into a dim greenness. But some places - the sunny ones, she thought - were ultramarine blue.

She could not, however, spend much time looking back; what was coming into view in the forward direction was too exciting. The road had apparently now reached the top of the hill and ran straight forward. Little specks were moving to and fro on it. And now something most wonderful, fortunately in full sunlight - or as full as it can be when it falls through fathoms of water - flashed into sight. It was knobbly and jagged and of a pearly, or perhaps an ivory, colour. She was so nearly straight above it that at first she could hardly make out what it was. But everything became plain when she noticed its shadow. The sunlight was falling across Lucy's shoulders, so the shadow of the thing lay stretched out on the sand behind it. And by its shape she saw clearly that it was a shadow of towers and pinnacles, minarets and domes.

"Why! - it's a city or a huge castle," said Lucy to herself "But I wonder why they've built it on top of a high mountain?"
~C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)


On this day:

1945 C.S. Lewis published "The Laws of Nature" in the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

2 Comment(s):

At Mon Apr 04, 04:02:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

I love this passage. It shows everything I like about VDT: the relaxed, dreamy atmosphere, the incredible imagination, and the beauty of the whole book.

At Mon Apr 04, 04:06:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Cool! Because I plan on continuing the passage tomorrow. I like the fact that there is a whole other race on Narnia, and we only get this tantalizing glimpse. I wonder, being so close to Aslan's country, if they've been visited by a watery version of Aslan? How about a lionfish?


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