The Crock Of Gold (Extract)

This is a great book by James Stephens.

Extract from ”The Coming of Pan”.


The next day he fronted her as before, looking down to her eyes from a short distance. He played for only a few moments, and fitfully, and then he came to her. When he left the bracken the girl suddenly clapped her hands against her eyes affrighted. There was something different, terrible about him. The upper part of his body was beautiful, but the lower part…. She dared not look at him again. She would have risen and fled away but she feared he might pursue her, and the thought of such a chase and the inevitable capture froze her blood. The thought of anything behind us is always terrible. The sound of pursuing feet is worse than the murder from which we fly—So she sat still and waited but nothing happened. At last, desperately, she dropped her hands. He was sitting on the ground a few paces from her. He was not looking at her but far away sidewards across the spreading hill. His legs were crossed; they were shaggy and hoofed like the legs of a goat: but she would not look at these because of his wonderful, sad, grotesque face. Gaiety is good to look upon and an innocent face is delightful to our souls, but no woman can resist sadness or weakness, and ugliness she dare not resist. Her nature leaps to be the comforter. It is her reason. It exalts her to an ecstasy wherein nothing but the sacrifice of herself has any proportion. Men are not fathers by instinct but by chance, but women are mothers beyond thought, beyond instinct which is the father of thought. Motherliness, pity, self-sacrifice—these are the charges of her primal cell, and not even the discovery that men are comedians, liars, and egotists will wean her from this. As she looked at the pathos of his face she repudiated the hideousness of his body. The beast which is in all men is glossed by women; it is his childishness, the destructive energy inseparable from youth and high spirits, and it is always forgiven by women, often forgotten, sometimes, and not rarely, cherished and fostered.

After a few moments of this silence he placed the reed to his lips and played a plaintive little air, and then he spoke to her in a strange voice, coming like a wind from distant places.

“What is your name, Shepherd Girl?” said he.

“Caitilin, Ingin Ni Murrachu,” she whispered.

“Daughter of Murrachu,” said he, “I have come from a far place where there are high hills. The men and maidens who follow their flocks in that place know me and love me for I am the Master of the Shepherds. They sing and dance and are glad when I come to them in the sunlight; but in this country no people have done any reverence to me. The shepherds fly away when they hear my pipes in the pastures; the maidens scream in fear when I dance to them in the meadows. I am very lonely in this strange country. You also, although you danced to the music of my pipes, have covered your face against me and made no reverence.”

“I will do whatever you say if it is right,” said she.

“You must not do anything because it is right, but because it is your wish. Right is a word and Wrong is a word, but the sun shines in the morning and the dew falls in the dusk without thinking of these words which have no meaning. The bee flies to the flower and the seed goes abroad and is happy. Is that right, Shepherd Girl?—it is wrong also. I come to you because the bee goes to the flower—it is wrong! If I did not come to you to whom would I go? There is no right and no wrong but only the will of the gods.”

“I am afraid of you,” said the girl.

“I want you to want me. I want you to forget right and wrong; to be as happy as the beasts, as careless as the flowers and the birds. To live to the depths of your nature as well as to the heights. Truly there are stars in the heights and they will be a garland for your forehead. But the depths are equal to the heights. Wondrous deep are the depths, very fertile is the lowest deep. There are stars there also, brighter than the stars on high. The name of the heights is Wisdom and the name of the depths is Love. How shall they come together and be fruitful if you do not plunge deeply and fearlessly? Wisdom is the spirit and the wings of the spirit, Love is the shaggy beast that goes down. Gallantly he dives, below thought, beyond Wisdom, to rise again as high above these as he had first descended. Wisdom is righteous and clean, but Love is unclean and holy. I sing of the beast and the descent: the great unclean purging itself in fire: the thought that is not born in the measure or the ice or the head, but in the feet and the hot blood and the pulse of fury. The Crown of Life is not lodged in the sun: the wise gods have buried it deeply where the thoughtful will not find it, nor the good: but the Gay Ones, the Adventurous Ones, the Careless Plungers, they will bring it to the wise and astonish them. All things are seen in the light—How shall we value that which is easy to see? But the precious things which are hidden, they will be more precious for our search: they will be beautiful with our sorrow: they will be noble because of our desire for them. Come away with me, Shepherd Girl, through the fields, and we will be careless and happy, and we will leave thought to find us when it can, for that is the duty of thought, and it is more anxious to discover us than we are to be found.”

So Caitilin Ni Murrachu arose and went with him through the fields, and she did not go with him because of love, nor because his words had been understood by her, but only because he was naked and unashamed.”

A nice version of the book is available as an ebook here ~

Another is here ~


Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

Posted in Books and Literature, Uncategorized

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