Saturday, 16 October 2010


"The latest tale we know of is that once, under Elizabeth, a strange ancestor of mine, who had fled to England from the authority of the King of Spain, raised the winds which blew the Armada northward past Scotland."  Nancy wrinkled her forehead as he paused. "Do you mean," she began, "do you mean that he...I'm sorry, darling, I don't seem to understand. How could he raise the winds?" "'The beating of the cards is the wind'," he answered, "but don't try and believe it now. Think of it as a fable, but think that on some point of the sea-shore one of those wild fugitives stood by night and shook these cards--these"--he laid his hand on the heap of the suit of staffs or sceptres--"and beat the air with them till he drove it into tumult and sent the great blasts over the seas to drive the ships of King Philip to wreck and destruction. See that in your mind; can you?" (Charles Williams, "The Greater Trumps")

This poem was written on a very windy night - I don't like strong winds... mostly after a bad experience driving from Grouville to St Brelade at 11.30 pm in October 1987, as the great storm was gusting over the Island. The story of the storms wrecking the Spanish Armada being conjured up is an old one which I found in Charles Williams ("The Greater Trumps") and elsewhere.
The wind is rising, in gusts it beats and beats
Air hitting hard, hammers the window pane
Tunnelling down the town's deserted streets
No sign of ending, that it will abate or wane
Branches dancing wildly through a stormy night
Sea foaming, waves churning against sea walls
As if an elemental force was loose, an evil wight
With destruction in its wake, as darkness falls
The Cards are loose, the House of Clubs arisen
Once when England faced the might of Spain
Raised a mighty wind, the Armada driven
And ships lost beneath the Tarot's bane
The wind is rising, and I am full of fear
The Falling Tower comes so ever near

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