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Water-stone of the Wise


Ithell Colquhoun



Myth is a volcanic force, liberty a perpetual stream, an ambiance that results from eruption.

Myth must break through the crust, scatter a thousand new comets in the void, illuminate the black sky with bengal-lights, decorate the day sky with vaporous plumes. What superhuman shapes may not burst from the next eruption, august yet tender beings, who evolve themselves in the light of gold! They borrow a wisp of substance from the earth, but their color is from the purifying fire. We cannot have liberty without repeated explosions.

But we must have liberty. It is the clear stream, the embracing element without which we cannot move. Free air and free water! They are the interpenetrating silver-and-blue, they come from the gushing side of the mountain whose mouth yet steams. Freedom to move, to act, to speak, freedom to be still, to look, to be silent.

Myth comes from the region between sleeping and waking, the multitudinous abyss, the unceasing cauldron rimmed with pearls. If we let it pour out unhindered, we shall be free to plunge into its depths. What shall we find there, far from “lordship and bondage?”

Un no rompida sueno—
Un dia puro—allegre—libre Quiera—
Libre de amor—de celo
De odio—de esperanza—de recelo.

[An unbroken dream
A clear, joyous, free day
I would love
Free of love, zeal
Hate, Hope and Suspicion]

No more tyrants and victims, no more the fevered alternations of that demon star which sponsored the births of de Sade and von Sacher-Masoch - but the hermaphrodite whole, opposites bound together in mitigating embrace by a silkworm’s thread. “And countenance once more beheld countenance.” Oedipus will be king no longer but will return to Colonnus. The new myth, the myth of the Siamese Twins, will make of him a forgotten bogey.

In one of the planets’ airy houses live the Twins, a boy and a girl, perpetually joined by an ectoplasmic substance which is warmed by the solar and lunar currents of their bodies. They cannot part, nor do anything apart. They eat and breathe each other day and night.

They are united face to face, having passed forward to the condition of the androgynous egg. Their faculty is dream, their body-of-fate the stream of images—sensual transpositions—induced by the incandescence of their own body and mind. They have no privacy from each other, and desire none, since theirs is a unity conscious of its own elements. They weigh down equally each scale of the Balance, and as the two Fishes, are held together in watery dance by a single cord.



Mystical prose-poem riginally published in 'New Road', 1943. Colquhoun had recently been expelled from the English Surrealists, but was still enthusiastic about Andre Breton, who she felt they had betrayed.