Stoic Decay

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Illustrations for John Cowper Powys' A Glastonbury Romance

Worse than God's

The words emanated from a pale, insubstantial husk upon the air, a husk that resembled the cast-off skin of a snake or the yet more fragile skin of a newt, diaphanous and yet flaccid, a form, a shape, a human transparency, limned upon the darkness above the great chair to the left of the fireplace.


No sooner were these words uttered, than a simulacrum in human form, seated opposite to the shade of the Rector returned a bitter response. → Chapter I: The Will

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS IMAGE USED: “Southwood,” residence on Via Del Lago, Palm Beach, Florida

INTERNET ARCHIVE IMAGE USED: Examples of Gothic Architecture, Vol. 3, page 168


Its primordial goodness warring forever against its primordial evil holds life up only by vast excess of energy and by oceans of lavish waste. Even though the cry of a particular creature may reach the First Cause, there is always a danger of its being intercepted by the evil will of this vast Janus-faced Force.


“It is extraordinary that we should ever have met!” These words, uttered by John in a moment of relaxed gratefulness, struck the attention of that solitary ash tree in Water-ditch Field with what in trees corresponds to human irony. Five times in its life of a hundred and thirty years had the ash tree of Water-ditch Field heard those words uttered by living organisms. → Chapter II: The River

A Meeting Near Dark

The man gave him his hand and John stood up. He surreptitiously substituted the handle of his hazel-stick for its ferrule end and grasped it tightly. “If he becomes dangerous,” he thought, “I’ll step backward and hit him on the head with all my force.” → Chapter III: Stonehenge

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS IMAGES USED: Stonehenge, Salisbury, England •  President Roosevelt after inauguration leaving the Capitol to head the parade

Tis a Daffadowndilly Day

She was in fact an animated Euclidean Square moving about over the earth. → Chapter IV: Hic Jacet

On Sam's Mind

The pit of his stomach suddenly seemed to sink inward then for he thought to himself, “She is going to sleep with him again! I could feel it in the air when we came away.” → Chapter V: Whitelake Cottage

A Painful Meeting

Sam ought to have had the wit to realise at this moment that had he swallowed his pride and changed his tone all would have been well. Apparently a man can call his love a whore and be forgiven! But he was at once too aggrieved and too simple-minded to take advantage of the tears that were now pouring down her face. → Chapter VI: The Look of a Saint


To learn more about John Cowper Powys and his work visit The Powys Society.