Monday, December 10, 2001

    I was going along a straight wide road, keeping close to the kerb, not looking behind or bothering about the traffic at all.... I heard a voice through a great cloud of agony and sickness. The voice was asking questions. It seemed to be opening and closing like a concertina. The words were loud, as the swelling notes of an organ, then they melted to the tiniest wiry tinkle of water in a glass. I knew that I was lying on my back on the grass; I could feel the shiny blades on my neck. I was staring at the sky and I could not move.

From A Voice Through a Cloud by Denton Welch, one of my favorite writers. He died in 1948 when he was only 33, more or less as a result of injuries sustained in a bicycle accident when he was 20 that is described in the above excerpt. His books - Maiden Voyage, In Youth is Pleasure as well as his short stories - are all extremely autobiographical, and although that quote sounds terribly bleak, in fact his writing is very egocentric but everything and everyone is observed with such a keen eye, the writing so clean and precise, it's a delightful read.

There is a self-portrait of Denton Welch in the National Portrait Gallery in London. I was shocked and moved when I saw it in an upper room somewhere with other writers. He looks like a school boy in the painting.

The Swedish word for the day is okänd. It means unknown.

- by Francis S.

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