Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Watership Down: Bound

Finally finished reading Richard Adams' Watership Down, an anti-pastoral novel about warfare between two rabbit warrens on Watership Down, the idyllic country to which our rabbits have fled to escape the ravages of men, their hrudrudu and white sticks. Adams begins each section with a quote or passage from another work by way of preface. Seems a bit overdone in most instances, especially considering many of the chapters are but 3-4 pages long. This one struck me. Adams used only the first stanza of this poem, "Two Fusiliers" by Robert Graves.

Graves, a veteran of the first World War, clearly writes about wartime experience. I was struck with the lines highlighted:

AND have we done with War at last?
Well, we’ve been lucky devils both,
And there’s no need of pledge or oath

To bind our lovely friendship fast,
By firmer stuff
Close bound enough.

Friendship, love, community often feel like a war. Or maybe, it's that the battles we are called on to fight for love must be fought just like battles for nationhood, imperialism, resources, or pride. Maybe these are all just different forms of the same thing.

More about the novel later. Just wanted to get the poem down first.