Just before dawn we climbed to the Sun Gate near the completion of our camino on the Inca Trail, and the words which first sprang to my mind, as we were astonished by the wonder of Machu Picchu displayed before us, were those of Ursula Le Guin
“And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet I would remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.” [The Farthest Shore]
I was entranced by an historical wonder and from my heart, unbidden, rose words crafted entirely in fantasy.
This says more about the lyrical imagery of Le Guin than anything else. An author, offering a treasury of fantasy and prophecy, of mysticism and tragedy, daring to show us a reflection, through imagined beings and their world, the truth of our beauty and our terror, and our capacity for wonder.
Earthsea captured me and has held me for more than four decades, while lesser imitations found their place. Just twelve months past, I entrusted my original Puffin series to a young friend, convincing myself into the deluded belief that “they are only books”. They returned, safe, last week.
I was caught, horribly, by The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, Le Guin’s prophetic short story on our world which could not speak more clearly to then, whenever “then” was, and to our nation’s failings – and our very own – at this very moment. Read it at your peril.
A poet’s voice lost, not silenced. A prophet’s call magnified in death, we hope, with tributes near and far, even ones as sparse as this.
“Light is the left hand of darkness
and darkness the right hand of light.
Two are one, life and death, lying
together like lovers in kemmer,
like hands joined together,
like the end and the way.” [The Left Hand of Darkness]