Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Our enemy, our beloved

As far as I know, C.S. Lewis was never a hunter—there is an anecdote, in fact, about his misdirecting a fox hunt—but this passage from Out of the Silent Planet certainly captures the mindset of a good dangerous-game hunter; apart from the evidently aquatic habitat, this could be a Maasai speaking of the lion:

I long to kill this hnakra as he also longs to kill me. I hope that my ship will be the first and I first in my ship with my straight spear when the black jaws snap. And if he kills me, my people will mourn and my brothers will desire still more to kill him. But they will not wish that there were no hnéraki; nor do I. How can I make you understand, when you do not understand the poets? The hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved. We feel in our hearts his joy as he looks down from the mountain of water in the north where he was born; we leap with him when he jumps the falls; and when winter comes, and the lake smokes higher than our heads, it is with his eyes that we see it and know that his roaming time has come. We hang images of him in our houses, and the sign of all the hrossa is a hnakra. In him the spirit of the valley lives; and our young play at being hnéraki as soon as they can splash in the shallows.

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