Saturday, May 3, 2008

On the coast of Corsica... a horse by the shore

One of the most magical sights I have seen was the sight of the northwestern cliffs of Corsica at dawn. As the ship slowly sailed past the coast, my attention was caught by many fanciful rock formations. One of my favourites was that of a horse, his head turned back towards his tail. So many times have I seen this pose in paintings and sculptures from artists of every epoch and culture and here is the natural inspiration for it!

In ancient myths, waves often were considered to have been the horses of the deep and in fact, in Peter Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings', he used this concept brilliantly to create horses from waves to aid Arwen in her confrontation with the Dark Riders of Mordor.

In kennings of the Anglo-Saxons and Norse, horses and waves often are joined in poetic phrases. A 'horse of the waves' is a ship; the nine 'wave-daughters' of Aegir are mermaids and in fact, Heimdall, the guardian of Asgard was born of these nine wave-daughters. Waves in general were named 'Aegir's daughters'. A sea king was named 'guardian of the horses of the waves' and the sea itself was named 'Swan-road' and 'Whale-road'. Many of the ancient religions contain some animist philosophy. The farther we travel from Nature, the less we recognise the power and soul that exists in natural objects. The horse at the foot of the cliffs of Corsica to me appeared to be a live being arrested in motion. The fluid lines of the sculpture, coupled with the gentle movement of the waves breaking against the shore conspired to empower the illusion. If one were to ignore science and the fact that every land mass has undergone drastic changes through the centuries, one well could imagine that, in an earlier time, this horse would have been perceived as a symbol of some divine power and been an object of veneration.

A little northwest of this formation is a natural dolmen, creating a temple hewn by Nature from the rocks. Altogether, these cliffs inspired me with awe.

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