Aaron’s Rod, by D. H. Lawrence

Chapter 21

Words

He went home to bed: and dreamed a strange dream. He dreamed that he was in a country with which he was not acquainted. Night was coming on, and he had nowhere to sleep. So he passed the mouth of a sort of cave or house, in which a woman, an old woman, sat. Therefore he entered, and though he could not understand the language, still his second self understood. The cave was a house: and men came home from work. His second self assumed that they were tin-miners.

He wandered uneasily to and fro, no one taking any particular notice of him. And he realized that there was a whole vast country spreading, a sort of underworld country, spreading away beyond him. He wandered from vast apartment to apartment, down narrow corridors like the roads in a mine. In one of the great square rooms, the men were going to eat. And it seemed to him that what they were going to eat was a man, naked man. But his second self knew that what appeared to his eyes as a man was really a man’s skin stuffed tight with prepared meat, as the skin of a Bologna sausage. This did not prevent his seeing the naked man who was to be eaten walk slowly and stiffly across the gangway and down the corridor. He saw him from behind. It was a big handsome man in the prime of life, quite naked and perhaps stupid. But of course he was only a skin stuffed with meat, whom the grey tin-miners were going to eat.

Aaron, the dream-Aaron, turned another way, and strayed along the vast square rooms, cavern apartments. He came into one room where there were many children, all in white gowns. And they were all busily putting themselves to bed, in the many beds scattered about the room at haphazard. And each child went to bed with a wreath of flowers on its head, white flowers and pink, so it seemed. So there they all lay, in their flower-crowns in the vast space of the rooms. And Aaron went away.

He could not remember the following part. Only he seemed to have passed through many grey domestic apartments, where were all women, all greyish in their clothes and appearance, being wives of the underground tin-miners. The men were away and the dream-Aaron remembered with fear the food they were to eat.

The next thing he could recall was, that he was in a boat. And now he was most definitely two people. His invisible, conscious self, what we have called his second self, hovered as it were before the prow of the boat, seeing and knowing, but unseen. His other self, the palpable Aaron, sat as a passenger in the boat, which was being rowed by the unknown people of this underworld. They stood up as they thrust the boat along. Other passengers were in the boat too, women as well, but all of them unknown people, and not noticeable.

The boat was upon a great lake in the underworld country, a lake of dark blue water, but crystal clear and very beautiful in colour. The second or invisible Aaron sat in the prow and watched the fishes swimming suspended in the clear, beautiful dark-blue water. Some were pale fish, some frightening-looking, like centipedes swimming, and some were dark fish, of definite form, and delightful to watch.

The palpable or visible Aaron sat at the side of the boat, on the end of the middle seat, with his naked right elbow leaning out over the side. And now the boat entered upon shallows. The impalpable Aaron in the bows saw the whitish clay of the bottom swirl up in clouds at each thrust of the oars, whitish-clayey clouds which would envelope the strange fishes in a sudden mist. And on the right hand of the course stakes stood up in the water, at intervals, to mark the course.

The boat must pass very near these stakes, almost touching. And Aaron’s naked elbow was leaning right over the side. As they approached the first stake, the boatmen all uttered a strange cry of warning, in a foreign language. The flesh-and-blood Aaron seemed not even to hear. The invisible Aaron heard, but did not comprehend the words of the cry.

So the naked elbow struck smartly against the stake as the boat passed.

The rowers rowed on. And still the flesh-and-blood Aaron sat with his arm over the side. Another stake was nearing. “Will he heed, will he heed?” thought the anxious second self. The rowers gave the strange warning cry. He did not heed, and again the elbow struck against the stake as the boat passed. And yet the flesh-and-blood Aaron sat on and made no sign. There were stakes all along this shallow part of the lake. Beyond was deep water again. The invisible Aaron was becoming anxious. “Will he never hear? Will he never heed? Will he never understand?” he thought. And he watched in pain for the next stake. But still the flesh-and-blood Aaron sat on, and though the rowers cried so acutely that the invisible Aaron almost understood their very language, still the Aaron seated at the side heard nothing, and his elbow struck against the third stake.

This was almost too much. But after a few moments, as the boat rowed on, the palpable Aaron changed his position as he sat, and drew in his arm: though even now he was not aware of any need to do so. The invisible Aaron breathed with relief in the bows, the boat swung steadily on, into the deep, unfathomable water again.

They were drawing near a city. A lake-city, like Mexico. They must have reached a city, because when Aaron woke up and tried to piece together the dream of which these are mere fragments, he could remember having just seen an idol. An Astarte he knew it as, seated by the road, and in her open lap, were some eggs: smallish hen’s eggs, and one or two bigger eggs, like swan’s, and one single little roll of bread. These lay in the lap of the roadside Astarte. . . . And then he could remember no more.

He woke, and for a minute tried to remember what he had been dreaming, and what it all meant. But he quickly relinquished the effort. So he looked at his watch: it was only half-past three. He had one of those American watches with luminous, phosphorescent figures and fingers. And tonight he felt afraid of its eerily shining face.

He was awake a long time in the dark — for two hours, thinking and not thinking, in that barren state which is not sleep, nor yet full wakefulness, and which is a painful strain. At length he went to sleep again, and did not wake till past eight o’clock. He did not ring for his coffee till nine.

Outside was a bright day — but he hardly heeded it. He lay profitlessly thinking. With the breaking of the flute, that which was slowly breaking had finally shattered at last. And there was nothing ahead: no plan, no prospect. He knew quite well that people would help him: Francis Dekker or Angus Guest or the Marchese or Lilly. They would get him a new flute, and find him engagements. But what was the good? His flute was broken, and broken finally. The bomb had settled it. The bomb had settled it and everything. It was an end, no matter how he tried to patch things up. The only thing he felt was a thread of destiny attaching him to Lilly. The rest had all gone as bare and bald as the dead orb of the moon. So he made up his mind, if he could, to make some plan that would bring his life together with that of his evanescent friend.

Lilly was a peculiar bird. Clever and attractive as he undoubtedly was, he was perhaps the most objectionable person to know. It was stamped on his peculiar face. Aaron thought of Lilly’s dark, ugly face, which had something that lurked in it as a creature under leaves. Then he thought of the wide-apart eyes, with their curious candour and surety. The peculiar, half-veiled surety, as if nothing, nothing could overcome him. It made people angry, this look of silent, indifferent assurance. “Nothing can touch him on the quick, nothing can really GET at him,” they felt at last. And they felt it with resentment, almost with hate. They wanted to be able to get at him. For he was so open-seeming, so very outspoken. He gave himself away so much. And he had no money to fall back on. Yet he gave himself away so easily, paid such attention, almost deference to any chance friend. So they all thought: Here is a wise person who finds me the wonder which I really am. — And lo and behold, after he had given them the trial, and found their inevitable limitations, he departed and ceased to heed their wonderful existence. Which, to say the least of it, was fraudulent and damnable. It was then, after his departure, that they realised his basic indifference to them, and his silent arrogance. A silent arrogance that knew all their wisdom, and left them to it.

Aaron had been through it all. He had started by thinking Lilly a peculiar little freak: gone on to think him a wonderful chap, and a bit pathetic: progressed, and found him generous, but overbearing: then cruel and intolerant, allowing no man to have a soul of his own: then terribly arrogant, throwing a fellow aside like an old glove which is in holes at the finger-ends. And all the time, which was most beastly, seeing through one. All the time, freak and outsider as he was, Lilly knew. He knew, and his soul was against the whole world.

Driven to bay, and forced to choose. Forced to choose, not between life and death, but between the world and the uncertain, assertive Lilly. Forced to choose, and yet, in the world, having nothing left to choose. For in the world there was nothing left to choose, unless he would give in and try for success. Aaron knew well enough that if he liked to do a bit of buttering, people would gladly make a success of him, and give him money and success. He could become quite a favourite.

But no! If he had to give in to something: if he really had to give in, and it seemed he had: then he would rather give in to the little Lilly than to the beastly people of the world. If he had to give in, then it should be to no woman, and to no social ideal, and to no social institution. No! — if he had to yield his wilful independence, and give himself, then he would rather give himself to the little, individual man than to any of the rest. For to tell the truth, in the man was something incomprehensible, which had dominion over him, if he chose to allow it.

As he lay pondering this over, escaping from the cul de sac in which he had been running for so long, by yielding to one of his pursuers: yielding to the peculiar mastery of one man’s nature rather than to the quicksands of woman or the stinking bogs of society: yielding, since yield he must, in some direction or other: yielding in a new direction now, to one strange and incalculable little individual: as Aaron lay so relaxing, finding a peculiar delight in giving his soul to his mind’s hero, the self-same hero tapped and entered.

“I wondered,” he said, “if you’d like to walk into the country with me: it is such a nice day. I thought you might have gone out already. But here you are in bed like a woman who’s had a baby. — You’re all right, are you?”

“Yes,” said Aaron. “I’m all right.”

“Miserable about your flute? — Ah, well, there are more flutes. Get up then.” And Lilly went to the window, and stood looking out at the river.

“We’re going away on Thursday,” he said.

“Where to?” said Aaron.

“Naples. We’ve got a little house there for the winter — in the country, not far from Sorrento — I must get a bit of work done, now the winter is coming. And forget all about everything and just live with life. What’s the good of running after life, when we’ve got it in us, if nobody prevents us and obstructs us?”

Aaron felt very queer.

“But for how long will you settle down —?” he asked.

“Oh, only the winter. I am a vagrant really: or a migrant. I must migrate. Do you think a cuckoo in Africa and a cuckoo in Essex is one AND the same bird? Anyhow, I know I must oscillate between north and south, so oscillate I do. It’s just my nature. All people don’t have the same needs.”

“Perhaps not,” said Aaron, who had risen and was sitting on the side of the bed.

“I would very much like to try life in another continent, among another race. I feel Europe becoming like a cage to me. Europe may be all right in herself. But I find myself chafing. Another year I shall get out. I shall leave Europe. I begin to feel caged.”

“I guess there are others that feel caged, as well as you,” said Aaron.

“I guess there are.”

And maybe they haven’t a chance to get out.”

Lilly was silent a moment. Then he said:

“Well, I didn’t make life and society. I can only go my own way.”

Aaron too was silent. A deep disappointment was settling over his spirit.

“Will you be alone all winter?”

“Just myself and Tanny,” he answered. “But people always turn up.”

“And then next year, what will you do?”

“Who knows? I may sail far off. I should like to. I should like to try quite a new life-mode. This is finished in me — and yet perhaps it is absurd to go further. I’m rather sick of seekers. I hate a seeker.”

“What,” said Aaron rather sarcastically —“those who are looking for a new religion?”

“Religion — and love — and all that. It’s a disease now.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Aaron. “Perhaps the lack of love and religion is the disease.”

“Ah — bah! The grinding the old millstones of love and God is what ails us, when there’s no more grist between the stones. We’ve ground love very small. Time to forget it. Forget the very words religion, and God, and love — then have a shot at a new mode. But the very words rivet us down and don’t let us move. Rivets, and we can’t get them out.”

“And where should we be if we could?” said Aaron.

“We might begin to be ourselves, anyhow.”

“And what does that mean?” said Aaron. “Being yourself — what does it mean?”

“To me, everything.”

“And to most folks, nothing. They’ve got to have a goal.”

“There is no goal. I loathe goals more than any other impertinence. Gaols, they are. Bah — jails and jailers, gaols and gaolers —-”

“Wherever you go, you’ll find people with their noses tied to some goal,” said Aaron.

“Their wagon hitched to a star — which goes round and round like an ass in a gin,” laughed Lilly. “Be damned to it.”

Aaron got himself dressed, and the two men went out, took a tram and went into the country. Aaron could not help it — Lilly put his back up. They came to a little inn near a bridge, where a broad stream rustled bright and shallow. It was a sunny warm day, and Aaron and Lilly had a table outside under the thin trees at the top of the bank above the river. The yellow leaves were falling — the Tuscan sky was turquoise blue. In the stream below three naked boys still adventurously bathed, and lay flat on the shingle in the sun. A wagon with two pale, loving, velvety oxen drew slowly down the hill, looking at each step as if they were going to come to rest, to move no more. But still they stepped forward. Till they came to the inn, and there they stood at rest. Two old women were picking the last acorns under three scrubby oak-trees, whilst a girl with bare feet drove her two goats and a sheep up from the water-side towards the women. The girl wore a dress that had been blue, perhaps indigo, but which had faded to the beautiful lavender-purple colour which is so common, and which always reminded Lilly of purple anemones in the south.

The two friends sat in the sun and drank red wine. It was midday. From the thin, square belfry on the opposite hill the bells had rung. The old women and the girl squatted under the trees, eating their bread and figs. The boys were dressing, fluttering into their shirts on the stream’s shingle. A big girl went past, with somebody’s dinner tied in a red kerchief and perched on her head. It was one of the most precious hours: the hour of pause, noon, and the sun, and the quiet acceptance of the world. At such a time everything seems to fall into a true relationship, after the strain of work and of urge.

Aaron looked at Lilly, and saw the same odd, distant look on his face as on the face of some animal when it lies awake and alert, yet perfectly at one with its surroundings. It was something quite different from happiness: an alert enjoyment of rest, an intense and satisfying sense of centrality. As a dog when it basks in the sun with one eye open and winking: or a rabbit quite still and wide-eyed, with a faintly-twitching nose. Not passivity, but alert enjoyment of being central, life-central in one’s own little circumambient world.

They sat thus still — or lay under the trees — for an hour and a half. Then Lilly paid the bill, and went on.

“What am I going to do this winter, do you think?” Aaron asked.

“What do you want to do?”

“Nay, that’s what I want to know.”

“Do you want anything? I mean, does something drive you from inside?”

“I can’t just rest,” said Aaron.

“Can’t you settle down to something? — to a job, for instance?”

“I’ve not found the job I could settle down to, yet,” said Aaron.

“Why not?”

“It’s just my nature.”

“Are you a seeker? Have you got a divine urge, or need?”

“How do I know?” laughed Aaron. “Perhaps I’ve got a DAMNED urge, at the bottom of me. I’m sure it’s nothing divine.”

“Very well then. Now, in life, there are only two great dynamic urges — do you believe me —?”

“How do I know?” laughed Aaron. “Do you want to be believed?”

“No, I don’t care a straw. Only for your own sake, you’d better believe me.”

“All right then — what about it?”

“Well, then, there are only two great dynamic urges in LIFE: love and power.”

“Love and power?” said Aaron. “I don’t see power as so very important.”

“You don’t see because you don’t look. But that’s not the point. What sort of urge is your urge? Is it the love urge?”

“I don’t know,” said Aaron.

“Yes, you do. You know that you have got an urge, don’t you?”

“Yes —” rather unwillingly Aaron admitted it.

“Well then, what is it? Is it that you want to love, or to be obeyed?”

“A bit of both.”

“All right — a bit of both. And what are you looking for in love? — A woman whom you can love, and who will love you, out and out and all in all and happy ever after sort of thing?”

“That’s what I started out for, perhaps,” laughed Aaron.

“And now you know it’s all my eye!” Aaron looked at Lilly, unwilling to admit it. Lilly began to laugh.

“You know it well enough,” he said. “It’s one of your lost illusions, my boy. Well, then, what next? Is it a God you’re after? Do you want a God you can strive to and attain, through love, and live happy ever after, countless millions of eternities, immortality and all that? Is this your little dodge?”

Again Aaron looked at Lilly with that odd double look of mockery and unwillingness to give himself away.

“All right then. You’ve got a love-urge that urges you to God; have you? Then go and join the Buddhists in Burmah, or the newest fangled Christians in Europe. Go and stick your head in a bush of Nirvana or spiritual perfection. Trot off.”

“I won’t,” said Aaron.

“You must. If you’ve got a love-urge, then give it its fulfilment.”

“I haven’t got a love-urge.”

“You have. You want to get excited in love. You want to be carried away in love. You want to whoosh off in a nice little love whoosh and love yourself. Don’t deny it. I know you do. You want passion to sweep you off on wings of fire till you surpass yourself, and like the swooping eagle swoop right into the sun. I know you, my love-boy.”

“Not any more — not any more. I’ve been had too often,” laughed Aaron.

“Bah, it’s a lesson men never learn. No matter how sick they make themselves with love, they always rush for more, like a dog to his vomit.”

“Well, what am I to do then, if I’m not to love?” cried Aaron.

“You want to go on, from passion to passion, from ecstasy to ecstasy, from triumph to triumph, till you can whoosh away into glory, beyond yourself, all bonds loosened and happy ever after. Either that or Nirvana, opposite side of the medal.”

“There’s probably more hate than love in me,” said Aaron.

“That’s the recoil of the same urge. The anarchist, the criminal, the murderer, he is only the extreme lover acting on the recoil. But it is love: only in recoil. It flies back, the love-urge, and becomes a horror.”

“All right then. I’m a criminal and a murderer,” said Aaron.

“No, you’re not. But you’ve a love-urge. And perhaps on the recoil just now. But listen to me. It’s no good thinking the love-urge is the one and only. Niente! You can whoosh if you like, and get excited and carried away loving a woman, or humanity, or God. Swoop away in the love direction till you lose yourself. But that’s where you’re had. You can’t lose yourself. You can try. But you might just as well try to swallow yourself. You’ll only bite your fingers off in the attempt. You can’t lose yourself, neither in woman nor humanity nor in God. You’ve always got yourself on your hands in the end: and a very raw and jaded and humiliated and nervous-neurasthenic self it is, too, in the end. A very nasty thing to wake up to is one’s own raw self after an excessive love-whoosh. Look even at President Wilson: he love-whooshed for humanity, and found in the end he’d only got a very sorry self on his hands.

“So leave off. Leave off, my boy. Leave off love-whooshing. You can’t lose yourself, so stop trying. The responsibility is on your own shoulders all the time, and no God which man has ever struck can take it off. You ARE yourself and so BE yourself. Stick to it and abide by it. Passion or no passion, ecstasy or no ecstasy, urge or no urge, there’s no goal outside you, where you can consummate like an eagle flying into the sun, or a moth into a candle. There’s no goal outside you — and there’s no God outside you. No God, whom you can get to and rest in. None. It’s a case of:

‘Trot, trot to market, to buy a penny bun,

And trot, trot back again, as fast as you can run.’

But there’s no God outside you, whom you can rise to or sink to or swoop away to. You can’t even gum yourself to a divine Nirvana moon. Because all the time you’ve got to eat your dinner and digest it. There is no goal outside you. None.

“There is only one thing, your own very self. So you’d better stick to it. You can’t be any bigger than just yourself, so you needn’t drag God in. You’ve got one job, and no more. There inside you lies your own very self, like a germinating egg, your precious Easter egg of your own soul. There it is, developing bit by bit, from one single egg-cell which you were at your conception in your mother’s womb, on and on to the strange and peculiar complication in unity which never stops till you die — if then. You’ve got an innermost, integral unique self, and since it’s the only thing you have got or ever will have, don’t go trying to lose it. You’ve got to develop it, from the egg into the chicken, and from the chicken into the one-and-only phoenix, of which there can only be one at a time in the universe. There can only be one of you at a time in the universe — and one of me. So don’t forget it. Your own single oneness is your destiny. Your destiny comes from within, from your own self-form. And you can’t know it beforehand, neither your destiny nor your self-form. You can only develop it. You can only stick to your own very self, and NEVER betray it. And by so sticking, you develop the one and only phoenix of your own self, and you unfold your own destiny, as a dandelion unfolds itself into a dandelion, and not into a stick of celery.

“Remember this, my boy: you’ve never got to deny the Holy Ghost which is inside you, your own soul’s self. Never. Or you’ll catch it. And you’ve never got to think you’ll dodge the responsibility of your own soul’s self, by loving or sacrificing or Nirvaning — or even anarchising and throwing bombs. You never will . . . .”

Aaron was silenced for a moment by this flood of words. Then he said smiling:

“So I’d better sit tight on my soul, till it hatches, had I?”

“Oh, yes. If your soul’s urge urges you to love, then love. But always know that what you are doing is the fulfilling of your own soul’s impulse. It’s no good trying to act by prescription: not a bit. And it’s no use getting into frenzies. If you’ve got to go in for love and passion, go in for them. But they aren’t the goal. They’re a mere means: a life-means, if you will. The only goal is the fulfilling of your own soul’s active desire and suggestion. Be passionate as much as ever it is your nature to be passionate, and deeply sensual as far as you can be. Small souls have a small sensuality, deep souls a deep one. But remember, all the time, the responsibility is upon your own head, it all rests with your own lonely soul, the responsibility for your own action.”

“I never said it didn’t,” said Aaron.

“You never said it did. You never accepted. You thought there was something outside, to justify you: God, or a creed, or a prescription. But remember, your soul inside you is your only Godhead. It develops your actions within you as a tree develops its own new cells. And the cells push on into buds and boughs and flowers. And these are your passion and your acts and your thoughts and expressions, your developing consciousness. You don’t know beforehand, and you can’t. You can only stick to your own soul through thick and thin.

“You are your own Tree of Life, roots and limbs and trunk. Somewhere within the wholeness of the tree lies the very self, the quick: its own innate Holy Ghost. And this Holy Ghost puts forth new buds, and pushes past old limits, and shakes off a whole body of dying leaves. And the old limits hate being empassed, and the old leaves hate to fall. But they must, if the tree-soul says so . . . .”

They had sat again during this harangue, under a white wall. Aaron listened more to the voice than the words. It was more the sound value which entered his soul, the tone, the strange speech-music which sank into him. The sense he hardly heeded. And yet he understood, he knew. He understood, oh so much more deeply than if be had listened with his head. And he answered an objection from the bottom of his soul.

“But you talk,” he said, “as if we were like trees, alone by ourselves in the world. We aren’t. If we love, it needs another person than ourselves. And if we hate, and even if we talk.”

“Quite,” said Lilly. “And that’s just the point. We’ve got to love and hate moreover — and even talk. But we haven’t got to fix on any one of these modes, and say that’s the only mode. It is such imbecility to say that love and love alone must rule. It is so obviously not the case. Yet we try and make it so.”

“I feel that,” said Aaron. “It’s all a lie.”

“It’s worse. It’s a half lie. But listen. I told you there were two urges — two great life-urges, didn’t I? There may be more. But it comes on me so strongly, now, that there are two: love, and power. And we’ve been trying to work ourselves, at least as individuals, from the love-urge exclusively, hating the power-urge, and repressing it. And now I find we’ve got to accept the very thing we’ve hated.

“We’ve exhausted our love-urge, for the moment. And yet we try to force it to continue working. So we get inevitably anarchy and murder. It’s no good. We’ve got to accept the power motive, accept it in deep responsibility, do you understand me? It is a great life motive. It was that great dark power-urge which kept Egypt so intensely living for so many centuries. It is a vast dark source of life and strength in us now, waiting either to issue into true action, or to burst into cataclysm. Power — the power-urge. The will-to-power — but not in Nietzsche’s sense. Not intellectual power. Not mental power. Not conscious will-power. Not even wisdom. But dark, living, fructifying power. Do you know what I mean?”

“I don’t know,” said Aaron.

“Take what you call love, for example. In the real way of love, the positive aim is to make the other person — or persons — happy. It devotes itself to the other or to others. But change the mode. Let the urge be the urge of power. Then the great desire is not happiness, neither of the beloved nor of oneself. Happiness is only one of many states, and it is horrible to think of fixing us down to one state. The urge of power does not seek for happiness any more than for any other state. It urges from within, darkly, for the displacing of the old leaves, the inception of the new. It is powerful and self- central, not seeking its centre outside, in some God or some beloved, but acting indomitably from within itself.

“And of course there must be one who urges, and one who is impelled. Just as in love there is a beloved and a lover: The man is supposed to be the lover, the woman the beloved. Now, in the urge of power, it is the reverse. The woman must submit, but deeply, deeply submit. Not to any foolish fixed authority, not to any foolish and arbitrary will. But to something deep, deeper. To the soul in its dark motion of power and pride. We must reverse the poles. The woman must now submit — but deeply, deeply, and richly! No subservience. None of that. No slavery. A deep, unfathomable free submission.”

“You’ll never get it,” said Aaron.

“You will, if you abandon the love idea and the love motive, and if you stand apart, and never bully, never force from the conscious will. That’s where Nietzsche was wrong. His was the conscious and benevolent will, in fact, the love-will. But the deep power-urge is not conscious of its aims: and it is certainly not consciously benevolent or love- directed. — Whatever else happens, somewhere, sometime, the deep power- urge in man will have to issue forth again, and woman will submit, livingly, not subjectedly.”

“She never will,” persisted Aaron. “Anything else will happen, but not that.”

“She will,” said Lilly, “once man disengages himself from the love- mode, and stands clear. Once he stands clear, and the other great urge begins to flow in him, then the woman won’t be able to resist. Her own soul will wish to yield itself.”

“Woman yield —?” Aaron re-echoed.

“Woman — and man too. Yield to the deep power-soul in the individual man, and obey implicitly. I don’t go back on what I said before. I do believe that every man must fulfil his own soul, every woman must be herself, herself only, not some man’s instrument, or some embodied theory. But the mode of our being is such that we can only live and have our being whilst we are implicit in one of the great dynamic modes. We MUST either love, or rule. And once the love-mode changes, as change it must, for we are worn out and becoming evil in its persistence, then the other mode will take place in us. And there will be profound, profound obedience in place of this love-crying, obedience to the incalculable power-urge. And men must submit to the greater soul in a man, for their guidance: and women must submit to the positive power-soul in man, for their being.”

“You’ll never get it,” said Aaron.

“You will, when all men want it. All men say, they want a leader. Then let them in their souls submit to some greater soul than theirs. At present, when they say they want a leader, they mean they want an instrument, like Lloyd George. A mere instrument for their use. But it’s more than that. It’s the reverse. It’s the deep, fathomless submission to the heroic soul in a greater man. You, Aaron, you too have the need to submit. You, too, have the need livingly to yield to a more heroic soul, to give yourself. You know you have. And you know it isn’t love. It is life-submission. And you know it. But you kick against the pricks. And perhaps you’d rather die than yield. And so, die you must. It is your affair.”

There was a long pause. Then Aaron looked up into Lilly’s face. It was dark and remote-seeming. It was like a Byzantine eikon at the moment.

“And whom shall I submit to?” he said.

“Your soul will tell you,” replied the other.

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South Australia 5005

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