The Rainbow (Chapter 1, page 2 of 36)


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Chapter 1

In autumn the partridges whirred up, birds in flocks blew
like spray across the fallow, rooks appeared on the grey, watery
heavens, and flew cawing into the winter. Then the men sat by
the fire in the house where the women moved about with surety,
and the limbs and the body of the men were impregnated with the
day, cattle and earth and vegetation and the sky, the men sat by
the fire and their brains were inert, as their blood flowed
heavy with the accumulation from the living day.

The women were different. On them too was the drowse of
blood-intimacy, calves sucking and hens running together in
droves, and young geese palpitating in the hand while the food
was pushed down their throttle. But the women looked out from
the heated, blind intercourse of farm-life, to the spoken world
beyond. They were aware of the lips and the mind of the world
speaking and giving utterance, they heard the sound in the
distance, and they strained to listen.

It was enough for the men, that the earth heaved and opened
its furrow to them, that the wind blew to dry the wet wheat, and
set the young ears of corn wheeling freshly round about; it was
enough that they helped the cow in labour, or ferreted the rats
from under the barn, or broke the back of a rabbit with a sharp
knock of the hand. So much warmth and generating and pain and
death did they know in their blood, earth and sky and beast and
green plants, so much exchange and interchange they had with
these, that they lived full and surcharged, their senses full
fed, their faces always turned to the heat of the blood, staring
into the sun, dazed with looking towards the source of
generation, unable to turn round.

But the woman wanted another form of life than this,
something that was not blood-intimacy. Her house faced out from
the farm-buildings and fields, looked out to the road and the
village with church and Hall and the world beyond. She stood to
see the far-off world of cities and governments and the active
scope of man, the magic land to her, where secrets were made
known and desires fulfilled. She faced outwards to where men
moved dominant and creative, having turned their back on the
pulsing heat of creation, and with this behind them, were set
out to discover what was beyond, to enlarge their own scope and
range and freedom; whereas the Brangwen men faced inwards to the
teeming life of creation, which poured unresolved into their
veins.

Looking out, as she must, from the front of her house towards
the activity of man in the world at large, whilst her husband
looked out to the back at sky and harvest and beast and land,
she strained her eyes to see what man had done in fighting
outwards to knowledge, she strained to hear how he uttered
himself in his conquest, her deepest desire hung on the battle
that she heard, far off, being waged on the edge of the unknown.
She also wanted to know, and to be of the fighting host.

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