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Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 12:24:25 -0600
From: "Charles Reed" 
Subject: (urth) Hyacinths and Weeds

Howdy again.

I've always been a little puzzled by how the passage Remora quotes 
("Though trodden beneath the shepherd's heel, / the wild hyacinth blooms 
on the ground.") at the end of RttW is able to affect the re-emergence 
of Silk.  Of course, there's the very suggestive reference to Hyacinth, 
but I've always felt there had to be something a little more to this 

I'm still not sure I have a handle on it, but I just finished my first 
re-reading of THE URTH OF THE NEW SUN in well over a decade.  

[Side note:  My first reading left me a little cold, but the second 
reading improved it considerably, although it's still my least favorite 
of the the "Sun" books.  I think the reason has to do with it's being 
more of a "philosophical" work than one in which I become strongly, 
emotionally involved with the characters.  Still, there were a great 
many things made clear to me that had been fuzzy, so it's definitely 
worth a re-read or two.]

In any case, I found a really nice passage, that bears at least 
peripherally on the Remora quote.  It occurs in Chapter L, and the 
setting is this:  After Severian, as Apu-Punchau, attempted to leave the 
stone village and walk to the sea, the villagers caught up with him and 
killed him when he refused to come back.  Afterwards, Severian awoke to 
find himself with his old cacogen friends: Barbatus, Ossipago, and 
Famulimas.  Severian is disturbed by the fact that he hasn't been 
allowed to die.  Pay special attention to the last line.

      "I suppose that even if I were to kill myself,
   Ossipago could still call me back to existence."
      Barbatus shook his head, though not as a human
   being would have.  "There would be no point -- you
   could take your life again.  If you truly want to
   die, go ahead.  There are funeral offering here
   [referring to the funeral offerings of Apu-Punchau],
   including a great many stone knives.  Ossipago will
   bring you one."
      I felt as real as I ever have; and when I
   searched among my memories, I found Valeria there
   still, and Thecla and old Autarch, and the boy
   Severian (who had been Severian only).  "No," I
   said.  "We will live."
      "I thought so."  Barbatus smiled.  "We've known
   you half our lives now, Severian, and you're a weed
   that grows best when stepped upon."

Perhaps there's no real connection other than a thematic one, but it was 
a powerful connection for me, and somehow makes Remora's quote more 
powerful.  It's as if somehow Silk, like Severian, has to make a choice 
about whether to continue living.  And he is confronted with the two 
things that have been the most important things in his life -- Hyacinth 
and the Shepherd (i.e., the Outsider) and finally realizes that if he 
does not continue to live he will cause the Hyacinth-that-lives-in-him 
and the Outsider-that-lives-in-him, to die.  He cannot do such a thing 
so he (like Severian, who cannot allow all those who are within him to 
die), chooses to live.

Wolfe continually amazes me.



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