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John Foxx > The Quiet Man > Church > Text
We are in some kind of church or cathedral... it is huge... complex and ancient... partially ruined.

Tall, tall elegant structures of carved and eroded stone and stained glass as elaborate and delicate as lace. Bearing the characteristics of many architectural styles added over the centuries.

Intense colours glow from vast figured windows in the hazy interior. Gold, crimson, azure, emerald, violet.

I notice that one immensely tall window is not, in fact, of stained glass. It looks directly out into a forest that has overgrown the rear of the transept and the sunlight filtering through masses of translucent leaves pressed against its clear leaded panes makes a great moving glow of green and gold.

Thin glistening streams of water have made a mossy course down some of the other windows. Cascades of fern ivy and vines sprout from many niches in the dim interior walls. Birdsong echoes from all around the fan vaulted roof.

Tall trees grow in the massive central nave. Sunlight projects through the hazy air in long beams onto their foliage, momentarily illuminating the flickering wings of birds as they fly through, casting complex rapidly moving shadows far below.

Blurred flowers nearby in the dimness. A smell of incense, roses and ancient stone.

Every sound resonates around the walls and roof, combining with the vast architecture. Birdsong, moving leaves, whispers, footsteps, the choral voices. All merge in a faint shifting web of beautiful mysterious sound.
Many courtyards, arcades, corridors, stairways, lead off from this nave. People wander freely across its floor on their way to and from the many levels of streets and walkways beyond. The division between these sprawling alleys, overgrown gardens and balconies glimpsed outside and the church itself is vague and undefined, one leading imperceptibly into another. It seems that they are all a part of the same rambling labyrinthine structure.

I pass through many antique ecclesiastical foyers, ante-rooms and ornate restaurants among the pillars... Shady swimming pools and urinals of stone and fern and dark gothic ironwork, opening out into narrow cobbled streets with mossy stone baptismal fonts and intricately carved wooden pulpits covered in rambling vines. On every side there are glimpses of other floors, worn spiral stairways, galleries, deep lily pools, bridges and balconies.

I move effortlessly through many rooms... Down many corridors lined with fragments of gold icons and ancient paintings in tarnished gilt frames... Worn flagged floors littered with dead leaves.

I remember glimpses of bathers in ferny stone pools. Dormitories with rows of sleeping figures. Strange allegories in the stained glass windows. Overgrown gardens, hazy riverbanks and ruined parklands seen from wrought-iron balconies. Mist and willow trees. Ivy and mosses and small violets on decayed stone steps. A tangled garden rampant with blossom locked behind massive rusty iron gates. Fragrant smoke of wood fires from huge ovens where bread is being baked and food prepared.

In a long dark room lined with mirrors is laid a brass bowl of fruit. Another of freshly gathered mushrooms still damp with dew. Glass dishes of cold roast game. Tall white flowers in worn silver vases. Bowls of wild strawberries, fresh salmon, smoked meats. A crystal decanter of deep red wine. Glass goblets so old they have become delicately iridescent.
I have a sensation of great physical comfort and calm as I move at random through this huge labyrinth. Sometimes I can feel almost inaudibly deep organ notes moving through me from the walls and floors.

I glimpse red geranium petals floating on the waters of ornamental fountains in the courtyards. Dragonflies hovering. Peeling frescoed walls. The moist scent of many bright flowers. White waterlilies with golden interiors. Heavy goldfish gliding beneath the dark waters. Yellow iris glowing against banks of shadowy fern. Lobelia, ancient tangled wistaria, pyrocanthus, honeysuckle, forget-me-nots, hosta. The harsh cries of peacocks from other gardens.

Faint figures in steam showers. Carved stone arcades with curved glass roofs opening to shafts of sunlight. Vines and blossom dangling from the hanging gardens above. Long ribbed and vaulted aisles with rows of chandeliers holding hundreds of lighted candles that cast a dim antique glow on distant choirs below.

Long rows of partially ruined and overgrown arches stand against a clear blue sky, illuminated by long evening light.

I go down the aisle between them. In and out of their shadows. Huge slabs of fallen masonry and pillars and statues lie half hidden in the undergrowth.

I pass down into courtyards full of pale climbing roses. Bronze figured fountains covered in verdigris spraying bright spectrums into the late sunlight. Groups of young people stroll or sit, talking and laughing and lovemaking in the shade of overgrown grottoes and dim niches in the ivied stone walls. Fireflies hover under the warm shadows.
A small studded gothic doorway leads out into a long avenue of lime trees that have joined far overhead, forming a structure very similar to that of a church with tall pillars soaring to a fan vaulted roof, except that the path between the avenue curves and gracefully descends a sweeping hillside. The sensation is that of being inside a long sloping corridor formed from a tall cathedral nave.

Sunlight falls through the leaves in long shafts of dusty yellow. There is a mist of bluebells on the ground.

Some ruined stain glass windows are set between the trees, which have grown around them and the remains of their stone tracery over hundreds of years. The light pours in through missing panes.

I can see shadowy marble and stone statues also embedded at intervals between the tall trunks. Some are askew and almost completely absorbed by the thick tangle. Often only a single hand or part of a face is left protruding from between the crowding trees. Some statues and masonry must be completely obscured within the ever growing avenue, and all are lifted many feet from the floor by the slow, inexorable upward movement of growth.

As dusk begins to gather, people wander in and out of the remaining spaces between these trees, crossing paths from every direction.

Rooks wheel and caw outside. White doves and pigeons clatter inside among the living eaves.

There are rows of lighted white candles, taller than a man. The candles' slow meltings have covered their brass holders with overhanging white stalactites. Huge oak tables bear heavy silver bowls of crab, lobster, oysters, scallops, all covered in shining broken ice. Big earthenware pots of game pies and meat and fish pastries. Racks of dusty wine bottles and oak casks of distilled spirits. Wax sealed crocks of liqueurs. Gold and silver bowls of exotic fruits. Candles, candelabra, incense. Iridescent moths circle the candle flames. Fireflies glimmer in the dim foliage overhead.
I descend a broad stone stairway and pass through a half fallen arch overgrown by vine and rhododendron, finally emerging onto the banks of a vast sunset lake.

Evening breeze. Closing waterlilies. Many fires are lit on the opposite shore as the sunset dies and twilight turns to blue evening.

Fragrances of wood smoke and cooking and the sound of many voices talking, laughing, arguing, singing, are carried on the cool lake breeze. Silhouetted figures move from group to group around the fires. Children and animals, musicians and entertainers. Dogs bark across the distances. Roasting spits turn over the fires. The moon rises huge and silvery.

A few figures splash in the moonlit lake. Their distant laughter echoing from the trees on the shore. Under the surface the bells of the submerged rooms of the cathedral ring slowly, moved by the currents of the lake. The swimmers feel the vibrations in their bodies as they swim in the warm waters above.

Some of the taller spires project out from the surface, and trees and vines have taken root among their ornate stonework. The swimmers use these spires as islands in their games, diving from them back into the lake, making love or resting for a while in the foliage.

All along the dimming horizon there are vast rolling meadows, scattered sheep and cattle, woodlands, courtyards flanked by pillars and archways and weathered statuary. Among the hills and fields can be seen the faint lights of many small fires.

As far as I can see in the silvery moonlight is an endless succession of grottoes, lakes, fountains, waterfalls, forests, ruined gardens and palaces, misty river valleys, overgrown stairways, workshops, vineyards, orchards, quarries, arcades, rivers, bridges and colonnades.
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