why ‘Making a Track’?

9781314274417_p0_v1_s260x420THE WAY TO THE LAND OF FREEDOM
(from Olive Schreiner’s Three Dreams in a Desert, as recounted by Constance Lytton in her suffragette testimony Prisons & Prisoners)

The woman wanderer goes forth to seek the Land of Freedom…

“’How am I to get there?’ The old man, Reason, answers, “There is one way, and one only. Down the banks of Labour, through the water of Suffering. There is no other.”
‘Is there a track to show where the best fording is?’
‘It has to be made.’
And she threw from her gladly the mantle of Ancient-received-opinions she wore, for it was worn full of holes. And she took the girdle from her waist that she had treasured so long, and the moths flew out of it in a cloud. And he said, ‘Take the shoes of dependence off your feet.’ And she stood there naked, but for one white garment that clung close to her, the garment of Truth, which she is told to keep.  She is given a staff, Reason, ‘a stick that curled’.
Take this stick; hold it fast. In that day when it slips from your hand you are lost. Put it down before you; feel your way: where it cannot find a bottom do not set your foot.’
The woman, having discarded all to which she had formerly clung, cries out: ‘For what do I go to this far land which no one has ever reached? Oh, I am alone! I am utterly alone!’ But soon she hears the sounds of feet, ‘a thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, and they beat this way!’
‘They are the feet of those that shall follow you… Have you seen the locusts how they cross a stream?  First one comes down to the water-edge, and it is swept away, and then another comes and then another, and then another, and at last with their bodies piled up a bridge is built and the rest pass over.’
‘And, of those that come first, some are swept away, and are heard of no more; their bodies do not even build the bridge?’
‘And what of that? – they make a track to the water’s edge.’
And she said, “Over that bridge which shall be built with our bodies, who will pass?”
He said, ‘The entire human race.’
And in the last dream she sees in that Land of Freedom where Love is no longer a child but has grown to a man.   ‘On the hills walked brave women and brave men, hand in hand. And they looked into each other’s eyes, and they were not afraid.’

after Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence had repeated this –
‘We dispersed and went back to our hard beds, to the thought of our homes, to the depressing surroundings of fellow prisoners, to the groans and cries of agonised women – content.  As I laid my head on the rattling pillow I surrendered my normal attitude to literature and thought ‘There is some point, some purpose in it after all.’”

1 Response to why ‘Making a Track’?

  1. Pingback: Movie Review: “Suffragette” | Chick Flicking Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s