Two Sentences, Twenty-One Questions

Openings | Eröffnungen

If you like your epidemic-themed fiction cool, complex, and sickening, Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet is a book you shouldn’t ignore. Its opening chapter is a terrific place to practice deep reading, too. The first two sentences will give you a taste of what’s to come:

“We left on a school day, so Esther wouldn’t see us. In my personal bag, packed when my wife, Claire, had finally collapsed in sleep against the double-bolted bedroom door as it was getting light out, I stashed field glasses, sound abatement fabrics, and enough rolled foam to conceal two adults.”

A blast of writerly efficiency, the first sentence introduces the necessary ingredients for a conflict to unfold: There’s three or more characters, two (or more) of them leaving without the third one knowing. The phrase may sound like the explanation of an action – we did this because etc. – but at the same time it holds back essential information: Who is “Esther”, and why do “we” leave in the first place? Why exactly wouldn’t Esther see them leaving if it’s “a school day” – and why is that even important?

Yes, it’s only a first sentence, and who’s to say all will not be explained very soon? But if you’re into deep reading, you will welcome this invitation to make wild guesses even before any other information has entered your head. There are possible plots to ponder: Is Esther to be protected from something? Are the others perhaps guilty or ashamed of something? Do they have a secret mission that Esther can’t know about? Or are they instead afraid of Esther, trying to flee from her?

All we know about the setting is that it’s a “schoolday”, which may of course be taken as a suggestion that Esther may be working at a school, perhaps as a teacher, which may imply that the “we” are two (or more) kids running away (though it would be weird if they called their teacher by first name). Or, more likely, Esther herself may be the student; and if she’s a student, she may well be the daughter of “we”.

Wild guesses are fun for a while, but if that were enough, people wouldn’t read novels but one-liners instead [insert amusing comment on the Age of Twitter here]. Most people, I guess, won’t even stop reading until at least the first paragraph is over. In a way, reading the first sentence on its own, and word by word, is a rather unusual way of reading. Should you even do it? You should. We call it Deep Reading, by the way.

Anyway, the second sentence provides us with more basic information about the “we”: There’s a second character with a first name, Claire, a wife, and there’s a first-person narrator – the implied husband. We still don’t know who Esther is, but with two characters connected by marriage and another connected to school, it doesn’t seem entirely unlikely that we’re dealing with a small family.

Apart from implying a relatable set of characters, the second sentence includes a few details that may take us directly into the heart of the conflict to unfold: For example, Claire doesn’t seem to be sleeping well. Rather, she “finally collapse[s]”, which suggests that she either can’t fall asleep normally, or that she tries not to sleep at all but merely gives in after a long battle. We also know that she does not fall asleep in bed like a normal person but “against the […] bedroom door,” which corroborates the idea that Claire in fact tries to stay awake.

And, of course, the term “double-bolted” suggests that someone has done some real work to lock someone in, or out. But who double-bolts the door, and who is the door double-bolted against? Is Claire inside, and did she lock herself in? If so, why? Or has someone locked her out, or in? Who’s threatening who?

More wild guesses: The bedroom door may be locked as a result of a married couple’s fight, or because it’s the last line of defence in a context of domestic violence; it may even be a motif straight from a horror story, where the monsters have already entered what the soon-to-be victims thought was a safe place, and are now threatening to intrude into its most private sanctuary. We have hardly met our family, and already something very unsavoury is going on in that house.

And there’s more questions to ask: Where is the narrator/husband when Claire falls asleep? By implication, he has been awake at that time. But has he watched over his, possibly sick, wife? Or was he on the outside, and did he wait for his wife to fall asleep so that he could force the bolted door open? Oh the wealth of possibilities!

And we haven’t even gotten to the most Ben-Marcus-like part of the second sentence, the suggestive list of things packed into the narrator’s “personal bag”: What is he going to do, with “field glasses, sound abatement fabrics, and enough rolled foam to conceal two adults”? Is the family going on a weird camping trip, are we going to witness a kidnapping of some kind, or is the narrator just batshit crazy?

If you read on, you will realize it’s all of these options and many more. Yes, The Flame Alphabet is one of those novels that won’t force you to decide on one reading, and if you like that amount of freedom and suggestiveness, it’s the perfect book for you, even though it will most probably also make you very, very ill.

By the way, if you think it’s silly to read just one or two sentences and make a big fuss about all the questions they presumably pose – because this will always be the case in the beginning of any novel and everything will be explained if you just read on – compare, for example, the opening of Stephen King’s 11.22.63 and see what questions it will make you ask.

(You can read the first two chapters of The Flame Alphabet in Bomb, by the way.)

Flower spaces and flower trees

Openings | Eröffnungen

The opening of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is the beginning of a long and arduous journey into a reader’s paradise. It’s also perfect to practice a little deep reading:

“Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”

Generally, a good way to kick off a deep reading is to demand something unusual from a book, and to demand it subito: So what, if anything, is remarkable about you, dear first sentence? It doesn’t reply. It plays dumb. Then it hands us a little note: “I consist of simple and unremarkable words?”

But beginning a narrative like this also points to the difference between the narrator’s point of view and ours. The use of definite articles (“the fence”, “the curling flower spaces” and “them”) suggests that the narrator refers to specific, perhaps familiar things and persons. But the reader can’t know what these are. The narrative does not gently introduce us to the world we have just entered but rather rudely shoves us into someone else’s way of seeing. We don’t know which or what kind of fence or flower bed or persons we are supposed to imagine. Perhaps we can hope that all will in time be explained, but perhaps not.

Did I say “flower beds”? This would already be an attempt to translate the narrator’s way of seeing into my own. What the narrator is actually saying is “curling flower spaces”.  The words are simple enough, but then, what are they referring to exactly? “Curling flower” doesn’t seem to be a very common species of flower, so “flower spaces” seems to be the real compound here, which I can’t help but turn into “flower beds”.

Interestingly, though, the recent German translation by Frank Heibert seems to read “curling flower” as a compound instead: the phrase becomes “zwischen den Stellen mit den Rankblumen.” One can also read “curling flower spaces” as “a coil or spiral of open spaces where flowers would normally be,” as John P. Anderson does in The Sound and the Fury in the Garden of Eden (2002), p. 92.

So where I saw flowers in flower beds, another reader sees tendrils, and yet another sees empty spirals. (Anderson sees even more: “the coil or spiral suggests the snake from the Garden myth and female genitals,” he writes, and this means that “Sex is the ticket out of the garden.”)

The word “hitting” is another example of a deceptively simple word. In common usage, “hit” is a transitive verb, which means you can’t use it without an object of some kind. So what are they hitting? We don’t know. What we know is that something that to many readers would be missing doesn’t seem to be missing for the narrator. So it’s safe to say the narrator has an unusual way seeing things.

It’s similar in the third sentence:

“Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree.”

As a verb, “hunt” doesn’t need an object, but it still strongly suggests, on a semantic level, an object. If you tell your friends that you are going to go “hunting” in your private forest, they may very well ask “for what, pray?” and you wouldn’t be flabberghasted. By the way, Heibert’s German translation, for reasons unclear to me, chooses, instead of the obvious “jagen”, a word that I have literally never heard before: “schnofeln”.

And more: what’s a “flower tree”? Google gives me “flowering trees” galore, but is that what the narrator means? Probably. But the fact that it’s a “flower tree” instead suggests that this is another of many more variations on a special point of view that the book will graciously offer you.

Help and Happiness

So there you go. A few words in, and already plenty of chances to feel confused. It’s understandable to want to seek help. And if you google the first sentences you’ll get some explanations and even pictures for what “they” are “hitting”, and why they are hitting, and who they are, who the narrator is, who Luster is,  and when and why it all happens; but I would be careful to do that just yet, because it spoils some of the fun that the book offers.

There’s warm waves of understanding in store for you if you work your way through the book and at some point suddenly grasp something that you totally didn’t think was even significant before. It may be a long journey though, almost impossible to complete in today’s world: For me, it happened after trying to read the book like any other book and giving up after ten or so pages, then trying it again and giving up again, then changing my approach and superficially browsing through the whole book once, then jumping around in it like a stray dog, and then starting it all over again, failing at that once more, then getting some help from the Internet, and then starting again.

Did I enjoy myself? No. But then, while reading the first few pages again, something amazing happened: I suddenly noticed that I saw things clearly, as clearly as I believe things can possibly be seen in books. Flower spaces and flower trees and quarters and cakes became flower spaces and flower trees and quarters and cakes. And they also became shining tetris pieces that were gently finding their own way down to the right slots, where they landed with what I can only describe as a delightful click. Everything made sense: every word was in its right place. I still didn’t get very far, though, because, you guessed it, I had other things to do. But I was happy.

Can you afford to miss this chance to be happy? Of course you can. But even if you want to go where the chosen ones go, it’s pretty difficult to take the journey all by yourself. But maybe you have to do it on your own? Of course you don’t.

Get some help: What I can recommend is a few visual displays of the book’s narrative structure that won’t spoil very much, found here. It would be awesome if on that site they actually had a real hypertext edition of the book as planned. But even this was pretty helpful to me. For a general reassurement that it all makes sense and you’re not wasting your time, there’s a fine article here. It’s on Oprah’s website no less, and it really helps, benevolently providing the timid first-time reader with a good frame of mind to get into. Because people, the risk of frustration with a book like this is just as high as the joy it gives you. And with this note, I think I have done all I can to save literature today.

A Few Words on Nabokov’s Lolita

Openings | Eröffnungen

Lolita (or, more precisely, Humbert Humbert’s first-person narrative after the “Foreword”) begins with an explosion of imagery, sound, and rhythm:

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

Is it a love song? An invocation of a spirit? A dissection of a name? The form is simple, but the content is remarkably complex. For example, the first line seems to create both the object of desire, a light that shines outside or above like the sun, and the desire itself, a fire that burns within the narrator’s own body; so “Lolita” seems to be both external and internal, both the other and the self; and similarly, in the second sentence, Lolita both becomes another contradiction: she (or it?) is now both the narrator’s soul – something intricately linked and well-kept within an individual’s body or being – and the corruption of this soul. Pretty confusing this, and just to my taste.

Some of you may be already put off by either its fancy artfulness or its confusing shuffle of ideas, but for those who are intrigued instead or could use a few insights to get going, there’s a fine close reading of the opening chapter on Kit Whitfield’s blog.

If you just want to get into the right mood, listen to Jeremy Irons’ reading of it.

And then there’s also a Lolita site on Genius, which not only lets you profit from other readers’ insights but also allows you to share your own observations on specific words. When I told Inigo about it, he couldn’t resist the temptation to put in a few thoughts of his own. (He is still typing, emitting sounds of both exhilaration and exasperation.) Be warned though: There’s always a slight danger of spoilers in the annotations, and sometimes people are absolutely and blatantly wrong about everything.


Eigene Texte (Proben)


Kaiserkrone, leuchtend rot mit breitem goldenem Rand
Imperator Rubrorum, scharlach
Ruhm von Donai, purpurscharlach
Kronprinzessin, lebhaft inkarnatrot
Prince Prosper d’Aremberg, karmesin mit bläulichem Schein
Kapitän Etievant, karmesin, Rückseite bronze, ballförmig
Kardinal, blutrot
Braut von Haarlem, kirschrot und weiß
L’Eclatante, blutrot mit purpurnem Schein
Bengale, karmin mit cochenillerotem Anflug
Berlioz, johannisbeerrot, Mitte amarant
Memo, lebhaft rot, Rückseite braungold
Präsident Ballif, hellkirschrot, Rückseite rehfarbig, behaart

Mauve Königin, purpurn
Purpurkrone, dunkelpurpurn
Panius Potter, samtig dunkelviolett
Präsident Lincoln, violett und weiß
Port-Étienne, lila, Rückseite silbrig, gelockt
Princesse Galitzin, fleischfarbiglila, Zentrum gelblich

Duc de Wellington, hellrosa, innen rahmgelb
Comte de Nanteuil, rosa schattiert
General MacMahon, rosa, hochgewölbt
Großfürst, zartrosa, großglockig
General Cavaignac, dunkelrosa
Kapitän Champion, dunkelrosa
Kardinal Wiseman, hellrosa, großglockig
Ministre Olanesco, magentarosa
Petite Hélène de Tiaret, lebhaft atlasrosa
Cosmos, dunkelrosa

Admiral von Constantinopel, gelb und rot
Dora, hellschwefelgelb mit gelber Krone
Gelber Prinz, reingelb, sehr schön
Prince d’Essling, zitronengelb, kupferrot getönt
Prince de Galizia, gelb mit braun
Hammer, goldgelb
Hermann, nankinggelb
Ida, leuchtend gelb, großblumig
Irene, schwefelgelb mit orangem Auge
Paradiesvogel, reingelb
Johnstonii Konigin von Spanien, blassgelb
Obelisk, reingelb, große Prachtblume
Ophir, gelb, schön

General Köhler, dunkelgelb, schön
König der Gelben, dunkelgelb, sehr groß
Little Creole, braunorange
Deleuze, zinnoberorange, Rückseite ockergelb
Orange Flagge, orange gestreift, schöne Rispe
Sonora, orangegelb, dichte Rispe
Wilhelm III., gelb mit orange Herz, früh

Schneeball, reinweiß, prachtvoll
Dr. Windthorst, rahmweiß, grossblumig
Großer Sieger, reinweiß, früh
La Pureté, weiß mit mauve Spitzen
Latour von Auvergne, milchweiß
Madeleine Morin, reinweiß, geröhrt, niedrig
Petite Jeanne, perlmutterweiß
Unschuld, reinweiß, großglockig
Montblanc, reinweiß, sehr groß
Weiße Flagge, reinweiß
Weißer Schwan, reinweiß, großblumig

Staaten-General, weiß mit orange
Anna Maria, weiß mit purpurnem Herz
Poeticus ornatus, weiß mit rotem Auge, sehr früh
Bicolor Empress, reinweiß mit goldgelber Krone
Duchesse de Nemours, weiß, innen lachsgelb
Elsass, weiß mit gelbem, rötlich gerandetem Auge
Non plus ultra, weiß mit violettem Herz
Orange Phoenix, weiß mit orange, gefüllt

Baron van Thuyill, azurblau
Prinz von Sachsen-Weimar, dunkelblau
General Antinck, hell porzellanblau
Regulus, hell porzellanblau, großblumig
Großmeister, porzellanblau, großbumig
Kronprinz von Schweden, violettblau, großdoldig
Meisterstück, glänzend schwarzblau, ausgezeichnet

Onkel Tom, schwarz
Sultan, samtigschwarz
Wilhelm I., schwarz


Vollständig erschienen in Der Maulkorb #15.

Milch aus einer schwarzen Schale

Eigene Texte (Proben)

(ca. 1560-1660)

Dass es Hexerei gegeben hat, beweist die Heilige Schrift, und dass es sie gibt, beweisen täglich Erfah­rung und Geständnis. (James VI, Daemonologie, 1597)

Elisabeth Francis aus Hatfield in Essex bekam von ihrer Großmutter eine weiße Katze, die sprechen konnte und die für sie ein ungewolltes ungeborenes Kind tötete. Elisabeth Francis gab die Katze später ihrer Schwester Agnes Waterhouse. Diese legte ihr eine Schüssel mit Wolle aus, und als sie die Wolle verkaufen musste, betete sie, wie sie sagte, „im Namen des Vaters, des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes,“ die Katze möge sich in eine Kröte verwandeln. Zur gleichen Zeit erschien der zwölfjährigen Agnes Brown, nachdem sie der Tochter von Agnes Wa­terhouse ein Stück Brot verweigert hatte, ein schwarzer Hund mit dem Gesicht eines Affen. Er hatte eine silberne Pfeife um den Hals und Hör­ner auf dem Kopf und verlangte ein Stück Butter von ihr.

Elizabeth Bennett erschien auf dem Heimweg von der Mühle ein Geist in der  Gestalt eines schwarzen Hundes. Er hielt sie fest, so dass sie sich mehr als zwei Stunden lang nicht von der Stelle rühren konnte. Sie betete so lange zu Gott, bis der Geist verschwand. Später versuchte derselbe Geist, sie in einen brennenden Ofen zu stoßen, doch sie wehrte ihn mit einer Feuergabel ab. Als ihr mehrere Wochen später der Geist erneut erschien und ihr sagte, dass er das Vieh des Nachbarn mit einer tödlichen Plage belegt habe, da gab sie ihm Milch zur Belohnung, denn der Nachbar hatte sie und ihr Vieh oft schlecht behandelt.

Janet Watson erschien ein Geist in der Gestalt eines grüngekleideten Jungen. Er versprach ihr Wiedergutmachung für erlittenes Unrecht und hinterließ ein Zeichen auf ihrer Schulter. Dann verwandelte er sich in einen schwarzen Hund und verschwand. Während der nächsten Tage erschien immer wieder eine enorm große Biene bei ihr. Am Morgen des dritten Tages landete sie auf ihrer Schulter. Als sie den Geist später wieder traf, trug er eine schwarze Kappe. Er legte eine Hand auf ihren Kopf und sagte: „Jetzt gib mir alles, was unter dieser Hand ist.“

Alice Baxter wurde eines Tages beim Melken der Kühe von etwas Unsichtbarem in ihre rechte Seite gestochen. Als sie später die Milch nach Hause brachte, sah sie ein weißes, katzenähnliches Ding, das ihr zuerst einen mächtigen Schlag auf die Brust versetzte und dann im Gebüsch verschwand. Sie konnte sich daraufhin weder bewegen noch sprechen und blieb solange reglos liegen, bis ihr Herr und zwei seiner Knechte kamen und sie nach Hause trugen.

Margaret Cooper aus Somerset erschien in ihrer Schlafkammer ein Geist in Gestalt eines Bären ohne Kopf. Er versetze ihr drei heftige Schläge und zerrte sie aus dem Bett, nahm dann ihren Kopf zwischen die Beine und schleuderte sie so die Treppe hinunter. Ihr Ehemann schlug mit einem eilig ergriffenen Schemel auf ihn ein, und sagte später, es habe sich abgehört, als würde man in ein Federbett schlagen. Der Geist verschwand und hinterließ einen fürchterlichen Gestank und schwelende Brandstellen. Die hinzugekommenen Leute wagten zuerst nicht, die bewusstlos am Boden der Treppe liegende Margaret Cooper zu berühren.

Joan Cason wurde über mehrere Jahre von einem kleinen, rötlichen Tiergeist besucht. Er war kleiner als eine Ratte und hatte einen großen buschigen Schwanz. Manchmal sprach er zu ihr und sagte „Geh, geh, geh,“ „Siech, siech,“ und „Komm, komm.“

Joan Prentice erschien ein Geist in der Gestalt eines graubraunen Frettchens mit feurigen Augen. Als sie nach seinem Na­men fragte, sagte er: „Bid“ und verschwand. Einen Monat später kam der Geist erneut zu ihr, und Joan Prentice bat ihn, zu Meister Glascocks Haus gehen und eines seiner Kinder ein wenig zu quälen. In der nächsten Nacht sagte der Geist, dass er ihren Wunsch erfüllt habe, und dass das Kind sterben würde.


Vollständig veröffentlicht in Edit #61.

Six Whole Ducks in the Belly of an Ounce I Killed

Eigene Texte (Proben)

The wise creator of the universal globe has placed a golden mean between two extremes, be­tween the cold and the hot. While Frigida Zona is good for nothing, and Torrida Zona may be good for grasshoppers, this golden mean, Zona Temperata, is good for the ant and the bee. Accordingly, New England is judged by all judicious men the principal part of America: For the sweetness of its air, the fertility of its soil, the variety of its beasts, birds and fish, and the small number of savages (which might seem a rub in the way of an effeminate mind), I call it Nature’s masterpiece.

The General Survey of the Country

New England is that part of America in the Ocean Sea opposite to Nova Albyon in the South Sea. New France is northward. Virginia, New Granada, New Spain, New Andalusia, and the West Indies are southward. The chief mountains are those of Pennobscot, the twinkling mountain of Aucocisco, the great mountain of Sasanou, and the high mountain of Massachu­setts. The bay of Massachusetts, which is the middle part of New England, is both safe, spa­cious, and deep: A harbor where 1,000 ships may safely ride. Mariners may behold the two capes thrust themselves out into the sea in the form of a half-moon, embracing their welcome ships in their arms. There is an island called Deer Island because of the deer that often swim there from the main land when they are chased by wolves. Some have killed sixteen deer in a day upon this island. There is an island called Long Island, so called from its longitude. There are other islands: Round Island, Slate Island, Governor’s Garden, Glass Island, Bird Island, &c. There is a brook with a great store of smelts, and therefore it is called Smelt Brook. There is a river called Stony River. There is another river called Aquamenticus. There is a good har­bor there, and there is good ground, much of which has already been cleared, as it had once been planted by the savages who are now all dead. There is good timber there.

A Perspective to View the Country by

In New England both men and women keep their natural complexion. If the sun tans them, winter’s cold restores them to their former complexion. Virginia, in contrast, having no winter to speak of but extremely hot summers, has dried up much English blood, and by pestiferous diseases swept away many lusty bodies, changing their complexion not to swarthiness, but into paleness, so that when they come for trading in our parts we know many of them by their faces. The common diseases of England are strangers to the English now in that strange land. Although I have traveled through heat and cold, wet and dry, by sea and land, in winter and summer, day by day, for four years, yet scarcely did I know what belonged to a day’s sick­ness. There are more double births than in England. And the woman usually have a more speedy recovery after their delivery than in England. It is also observed that every tenth year there is little or no winter. I never heard of any that utterly perished at land with cold: A cer­tain man, being somewhat distracted, broke away from his keeper and ran into the wood in the middle of winter. After four days he returned, appearing as well in body as when he had left, and much better in mind.


Of Pot-Herbs and Plants

Saxifarilla. Bay­berry. Brook-lime. Fuss-balls, very large. One-berry, or herb true-love. Honeysuckles. Tobacco. French mallows. Tree-primrose, taken by the ignorant for scabious. A plant like knaves’ mustard, called New England mustard. Winter savory. Summer savory. Yellow-bastard daffodil. Live-for-ever, a kind of cud-weed. Blue Flower-de-luce, excellent to provoke vomiting. Solomon’s seal. Herb Robert. Cinque-foil. Tormentile. Speedwell chick-weed. Upright pennyroyal. Squonterquashes. Avens, with the leaf of mountain-avens, but the flower and root of English avens. White hellebore (The powder of the root, put into a hollow tooth, is good for the toothache). Maiden-hair. Autumn bell-flower. Ground-ivy or ale-hoof. Arsmart, both kinds. White satin grows pretty well. So does lavender-cotton. But lavender is not for the climate. Coriander and dill and anis thrive exceedingly. Clary never lasts but one summer. Asparagus thrives exceedingly. So do garden-sorrel and sweet brier, or eglantine. Celandine grows but slowly. Muscat grows as well as in England. Dittan­der, or pepper-wort, flourishes notably, and so does tansy. Spurge thyme, very like to rupter-wort, and full of milk. Rupter-wort, with the white flower. Blood-wort. Jagged rose-penny-wort. Stich-wort, commonly taken here, by ignorant people, for eye-bright. Glass-wort, here called berrelia, growing abundantly in salt marshes. St. John’s wort. St. Peter’s wort. Cat’s tail. Featherfew. Dog-stone, a kind of satyrion, growing in salt marshes (I once took notice of a wanton woman compounding the solid roots of this plant with wine to make an amorous cup, which wrought the desired effect). Water-plantain, here called water-suck leaves. Sea-plantain, three kinds. Small-water archer. Goose-grass. Mouse-ear minor. Ad­der’s tongue. Water-cress. Sea-tears. Water-lily, with yellow flowers (The Indians eat the roots, which taste like the liver of a sheep). Dove’s-foot. Raven’s claw. Knobby crane’s bill. Parsnips, of a prodigious size. Pease of all sorts, and the best in the world. Indian beans, falsely called French beans. Wheat. Rye. Barley, which commonly degenerates into oats. Oats.


Of Fish and What Commodity They Prove

There is no country known that yields a larger variety of fish in winter and summer. I myself have seen such multitudes pass out of a pond that it seemed to me that one might go over their backs dry-shod:

Alewife (a kind of fish much like a herring, which in the latter end of April come up to the fresh rivers to spawn, in such multitudes as is almost incredible), aleport, albacore, bass (one of the best fish in the country; a delicate, fine, fat, fast fish, having a bone in his head which contains a saucerful of marrow sweet and good, which is pleasant to the palate and wholesome to the stomach), blue-fish or hound-fish, of which two kinds, as speckled hound-fish and blue hound-fish or horse-fish, bonito or dozada or Spanish dolphin, sea-bream, bullhead or Indian mussel, bur-fish, catfish, clam (the savages cannot get enough of this fish, despite the plenty; for our swine we find it a good commodity, for being once used to the places where clams abound they will repair there every ebb, as if they were driven to them by keepers), coal-fish, cod (there is a stone found in their bellies, which, being pulverized and drunk in white-wine posset or ale, is a remedy for the stone), rock-cod, sea-cod or sea-whiting, cony-fish, sea-cucumber, cunner or blue perch or sea-roach, crab, cusk, sea-dart or javelin, dog-fish (their skins are good to cover boxes and instrument-cases), dolphin, sea-emperor or sword-fish, eel, of which divers kinds, flail-fish, flounder, sea-flea, freel, grampus, greedygut, haddock, hake, horse-foot, herring, halibut or sea-pheasant, sea-hare, hen-fish, herring (very similar to those caught on the English coasts), hog or flying fish, lam­preys, limpin, sea-liver, lobster, lump, mackerel (richly clad with rainbow colors), maid, monk-fish, morse, mullet, mussel (some very fat and full of sea pearls, but inedible, for they made everyone sick who tried them), nun-fish, oyster (some so big that they must be divided before you can get them well into your mouth), perch, pollack, periwig or sea-snail or whelk (a kind of fish that lies in the ooze like a head of hair, which being touched conveys itself leaving nothing to be seen but a small round hole), pike or fresh-water wolf or river-wolf, which is in fact an overgrown pike, pilchard, pilot-fish, pinnacks, plaice or sea-sparrow, porpoise, prawn or crangone, purple-fish, porgee, remora or suck-stone or stop-ship, sea-raven, razor-fish, salmon, sail-fish, scallop or Venus-cockle, skate or ray or gristle-fish, of which divers kinds, as sharp-snouted ray, rock-ray &c., shad (bigger than the English shads, and fatter), spurling, sculpin, seal or soil or zeal (their skins, with the hair on, are good to make gloves for the winter), shark or bunch, of which several kinds (some as big as a horse; they have three rows of teeth in his mouth; they leap at a man’s hand if it is over board, and snap off a swimming man’s leg; they are good as fertilizer), sheath-fish, sturgeon, smelt, shrimp, sprat, squid, star-fish, sting-ray (their skin is good to cover boxes, and hafts of knives and rapier-sticks), sword-fish, thornback or Neptune’s beard (given to the dogs, being not counted worth the dressing in many places), turtle (much sought for by the Indian squaw), of which three kinds, as land-turtle, river-turtle, and lake-turtle (called a terrapin in Virginia), trout, turbot, ulatife or saw-fish, sea-urchin, sea-unicorn or sea-monoceros, and whale, of which many kinds.

We saw strange fish at sea, some with wings flying above the water, others with manes, ears and heads, and chasing one another with open mouths like stone horses in a park.

Full publication in Seneca Review #38.