(urth) Severian's Mausoleum

Robert Pirkola rpirkola at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 21 07:16:14 PST 2014

I was struck by the term "faithless door" in the passage describingSeverian's mausoleum " . . . it was the smallness of the room, thethick walls of masonry, and the single, narrow window with its onebar, together with the faithless door (so massively heavy) that remained eternally ajar."  (*Shadow and Claw*, pg. 17).
I do not know, and still do not know, what a faithless door is butwhile trying to find out, I came across this poem attributed to William Gifford, called *Epitaph* (1852), which has interesting resonanceswith Severian's story:
EPITAPH.Where ragged nettles mark the rising ground,And pois’nous night-shade breathes infection round,Bill Brazen rots. In the good patriarch’s phrase,“Evil and few were his unhallow’d days:”Yet in these few and evil the rank knaveChoused of a head-stone his poor father’s grave;Abused his mother; grudged his children bread,And coffin’d them in wig boxes when dead;
Bullied his sister; kicked his wife to th’ door;Belied the parish books, and starved the poor.Till grown too bad for this bad town, kind HeavenSuffer’d the miscreant westward to be driven;Where three long years in solitary stateHe dragg’d the drunken hours through scorn and hate;Till as he lay one night devoid of rest,And conscience woke the worm within his breast,A wint’ry blast, with hoarse, tremendous roar,Rush’d through the gallery, burst the faithless door,Approach’d him, touch’d—“Christ Jesus! save,” he cried,“A wretch! a hateful wretch!"—shook, groan’d, and died.Now buried here, the scorn that dogg’d his wayThrough life, still scents, and opens on his clay.* * * * * *Stranger! this scene demands an awful pause:A vicious world takes arms in virtue’s cause:Vice cowers beneath the shame she boasts to brave,And finds chastisement on this side the grave. 		 	   		  
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