BY THE WATERS OF BABYLON STEPHEN VINCENT BENET PDF

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Complete summary of Stephen Vincent Benét’s By the Waters of Babylon. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of By the Waters of Babylon. The great river in the story “By the Waters of Babylon” is the Hudson River. The Hudson River is the river separating parts of New York from New Jersey. By the Waters of Babylon has ratings and 44 reviews. Corinne said: By the Waters of Babylon is a really well written story, with so many effects go.

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The north and the west and the south are good hunting ground, but it is forbidden to go east. It is forbidden to go to any of the Dead Places except to search for metal and then he who touches the metal must be a priest or the son of a priest. Afterwards, both the man and the metal must be purified. These are the rules and the laws; they are well made. It is forbidden to cross the great river and look upon the place that was the Place of the Gods—this is most strictly forbidden.

We do not even say its name though we know its name. It is there that spirits live, and demons—it is there that there are the ashes of the Great Burning.

These things are forbidden—they have been forbidden since the beginning of time. My father is a priest; I am the son of a priest. I have been in the Dead Places near us, with my father—at first, I was afraid. When my father went into the house to search for the metal, I stood by the door and my heart felt small and weak.

It was a dead man’s house, a spirit house. It did not have the smell of man, though there were old bones in a corner. But it is not fitting that a priest’s son should show fear. I looked at the bones in the shadow and kept my voice still. Then my father came out with the metal—good, strong piece. He looked at me with both eyes but I had not run away. He gave me the metal to hold—I took it and did not die. So he knew that I was truly his son and would be a priest in my time.

That was when I was very young—nevertheless, my brothers would not have done it, though they are good hunters. After that, they gave me the good piece of meat and the warm corner of the fire. My father watched over me—he was glad that I should be a priest. But when I boasted or wept without a reason, he punished me more strictly than my brothers. After a time, I myself was allowed to go into the dead houses and search for metal. So I learned the ways of those houses—and if I saw bones, I was no longer afraid.

The bones are light and old—sometimes they will fall into dust sstephen you touch them. But that is a great sin. I was taught the chants and the spells—l was taught how to stop the running of blood from a wound and many secrets. A priest must know many secrets—that was what my father said.

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If the hunters think we do all things by chants and spells, they may believe so—it does not hurt them. I was taught how to read in the old books and how to make the old writings—that was hard and took a long time. My knowledge made me happy—it was like a fire in my heart. Most of all, I liked to hear of the Old Days and the stories of the gods. I asked myself many questions that I could not answer, but stphen was good to ask them. At night, I would lie awake and listen to the wind—it seemed to me that it was gincent voice of the gods as they flew through the air.

We are not ignorant like the Forest People—our women spin wool on the wheel, our priests wear a white robe. We do not eat grubs from the trees, we have not forgotten the old writings, although they are hard to understand. Nevertheless, my knowledge and my lack of knowledge burned in me—I wished to know more.

When I was a man at last, I came to my father and said, “It is time for me to go on my journey. Give me your leave. He looked at me for a long time, stroking his beard, and then he said at last, “Yes. My body hurt but my spirit was a cool stone. It was my father himself who questioned me about my dreams. He stephe me look into the smoke of the fire and see—I saw and told what I saw.

By the Waters of Babylon

It was what I have always seen—a river, and, beyond it, a great Dead Place and in it the gods walking. I have always thought about that. His eyes were stern when I told him he was no longer my father but a priest. He said, “This is a watees dream. They were singing the Star song in the outer chamber and it was like the buzzing of bees in my head.

He asked me how the gods were dressed and I told him how they were dressed. We know how they were dressed from the book, but I saw them as if they were stepgen me. When I had finished, he threw the sticks three times and studied them as they fell. My voice sounded thin in my ears but that was because of the smoke. He touched me on the breast and the forehead.

He gave me the bow and the three arrows. It is forbidden to cross the river. It is forbidden to go to the Place of the Gods. All these things are forbidden. He looked at me again. If your dreams do not eat you up, you may be a great priest. If they eat you, you are still my son. Now go on your journey. I went fasting, as is the law. My body hurt but not my heart. When the dawn came, I was out of sight of the village.

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I prayed and purified myself, waiting for a sign. The sign was an eagle. Sometimes signs steephen sent by bad spirits. I waited again on the flat rock, fasting, taking no food. I was very still—I could feel the sky above me and the earth beneath. I waited till the sun was beginning to sink. Then three deer passed in the valley going east—they did not mind me or see me.

There was a white fawn with them—a very great sign. I followed them, at a distance, waiting for what would happen.

My heart was troubled about going east, yet I knew that I must go. My head hummed with my fasting—I did not even see the panther spring upon the white fawn. But, before I knew it, the bow was in my hand.

I shouted and the panther lifted his head from the fawn. It is not easy to kill a panther with one arrow but the arrow went through his eye and into his stepuen. He died as he tried to spring—he rolled over, tearing at the ground.

By the Waters of Babylon – Wikipedia

Then I knew I was meant to go east—I knew that was my journey. When the night came, I made my fire and roasted meat. It is eight suns’ journey to the east and a man passes by many Dead Places. The Forest People are afraid of them but I am not. Once I made my fire on the edge of a Dead Place at night and, next morning, in the dead house, I found a good knife, little rusted. That was small to what came afterward but it made my heart feel big.

Always when I looked for game, it was in front of my arrow, and twice I passed hunting parties of the Forest People without their knowing. So I knew my magic was strong and my journey clean, in spite of the law.

Toward the setting of the eighth sun, I came to the banks of the great river. It was half-a-day’s journey after I had left the god-road—we do not use the god-roads now for they are falling apart into great blocks of stone, and the forest is safer stehpen.

A long way off, I had seen the water through trees but the trees were thick. At last, I came out upon an open place at the top of a cliff. There was the great river below, like a giant in the sun. It is very long, very wide. It could eat all the streams we know and still be thirsty.

Its name is Ou-dis-sun, the Sacred, the Long. No man of my tribe had seen it, not even my father, the priest. It was magic and I prayed. Then I raised my eyes and looked south.