Fifty-One Tales: The Worm and the Angel

The worm fumes over that which escapes his grasp.

This story is from Lord Dunsany’s Fifty-One Tales, originally published in 1915, and is read aloud by Kay Mack.

You can read the story here, or online at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7838

As he crawled from the tombs of the fallen a worm met with an angel.

And together they looked upon the kings and kingdoms, and youths and maidens and the cities of men. They saw the old men heavy in their chairs and heard the children singing in the fields. They saw far wars and warriors and walled towns, wisdom and wickedness, and the pomp of kings, and the people of all the lands that the sunlight knew.

And the worm spake to the angel saying: “Behold my food.”

“Be dakeon para Thina poluphloisboio Thalassaes,” murmured the angel, for they walked by the sea, “and can you destroy that too?”

And the worm paled in his anger to a greyness ill to behold, for for three thousand years he had tried to destroy that line and still its melody was ringing in his head.

Reading Note: When I was reading this out loud, I used the English translation of the Greek line. It’s a line from the Iliad, and another reference from Dunsany to the enduring nature of that work.

Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

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