Under The Hill

Before I started working on my speculative fiction novel, Another Life, I had the idea for a story that followed the sequence and narrative of T S Eliot’s Four Quartets. This was not to be: Faber restricts ‘fair use’ to a maximum of 800 words in multiple extracts for inclusion in academic works or reviews. And so I changed direction.

The last line of section II of East Coker has intrigued me for years, referring to the dancers having gone under the hill. The ‘dancers’ refers back to an earlier passage in section I, which describes strange rituals with a hint of the supernatural that date back centuries; the dancers are now returning to sleep.

To me, the line recalls the legend of the Pied Piper who was denied payment for ridding Hamelin of its rats. While the adults were in church, he returned, dressed in green, playing his pipe to attract the town’s children. One hundred and thirty children followed him out of town and into a cave, never to be seen again. Only three children were left behind: one was lame and could not keep up; the second was deaf and could not hear the music; the third was blind and unable to follow. These three informed the villagers of what had happened when they came out of the church.

The combination of Eliot’s lines and the Pied Piper story provided me with the inspiration for a significant episode in Another Life. My story features the Green Man of folklore; the Pied Piper was dressed in green.

Read more of the unexpected consequences in Another Life, published by Burton Mayers Books and available from all bookshops and online retailers.