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the Pale

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(4) The Illustrated In Held 'Twas in I 1971

'In the Autumn of My Madness' Carole M Hassan

The present illustration is markedly more gloomy and morbid than its predecessors. The idealised young man of earlier tondi now sports a long beard, and the hair that extends down his naked back is mutating into organic forms suggestive of cell-division, or the characteristic pelt of the giraffe: this may be in some metaphorical sense a response to the 'turning grey' in the libretto. Our protagonist appears to be gripping the Keith Reid text on a stone tablet (cf Moses and the Ten Commandments) although his eyes paradoxically remain shut. Above him a dark and thundery sky is split by sinister and unnatural lightning, while above his head floats a flying island suggestive of Jonathan Swift's 'Laputa'. And what is that elusive image on the Laputan surface: a tree, a crater, a carbunculate capybara? The terrain behind our hero is equally enigmatic: delineated with a repeating pattern of parentheses, it might be intended to represent a wilderness of ducting. All in all, it is a suitably enigmatic composition, whose harrowing, doom-laden atmosphere corresponds well to the music of the song.


Read about the origins of this illustration | The text of the illustration (variants highlighted)

In the autumn of my madness when my hair is turning grey
for the milk is  finally curdled and I've nothing more  to say
When all my thoughts are spoken (save my last departing words)
bring all my friends unto me and I'll strangle them with words

In the autumn of my madness which in coming won't be long
for the nights are now much darker and the daylight's not so strong
and the things which I believed in are no longer quite enough
for the going  is much harder and the going's getting rough

Right, the illustration as it appears on the photocopy sent to Procol Harum in 1971

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