Friday, 3 August 2012

River Dee

The River Dee is a 70-mile long river in the United Kingdom. It travels through Wales and England and also forms part of the border between the two countries.

The river rises in Snowdonia, Wales, flows east via Chester, England. The Dee Estuary flows into Liverpool Bay. The estuary starts near Shotton after a five miles (8 km) 'canalised' section and the river soon swells to be several miles wide forming the boundary between the Wirral Peninsula in north-west England and Flintshire in north-east Wales.

The river was a playground for Lowry; Sheryl Salloum quotes in her book Malcolm Lowry Vancouver Days from an anonymous neighbour who grew up with Lowry in Caldy; "...On another occasion she remembers sailing with friends down the River Dee, towing Lowry behind in a seatless dingy. He had provided himself with a perch, a chamber pot on which he sat unceremoniously. Those in the sailboat thought it was a great joke and very daring for those days." (Pg. 2). The river must also have been an inspiration for his Eridanus as the view from the Caldy shoreline bears an uncanny similarity to Dollarton.

Lowry makes references to the river in 'Enter One In Sumptuous Armour'; "The Welsh mountains across the Dee made me sad" (Psalms Pg. 228); "Over the Dee in Flintshire the furnaces glowed red." (Psalms Pg. 230)

Later the river features in Under The Volcano; " It looked like the sea; actually it was the estuary, seven miles wide, of a river: white horses westward marked where the real sea began.The Welsh mountains gaunt and black and cloudy, with occasionally a snow peak to remind Geoff of India, lay across the river." (Pg.23) and "The seagull--pure scavenger of the empyrean, hunter of edible stars--I rescued that dayas a boy when it was caught in a fence on the cliffside and was beating itself to death, blinded by snow, and though it attacked me, I drew it out unharmed, with one hand by its feet, and for one magnificent moment held it up in the sunlight, before it soared away on angelic wings over the freezing estuary?" (Pg. 155)" Lowry refers to the river in a letter to Carol Brown; "..and the Ecclesian trees over which it seems one may dive into the Dee. And the Dee, on a dark day, looks like a sheet of glass with ink, Stephen's Ink preferably spilled over it." (Collected Letters Vol. 1 Pg. 26)

Lowry refers to the Dee in his novel In Ballast to the White Sea; "he thought again, a vanquished Armada of cloud blown over from the great mountain chain of Wales on the other side of the Dee, Pen-y-Pass, Paenmanmawr, Snowden, Cader-Idris" (Chapter V111) and "Like a needle his machine threaded cloud and cloud. Its song was heard over the estuary of the Dee and far inland over the Peninsula." (Chapter X111) and "He was heading across the estuary of the Dee." (Chapter X111).

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