As I followed Hans’s zigzag and switchback course all over the steep city, it occurred to me that hangovers are not always harmful. If they fall short of the double-vision which turns Salisbury Cathedral into Cologne, they invest scenery with a lustre which is unknown to total abstainers. Once we were under the lancets of St. Vitus’s Cathedral, a second conviction began to form. Prague was the recapitulation and the summing-up of all I had gazed at since stepping ashore in Holland, and more; for that slender nave and the airy clerestory owed spiritual allegiance far beyond the Teutonic heartland, and the Slav world. They might have sprung up in France under the early Valois or in Plantagenet England.

The last of the congregation were emerging to a fickle momentary sunlight. Indoors the aftermath of incense, as one might say with a lisp, still floated among the clustered piers. Ensconced in their distant stalls, an antiphonal rearguard of canons was intoning Nones. Under the diapered soffits and sanctuary lamps of a chantry, a casket like a brocaded ark of the covenant enclosed the remains of a saint. Floating wicks and rows of candles lit up his effigy overhead: they revealed a mild mediaeval sovereign holding a spear in his hand and leaning on his shield. It was Good King Wenceslas, no less. The confrontation was like a meeting with Jack the Giant Killer or Old King Cole... English carolsingers, Hans told me as we knelt in a convenient pew, had promoted him in rank. The sainted Czech prince—ancestor of a long line of Bohemian kings, however—was murdered in 934. And there he lay, hallowed by his countrymen for the last thousand years.

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Patrick Leigh Fermor - "A Time of Gifts" (1977)

@темы: travel, history, fermor, patrick leigh, f, english-british, 20