Certificate047Telka:  An Idyl of Medieval England was published by the Patience Worth Publishing Company, Inc. in 1928, somewhat  late in the career of Patience Worth although it was written during sessions in 1915 and 1916.  It was edited for publishing by Herman Behr, friend and financial supporter of Pearl Curran who also translated it into the German language.  In his forward to the book he stated that The realization of its profundity is limited only by the reader’s  capacity to assimilate and understand.”  Casper Yost, Editor for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat called it a “literary miracle.”  Telka is the last of the published major works of Pearl Curran (Two other major works An Elizebethan Mask and Samuel Wheaton remain unpublished)  and is perhaps the most evidential work that supports the view that the writing of Pearl Curran was not coming from her subconscious mind.   The book was dedicated to her first husband, John H. Curran with whom the Patience Worth phenomena developed early on.

Dr.Walter Franklin Prince, Ph.D., Research Officer for the Boston Society for Psychic Research wrote an article in the July 1926 issue of Scientific American about the Patience Worth case in which he stated that Telka in the judgment of some literary experts who have read it,  is a masterpiece.  He goes on to state that, “When I had gone about two-thirds of the way through it I felt sure that it had reached a climax from which it must fall off disappointingly; but the last fifteen pages or so proved to be of such poignant beauty that I walked the floor repeatedly before I could command myself sufficiently to go on —a rare experience.”

The following samples are from the first 4 of 19 chapters of Telka.


Dew-damp soggeth grasses laid low aneath the blade at yester’s harvest, and thistle-bloom weaveth at its crown a jeweled spray.  Brown thrush, nested  ‘neath the thick o’ yonder shrub, hath preened her wings full long aneath the tender warmth o’ morning sun.  Afield, the grasses glint, and breeze doth seeming set aflow the current o’  a green-waved stream.
Soft-footed strideth Telka; bare toes a-sink in soft earth, and bits o’ green a-cling, bedamped, unto her snowy limbs.
Smocked brown and aproned blue, she seemeth but a bit o’ earth and sky alight amid the field.  A-split at throat, the smock doth show a busum like to a sheen o’ fleecy cloud a-veiling o’er the sun’s first flush.
Betanned the cheek, and tresses bleached by sun at every twist o’ curl.  Strong hands do clasp a branch long dead and dried, at end bepronged, and casteth fresh-cut blades to heap.


A-slip, a-stumble and a-sprawl.   A-shake the wet o’ smock and loosed the torrent tears.  A briskish shuffle o’er the brow o’ sun-kissed hill.  A pause, bepuffed with anger afore Franco a-casting there.

TELKA:  “So! Ye spent o’ pretty words and deem it not meet to purchase them!  Ye hadst then to rather cast thy price a-wither!  Welladay, ‘tis time then the purchase be made!  I bid ye list, Franco!  ‘Tis days thou hast prated drivel, and I be no pot to catch the drip; thou then shalt dance to tune! —The kerchief hid?  Come, fetch it hence!  I fain would tear it to a shred!  Paugh!  Thou art a fortune’s fool to build upon a height!  I fain would save thee then!  I’d set thee at a ridge-dig and root thee in the earth.  I bid ye list!  ‘Tis thou that set a-wag the tung o’ countryside, and I be jest among the fools!  Then thou shalt buy thy spoil!  Aye, I know thee for a saint a-clothed in piety, but a maggot rot aneath.  Thou dost wed to me Franco!”

FRANCO:  “But Telka, I be not a-wish to wed!”

TELKA: “Aye, but I be!  And thou, like to the black sheep, jumpeth at my start!  Aye, and more!  I be a good lamb who followeth at the leader’s bid.  Do then to purge thy smock-skirt o’ its color daub; ye be a-stain with naught but earth a-wet hereon, and I do play at lady-wench!  We home with Baba, since he e’en now doth make thy keep.  “So thou dost gape?  ‘Twill set thee gaping o’ a truth do ye to put thy answer ‘nay.’  Come, drop thy casting!  I be of a liking for to fetch ye to the Baba that he clip thy wing.”

FRANCO:  “”Tut Telka, thee shouldst blush!  Know ye not ‘tis nay a-fitting that a maid do quest a lad?”

TELKA: “I do dang thee!  I then should blush to make thee pay, and brazen through the day a-standing to the taunts o’ fools!  Fetch thee hence with me!  See! Here be the lands o’ Baba, and here be Telka, who aneath doth sorry that ye be an ass!  Thou shouldst bury ‘neath the soil thy pots o’ daub, and perchance they then shall spring a grain more worth to thee.  I be no weaver o’ rainbows, but I stew full well.  Thy sup hath sorried sore!  Thee then must perforce to eat o’ pot cake cold o’drip.  I wage ye ‘tis Baba at the inn who tickleth his throat with pricking ayle.”


Cre-e-ek, a-cre-e-e-k!  And shutter showeth oped where Telka putteth forth a sleep-shocked head o’ curl.  A mouthing yawns she calleth:

TELKA:  “Baba! ‘tis swine-up Baba!  And dost not hear!  ‘Tis ne’er a music o’ the lord’s own court that soundeth half the noise.  Here! Dump the swill, and fast the door a bit, for morn-wind beareth it a-back, and I but sniff for porridge.  I’d put a broth aneath my kirtle.  So thou then bringest sorry  face to tempt a belly besoured.  O’ goose-gabble!  Paugh!  Thou art a wisdom-speller Baba, and a fool-trickster!  And Franco,—Ugh!  I hate the thought o’ him.  “See! Adown the hill’s path cometh Marion and fetcheth pack — a wedding’s gift.  The hussy!  I put a hope ‘tis not a loaf.  She has a purpled ribband I should love to tie about me.”


Adrip, and drops a-slide ‘pon stone walls to pool aneath.  A-chill the morn air, and mist doth hang ‘bout hill like white smock ‘bout the shoulders o’ a wench.  Smudge-scent upon the air, and brown fat reeking from crack o’ door.  A grunt, a shuffle, and door doth ope, and Telka wriggleth bare toes in pool-drip.

TELKA:  “Baba, ‘wake!  ‘Tis now the sun’s half o’ climb, e’en tho’ he playeth at blind-buff.  Do turn the spit; I hung a strip thereon,  and gad! ‘tis browned to mouth’s watering.”

“E-e-e-k!   E-e-e-e-k!”

“Drat thee Baba!  Thy feet be sleep-numbed I do swear! Doth thee not know—‘Tis the wee-squeels sleep o’beauty make?”

BABA:  “Telka wench, I put the swine to sty, and by the gray goose’s tail do leave them bide therein!  Hath thee scorched the day for Franco, and hath he hid till flames a-cool!  Or doth he fetch him hither at a-later?”

TELKA:  “Thou art a fool’s bells and jabber Baba, for thy word doth ring a-taint o’fool.  He hath a sorry for himself, and I be no coaxer o’ sorry aches away!  I bid him stay apart from me this day, and Marion fetcheth here a-later for to bake and brew.  Do crack the necks o’ goose brothers.  I fain would see their drip to ooze.  I’d put a savory within the stew, wert not that Franco sniffeth.”


This rare book is available online as a digital copy at http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009927599

One thought on “WRITING STYLES: ‘Telka’

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