Second sight - fourth light

A number of people have said nice things about More Deaths Than One. But I've been especially struck by a comment common to three readers (none of whom knew the others) to the effect that the title should / could have been The Fourth Light. Why strange? Because The Fourth Light was my original choice of title for the book, a fact known only to Dee.

In the story, The Fourth Light is actually a poem bequeathed by a long dead father to his son, (sole viewpoint character Thomas Thornton). The poem is really quite incidental to the action which is why the title comment has so intrigued me, may not after all be so coincidental.

To explain - without giving away any of the story - this is a passage near the end of the book...


So many deaths. Riding the night sands he remembered his first father's poem, the one he'd received at his school after his first father had been killed, the one he had for ever afterwards carried with him, the one called 'The Fourth-light.' The poem he knew by heart. It told of the lights that burn within all human beings: the first-light which is that of God and the Universe and the second-light which is a person's world and their country and their race and the third one which is their family and the love of their family. And as he rode on, he thought about the fourth-light, the one that, his first father claimed, is switched on within each man and each woman when each is born, the one that will lighten the way for that person and, perhaps, if it is strong enough, to a greater or a lesser extent for others.

Thomas Thornton remembered that his first father had written that this fourth-light cannot be put out whilst its owner lives except by a man's own attempt to change or falsify that which a man actually is, and that a life without this fourth-light is a life without any meaning.

But in the normal course, his father's poem had gone on to tell him, the fourth-light will not naturally fade until its person dies and after that the fading can last for a matter of hours or for a thousand or thousands of years; and sometimes, if only very rarely, this light will shine with such truth and such strength that it will not be extinguishable for so long as the foot of Man shall walk upon the face of his mother Earth.

The poem itself is not in the book. It is in my computer files. One day it may perhaps be in print.

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