Overall structure of Rite and Fore-time

At the end of Section 1, DJ adds a general note to the section which is, I think, more usefully read before the section than after it. It is equally applicable to all the sections of the poem.

General Note to Section 1. The findings of the physical sciences are necessarily mutable and change with fresh evidence or with fresh interpretation of the same evidence. This is an important point to remember with regard to the whole of this section of my text where I employ ideas based on more or less current interpretations of archaeological and anthropological data. Such interpretations, of whatever degree of probability, remain hypothetical. The layman can but employ for his own purposes the pattern available during his lifetime. The poet in c. 1200 could make good use of a current supposition that a hill in Palestine was the centre of the world. The poet of the seventeenth-century could make use of the notion of gravitational pull. The abiding truth behind those two notions would now, in both cases (I am told), be differently expressed. But the poet, of whatever century, is concerned only with how he can use a current notion to express a permanent mythus.

Within the setting of a celebration of Mass, the poem makes a recalling of the geology of the earth and the prehistory of the people who are the celebrators. The essential mark of the human from fore-time onwards is in artistic and religions cult-making which finds its apotheosis in the rite of the Mass.

pages 49-53 First theme: the celebration of the Mass in a church and its links with the Last Supper. The poem moves between these.
54-58 Second theme: The ancient Greek theory of the great cosmic cycle, and the rise and fall of mountains.
59-65 a return to the ritual theme, here described in ‘fore-time’. i.e. a speculation on the practice of ritual and the making of cult-objects in prehistory.
66-74 a further meditation on the cosmic cycle theme, relating its application to the physical geography of Wales.
74-80 development of the ritual and cosmic cycle themes, combining them in various ways and with the Incarnation and the theme of Light.
81-82 a sort of coda, a re-affirmation of the invitation to recall the Mass and the Passion of our Lord.