The present illustration is markedly more gloomy and morbid than its predecessors. The idealised young man of earlier tondi now sports a long beard, and the hair that extends down his naked back is mutating into organic forms suggestive of cell-division, or the characteristic pelt of the giraffe: this may be in some metaphorical sense a response to the 'turning grey' in the libretto. Our protagonist appears to be gripping the Keith Reid text on a stone tablet (cf Moses and the Ten Commandments) although his eyes paradoxically remain shut. Above him a dark and thundery sky is split by sinister and unnatural lightning, while above his head floats a flying island suggestive of Jonathan Swift's 'Laputa'. And what is that elusive image on the Laputan surface: a tree, a crater, a carbunculate capybara? The terrain behind our hero is equally enigmatic: delineated with a repeating pattern of parentheses, it might be intended to represent a wilderness of ducting. All in all, it is a suitably enigmatic composition, whose harrowing, doom-laden atmosphere corresponds well to the music of the song.
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illustration | The text of the illustration (variants highlighted)
In the autumn of my madness when my hair is turning grey
In the autumn of my madness which in coming won't be long
Right, the illustration as it appears on the photocopy sent to Procol Harum in 1971
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