“Little they slept that night”- fairy love and fairy passion

British Fairies

tamlaine

James Herbert MacNair, Tamlaine, 1905

I return to a subject that has an abiding fashion for many visitors to the blog- and apparently me too: fairy sexuality and sensuality.

Fae lovers

From the very earliest times, it seems, the idea of Faery was synonymous with irresistible beauty.  Elf-women were called ‘shining’ by the Anglo-Saxons (aelfsceone) and this idea by no means ended with the arrival of the Normans and of the fairy women of romance.  English writer Layamon in his history of Britain, The Brut, described the queen of Avalon, Argante, as the fairest of all maidens,  “alven swithe sceone” (an elf most fair).  The concept of radiant beauty persisted: the fairy queen who met Thomas the Rhymer at Huntlie bank was “a ladye bright” and, as late as Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor, the faes’ royal lady is still “radiant” (Act V, scene 5).

Great beauty…

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The Fruit of Passion: Chapter 14 – Part IV

cover the fruit of passion

Now that Leo felt the shadow of the great phantom pressing down upon him, his mind worked with a clarity he had never before enjoyed. His parting from the mortal world did not sadden him, although he would have liked to taste more of its pleasures and wonders: to grow old with Vanora and watch his daughters blossom into womanhood.

Far more he lamented that his decision to refuse both his father’s and Belisent’s offer would also drag Vanora to her doom and condemn his daughters to double orphanhood at such a young age.

At times, tempting thoughts filled his heart with honey: to accept such sacrifice, rob someone else of breath and prolong his stay upon the earth. But then shame came rushing at him and slew all traces of temptation. For treating lives as interchangeable pieces upon a gwyddbwyll seemed horrifying to Leo, and he could not bring himself to reconcile with it.

And so, amidst tearful confessions, he implored Vanora over and over again to forgive him and prayed that their children would one day understand and forgive him, too.

And Vanora, amidst kisses and caresses, kept repeating she had nothing to forgive him for and tried to balm his anguish, telling him, ‘’Some prices are better left unpaid.’’

Her words and constant care and devotion generated within Leo a profound sense of serenity. For three sunsets in a row, husband and wife shut themselves in the depths of their cave and, cushioning his head on her breasts and his hands on her belly, they conversed in hushed tones of the future of their daughters, then of how they would live together and love each other beyond the grave and how their souls would soar as one for all eternity– convinced that no earthly or heavenly power could ever thwart their post-mortem union.

For all intents and purposes, both had withdrawn from life and all terrestrial affairs unwittingly, losing all sense and consciousness of them.

And as the third day the sun rose and branded the sky with its golden-red rim, Leo’s body surrendered into a series of final convulsions and then drooped loose in Vanora’s arms, the light of the world fading from his eyes.

Vanora could not help the sigh that emerged from the very depths of her innards. An unfamiliar, unwelcome languidness stole over her limbs as if to chain her to a place where Leo’s spirit existed no longer and had taken the semblance of a prison; a sudden burst of anticipation caused her to quiver. Her mind knew no sorrow at her imminent passing, only the agony of separation and an undimmed restlessness to depart and journey at his side.

Still clutching him, she whispered to his now deaf ears, ‘’You are my life’s end, for no end exists in chases in Arras or in shadows well-mounted. There’s an end in itself in love and the greatest pleasure to know nothing beyond it. So I love you without reason, for there can be no other way. No whys and ifs. Νο maybes and perhaps. You soul, I can hear it wandering beyond the veil and glamour, crying out to mine. Keep the mantle parted for me, too; I am to swiftly follow.’’

The day retracted and, as the dusk fell, Vanora’s countenance turned into one of triumph, her mouth widening into a blazing smile, peace seeping into her and blotting out every other thought and emotion. And the heavier the darkness, the greater the sense of peace that flowed within her entire being.

And come the blue hour, where night and day juggled in a pendulum, Vanora kissed Leo’s cold lips with those watermelon lips of hers. Her heart tripped. Once. Twice. Thrice. Then ceased its beating altogether.

Vanora was no more.

An excerpt from my mythic fantasy novel currently titled The Fruit of Passion.

Please, share your views! All constructive feedback is welcome.

 

Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath

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“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

Book Review: The Ruby

Titania-1897-Frederick-Howard-Michael

Painting by Frederick Howard Michael, Titania, 1897

”The Ruby” is a short story from the collection El Azul written by the Nicaraguan poet and writer Rubén Darío. An exquisite sample of Hispanic Modernism, ”The Ruby” narrates the story of how the titular gemstone was first birthed into the world.

The gnomes, labourers deep within the entrails of the earth to extract precious stones, find themselves in great turmoil when their leader, Puck, announces that a Parisian alchemist has constructed, through the means of sympathetic magic, a false ruby. Having travelled to Paris himself, Puck has snatched such a false stone from the golden chocker of a sleeping woman and has brought it as proof back to his fellow gromes who imprecate the alchemist as a blasphemous impostor.

Then, he proceeds to narrate the true tale regarding the events that led to the natural creation of the ruby. One day, the gnomes were in strike and they crawled out of the dark belly of the earth and into the sunlight. Puck came across a river into which a few stunning, mortal women were bathing. One of them catching his fancy,  he grabbed her by force and took her to live with him back into the subterranean cave.

Puck adored the woman, toiling night and day to pluck out the gemstones so as to scatter them all around his bed where the woman passed her days in languid nakedness. The woman, though, didn’t reciprocate his feelings because she had promised her heart to another and they had found a unique way of communicating with each other. From the depths of the dark cave, she sent her sighs to her lover and they, penetrating through the crust of the earth, reached him. In return, her lover had taken to kissing the roses of a garden and every time he scattered his kisses, the woman moved her lips as if receiving them.

One day, Puck, having sweated to pull out a passel of diamonds, threw away his hammer recklessly, a gesture which smashed the diamonds into tiny pieces, and went to sleep. He woke up because of the pained sounds the woman made. The hammer having created a hole in the cave’s wall, the woman saw this as a chance to escape and unite with her lover. But in her haste, she didn’t pay attention to the diamond-littered ground, stepped on it and fell, cutting her feet and the rest of her body. From her flowing blood, the diamonds turned red, the woman ending up lifeless.

And that’s how the rubies came into the world.

Having heard the tale, the gnomes crush the false ruby and start dancing with joviality, surrounded by the glimmering beauty and light of the precious stones wedged into the cave’s walls.

In the end, Puck sings out a hymn to the Woman, his last phrase, ”¡Y tu, Mujer, eres – espiritu y carne – toda Amor! (And you, Woman, are – spirit and flesh – all Love!).

Upon the first reading, ”The Ruby” comes across as a typical child of the Hispanic Modernist movement: magnificent descriptions, evocation of the senses, references to mythological beings, tones of fantastic elements and a love story swimming in a sea of nostalgia and romanticism.

In fact, the lush descriptions and the beauty of the prose stand out to such a degree that an unsuspected reader unfamiliar with the movement might come to view this as nothing more than an enjoyable yarn that excites and awakens the imagination.

But ”The Ruby” is much more than a pretty fruit of an overactive mind. Rubén Darío had something meaningful and important to get across and he found a very clever and moving way of delivering his message.

”The Ruby”, through the embedded love story, takes the form of an allegory. Puck compares and contrasts most vividly the birth of the false and the true ruby. The false is created effortlessly, with cheap materials and quickly. On the other hand, the real one requires suffering, blood, disregard of danger and genuine passion.

In a nutshell, Darío concludes that imitation lacks lustre and substance while originality is full of life, an honest baring of the soul. In the battle between hocus pocus and love, the latter is crowned victor.

But Rubén Darío is not merely interested in the general idea of imitation and originality. One of the most significant themes of Hispanic Modernism is that of art itself. The Nicaraguan artist takes a definitive stance and declares that real art disdains pale tricks. Instead, it demands effort and pain and fervency and unquenchable longing.

True literature is a fruit of blood, passion and love. For, after all, as Puck remarks, ”Cuando el hombre ama de veras, su pasión lo penetra todo y es capaz de traspasar la tierra (When man truly loves, his passion penetrates everything and is capable of piercing through the earth).

 

 

 

To my other half

MY VALIANT SOUL

i have swallowed the stars
in my tropical mouths of nostalgia,
coping the insanity, wireless tracks
with sweat and ink
ink and tears.
a blush of my cheeks
and seizure occurs
between our wild sheets
our vermilion warmth.

i sniff the old papers
to give me paper cuts,
threading a crisp jawline
point of felicity
& elision of this
moon dust heart,
i walk spherical
fetching your wet lips
wet mouth and language of Gods
i pronounce you my dalliance
& my nails clutter
in your toxin scent.

©MVS

#NaPoWriMo- 22



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Her Garden

The Disappearing Islands

She remembers how light the kisses once were
– all the ones she’s ever been given –
no more than butterflies at her mouth,
her wrists, her eyelids, her forehead,
and the back of her exposed knees.
Now there are moths at the window-screen
at dusk when she is weary of leaving her bed
to watch the last autumn leaf deserting
the wind-shaken poplar in her garden. Long ago
there was something in her, but now that thing is gone.
Gone are the boys of summer, buried
already in her plentiful lavender. Long ago
before all the kisses she was once just a moth girl
in her white slip on a cold summer night,
testing the fresh dews with one bare foot.
And she goes into her garden, where nothing is blooming;
she finds everything blooming.

Originally published on May 7th, 2016 on my old blog. 

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Book Review: Love in the Western World

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Love in the Western World is an impressive and singular scholarly work penned by the Swiss writer and cultural theorist Denis de Rougemont. In this mammoth of a book, Rougemont takes a deep breath and plunges headlong into the ocean, eager to stir the depths of our subconscious and bring to light that which hasn’t ceased tormenting the western culture for whole centuries: the polarity between Eros dressed as passion and Love dressed as Agape.

Etymologically speaking, passion derives from the Greek word ”πάσχω” which means ”to suffer”. Therefore, passion means suffering. And this is the thread Rougemont is eager to unwind in order to unfold his analysis. In the book, the basis of the study begins with the quintessential Celtic myth of the star-crossed lovers Tristan and Iseult. After all, this love affair covers a rich, fertile ground ready for the harvester’s hand: drama, intensity, passion, obstacles, infidelity, courtly love, melancholy, adventure etc. There could be no better myth for the work at hand.

We read that, ”What stirs lyrical poets to their finest flights is neither the delight of the senses nor the fruitful contentment of the settled couple; not the satisfaction of love, but its passion. And passion means suffering.”

Rougemont doesn’t get carried away with romantic ideas. On the contrary, he delves into the heart of the matter, bringing to the surface the dark truth that lies at the bottom of perhaps the most enduring and celebrated European myth.

Rougemont, with his remarkable insight, maintains the idea that what propels the actions and decisions between the lovers is not the love the one nurtures for the other, but the narcissistic love that each one harbours for one’s own self. Tristan and Iseult become involved with each other, entangled in a deadly game due to a magic potion they accidentally consume. A potion destined for Iseult and her future husband and Tristan’s uncle, king Mark of Cornwall.

The lovers are drenched in desire. But it’s not a desire burning for the beloved person. It’s a desire that flares up every time an obstacle rises in their way. It’s a desire for passion. In other words, it’s a desire for suffering, for frustration, for adventures. Every time they are about to be exposed before the king’s eyes, their desire magnifies tenfold, for the risk looming over their heads kicks up their adrenaline.

Separation and reunion. That’s the endless circle into which they’re running. Lost to the outside world, as if dead to every other stimulus, they are not interested in possessing each other. What they care about is their own selfish pleasure and satisfaction, their own excitement, their own longing for more suffering that energizes them.

The myth of Tristan and Iseult is a tragic story, a delicious torment that surpasses the boundaries of good and evil. It’s a true romance in all its nostalgic glory.

Rougemont writes that, ”To love in the sense of passion-love is the contrary of to live. It is an impoverishment of one’s being, an askesis without sequel, an inability to enjoy the present without imagining it as absent, a never-ending flight from possession.”

Rougemont observes that the myth equally conceals and discloses its terrible secret through a mystical language carried by the tradition of the Druids and later the trobadours. And what exactly is that secret? None other than love. But it’s not a love for the beloved person. It’s love for the idea of love.

Tristan doesn’t love Iseult and neither does Iseult love Tristan. Both are in love with the idea of love. They don’t need so much each other’s presence. It’s the absence that ignites their passion, leading them to a triumph of a most narcissistic nature.

In Wagner’s work Tristan wonders, ”For what fate? The ancient tune tells me once more: to yearn – and to die. No! Ah, no! That is not it! Yearning! Yearning! While dying to yearn,
but not to die of yearning!” 

But this love for love cleverly hides an even darker truth: love for death. Death is the final destination. The only destination that can liberate them from their terrible passion. By dying, Tristan and Iseult retaliate against the magic potion and all the maelstrom it generated. This was always what the lovers longed for. This was the ultimate truth they weren’t even aware of. A truth that turned against them in the end.

Rougemont traces the religious origins of the myth in platonism, druidism and manichaeism. The dialectics of Eros introduces something of a most extraordinary nature, for it has to do with a desire that doesn’t diminish, that can find satisfaction nowhere, that evades its completion in this world because it longs to embrace everything. Its final goal is to reach the Infinite, to seek union with the Divine.

Eros despises the terrestrial pleasures because it’s a desire without end whose fruition lies beyond this world.

Rougemont always returns to the polarity between Night and Day, between life and death, between desire and obligation. Desire and obligation spring from courtly love that later turns into an heresy, Catharism. The damsel in courtly love is always married to an older, noble man. Always loyal and unapproachable, she is merciless and cold to her young lover to whom she pays no attention. The damsel becomes his mistress and the lover her vassal.

And if marriage is nothing more than a political pact between two families, it becomes patently clear why love outside of marriage wasn’t viewed as infidelity by the travadours but as an ideal relationship which merited poetry and songs and eternal praise through a carefully crafted and mystical language.

Eros is an askesis, a withdrawal within the self, an impoverishment where the outside world languishes and the inner world becomes intoxicated.

The exceptional psychology of the cult of Eros is revealed through language, a language that at the same time has the potential to tell lies and reveal what it truly wants to express. It’s a language preserved through the conviction that others won’t understand what it wants to convey. Therefore, in this misunderstanding, the very essence of passion isn’t understood, thus saved.

Rougemont then proceeds to bring to the table the concept of love as it has been portrayed in literature through Petrarch, plays by Corneille and Racine, the myths created by Don Juan and Sade and the movement of Romanticism.

Of particular interest is the parallelism Rougemont draws between love and war, between the military and the sexual instinct. The proof of this lies in the vocabulary applied. ”Cupid’s arrows”, ”the battle for love”, ”the siege of the lady’s body and heart”, ”the conquest of the object of our desire”, ”the defences that can be lowered”, ”the prisoner who can be won”, ”the sweet defeat and surrender”, ”the vassal into which the lover is turned”.

Imperialism is seen as a desire without end, a desire to conquer nations because the need for new territories arises. But war signifies death in the manner that love dressed as passion signifies death, even though nobody admits this openly.

Rougemont concludes his work with a burning issue that still remains pertinent: fidelity and the crisis of matrimony. Far removed from the social, political and historical context that gave birth to the myth of Tristan and Iseult, our society views marriage under a completely different light. Iseult might be a symbol of the ideal woman, a woman we can never possess and, if we possess her, she loses her idealistic qualities. And the same applies to Tristan.

But Eros is saved when transformed to the Christian concept of Agape. Infidelity arises when the idealistic object of our dreams enters into our possession. Once possessed, the dream wanes, and we find ourselves on the prowl, seeking for a new object on which to project our passions and desires. Agape, though, isn’t based on reflections or illusions, but on equality. Man and woman are treated as equal beings, not as romantic projections of mythic and dream-like proportions. The narcissistic desire withers and dies, giving its place to love and the desire for the well-being of the beloved person.

Love in the Western World is definitely an ambitious work that attempts to unearth the secrets of Eros-passion and Agape-love through historical, cultural, religious and philosophical dimensions. It’s not a book for everyone. I found it equally fascinating and bewildering. It opened my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t considered before and, although it’s not a book that can be absorbed with the first reading, it has offered me plenty of food for thought. I will certainly come back to it many times in the future.

Love in the Western World strikes at the heart of the western culture, providing answers and challenging our notions regarding a matter still very much relevant to our existence. Almost 80 years after its initial publication, it remains meaningfully modern, for it still hasn’t finished saying what it has to say, as is the case with all good works.

 

 

Into You.

MY VALIANT SOUL

I ate you like the black spot of the moon
splitting the silence
and dissolving the quietness
in the peaches and apples,
I asked your thorn too
with an ebb blooming onto my eyelid
softness cracks, butter lips
Jupiter, Mars dancing
I ate you still, coating myself with wax
I see you behind the slick cotton sheets
where memories slap my tongue
I see you, Yes…I do.

I thrive and wrap and surrender
my soliloquy white silence
in the flash and soils
and I see still myself sinking deep
into your coconuty eyes.
A conjuncture of Aurora,
Repeat, repeat, repeat.


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