Sep 062018
 

When his love he doth espy, let her shine as gloriously as the Venus of the sky ~
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It wasn’t the flickering light in the upper storey window which drew the Watcher’s attention, for many lights vied for his attention that evening. It was a melody drifting upwards through the gradually darkening sky. A rose-gold sun set the western horizon alight as the lone figure made slow, wide circles in the radiant atmosphere. Drawn by her irresistible presence below, he descended to the place where she now dwelt.
The flame of a candle within licked gently at the surrounding air and a heady scent was carried up to him with the rising music, like dancing graces of the Temple. Deeply he inspired, considering the soul within. She was stretched like a cat upon the bed, her long blonde hair spread out along the pillow. His eye was now fixed.

One golden glance of what should be

A powerful gust of wind blew the window open with a bang and she jumped out of her skin, shaken from her hazy reverie by the sudden noise and rush of cool air. Smooth like quicksilver, he slipped inside, permeating the chamber with a magnificent aura, the robe of divine beauty.
She sat up on the bed and gazed into the indigo space he had left behind him, trying to trace the formless form which had been there as she rose and stepped toward the window. He watched while she turned to face east and then west, scanning the sky for what or whomsoever had electrified the ether. Finding naught but the dying throes of day, she fastened shut the window and lay back down, book in hand, feigning near-oblivion to the almost unexpected arrival of the thrice-descended master.
She was wearing gold-coloured sandals – shoes that were a gift from her father – and a midnight blue dress. Around her wrist was a bracelet full of charms and with his bright, ancient eyes, he saw that the necklace at her throat was made from the stuff of magic, a gift from her mystery-loving mother.
Reaching out a hand, she found the volume switch on the radio and pushed it higher. Lush electronic sounds swelled like waves of water from breath and a heavenly voice swept over her on the cool air. A drama was set to unfold, of that she could be sure. Doubtless, there was a kind of magic taking place right there and then, with her at the centre of its circle.
As her eyes ran over the sepia plates of the open book the two became increasingly attuned, their selves amplified in their minds as the daughter of memory was evoked. The lost history of time began to unfold between them.
Once again he had challenged the doors of time to reach her. Over 2,500 years had passed since she had last been this close to his original form. On that occasion the moon had been perfectly halved by the shadow of the Earth. Jupiter, then, was at the same point in its orbit as it would be in precisely three and a half minutes that self-same night.
He looked over his shoulder at the gigantic sphere, which made its passage through the expanding cosmos with an intricately complex, haunting melody. A ray of its light fell upon her in that moment and the ageless diamond of her soul began to dissolve in his mercurial presence.

One shaft of light that showed the way

A sense of fervent devotion rose up inside her like the flames of a secret fire as he stretched out his hands to touch her outspread hair.
This flame that burns inside of me is here in secret harmonies
She had dreams; he could see every colour of every scene.
One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal
With a silent whisper he reminded her of the truth:
No mortal man can win this day.
He exhaled into her parted lips.
There can be only one….

The radio crackled and grew fainter, framing the esoteric silence like a braid of wheat, magnetising all background interference until the air grew taut as a lens, magnifying live reactions as if they were in a scene from a lyric master’s play.

~

Still you will always be with me, your name constantly on my lips, never forgotten ~ Ovid, Hyacinthus

Nov 212010
 

King Ceyx thinks only of Halcyone, no other name is on his lips but hers: and though he longs for her, yet he is glad that she is safe at home. Ah, how he tried to look back to the shore of his loved land, to turn his last gaze towards his wife and home.

But he has lost direction. The tossed sea is raging in a hurricane so vast, and all the sky is hidden by the gloom of thickened storm-clouds, doubled in pitch-black. The mast is shattered by the violence of drenching tempests, and the useless helm is broken.

One undaunted giant wave stands over wreck and spoil, and looks down like a conqueror upon the other waves: then falls as heavily as if some god should hurl Mount Athos or Mount Pindus, torn from rock foundations, into that wide sea: so, with down-rushing weight and violence it struck and plunged the ship to the lowest deeps.

And as the ship sank, many of the crew sank overwhelmed in deep surrounding waves, never to rise from suffocating death: but some in desperation, clung for life to broken timbers and escaped that fate. King Ceyx clung to a fragment of the wreck with that majestic hand which often before had proudly swayed the sceptre.

And in vain, alas, he called upon his father’s name, alas, he begged his father-in-law’s support. But, while he swam, his lips most frequently pronounced that dearest name, “Halcyone!” He longs to have his body carried by waves to her dear gaze and have at last, entombment by the hands of his loved friends.

Swimming, he called Halcyone—far off, as often as the billows would allow his lips to open, and among the waves his darling’s name was murmured, till at last a night-black arch of water swept above the highest waves and buried him beneath engulfing billows. Lucifer was dim past recognition when the dawn appeared and, since he never could depart from heaven, soon hid his grieving countenance in clouds.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book XI, Ceyx and Halcyone

Nov 072010
 

The grief-stricken birds, the host of wild creatures, the flinty rocks and the woods that had so often followed his songs, all wept for Orpheus. The trees shed their leaves and, with bared heads, mourned for his loss.

Men say that the rivers too were swollen with their own tears, and naiads and dryads tore their hair, and pulled on black garments, over their fine robes. The poet’s limbs were scattered in different places, but the waters of the Hebrus received his head and lyre.

Wonderful to relate, as they floated down in midstream, the lyre uttered a plaintive melody and the lifeless tongue made a piteous murmur, while the river banks lamented in reply. Carried down to the sea, theyleft their native river, and were washed up on the shore of Lesbos, near Methymna.

Here, as the head lay exposed on that foreign shore, its hair dripping with beads of foam, it was attacked by a savage snake: but Phoebus at last appeared, and checked the snake in the very act of biting, turning its open mouth to stone, and petrifying its gaping jaws.

The ghost of Orpheus passed beneath the earth; he recognised all the places he had seen before and, searching through the fields of the blessed, found his Eurydice, and clasped her in eager arms. There they stroll together, side by side: or sometimes Orpheus follows, while his wife goes before, sometimes he leads the way and looks back, as he can do safely now, at his Eurydice.

Ovid, Orpheus in the Underworld

Jun 082010
 

Now, since the god inspires me,
I follow where he leads, to open Delphi,
The very heavens, bring you revelation
Of mysteries, great matters never traced
By any mind before, and matters lost
Or hidden and forgotten, these I sing.
There is no greater wonder than to range
The starry heights, to leave the earth’s dull regions,
To ride the clouds, to stand on Atlas’ shoulders,
And see, far off, far down, the little figures
Wandering here and there, devoid of reason,
Anxious, in fear of death, and so advise them,
And so make fate an open book.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 15, on The Teachings of Pythagoras