I’ve left it late again before writing this blog post. And I was wondering what on earth to post. Then I realised it’s the first blog post of June. And June, of course, rhymes with moon.
Last night there was an eclipse of the strawberry moon, but that’s not where my thoughts went: as soon as I thought “moon” and “June”, I didn’t start thinking of eclipses, but of the words of the Joni Mitchell song “Both sides now”:
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
Of course, I misremembered it and skipped over the Ferris wheels, heading straight for the fairy tales.
I have lots of old writing in my files, including the following, very old, untitled story, which I think of as a fairly traditional fairy tale. By chance, it seems to fit very well with the song’s theme of at looking at things from different perspectives:
Night time in the summer woods.
A trill of birdsong breaks the silence; the tune’s caught up and echoed by another voice. And then another.
Almost imperceptibly, patches of shadow start to cohere. Gradually, the mute outlines of trees emerge from receding darkness.
Pale sunlight filters through the leaves, unlocking a myriad shades of green and brown. The sun rises and gold stipples the ground as the wind plays among the leaves.
A sound borne on the air… A faint and unfamiliar scent… A stranger is coming… slipping between the trees like a dream… A white mare and her master.
Elegant with blue and silver trappings and blue ribbons in her mane, the mare picks her way daintily through the wood. The proud curve of her neck betrays her pedigree.
The rider is tall and handsome, dark-haired, with ivory skin and lips of deepest crimson; fine eyebrows arch with disdain above eyes dark as the night.
He wears a velvet cape of midnight blue, embroidered with silver filigree and lined with satin the colour of the sky at dawn. On his fingers, rings of sapphire sparkle alongside moonstone and blue opal, and the clasp of his cape is a circlet of silver leaves.
They come at last to a glade where a bubbling stream tumbles to a crystal pool fringed with rushes. A breeze kisses the surface of the water and it dimples. Many tales are told of the nymphs who play here, whose beauty is beyond compare. The stream echoes with their laughter.
The fine gentleman dismounts and leaves the mare grazing peacefully. This is the end of their journey: he has come to beg one of the naiads to return with him to the court, where he knows he will be the envy of all.
Sitting on the grass, he listens as the sound of the mare’s harness mingles with the sound of the stream. He can sense the presence of the nymphs, but all he sees are the sunlight fairies dancing on the water.
He sits waiting, watching the water. Blind and unprepared, he knows nothing of the nymphs’ own legends: tales of the world of men and those who dwell there; of kings and princes, and of the fine gentlemen of the court.
He pays no heed when one of the immortal ones steals from the pool: dazzled, he does not see her.
But leave the pool she does, scattering water droplets like diamonds. Her skin is pale, translucent, almost green. She is clad only in her green-blonde hair, long and straight; a strand of weed encircles her brow.
He remains gazing at the water: watching for her whom he cannot see.
Weaving the cloth of an enchantment, she dances around him as he watches unaware. The golden rays of the sun, the tinkling of the mare’s harness, the rippling of the brook, these are the threads she weaves, together with the scent of early morning in the woods and the whisper of the breeze in the rushes.
Slowly, then, he stands and, without a backward glance, he follows his unseen enchantress. Laughing, her sisters rise to greet him, clasping him, catching hold of his velvet cape, pulling him into their home, deep beneath the cold waters.
The mare returns alone to the palace. She no longer arches her neck so proudly. Her mane is bedraggled, the ribbons dirty or missing. Her harness jingles a hollow echo of magic and laughter.
In the safety of the palace, they tell stories of the beauty of the nymphs and of their magic powers.
Perhaps, if you listen carefully and there is a pause in the story telling, you may hear the sound of a fine lady crying softly, alone within her chamber.