Friday, November 30, 2012

Another Update

Ok, so I'm bad at doing things on a schedule. To be fair I've had a ton of papers due, like the one due at midnight that I'm not working on right now, or the one due on Tuesday in the middle of finals week... But anyways, I don't really have much to say, except that that I just realized that today is the last day of November which makes me fell obligated to do something spectacular. But it's almost finals week and I have a paper due in two hours. So, content yourself with this saccharin picture of fairy children:

Good bye faeries... you have been good to me :)

I will say that the theme thing is happening for December, but I will be taking next week off completely to study for finals. I will say, however, that in celebration of the season, December's theme will be the Hobbit (the season of the Hobbit premier .. not of Christmas...)  

Monday, November 26, 2012


     So, I didn't post on Sunday but, again, I have a good excuse... It was my birthday!!!!!!! yay! So I spent the whole day with my family. It was wonderful :) Speaking of wonderful and magical things I did get a copy of Spenser's Faerie Queene as a present which was really exciting! But, enough of that and on with the themed update.

     There have been a lot of changes to my poor little poem. It is no longer rhymed, but is in blank verse. This is not because I dislike rhyme, it is merely because it is due sometime this week and blank verse takes significantly less time to write than Spenserian stanzas. But, I'm liking the plot more and more, even if I don't love the form. My only sadness comes from the fact that I simply don't have time to fit everything in that I want :/ Well, I thought I'd just do a quick update and then get back to finishing it! After this I have to edit a nine page essay due tomorrow and start working on finalizing a draft of a paper for Friday, and then this weekend I must simultaneously write an 8 page paper and study for exams... it's that time of year again 0.o In the meantime, here are two excerpts taken completely out of context.

      At this the lady Idhrenniel spoke,
“And just as I taught him, let me teach you.
I know very well this horn that you seek,                      160
And I shall tell you something of it.
You know, I’m sure, the story of the horn,
How long ago, it is said, there lived a
Beautiful Queene who was called Shusan
Who ruled your land under her elder brother,               165
Who in those days was hailed High King,
For this was a millennium ago
During the time known as your Golden Age.
Now, Shusan had in her possession
A horn of great power given to her                              170
By Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker,
Which, when blown, would always bring her aid.
One day, while hunting the magic white stag,
With her whole company did disappear!
But she left her horse and horn all behind.                    175
‘Tis said the horn was ta’en by an albatross
And hidden away for a day of great need
                And, when it’s blown, will assay all evil.

......You will stay here and learn all that my
Lord and I have to teach, thus armed you will              230
Return to your home and will with the words
Learned from the horn save all your land from
Evil. You will be like the mighty kings
Of old, and nothing will be impossible
If you desire it. If beasts attack                                     235
Your ships, you shall for days strive with them
And triumph by your strength. If giants do
Attack how can you fail to turn them back?
I’ll show you how to catch a falling star,
To get with child a mandrake root, to hear                   240
Mermaids singing, and what wind serves
To advance an honest mind, yes, all of
This power and more is all of yours. If only
You will stay and learn, your people will you save
For I know that for many years you have                      245
Been overrun by men of Telmair
Who persecute you strongly, but you can
Salvation be to all who live in your
                Fair country, and life will be well again. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Faerie Poems

I thought today that it might be worth it to visit some posey from the Bard on the subject of Fairies. The first section is Mercuitio's monologue from Romeo and Juliet and the second is from a Midsummer Night's Dream, and the third is a poem that's not really about Fairies, but is still pretty. Enjoy all of the pretty imagery :) 
"O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's wat'ry beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone; the lash of film;
Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
O’er courtiers’ knees, that dream on court'sies straight,
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees,
O’er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are:
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
Tickling a parson's nose as a’ lies asleep,
Then dreams, he of another benefice:
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. "

Enter, from opposite sides, a Fairy, and PUCK
How now, spirit! whither wander you?
Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.
The king doth keep his revels here to-night:
Take heed the queen come not within his sight;
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she as her attendant hath
A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling;
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild;
But she perforce withholds the loved boy,
Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy:
And now they never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But, they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn-cups and hide them there.
Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?
Thou speak'st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.

The Mower to the Glow-Worms

Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
The nightingale does sit so late,
And studying all the summer night,
Her matchless songs does meditate;

Ye country comets, that portend
No war nor prince’s funeral,
Shining unto no higher end
Than to presage the grass’s fall;

Ye glow-worms, whose officious flame
To wand’ring mowers shows the way,
That in the night have lost their aim,
And after foolish fires do stray;

Your courteous lights in vain you waste,
Since Juliana here is come,
For she my mind hath so displac’d
That I shall never find my home.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


 So, for today's update I thought I'd share a bit of the poem I'm working on for my British Literature class. It's still a bit rough, writing in rhyme and meter had always been a bit difficult for me, and the stanza form is freaking hard. I usually write poetry in unmetered quatrians :/ Still, here are the first three stanzas from my as of yet untitled work! 
Upon a road a lonely figure walked,
And a strange person he seemed to be,
Y’caldd in plain dress, he was of no rich stock.
Unarmed, he had only one small donkey
The which his few possessions carried.
His stature did betray his earthen blood,
And of the mountains had his mother been,
But his father was of mankind most bold
And his son, though small, was like the heroes of old.

Compelled was he to travel down this road,
So having been commanded in a dream;
His mind burdened with a heavy load
To seek an object hidden in a stream.
Of his search this object was the theme
That had slipped from history to legend:
The mighty horn of Shusan Queene
Which, when blown, is said for to send
The greatest heroes, who truth and life defend.

And when this unexpected dream was gone,
He did not dare to refuse the command
Given by the strange and lovely vision.
That very day he set forth from his land,
Though t’were not easy to take such a stand,
For life was good and he had many friends,
But he steeled his heart and set out from the land.
His heart to home no more could love he send,
                And when he left he knew he’d ne’er return again.

Image Credit

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Damnation of the Fey Folk

"Don't you see," she said, "the moon is not out of reach. In fact, it's waiting for you to embrace it."     @scottstabile

     So, I did miss Sunday's update, but I have a good excuse! I woke up at 6:00 and drove to Austin for a concert there (called Spirit Fest - Switchfoot, David Crowder, Mercy Me, etc.) and didn't get home until 1:15... the next morning.... So! It is Wednesday and I am updating now! On another interesting note Louie Giglio is my convo speaker today so yay! 

      Today's topic of conversation is that of the Faerie! Mostly when the average modern thinks of the Fairy they think of sweet little creatures with butterfly wings, like this:
Soaring on a Blue Butterfly, Ida Outhwaite 
but I am here to tell you that this modern conception is completely false... and insipid. The modern fairy, while pretty, can hardly be called a fairy at all. In tradition Fairies are shape-shifting troublemakers known for causing mischief and being particularly dangerous. Most treatment of the subject of fairies in antiquity deals with how to protect one's self  from their malice. Fairies were known for anything from leading travelers astray on their journeys, creating any sort of unexplained mischief, and even kidnapping children. They weren't particularly nice sorts of creatures, in fact the name Fairy - or Fair Folk - is a sort of platitude meant to keep the recipient of the title in a good mood. Fairies weren't even exceptionally pretty (except when they wanted to be) and their shapes could  range from ethereal humanish beings, to small little troll looking things. It was really the Victorian Age that killed the real fairy. Tinkerbell can be seen as the last vestige of an old tradition. 

     But, then, why does this even matter? Well, I think it matters because in modern times we don't have monsters anymore, at least not in our stories. Well, who cares, and  isn't that a good thing? I would argue that it's actually a disturbing trend in literature. We take creatures like Fairies and render them utterly impotent. We've seen this done with other creatures too - Vampires are now the boyfriend every thirteen year old idiot girl wants because he's dangerous and sparkles, werewolves are sympathetic creatures who have no control over what they do, an ogre can be a hero, and even witches and wizards can be merely misunderstood people who were never given love and affection as children. Now, don't get me wrong,there is some kind of human appeal in stories like this (except Twilight, I will never understand the appeal of Twilight). It's always nice to root for the underdog or explore some aspect of goodness in a creature that's typically evil, but stories like this come at a cost. When you redeem monsters you have no choice other than to make human beings the villains, or at least make real humanity irrelevant.

       By making monsters more human or stripping them of their ugliness you lose the opportunity for effective moral stories. You can make moral points of good triumphing over evil using only human characters, but the effect is much more horrifying. If, however, the evil is wrapped up in some inhuman creature you can fully support the actions of the hero. Of course Dorothy melts the witch, of course, of course Harker and Quincey destroy Count Dracula, of course Aslan destroys Jadis. The old monsters, the old mythical creatures were created to serve as tools for human morality. You do them a disservice by lessening their malice, and you do the human race a disservice too. Having a sweet and pretty butterfly fairy strips it of all of its power and renders it only useful for drawings and paintings. But if you have malicious fairies, fairies that are spiteful and dark, and mysterious, then you have a story. If you have vampires that sparkle then you have Twilight, but if you have Count Dracula then you have allegory and moral meaning. Human beings are storytelling creatures, we only do ourselves a disservice when we take away the potential for a moral story away by giving monsters humanity. The only way we can save creatures like fairies, then, from the fate of becoming completely impotent is by damning them. It is only by damning monsters to a fate of wickedness that they become safe for human beings. The real danger lies not in their evil, but in allowing them to be saved. When the monsters are blessed we have no other choice than the damn ourselves.
I do apologize for the garbled nature of this post, it was written as a stream of consciousnesses sort of thing.   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Project

     It is November. Can you smell the fresh sent of slightly cooler, but not really weather? Can you hear the sound of dead brown leaves starting to blanket the earth? Can you see the sun through the cold wet rain clouds? Can you taste the Thanksgiving food and birthday cake? Can you feel the ominous and ever present weight of deadlines crushing down upon your soul? Yes, it's that wonderful time of year once more! Speaking of deadlines that prey upon your subconscious slowly eating away your sanity it's also NaNoWriMo! Unfortunately I am not able (due to time constraints) to participate in the full thing, but I am using school as an excuse to spiritually participate in the NaNo fun. For one of my classes we have the option of, instead of writing a boring term paper, to write a small portion of an epic poem! So of course I'm doing that! I'll be sharing bits of what I'm working on as the month progresses. Who knows, I may even turn it into an even larger project some day!

     I'm pretty excited about this project. I got the idea while I was siting in my Narnia class, when we were discussing Prince Caspian. At one point in the book Doctor Cornelius mentions that when he was much younger he went on a quest to discover the Horn of Queen Susan that Caspian would then use to call back the Pevensies. Clearly this needed to be completely divorced from its original context and made into a religious allegory. Anyways, I think it will be fun. The hardest part is that the story has to be rhymed and metered which is never fun. It also has to sound archaic. Still, the premise of the whole thing is that it follows Cornelius as he begins his journey to find the magic horn of Susan, having been commanded in a dream to do so. Along the way he seeks refuge from a storm in a castle with a bad host and finds a beautiful woman trapped there. He must save her (or does she save him?) and together they will resume the quest for the horn. There's much more to the story than that, but that's all I think I'll have room for within the confines of the paper. I'm using Cornelius as an allegorical representation for faith and his journey as the search for the good true object of faith (the horn). Along the way he's guided by human reason (named Idhrennial) who is his proper companion right until the end when he must make the rest of the journey alone in order to discover the horn kept by Divine Wisdom (Theonoe). Once he finds it he must take it and keep it until it can be passed down to one who will be able to use it (Caspian).

     It's been pretty fun to write my own fairy story. It was definitely inspired by the Faerie Queene (in addition to Lewis). Allegory is always fun to write, though. Poetry has never been my specialty, but I'll post snippets on here occasionally throughout the month. I believe that the fact that it was inspired by the Faerie Queene fits the theme for this month ;) but anyways, I'm pretty stoked. Happy November everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Soapbox

     I know that I said I was going to be going with a theme here, and I am, but please allow this brief insertion  of a non related subject. Theme posts will be updated on Wednesdays and Saturdays (or was it Sundays?).

   So, today is the 6th of November, A.K.A. voting day - possibly the most infuriating and irritating day of the year. All of the political obnoxiousness on both sides of the spectrum has been building for this day. Facebook is a nightmare. I hate election years, and I hate politics. "But Mariah, as Christians it's up to us to try and reform society through politics in order to bolster the church and reform America! I still have faith in America!" Garbage like that makes me want to claw my eyes out. Do you know how horrible it is to have to hear stuff like that for MONTHS leading up to the election.

     Now, I know that the election is important for the country, but what really irritates me is the Christian perspective on politics. For Christians it is possibly the most unimportant event of the entire year, and let me tell you why. It is 100% impossible for Christians to reform the country through politics. In fact, the goal of Christians should not be to reform America. We are not bounded by political lines and geography. We are not even called to reform the world! We're called to interact with people and to save human lives, not countries. Let me try and structure this a bit more intelligently.

     I think that much of the problem with the American Christian's interest in politics comes from a very arrogant place. We, as Americans, tend to conceive of our Country as the "City on a Hilltop" the Light to the Free world, the most important country in the world and as the Last Hope for all mankind. We are a very patriotic people, and perhaps rightly so (although I would contend that), but I think that our nationalistic conception of ourselves betrays an underlying and very dangerous arrogance. "Well, is it wrong to have national pride. We're a great country, we've done great and amazing things!" In answer to that I'd say no, it's not a bad thing to have national pride - as long as your boasting is directed in the correct direction. As Christians we should believe that any successes or triumphs that our nation has had are blessings from God. The danger comes from believing that we have been a great nation to being proud of ourselves from having been born there, and many Americans cross that line (many Christian Americans too). Nationalistic pride is a foolish thing to have ultimately. You could no more have chosen where you were born than what eye color you have. And, in the end, America won't matter one little bit. The only country that really matters (according to Christian belief) is Israel. So, I certainly hope that America is not the world's last chance for a good society, since we will cease to matter very much before the end (much like Assyria or Rome [who matter in terms of cultural contributions, but are not real players in the political game anymore]).

   I also find the notion of "Having Faith in America" to be wildly disturbing. Any person who has faith in their country is misplacing that faith indeed. Especially in a liberal democracy, to say you have faith in your country amounts to saying that you have faith in your fellow citizens. I don't know about other people, but I personally have very little faith in my fellow man. Human beings are notorious for making terrible political decisions. In fact, almost always we make horrible decisions - why? Because we're a fallen people. The American government is made up of people who have the potential to be as tyrannical as the worst third-world leader. We have a system that keeps people like that in check - but so did the Romans. (let it be noted that I am NOT saying that some politician will rise up and dominate the American government. I'm merely making the point that terrible people live in America too). Should we then have any kind of faith in our country? Absolutely not. We should have faith in our God, who is not the American God, or the Republican God, but is the God of the whole world. Kingdoms come and go, but our God remains.

     And as for the idea that it is up to Christians to be actively involved in politics in order to reform our country - while commendable - is, I believe, ultimately false. There are some things we should fight for, but there also needs to be a realization that laws and legislation have never made man moral. They can control his behavior to some extent, but they can't control his mind and beliefs. Politics are divisive, you can appeal to one set of people using political methods, but you completely alienate another side. Instead of politics people need to be focusing on the culture and positively changing the world around them through their interactions with people and through positive contributions to the culture. What we've done is we've created a purely Christian sub-culture that is incapable of interacting on a meaningful level with the rest of the country. What we need is not more Christians books or music or movies, but books that are written by Christians. What I mean is we need more Tolkiens - people who are Christians and who create art that's not explicitly Christian but that their faith bleeds through.

     Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be interested or aware of what's going on around them politically. I'm just saying that the American Christian needs to be careful how much of his hope is tied to the political state of his country. Republican or Democrat, no matter who wins, God is still on his throne. Christianity was never made to pick sides in a political debate. To do so limits the power of the Gospel. We are meant to be at war the world, not to make peace with it through political avenues. Christians need to be engaged in life (that does include politics) we just always need to remember that the hope for our future does not rest in the victory of any political candidate or party. So do go out and vote toady, participate in the system of government that you were born into, but remember that no matter what happens our future is secure (in an eternal sense... life could very well suck here).     

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Faerie Queene

     Well, it seemed appropriate for the first post of the month to be a commentary on the object that inspired the theme! The Faerie Queene is an early Renaissance work written by Edmund Spencer. Spencer was an incredibly ambitious poet. His goal in writing The Faerie Queene was to become what Homer had been for Greece, Virgil for Rome, and Dante for Italy. He pretty much wanted to be remembered as the greatest English poet in the whole history of Englishdom, and he would have succeeded too, if it hadn't been for Milton and his Paradise Lost (who, coincidentally, was inspired by Spencer). The Faerie Queene was his magnum opus. It served several purposes, a tribute to the English language, an homage to Queen Elizabeth, an allegorical account of virtue and faith, and as the victory anthem of English Protestantism. Interestingly enough, Spencer was far more enthused about Protestantism and far more vitriolic towards the Catholic church than Queen Elizabeth was, which was a bit of a downer since he was trying to win her patronism with the work. The Faerie Queene, while stunningly beautiful still, is unfinished. Spencer died before he could finish the work. It was meant to be composed of seven books, we only have five completed works, with bits of a sixth book. Even still, it stands as a momentousness testament to Spencer's brilliance and is one of the great works (in my opinion) of the Faith (the only downside being that it is so hateful to Catholicism, which I find truly unfortunate even if understandable for the time in which it was being written).

      The First book of Faerie Queene is what I'll be focusing on in this post, and only briefly at that. I mentioned before that this work is an allegory, and boy is it ever. I'm willing to throw out there that it's more allegorically dense than Dante. It serves as an allegory of the victory of Protestantism over Catholicism, an allegory of the creation of Britain, a more contemporary historical allegory, and as a basic Christian allegory. It's depth is beautiful, but its surface is just as beautiful. The Faerie Queene takes readers to a work of Knights and enchanted streams, of dragons and evil wizards, of good and wicked women, and a place where pagan myth and Christian truth mix together to create an exotically beautiful fantasy. The first book follows the journey of the Red Cross Knight as he travels with his lady - Una - to her kingdom in order to fight the dragon that has captured her mother and father and all of her people. It's wonderful, and has quickly become one of my favorite things to read. You always figure out some new aspect of it every time you pick it up, which is always wonderful. Also, and possibly the most important thing, is that professional bindings of it are incredibly beautiful. A beautiful book deserves a beautiful cover, also it has been very well illustrated over the years. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys allegory and beautiful things. Because of what it is it can be incredibly difficult to understand. The Norton Critical edition is always good to have since its notes explain some of the symbolism, but even that is woefully lacking in some aspects. It's not an easy read by any means (especially since Spencer wanted to mimic Chaucer's style and wrote it in Middle English) but is an incredibly rewarding one.

     I guess the reason that I chose this to be the theme is because I'm kind of obsessed right now with the idea of religious enchantment, and it seemed liked a good thing to make posts about. Plus I'm also writing an 'epic' for a class term paper and I can post bit on here with this theme. So, yay for the first post of the month! Hopefully this will improve my own skill a bit and provide something interesting for other people to look at!