Tag Archives: John Keats

A Faery’s Song

John Waterhouse

John Waterhouse

I know they’re different stories-so far as I know La Belle Dame sans Merci has an Arthurian feel but isn’t based on a particular tale, while Aengus is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann in Irish mythology-but these two pieces strike me as a matched set.

(I’m not fond of Keats’ stock character, but I’m a bit enamored of the Pre-Raphaelite art it inspired. Though the combination of military haircuts, multi-era armor and gauzy gowns sometimes crack me up a little bit too.)

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Diamond and Verse

The idea of birthstones seems to go pretty far back but I’ve yet to find much trustworthy information on the whys and wherefores. In 1870 Tiffany & Co. published a poem with the traditional birthstones of English speaking countries, which sort of codified them. As new gemstones are discovered the calendar is sometimes modified to include them. (For instance adding pink tourmaline to October-why couldn’t they have left well enough alone? And tanzanite to December-now that’s an upgrade!)

 

April has remained steadfastly diamond.

 

“She who from April dates her years,

Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears

For vain repentance flow; this stone,

Emblem of innocence, is known.”

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Nightingales

I saw these cards and had to make some pendants out of them. I love the imagery of open cages, capture and freedom and the shadowy escaping birds.

 

It reminded me of the Hans Christian Andersen story. Here, illustrated by the wonderful Edmund Dulac. I suspect that the edition I had as a child edited out some of Andersen’s attitude towards non western culture, because I do not remember the Chinaman this and that…Sometimes rereading children’s stories is an odd experience. (Though I do remember rabidly disliking his treatment of the little mermaid!)

Through thinking of that story, once nightingale is in my head it brings me to John Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale. The main site has images of the original manuscript, complete with some corrections and false starts. I love seeing the progression of things!

 

From Ode to a Nightingale:

 

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

  What thou among the leaves hast never known,

The weariness, the fever, and the fret

  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,

  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;

    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

          And leaden-eyed despairs;

  Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,

    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

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