Get a theme, they say. Pretty pictures are not enough, they say. Well, some of us like pretty pictures. I do have a theme–Latvian stuff. But I’m not a one-trick pony so I like to write about other things, too.
Here in western Washington, we’re getting a reprise of summer. Nights have not been cold enough to make many trees turn color just yet. This morning was foggy and more than a bit chilly. In the afternoon we’re supposed to get short-sleeve weather. We’ll see. Forecasts around here are often wrong. I have to photos from other autumns to get touches of seasonal colors.
Sonnet 73, Shakespeare
“To Autumn” John Keats
I like the way the vines seem to embrace this rock and the moss that seems to be trying to soften the rock’s cold, hard nature. I like letting my imagination take over and go a little wild. Something I need to rein in when doing my posts about Latvia, even the ones about myths and legends.
DAUPHIN I will not change my horse with any that treads but on four pasterns. Çà, ha! He bounds from the earth, as if his entrails were hairs, le cheval volant, the Pegasus, qui a les narines de feu. When I bestride him, I soar; I am a hawk; he trots the air. The earth sings when he touches it. The basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ORLÉANS He’s of the color of the nutmeg. DAUPHIN And of the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus. He is pure air and fire, and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him. He is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts. CONSTABLE Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent horse. DAUPHIN It is the prince of palfreys; his neigh is like the bidding of a monarch, and his countenance enforces homage.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in...
This is one of my favorite passages from Shakespeare, from one of my favorite of his plays. It’s not the whole monologue. After these few lines, Oberon allows his jealousy, because his wife has adopted a mortal boy, to turn him mean. He anoints his fairy queen, Tatiana’s eyes with a magic potion that will make her fall in love with the first thing she sees, the weaver, Nick Bottom, who has been magically given a donkey’s head.
I had to look up the flowers.
Weed is a synonym for a garment. So the snake’s enameled skin is a garment that would fit a fairy. If you’ve read novels set during the Nineteenth Century, you might have come across a reference to “widow’s weeds,” in other words, her mourning clothes.
In Shakespeare’s day summer was considered to begin on May first, thus, the summer solstice was midsummer, the time when the boundaries between the human world and the fairy world were particularly thin. Fairies could cross over then and meddle in human lives. Hopefully, for the better.