Danse Macabre

Come All Hallows Eve, Death calls the dead to rise from their graves.  While he plays his fiddle, the awakened spirits dance until the rooster crows at dawn.

French composer, Camille Saint-Saens, composed Danse Macabre for vocals and piano.  The text was written by poet, Henri Cazalis and the premiere took place in 1872.   Initial audiences were so disturbed by the piece (especially the eerie vocals) that Saint-Saens reworked it into a tone poem for orchestra.

English translation of the poem:

“Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking a tomb with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zag, on his violin.
The winter wind blows, and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden trees.
White skeletons pass through the gloom,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking,
You can hear the cracking of the bones of the dancers.
A lustful couple sits on the moss
So as to taste long lost delights.
Zig zig, zig, Death continues
The unending scraping on his instrument.
A veil has fallen! The dancer is naked.
Her partner grasps her amorously.
The lady, it’s said, is a marchioness or baroness
And her green gallant, a poor cartwright.
Horror! Look how she gives herself to him,
Like the rustic was a baron.
Zig, zig, zig. What a saraband!
They all hold hands and dance in circles.
Zig, zig, zag. You can see in the crowd
The king dancing among the peasants.
But hist! All of a sudden, they leave the dance,
They push forward, they fly; the cock has crowed.
Oh what a beautiful night for the poor world!
Long live death and equality!”

And an elegantly creepy, short silent film (starring Adolph Bolm and Ruth Page) set to the music of Danse Macabre:

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Ingeborg Bachmann’s Stay (a poem)

 

Ingeborg Bachmann (Austrian poet) 25 June 1926 – 17 October 1973

Stay

by Ingeborg Bachmann

“Now the journey is ending,
the wind is losing heart.
Into your hands it’s falling,
a rickety house of cards.

The cards are backed with pictures
displaying all the world.
You’ve stacked up all the images
and shuffled them with words.

And how profound the playing
that once again begins!
Stay, the card you’re drawing
is the only world you’ll win.”

I came across this poem by the renowned female poet last night and it struck a chord with me.

Play with whatever hand you are dealt in this life.  It is yours alone.   The good cards are your strength and talents.  The bad cards symbolize where your weaknesses reside.  You can use them all  foolishly or wisely.   You can waste talents.  You can overcome difficulties.

The choice is yours.

Play the game!

What does the poem mean to you?

And the original:  Bleib

“Die Fahrten gehn zu Ende,

der Fahrtenwind bleibt aus.

Es fällt dir in die Hände

ein leichtes Kartenhaus.

Die Karten sind bebildert

und zeigen jeden Ort.

Du hast die Welt geschildert

und mischst sie mit dem Wort.

Profundum der Partien,

die dann im Gange sind!

Bleib, um das Blatt zu ziehen,

mit dem man sie gewinnt.”

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm  Comments (11)  
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Another Quick Meme: Oh My!

Ahem.  Interrupting The Neverending Writing Meme for something not-so-entirely different:  another meme.

Yes, that’s right.  I’ve been tagged.  Again.  By someone else:   Steven

Okay, here we go:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?

Shapeshifting!   I love to change forms in creative meditations.  It would be so amazing to shift for real on the physical plane.   Just transform into a bird and take off.   That’s freedom.  🙂 

*and as an extra, if somewhat nefarious reason, there are a few jerks I’d want to perch on top of*
2. Who is your style icon?

This one is difficiult to answer.  I’ve never thought of emulating someone’s style.  I admire Cain’s terse style, his rawness.  But I also really admire Wilkie Collin’s highly descriptive prose and his deep character portraits.   I’m probably some weird mix of all the different types of writers I enjoy.

Recently, a beta told me I reminded her of Iris Murdoch.  That was pretty cool to hear!  🙂
3. What is your favorite quote?

This quote by Goethe is always good to keep in mind:  “An unused life is an early death.”

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

“That I’m my own person.”
5. What playlist/CD is in your CD Player/iPod right now?

Actually, nothing.  I’ve been enjoying the beauty of silence.
6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Both.  I love the fresh, somewhat inspiring feeling of dawn.  Yes, I’m an optimist.  😉  And night, because it’s so peaceful.

It’s the afternoon that I’m quite happy to sleep through if possible.
7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Dogs!  

Cats are cool, and they fascinate me with their meditative poses.  But dogs bring out the maternal side in me.  Uh, yeah.  I react the way towards canines the way other women supposedly do toward human babies.  What can I say?


8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

Ah, this one is easy.  (and probably obvious).  I’ve been interested in gypsy culture since I was a little kid.  Of course, in the years since, I’ve learned the true plight the Romany have suffered.  But that romanticized image remains.  And when I hear the term, “gypsy”- I think of a carefree person living by their own terms.

Published in: on October 17, 2010 at 9:01 pm  Comments (11)  
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William Butler Yeats and the Golden Dawn

“A line will take us hours maybe; Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought, our stitching and unstinting has been naught. “-  Yeats

“Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame! “- Yeats

Born with both his Ascendant and Moon in  Aquarius, it is little wonder that William Butler Yeats grew up with both a love for words and a desire to transform  Irish theater and poetry.

As a child he’d been attracted to ghost tales and  fairy myths which led him into the esoteric works of Swedenborg, Blake, and Jacob Boehme.  At the age of twenty-two, while living in London, he became acquainted with Madame Blavatsky, author of The Secret Doctrine, and founder off the Theosophical Society.  While enchanted with the ideas she brought forth, he was disillusioned by the society’s resistance to attempting magic, and quickly withdrew his membership.

In 1889, he met Maud Gonne, a fiery Irish revolutionary worker and member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.   While disturbed by her belief that the means justified the end, he was so otherwise taken by her  that  he declared, “If she she said the world was flat…I would be proud to be of her party.”

Soon thereafter, she introduced him to Moina Bergson Mathers and MacGregor Mathers, the celibate husband and wife who worked together as Priest and Priestess of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.  Yeats not only valued their intellectual pursuits, but their willingness to put what they learned to practical use.  He said that after attending their rituals, he “formed plans for deeds of all kinds”.  Whereas after attending Theosophical meetings, he “had no desire but for more thought, more discussion.”   Furthermore, he discovered that the concentration needed for lengthy rituals and prayers influenced his writings, “making it more sensuous and more vivid.”

On March 7, 1890 he became an initiate of the Golden Dawn, assuming the magical name, Demon Est Deus Inversus.  Which, although literally meaning, “The Devil is in the inverse of God”, might have been in reference to his personal daimon.

I DREAMED that one had died in a strange place
Near no accustomed hand,
And they had nailed the boards above her face,
The peasants of that land,
Wondering to lay her in that solitude,
And raised above her mound
A cross they had made out of two bits of wood,
And planted cypress round;
And left her to the indifferent stars above
Until I carved these words:
i{She was more beautiful than thy first love,}
i{But now lies under boards.}

-poem written by Yeats for Maud after dreaming of her death

A CRAZED GIRL

THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea.’

-poem by Yeats

*article source and for further reading:  Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses by Mary K. Greer

Writing Meme: day 13- Favorite Cultures and Times

*Skipping question 12 of this neverending meme since it doesn’t pertain to my works (least not thus far)

13. What’s your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

Well, it’s not a culture per se, but obviously my favorite time period to write about is the 19th century.    Just an amazing, vital time: the Romantics, The Free Love Movement (yes, that was around way before the hippies!), Spiritualism,  The Transcendentalists, the birth of the telegraph (the internet of its day) art movements from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Hudson River School, to all the vast political and religious movements…

But, being the history buff that I am, I also have a great desire to explore characters in ancient civilizations and see how their stories unfold under my pen.

What about you?

Writing Meme: Day 11- Favorite Characters

11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

These questions are almost impossible to answer!

Presently, I would have to choose my mysterious witch, Beth.  The dark sphinx.   She was one of those characters who I knew inside and out from the very beginning, and our relationship only deepened through various drafts.  But I also had found such joy in writing of the exploits of Mr. Raferat and Mrs. Brent.   Most of all the sardonic banter between the two.

I don’t have a least favorite character.   All characters are in a story for a reason.  There are some that are certainly more challenging because they reveal themselves slowly, displaying more aspects of their personality through each draft.    But if they didn’t belong, I’d cut them out and wait for their correct story to come along.

How about you?

Published in: on October 6, 2010 at 11:18 am  Comments (5)  
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Writing Meme: Day 10- Weird Situations

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

Oh,  murdering folk.  Talking to dead people.  (not necessarily their victims).  Participating in black masses.  

Have I mentioned how much I love writing horror?

`*sweet smile*

Uh, your characters? 

Published in: on October 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm  Comments (6)  
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Writing Meme: Day 9- Creating Characters

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

Oh, Isis in heaven- how do I describe this?   It’s such a long process of discovery.    It often begins with images of a person and lines of dialogue popping into my head.   Other times, the story idea will come first, and I will think- who would be the best characters to create, to invite to take part in this particular tale?

Once I have an idea of a character, I often like to create an astrological profile of them.  Not a full chart, but their sun, moon, and rising signs, so I have a clear picture of their outer mask (how they perceive the world and are perceived by others), their general personality, and their more hidden wants, desires, and fears.

But as I said, it’s a long (very) long process, because my characters will change (and hopefully deepen even further) through each subsequent draft.   Sometimes their original essence that I envisioned remains, and other times they are so utterly changed by the end that it is hard to believe they came from me.

Not being a parent,  I imagine it’s like one passes on their DNA and some characteristic traits to their offspring.  But then as the child grows, it becomes quickly apparent that they are their own being.  And then come the fights.  “I won’t do that!  You can’t make me!!!”  Feet stomp down the hall, door slams.   And you sigh and realize you have to revise your manuscript again.

Published in: on October 2, 2010 at 9:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Writing Meme: Day 8- Favorite Genre

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Literary horror or psychological horror!  As my character, Anne says of her penchant for reading shudder novels,  “It’s a lot of fun to be frightened.”

That’s what I hope to do.  I don’t consider what I write to be truly horror.   That’s the terrible, depressing things on the news.   I want to give my readers the fun kind of chills.   And yes, I imagine wrapped up in an afghan, or snuggled under the bedcovers, unable to sleep, partly from fright, and partly because they must find out what that shadow in the corner is…

That said, I also love  writing noir (blame that one on a classic film obsession), and writing magical realism.  As one fascinated by dreams, I love exploring the inner and the outer worlds and how they blend together as one.

As for reading- I’m eclectic as you can get.  Okay, you won’t find category romance or westerns on my bookcase, but you will find everything from Shakespeare to the Brontes to Bradbury to Wilkie Collins Shirley Jackson to Iris Murdoch to Terry Pratchett to Agatha Christie to George R.R. Martin to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  There are so many great stories and writers out there, I could never limit myself to one genre.

What about you?