Saturday, December 31, 2011

inspiration: the music of 2011 - my top 10 albums

Spoiler! #1 is Leaves' Eyes - Meredead
I don't really exist without music. So for an end of the year post, a little homage to the sounds that kept me together: my top ten albums released in 2011.

And I listen to a whole lot of everything, so I won't attempt to give this list any more of a theme than "I really liked these, you guys."

So... I really liked these, you guys.

Honourable Mention: Britney Spears - Femme Fatale (dance pop). Fave song: Criminal.
Sometimes (often) I need a little Britney. This album is totally my favourite of hers yet. Dance-pop bliss beginning to end.

10. Lovex - Watch Out! (glam rock). Fave song: Queen of the Night.
I liked their previous two albums more for reasons I can't really figure out--they were darker? Less brash? More sincere? I liked the gothy styling better than the new disco flavour? But Watch Out! is still a lot of fun with several awesome songs. Yay, sparkly glam.

9. Evanescence - Evanescence (alt rock). Fave song: Secret Door.
Long time no see, Amy Lee. (My high school self says hi!) This eponymous album feels, appropriately, really true to form, all emotionally fraught. It's much of a sameness, but a good sameness with some standout earworm moments, especially in the slow songs. And I just really like fraught. And Amy's voice. Being fraught.

8. Lady Gaga - Born This Way (dance pop). Fave song: Heavy Metal Lover.
I wish it had been a bit more like The Fame Monster, which remains my favourite Gaga, but BTW grew on me. There's super good stuff mixed in with the pretty good stuff (and the bit of facepalmingly unsubtle stuff). The variety of sounds she mashes together into one album is great, but I wish there'd been more songs like Heavy Metal Lover, because damn that's fabulous and makes the whole thing for me.

7. Elane - Arcane (dark folk). Fave song: Arcane Ride.
Each of Elane's albums have been such a lovely mix of ethereal, gothic, medieval and folk, and Arcane is no exception. It's a little less unified/more varied than usual, and a little more daring and adventurous too. Their songs are so beautifully vivid and feed the imagination like crazy.

6. Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials (alt pop). Fave song: Shake It Out.
Bit of a latecomer to the list. Took me a while to realize this had come out at the end of October. Nevertheless, though I haven't worn holes in it just yet like most of the others on the list, it's well on its way. It's the good parts from 2009's Lungs exploded into awesome layeredness and richness. Resonant organ and pounding drums and echoing choir and tinkly bits and of course Florence's voice swamping you all at once.

5. Faun - Eden (pagan folk). Fave song: Hymn to Pan.
I adore Faun. I didn't even realize they had a new album coming out this year because I've been so in love with their 2010 acoustic album (Buch der Balladen - Book of Ballads). Eden is just as amazing as ever, true to their sound yet still endlessly creative. And it's really long, which is awesome. Over an hour of being transported into a world of dark magic and wonder, where we dance all night and sleep all day.

4. VNV Nation - Automatic (synth pop). Fave song: Nova.
This is right up there with the hallowed Futureperfect as my all-time favourite VNV Nation albums. Their sound has always morphed from robotic to melodic from album to album, but I love them most when they get out the catchy hooks and really dig them in, like they do here. There's a very warm, cozy tone to the album overall. It's the Star Wars: A New Hope of dieselpunky futurepop.

3. Nemesea - The Quiet Resistance (symphonic rock). Fave song: High Enough.
The dark horse! Nemesea's album In Control from 2007 was solid and enjoyable, but it didn't grab me terribly hard. This one did. The band shines now, especially in the beautiful contrast of Manda Ophuis' fragile voice with the heavy guitars. Also, the cover art is in the Eowyn-style battle-maiden-with-sword vein. So, yeah, obviously, recommended.

2. Within Temptation - The Unforgiving (symphonic metal). Fave song: Faster.
Within Temptation has evolved from progressive/power metal to gothic metal to symphonic metal to The Unforgiving, which is... well, it's always been hard for me to pinpoint their sound. While The Silent Force era will probably always be my favourite, I really like the alt-rock stylistic turn of The Unforgiving; Sharon van Adel's voice is as wonderful on the poppier side as it is on the operatic side. I am just a big WT fan no matter what they do, and I love The Unforgiving from beginning to end.

1. Leaves' Eyes - Meredead (folk metal). Fave song: To France.
Not only my favourite album of the year but really damn close to favourite album of ever. I've loved Leaves' Eyes more and more as they've eased off on the growling and emphasized the gorgeousness of Liv Kristine's voice and medieval instruments. Their music is just as epic as ever on Meredead, but with the ratio of harshness to melody almost completely in melody's favour, it's also incredibly moving and lovely. Being thoroughly descended from various Vikings, Celts and Germanic types, I may be genetically predisposed to Leaves' Eyes, but whatever the reason, this is a very special album.

There's 2011's favourites. Can't wait to hear 2012. Especially as it's going to start with new Nightwish! ::reattaches headphones for the next 365 days::

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

creation: Love, Loss and Other Oddities: Tales from Saskatchewan

Introducing... What I've been working on these past few months! An anthology of twenty all-new stories of love, loss, and strange happenings on the prairie from seventeen Saskatchewan authors. Includes an urban fantasy story by yours truly!



LOVE
Back for a weekend in the city where it all went wrong, Emma has reservations about everything, especially him.

LOSS
A trip to her childhood home offers a Cree woman a chance to settle more than her late father’s estate.

AND OTHER ODDITIES
When Sam appears in human form, Litha must decide between dying to be with him and living without him.

Love and loss aren’t the only things happening every day on the prairie: Saskatchewan is full of the unexpected. Seventeen regional authors explore just how strange and wonderful this province can be in these twenty stories. From historical fiction to paranormal romance, with stops along the way for contemporary adventures, suspense, and urban fantasy, this anthology is the one Saskatchewan road that won’t take you on a straightforward journey.

Nurturing local writers of popular fiction for twenty-five years, Saskatchewan Romance Writers is proud to present this collection of outstanding short stories. Come take a trip through the extraordinary prairie!

“The title is a perfectly accurate one… there is something here to suit all tastes. I have read all the stories and have been well entertained.” -- Mary Balogh, New York Times bestselling author

Ebook $4.99

Paperback $14.95

More information, including the table of contents and story previews, can be found here. ♥

Thursday, December 1, 2011

creation: new Victorian Poetry Prints - Emily Brontë, P. B. Shelley, A. C. Swinburne, W. B. Yeats

I've been busy these past two months with a big writing project--which I'll be posting about really soon--but I've still managed to make four new Victorian poetry prints! (And then my computer died, but all is well again with no files lost. There was some panic at the time, though.)

As always, prints are available in my etsy shop. The four new ones feature poems by Emily Brontë, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Charles Swinburne, and William Butler Yeats.




Tuesday, September 20, 2011

creation: Victorian Poetry Prints (+ etsy shop)

Long time, no blog! I've been busy this past month with a new adventure: creating prints featuring 19th-century illustrations and poetry.

Byron - "She Walks in Beauty" - Victorian Poetry Print

These are Victorian pictorial engravings, line art that once illustrated mid-19th-century books, long out of copyright and in the public domain. I'm remixing them, giving them a modern touch by digitally hand-colouring them. Each painting takes me about eight hours. I really love breathing new life into what are already lovely works of art. I hope the original artists and engravers would be pleased to see these 21st-century adaptations of their creations.

Keats - "Bright Star" - Victorian Poetry Print

Each illustration is paired with a few lines of 19th-century poetry, mostly the Romantic poets (but my definition of 'Romantic poet' is pretty broad and non-canonical). I try to choose poems that fit the mood of the artwork, so that the one complements and illuminates the other. I wonder if the poets would be happy with the prints, too... I imagine some would think them too sentimental (Byron, I'm looking at you!)

Blake - "To See a World in a Grain of Sand" - Victorian Poetry Print

I originally began making these for myself, then thought they'd look wonderful in a neo-Victorian parlor, or a romantic boudoir, or a steampunk study. They're high quality borderless inkjet prints, 8.5" x 11", on heavy cardstock. You can find them here in my etsy shop. I'll be adding a new print every week or so. ♥

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

inspiration: "Lucifer in Starlight" by George Meredith

LUCIFER IN STARLIGHT

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.

-- George Meredith (1883?)
[read his collected poems here, here and here]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

inspiration: "A Song of Sherwood" by Alfred Noyes

A SONG OF SHERWOOD

Sherwood in the twilight, is Robin Hood awake?
Grey and ghostly shadows are gliding through the brake,
Shadows of the dappled deer, dreaming of the morn,
Dreaming of a shadowy man that winds a shadowy horn.

Robin Hood is here again: all his merry thieves
Hear a ghostly bugle-note shivering through the leaves,
Calling as he used to call, faint and far away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Merry, merry England has kissed the lips of June:
All the wings of fairyland were here beneath the moon,
Like a flight of rose-leaves fluttering in a mist
Of opal and ruby and pearl and amethyst.

Merry, merry England is waking as of old,
With eyes of blither hazel and hair of brighter gold:
For Robin Hood is here again beneath the bursting spray
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Love is in the greenwood building him a house
Of wild rose and hawthorn and honeysuckle boughs:
Love is in the greenwood, dawn is in the skies,
And Marian is waiting with a glory in her eyes.

Hark! The dazzled laverock climbs the golden steep!
Marian is waiting: is Robin Hood asleep?
Round the fairy grass-rings frolic elf and fay,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Oberon, Oberon, rake away the gold,
Rake away the red leaves, roll away the mould,
Rake away the gold leaves, roll away the red,
And wake Will Scarlett from his leafy forest bed.

Friar Tuck and Little John are riding down together
With quarter-staff and drinking-can and grey goose-feather.
The dead are coming back again, the years are rolled away
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

Softly over Sherwood the south wind blows.
All the heart of England hid in every rose
Hears across the greenwood the sunny whisper leap,
Sherwood in the red dawn, is Robin Hood asleep?

Hark, the voice of England wakes him as of old
And, shattering the silence with a cry of brighter gold
Bugles in the greenwood echo from the steep,
Sherwood in the red dawn, is Robin Hood asleep?

Where the deer are gliding down the shadowy glen
All across the glades of fern he calls his merry men—
Doublets of the Lincoln green glancing through the May
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day—

Calls them and they answer: from aisles of oak and ash
Rings the Follow! Follow! and the boughs begin to crash,
The ferns begin to flutter and the flowers begin to fly,
And through the crimson dawning the robber band goes by.

Robin! Robin! Robin! All his merry thieves
Answer as the bugle-note shivers through the leaves,
Calling as he used to call, faint and far away,
In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

-- Alfred Noyes, in Collected Poems, Vol. I (1913)
[read this book online here]

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

inspiration: "An Inventory of the Furniture in Dr. Priestley's Study" by Anna Laetitia Barbauld

AN INVENTORY OF THE FURNITURE IN DR. PRIESTLEY'S STUDY

A map of every country known,
With not a foot of land his own.
A list of folks that kicked a dust
On this poor globe, from Ptol. the First;
He hopes,—indeed it is but fair,—
Some day to get a corner there.
A group of all the British kings,
Fair emblem! on a packthread swings.
The Fathers, ranged in goodly row,
A decent, venerable show,
Writ a great while ago, they tell us,
And many an inch o'ertop their fellows.
A Juvenal to hunt for mottos;
And Ovid's tales of nymphs and grottos.
The meek-robed lawyers, all in white;
Pure as the lamb,—at least, to sight.
A shelf of bottles, jar and phial,
By which the rogues he can defy all,—
All filled with lightning keen and genuine,
And many a little imp he'll pen you in
Which, like Le Sage's sprite, let out,
Among the neighbours makes a rout;
Brings down the lightning on their houses,
And kills their geese, and frights their spouses.
A rare thermometer, by which
He settles, to the nicest pitch,
The just degrees of heat, to raise
Sermons, or politics, or plays.
Papers and books, a strange mixed olio,
From shilling touch to pompous folio;
Answer, remark, reply, rejoinder,
Fresh from the mint, all stamped and coined here;
Like new-made glass, set by to cool,
Before it bears the workman's tool.
A blotted proof-sheet, wet from Bowling.
—"How can a man his anger hold in?"—
Forgotten times, and college themes,
Worm-eaten plans, and embryo schemes;—
A mass of heterogeneous matter,
A chaos dark, nor land nor water;—
New books, like new-born infants, stand,
Waiting the printer's clothing hand;—
Others, a motley ragged brood,
Their limbs unfashioned all, and rude,
Like Cadmus' half-formed men appear;
One rears a helm, one lifts a spear,
And feet were lopped and fingers torn
Before their fellow limbs were born;
A leg began to kick and sprawl
Before the head was seen at all,
Which quiet as a mushroom lay
Till crumbling hillocks gave it way;
And all, like controversial writing,
Were born with teeth, and sprung up fighting.
"But what is this," I hear you cry,
"Which saucily provokes my eye?"—
A thing unknown, without a name,
Born of the air and doomed to flame.

-- Anna Laetitia Barbauld (c. 1773; first published 1825)
[via Wikisource here]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

inspiration: "The Pains of Sleep" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

THE PAINS OF SLEEP

Ere on my bed my limbs I lay,
It hath not been my use to pray
With moving lips or bended knees ;
But silently, by slow degrees,
My spirit I to Love compose,
In humble trust mine eye-lids close,
With reverential resignation,
No wish conceived, no thought exprest,
Only a sense of supplication ;
A sense o'er all my soul imprest
That I am weak, yet not unblest,
Since in me, round me, every where
Eternal Strength and Wisdom are.

But yester-night I prayed aloud
In anguish and in agony,
Up-starting from the fiendish crowd
Of shapes and thoughts that tortured me :
A lurid light, a trampling throng,
Sense of intolerable wrong,
And whom I scorned, those only strong !
Thirst of revenge, the powerless will
Still baffled, and yet burning still !
Desire with loathing strangely mixed
On wild or hateful objects fixed.
Fantastic passions ! maddening brawl !
And shame and terror over all !
Deeds to be hid which were not hid,
Which all confused I could not know
Whether I suffered, or I did :
For all seemed guilt, remorse or woe,
My own or others still the same
Life-stifling fear, soul-stifling shame.

So two nights passed : the night's dismay
Saddened and stunned the coming day.
Sleep, the wide blessing, seemed to me
Distemper's worst calamity.
The third night, when my own loud scream
Had waked me from the fiendish dream,
O'ercome with sufferings strange and wild,
I wept as I had been a child ;
And having thus by tears subdued
My anguish to a milder mood,
Such punishments, I said, were due
To natures deepliest stained with sin,--
For aye entempesting anew
The unfathomable hell within,
The horror of their deeds to view,
To know and loathe, yet wish and do !
Such griefs with such men well agree,
But wherefore, wherefore fall on me ?
To be beloved is all I need,
And whom I love, I love indeed.

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1803)
[via Wikisource here]

Thursday, June 30, 2011

ramble: research books bought & read, June 2011

The non-fiction/classics I bought this month came from three places: the used book store, where I traded in a bunch of books from classes a while back that I preferred never to see again, ugh; the mail-order bookshop that sells cheap remaindered books (I suppose? I don't really know how it works); and the bargain book sections of local bookstores.

I am, quite obviously, a bargain hunter, even more so this month than usual, because I have flung myself back into collecting fashion dolls, and the Stuff budget has had to adjust accordingly. This is ostensibly a good thing, since I hardly have room for more books, and dolls can perch on things and in corners. However, I'm still buying the same number of books, really, just cheaper ones. I outwit even myself.

Conversely, I didn't read very many research books this month. I've been reading fiction again instead, mostly the few Georgette Heyer Regency/Georgian novels I hadn't read before because I've been saving them, but they are too awesome and I can't save them forever.

So:

Monday, June 27, 2011

inspiration: portrait of Wilhelmine Encke by Anna Dorothea Therbusch

PORTRAIT OF WILHELMINE ENCKE, SINCE 1794 COUNTESS WILHELMINE VON LICHTENAU, MISTRESS OF FREDERICK WILLIAM II OF PRUSSIA*


-- Anna Dorothea Therbusch (1776)
[via Wikimedia here]

*whew

Friday, June 24, 2011

inspiration: "Fairy-Land" by Edgar Allan Poe

FAIRY-LAND

Dim vales—and shadowy floods—
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can't discover
For the tears that drip all over!
Huge moons there wax and wane—
Again—again—again—
Every moment of the night—
Forever changing places—
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon-dial,
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down—still down—and down,
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountain's eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be—
O'er the strange woods—o'er the sea—
Over spirits on the wing—
Over every drowsy thing—
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light—
And then, how deep!—O, deep!
Is the passion of their sleep.
In the morning they arise,
And their moony covering
Is soaring in the skies,
With the tempests as they toss,
Like—almost anything—
Or a yellow Albatross.
They use that moon no more
For the same end as before—
Videlicet, a tent—
Which I think extravagant:
Its atomies, however,
Into a shower dissever,
Of which those butterflies
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again,
(Never-contented things!)
Have brought a specimen
Upon their quivering wings.

-- Edgar Allan Poe (1829)
[via Wikisource here]

Friday, June 17, 2011

inspiration: "Hermaphroditus" by Algernon Charles Swinburne

HERMAPHRODITUS

I

Lift up thy lips, turn round, look back for love,
   Blind love that comes by night and casts out rest;
   Of all things tired thy lips look weariest,
Save the long smile that they are wearied of.
Ah sweet, albeit no love be sweet enough,
   Choose of two loves and cleave unto the best;
   Two loves at either blossom of thy breast
Strive until one be under and one above.
Their breath is fire upon the amorous air,
   Fire in thine eyes and where thy lips suspire:
And whosoever hath seen thee, being so fair,
   Two things turn all his life and blood to fire;
A strong desire begot on great despair,
   A great despair cast out by strong desire.

II

Where between sleep and life some brief space is,
   With love like gold bound round about the head,
   Sex to sweet sex with lips and limbs is wed,
Turning the fruitful feud of hers and his
To the waste wedlock of a sterile kiss;
   Yet from them something like as fire is shed
   That shall not be assuaged till death be dead,
Though neither life nor sleep can find out this.
Love made himself of flesh that perisheth
   A pleasure-house for all the loves his kin;
But on the one side sat a man like death,
   And on the other a woman sat like sin.
So with veiled eyes and sobs between his breath
   Love turned himself and would not enter in.

III

Love, is it love or sleep or shadow or light
   That lies between thine eyelids and thine eyes?
   Like a flower laid upon a flower it lies,
Or like the night's dew laid upon the night.
Love stands upon thy left hand and thy right,
   Yet by no sunset and by no moonrise
   Shall make thee man and ease a woman's sighs,
Or make thee woman for a man's delight.
To what strange end hath some strange god made fair
   The double blossom of two fruitless flowers?
Hid love in all the folds of all thy hair,
   Fed thee on summers, watered thee with showers,
Given all the gold that all the seasons wear
   To thee that art a thing of barren hours?

IV

Yea, love, I see; it is not love but fear.
   Nay, sweet, it is not fear but love, I know;
   Or wherefore should thy body's blossom blow
So sweetly, or thine eyelids leave so clear
Thy gracious eyes that never made a tear—
   Though for their love our tears like blood should flow,
   Though love and life and death should come and go,
So dreadful, so desirable, so dear?
Yea, sweet, I know; I saw in what swift wise
   Beneath the woman's and the water's kiss
   Thy moist limbs melted into Salmacis,
And the large light turned tender in thine eyes,
And all thy boy's breath softened into sighs;
   But Love being blind, how should he know of this?

Au Musée du Louvre, Mars 1863.

-- Algernon Charles Swinburne, Poems & Ballads (First Series, 1866; 1917 edition)
[read the whole book here]

A photo of the very sculpture of Hermaphroditus that inspired Swinburne is below (and is possibly NSFW)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

inspiration: "Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed From a Skull" by Lord Byron

LINES INSCRIBED UPON A CUP FORMED FROM A SKULL

Start not—nor deem my spirit fled:
In me behold the only skull,
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull.

I lived, I loved, I quaff’d, like thee:
I died: let earth my bones resign;
Fill up—thou canst not injure me;
The worm hath fouler lips than thine.

Better to hold the sparkling grape,
Than nurse the earth-worm’s slimy brood;
And circle in the goblet’s shape
The drink of Gods, than reptile’s food.

Where once my wit, perchance, hath shone,
In aid of others’ let me shine;
And when, alas! our brains are gone,
What nobler substitute than wine?

Quaff while thou canst: another race,
When thou and thine, like me, are sped,
May rescue thee from earth’s embrace,
And rhyme and revel with the dead.

Why not? since through life’s little day
Our heads such sad effects produce;
Redeem’d from worms and wasting clay,
This chance is theirs, to be of use.

-- George Gordon, Lord Byron (1808)
[via Wikisource here]

Friday, June 3, 2011

ramble: Eliza Haywood, remarkable 18th-century author

Eliza Haywood (c. 1693-1756) was one of the first English novelists. Yet she is not at all as well known as the male authors who followed her, those who wrote what are widely considered some of the first English novels--for example, Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1748), or Henry Fielding's Tom Jones (1749). In fact,
"William B. Warner has argued that Richardson and Fielding set out rather consciously to disavow, absorb yet erase, and obliterate their female predecessors, including Haywood, whose work is essential to the history of the novel. Feminist critics including Margaret Doody, Jane Spencer, and Ros Ballaster give her credit for initiating major forms of the novel [and] key character types." (Oxford DNB)
Haywood's earliest novels are perhaps best classed as 'amatory fiction'--sexy, daring tales of adventure in the bedroom and the streets--which is perhaps another reason why they have not until recently received as much attention, acclaim, or study as the more formal, serious novels by her male contemporaries. However, she wrote in many genres, crafting plays, poetry, literary criticism, political essays and conduct books as well as novels. She even translated a number of works from the continent, and founded several periodicals aimed at an educated female audience. With all these ventures, it is not surprise that her tone ranged widely, too. For example, by the 1750s, her books were more moralistic and domestic, and rather less titillating, in tone.

Fortunately, Haywood's oeuvre has indeed experienced a renaissance in the past few decades, and many of her books are back in print. And they are most worthy of our attention. Not only are they well-crafted, entertaining, exciting stories, but they give us insight into the lives, tastes, ideals, and social structures of the 18th-century woman. She was certainly well-known and well-read in her day: she and the earlier women authors Aphra Behn (1640-1689) and Delarivier Manley (c. 1670-1724) were known by the mid-18th century as the 'Fair Triumvirate of Wit.' Haywood was truly
"a professional woman author--she lived by her pen, as the saying goes--writing popular fiction, and it was very popular." (Introduction, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, 7)
Haywood's books are the sort of thing that the grandmothers and mothers of Regency women may have read, and perhaps passed down to (or hid from) their daughters. They are the precursors to the novels of such Regency and Victorian luminaries as Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Mary Shelley, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, and the Brontë sisters.
"As Christopher Flint remarked, 'Haywood, more than any other eighteenth-century writer ... bridges the fictional narratives of Behn or Defoe and the works of Burney and Austen' (Family Fictions, 219)." (Oxford DNB)
Love in Excess; or, the Fatal Inquiry, published in three parts in 1719-1720, was Haywood's first novel. It draws influence from French romances and develops those themes into a romp filled with vibrant, surprising characters. The protagonist is D'Elmont, a gentleman who is in fact fairly gentlemanly, and numerous women, all quite remarkable--Amena, Alovisa, Melantha, Ciamara, Camilla, Violetta and the superior Melliora--through whom Haywood explores conceptions of feminine and sexual identity. These ladies and their suitors go through a host of adventures, misadventures, affairs, and intrigues that are both charmingly fun... and cleverly complex.
"[B]luntly, it is a bodice ripper. It is also an emotionally charged soap opera of brutal ambition, adulterous passion, and abuses of power. Again, it is a cautionary young-adult novel tracing the love-lives of impressionable young women in a violent, male-dominated world. ... Any novelist would kill to write a novel with such broad appeal." (Introduction, Love in Excess, 23)
The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, published in 1751, is quite a different novel. It follows the not-too-subtly-named heroine through wayward girlhood, problematic marriage, and finally wise(r) maturity. It is a fiction that is also a conduct manual for girls pondering their own marriages--but it is also entertaining in its way, with multiple plotlines and an ensemble cast of characters who are mere types on the surface but actually illuminate the nature of those types. And, read critically, it also serves as a cautionary tale:
"the story of an intelligent, independent, wilful woman discovering the full force of the disciplining, transforming forces that create the subdued woman for whom society's gendered commands become willed behaviour." (Oxford DNB)
Haywood's Fantomina: or, Love in a Maze (1725), a novella, is rather more ambiguous than either of these two novels, and in its interplay of adventure and didacticism it is, I think, the most interesting example of her fiction. Its heroine decides to try living like those other, scandalous women do, and puts on a series of disguises in order to do so (wealthy courtesan, country maid, recent widow). She finds pleasure but also learns unpleasant lessons, as when she seduces her lover in each of her disguises and receives his letters to each persona, all of which plainly illustrates his cheating ways. There is a moral of sorts to the story, and yet the ambiguities remain; it is a fascinating portrait of the contradictory standards women were socially expected to live up to. Fantomina exemplifies Haywood's belief that
"the most interesting and instructive stories occur when passion is intensified sufficiently to overcome prudence." (Introduction, Fantomina and Other Works, 16)
Haywood herself is almost as much of an enigma as Fantomina (indeed, "female authorship was widely considered to be the literary equivalent of prostitution" [Introduction, Fantomina and Other Works, 9]). There is not a great deal known about her life, at least not in comparison with her contemporaries Fielding and Richardson; the most widely disseminated tidbit about her is that she was mocked by Alexander Pope in his Dunciad (1728). But we must remember that
"[t]hough we now know little about the private woman behind [her] conspicuous success, our ignorance is not proof of her obscurity. ... Haywood was solidly enmeshed in the literary scene of her day." (Introduction, Love in Excess, 8)
She was born in Shropshire, married early (her maiden name was Eliza Fowler) and widowed probably by 1719/20, then lived with the poet Richard Savage, by whom she had a child. Beginning in 1724, she lived with William Hatchett, a bookseller and playwright, and had a son with him. She was an actress as well as author: her career on the stage began in 1715. While she began to write fiction in 1719, she continued to act for another two decades. Haywood was a vigorous and brilliant women whose prolific output in all kinds of literary and dramatic fields is incredible. She was active in other ways, too: she participated strenuously in politics, to the point of being brought in for questioning over her statements. She was a truly remarkable woman whose experimental and unconventional life and works are well worth reading as precedents of and precursors to the women authors, and women readers, of the later 18th and the 19th century.

Sources:
-- Paula R. Backscheider, 'Haywood, Eliza (1693?–1756),' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, Sept 2010. [link]
-- Eliza Haywood, Fantomina and Other Works, ed. Alexander Pettit, Margaret Case Croskery, and Anna C. Patchias (Broadview Press, 2004). [link]
-- Eliza Haywood, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, ed. Christine Blouch (Broadview Press, 1998). [link]
-- Eliza Haywood, Love in Excess, ed. David Oakleaf (Broadview Press, 2000); 2nd edn. [link]
-- Haywood's Wikipedia page [link] has a list of her major works and a list of resources, including a modern biography.

[This was a guest post for Lesley-Anne McLeod's Regency blog; many thanks to her for that opportunity, and for allowing me to repost it here at home. Thanks go to her, too, for finding the images.]

Monday, May 30, 2011

ramble: research books bought & read, May 2011

This month's list of the non-fiction and classics I've read and bought is somewhat abbreviated, partly because I went mad at last month's book sale and spent all my money, and partly because I was sick for a few weeks and thus capable of doing little more than staring, half-conscious, at the internet.

So, anyway:

Monday, May 23, 2011

inspiration: "Stars" by Emily Brontë

STARS

Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
   Restored our Earth to joy,
Have you departed, every one,
   And left a desert sky?

All through the night, your glorious eyes
   Were gazing down in mine,
And, with a full heart's thankful sighs,
   I blessed that watch divine.

I was at peace, and drank your beams
   As they were life to me;
And revelled in my changeful dreams,
   Like petrel on the sea.

Thought followed thought, star followed star
   Through boundless regions, on;
While one sweet influence, near and far,
   Thrilled through, and proved us one!

Why did the morning dawn to break
   So great, so pure, a spell;
And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek,
   Where your cool radiance fell?

Blood-red, he rose, and, arrow-straight,
   His fierce beams struck my brow;
The soul of nature sprang, elate,
   But mine sank sad and low!

My lids closed down, yet through their veil
   I saw him, blazing, still,
And steep in gold the misty dale,
   And flash upon the hill.

I turned me to the pillow, then,
   To call back night, and see
Your worlds of solemn light, again,
   Throb with my heart, and me!

It would not do—the pillow glowed,
   And glowed both roof and floor;
And birds sang loudly in the wood,
   And fresh winds shook the door;

The curtains waved, the wakened flies
   Were murmuring round my room,
Imprisoned there, till I should rise,
   And give them leave to roam.

Oh, stars, and dreams, and gentle night;
   Oh, night and stars, return!
And hide me from the hostile light
   That does not warm, but burn;

That drains the blood of suffering men;
   Drinks tears, instead of dew;
Let me sleep through his blinding reign,
   And only wake with you!

-- Emily Brontë, in Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (1846)
[via Wikisource here; read the whole book here]

Friday, May 20, 2011

ramble: a gathering of books on the Pre-Raphaelites

Mariana by J. E. Millais, 1851
I've always been in love with the Pre-Raphaelites. To me, their paintings represent "good" art: art that turns all of life into beauty, even the sorrowful bits, and makes that beauty into an emotion. Whether that's actually an appropriate definition of "good" art (or if there is any such thing as definably "good" art) is another debate entirely, but for me artistic beauty is most definitely exemplified in the work of the Pre-Raphaelites.

To contemporaries, however, the Pre-Raphaelites' works were ugly, blasphemous, and retrograde. The controversy the Pre-Raphaelites caused, and the drama of their private lives, are subjects as interesting as their creations.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood formed in 1848 as a group of seven artists, poets, and artistic/literary critics. The founding trio consisted of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt.

There were several other artists and writers of the period loosely associated with them, or influenced by their style and ideals, including Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, and John William Waterhouse. Women also belonged to the Pre-Raphaelite circle: they participated as painters and poets, as well as models and supporters. They included Elizabeth Siddal, Jane Morris, Christina Rossetti, Fanny Cornforth, Effie Gray, Marie Stillman, and Louise, the Marchioness of Waterford. (There is a detailed list of associates here.)

The art the Pre-Raphaelites created was as varied as they were. Though they promoted medievalism, realism, and romanticism, personal creativity was paramount and obviously their ideals sometimes clashed. Nevertheless, their work was a strong and vibrant response to the formal artistic traditions that had developed in Europe since the early 16th century, and they remain popular today; just check out any poster shop. (Or every last one of my walls.)

Thanks to my longstanding interest, I've amassed a collection of books about the Pre-Raphaelites' lives and art, and so I thought I'd relate them for the delectation (I love that word) of others who share my interest, or are looking for sources to start with. There's an overwhelming amount of Pre-Raphaelite titles both in and out of print!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

inspiration: "When I set out for Lyonnesse" by Thomas Hardy

When I set out for Lyonnesse,
   A hundred miles away,
   The rime was on the spray,
And starlight lit my lonesomeness
When I set out for Lyonnesse
   A hundred miles away.

What would bechance at Lyonnesse
   While I should sojourn there
   No prophet durst declare,
Nor did the wisest wizard guess
What would bechance at Lyonnesse
   While I should sojourn there.

When I came back from Lyonnesse
   With magic in my eyes,
   None managed to surmise
What meant my godlike gloriousness,
When I came back from Lyonnesse
   With magic in my eyes.

-- Thomas Hardy, from Satires of Circumstance (1914)
[read the collection here]

Friday, May 6, 2011

inspiration: the Rainbow Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I

THE RAINBOW PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ELIZABETH I


-- Isaac Oliver (or possibly Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger) (c. 1600-1602)
[via Wikimedia here]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

inspiration: "One need not be a Chamber - to be Haunted -" by Emily Dickinson

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —
One need not be a House —
The Brain has Corridors — surpassing
Material Place —

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting —
That Cooler Host.

Far safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a'chase —
Than Unarmed, one's a'self encounter —
In lonesome Place —

Ourself behind ourself, concealed —
Should startle most —
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror's least.

The Body — borrows a Revolver —
He bolts the Door —
O'erlooking a superior spectre —
Or More —

-- Emily Dickinson (no. 670, c. 1863)
[via Wikisource here]

Friday, April 29, 2011

ramble: research books bought & read, April 2011

This month's list of the non-fiction and classics I've read and bought is heavy on the latter. For, alas, the local symphony just held its annual secondhand book fair to raise funds and to torment all nearby bibliophiles.

So, as my lair-slash-library, the Bookcave, requires regular feedings of paperbacks and hardcovers (or it demands human sacrifice instead), I... bought more than fifty books.

(Hey! It's self-preservation! I must satisfy the Bookcave! I don't want to get eaten!)

So now I have no money 'til, oh, the end of time or thereabouts, but--totally worth it.

I think my haul ended up about two-thirds non-fiction/classics and one-third fiction (lots of fantasy/paranormal novels), but I'm just listing the former. As usual, since I don't finish (or even get very far into) books I don't like, the 'books read' part of this undertaking is really a list of recommendations; the 'books bought' bit is pure adventure.

Off we go:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

inspiration: "Portrait of a Lady with a Book" by Antoine Vestier

PORTRAIT OF A LADY WITH A BOOK, NEXT TO A RIVER SOURCE*


-- Antoine Vestier (c. 1785)
[image via Wikimedia]

* what an extraordinarily prosaic title

Monday, April 25, 2011

inspiration: "Mad Song" by William Blake

MAD SONG

The wild winds weep,
And the night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my griefs enfold:
But lo! the morning peeps
Over the eastern steeps,
And the rustling beds of dawn
The earth do scorn.

Lo! to the vault
Of paved heaven,
With sorrow fraught
My notes are driven:
They strike the ear of night,
Make weep the eyes of day;
They make mad the roaring winds,
And with tempests play.

Like a fiend in a cloud
With howling woe,
After night I do crowd
And with night will go;
I turn my back to the east
From whence comforts have increased;
For light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain.

-- William Blake, Poetical Sketches (1783)
[via Wikisource here; read the whole work here]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

recommendation: "Red Riding Hood" (2011 movie)

Red Riding Hood surprised me. The only marketing for it that I caught emphasized a love triangle and... and... um, not much else. Love triangle mashed into the Red Riding Hood fairytale. And sure, this was indeed enough to snare me. I like a good love triangle (emphasis on good love triangle); I like fairytales: done.

But I was expecting only a semi-realized fantasy, with a mopey, whiny love triangle and some half-assed worldbuilding. I wasn't expecting a lush, mysterious dark fantasy with astonishingly lovely visuals, beautiful costuming, a wicked cool soundtrack, and a strong plot centered around a strong woman. And that's what Red Riding Hood turned out to be.

Valerie (Red Riding Hood, played wonderfully by Amanda Seyfried) is not in love with two men and as such there is no real love triangle. She loves one man, and both of the men interested in her ultimately respect that (despite moments of understandably human disappointment and/or demandingness). Valerie is also no damsel in distress. The small forest village in which she and her family live is a hunting ground: for as far back as she can remember, a wolf has stalked its inhabitants, but she is still not afraid to venture out into the woods. The movie begins with the death of Valerie's sister at the wolf's hand (um, paw) and suddenly Valerie's problems are bigger than just her arranged marriage to the man she doesn't love.

And Valerie realizes this, and deals with it without running away from it. Yes, she still longs to be with her beloved, but this is only part of her story, part of her life. Her story encompasses more than romance, but the fact that it does encompass romance is important. A badass chick can be badass and still long to love and be loved.

But there's a time for love and a time for badassery, and Valerie tackles both. (This is an explicit point made by the movie: one of the first scenes alludes to Valerie killing a rabbit in the company of her best friend/future lover, and one of the final scenes depicts her handling a human corpse--in the company of her lover.) As the villagers struggle to identify and kill the wolf, whom they suspect is a werewolf and probably one of them,* Valerie struggles, too--to deal with her grief, her concern for the safety of her loved ones (especially her grandmother, who lives just outside the village), and the way the villagers turn on her when they suspect she is connected to the wolf.

However, Valerie doesn't just fight, in the sense of flailing around wildly with nunchucks/a giant mace/whatever because that's what badass chicks are supposed to do. When she has no opportunity to escape, she accepts her fate with dignity. When she does have the chance to escape, she accepts help with grace. When she has a choice, she takes what actions she can, trying to protect and preserve her family and friends, not just her own desires.


And she doesn't have superduper magical smackdown powers; she is just a girl. This is so important. She isn't strong in spite of being a girl, and she doesn't need to be a Supergirl to be strong, either. She is strong because she is female and because of her limitations and because she is a person with very little except a powerful heart, mind and spirit. Because to be strong, that's all you need.

In fact, Valerie is a grown woman with (here comes more feminist theory**) agency, who makes her choices according to one guiding virtue: honesty. She is honest with herself, with those who love her, and she faces tough truths without bowing to her very real fear. Bravery is not measured by fearlessness; it is measured by action in the face of fear, and so Valerie is an exceptionally brave character. And, in a story with such a frightening current of Trust No One, Valerie is truly our heroine because she always trusts herself, and is always true to herself.

Now this is a fairytale I believe in.

The movie does have its flaws. The story could have been resolved in multiple ways; I don't think I would have chosen the existing conclusion, though I wasn't terribly unhappy with it.*** There were many moments where the story could have been pushed further, into more sensuous, gorier, crueler realms. But there'd have to be a non-PG-rated cut if I was to get all the symbolic explorations of blood, sacrifice, lust and consumption that I always want (especially in a tale about Red!). The humiliation via iron wolf mask is just one such gorgeous, troubling metaphor in a torrent of much bigger questions about identity, otherness, and betrayal, and I'm so glad it was included and even briefly dwelt on, but oh my, I really wanted to see so much more in the unsettling vein of Eat me up!

But that's what imagination is for. And Red Riding Hood is visual candy for the imagination. The setting, costuming, and cinematography all combine to create a fairytale world that looks like the "real world," but not quite, inspired by medieval Europe, but not trying to be "accurate." Unsurprisingly, I'm sure, I think it would be fabulous to be Valerie for Hallowe'en, in one of her beautiful long soft pale woolen dresses and her armwarmers and her sweeping red cloak. Some of the shots of her in particular are just breathtaking, all red and snow and moon. The soundtrack, with two songs by Fever Ray (one [below] for a crazy awesome paganesque bonfire dance party), is totally fabulous, both uneasy and dreamy.



The style and feel of Red Riding Hood is ultimately richer than its substance, but all of it together created for me a place of bliss and wonder and peace (weirdly enough). Basically, this movie took the Happy Place of Faerymagickalness out of my dreams and made it real, and this totally made me cry--because it made me super happy. My inner five-year-old and fifteen-year-old were as delighted as my current self. This is something to be celebrated. Fairytales aren't really for adults just like they aren't really for children. They're simply for people--people open to adventure and to fantasy and to belief.

People who, like Valerie, may feel trapped and insignificant, but who still walk through the world dressed in red, eating everything up.

[The official site has a lot of lovely behind-the-scenes stuff, high-res desktop wallpapers, and other pretty things.]

* I thought this mystery was well done, though I'm a superbly gullible moviegoer and can't usually figure out the villain/perpetrator/wolf/etc anyway, even if s/he hits me in the face repeatedly.
** Note that I'm not trying to argue that this is a feminist movie, because "feminist" doesn't work that way. It isn't an adjective; it's a lens through which we can view things. Like movies. And I think that this version of Red Riding Hood is particularly ripe for feminist analysis, especially when compared to its source (but that would be some other post).
*** Not really a spoiler, but I'll make it tiny: I wanted the whole village to become werewolves and run around doing wolfy things together forever, but hey, there's always room for a sequel, if only in my head.

Friday, April 15, 2011

inspiration: "In an Artist's Studio" by Christina Rossetti

IN AN ARTIST'S STUDIO

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel – every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

-- Christina Rossetti (1856)
[via Wikisource here]

Monday, April 4, 2011

inspiration: "The Vagabonds" by E. Pauline Johnson

THE VAGABONDS

What saw you in your flight to-day,
Crows, awinging your homeward way?

Went you far in carrion quest,
Crows, that worry the sunless west?

Thieves and villains, you shameless things!
Black your record as black your wings.

Tell me, birds of the inky hue,
Plunderous rogues—to-day have you

Seen with mischievous, prying eyes
Lands where earlier suns arise?

Saw you a lazy beck between
Trees that shadow its breast in green,

Teased by obstinate stones that lie
Crossing the current tauntingly?

Fields abloom on the farther side
With purpling clover lying wide—

Saw you there as you circled by,
Vale-environed a cottage lie,

Girt about with emerald bands,
Nestling down in its meadow lands?

Saw you this on your thieving raids?
Speak—you rascally renegades!

Thieved you also away from me
Olden scenes that I long to see?

If, O! crows, you have flown since morn
Over the place where I was born,

Forget will I, how black you were
Since dawn, in feather and character;

Absolve will I, your vagrant band
Ere you enter your slumberland.

-- E. Pauline Johnson, in Flint and Feather (1912)
[via Wikisource here; read the whole work here]

Thursday, March 31, 2011

ramble: research books bought & read, January-March 2011

I love non-fiction. Thanks to (in spite of?) almost seven years of university education in the humanities, research is my sixth sense. And so, a very great portion of the books I read for pleasure are social histories, biographies, literary criticism, feminist essays, costume books, art histories... and on... and on. You file it in non-fiction and I'll pore over it. I also tend to count classic literature under my 'research' heading, as I read such books as much for the insight into historical periods they provide as for the stories they tell (though really you can't separate it like this, though that's a different post).

So I have decided it would be diverting to take note of all the research books I read and buy, month by month. This list is going to be a very wide-ranging one, as I'm always researching more than one thing at a time, and I'm interested in... everything, basically. I'm sure I'll use the knowledge for something someday, if only for uh, future blog posts.

Since I don't finish (or even get very far into) books I don't like, the 'books read' part of this undertaking is really a list of recommendations (the 'books bought' bit is pure adventure and may indeed end badly). If something really stands out to me, I might give it its own, fuller recommendation post someday.

Okay, let's do this. If nothing else, it'll be amusing for me, but I hope it might help others to find new titles on favourite subjects.

(I should have started this at the beginning of the year. Belated idea is belated. But I have a memory that works like a bear trap for inconsequential things, so I'm pretty confident I can reconstitute the past three months. I'm also going to include holiday gifts, just because.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

inspiration: "Spleen (When the low heavy sky...)" by Charles Baudelaire

SPLEEN (WHEN THE LOW HEAVY SKY...)

When the low heavy sky weighs like a lid
Upon the spirit aching for the light
And all the wide horizon’s line is hid
By a black day sadder than any night;

When the changed earth is but a dungeon dank
Where batlike Hope goes blindly fluttering
And, striking wall and roof and mouldered plank,
Bruises his tender head and timid wing;

When like grim prison bars stretch down the thin,
Straight, rigid pillars of the endless rain,
And the dumb throngs of infamous spiders spin
Their meshes in the caverns of the brain,

Suddenly, bells leap forth into the air,
Hurling a hideous uproar to the sky
As ’twere a band of homeless spirits who fare
Through the strange heavens, wailing stubbornly.

And hearses, without drum or instrument,
File slowly through my soul; crushed, sorrowful,
Weeps Hope, and Grief, fierce and omnipotent,
Plants his black banner on my drooping skull.

-- Charles Baudelaire, in The Flowers of Evil (1861; translated by Sir John Squire, 1908)
[via Wikisource here; read the whole work here]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ramble: the Wildest West, or 19th-century Deadwood in photographs

Deadwood's main street in 1876
The short-lived HBO show Deadwood is one of my favourite TV series. It's a western in the very best tradition of westerns: there are no black or white hats (just grey ones), bad things happen, good things rarely do, and people struggle to survive a harsh world (hey, that sounds just like real life!*).

In fact, the show's town and its rough-and-lovely characters are based on the real thing.

And, being a real thing in the post-camera era, there are photos--really amazing, fascinating photos.

Deadwood, South Dakota, was settled illegally in the 1870s, contrary to the American government's treaty with the Lakota people of the Black Hills. The town's population soared after the 1874 announcement that gold had been found in the hills.

Seth Bullock, sheriff and co-owner of the Deadwood hardware store
The Black Hills Gold Rush created a truly Wild West town, overflowing with all manner of shady characters, shady deals, shady operations, and far less glamour than we like to attribute to such outside-the-law's-reach situations.

The Gem Theater in 1878 (owner Al Swearengen sits in the buggy at the left)
Deadwood was a rough, tough place.

Sol Star, co-owner of the Deadwood hardwood store, and later, town mayor
Smallpox epidemics, organized and not-so-organized violence, mistreatment of women, racial minorities, and all other disadvantaged people, miserably hard labour, and devastating fires were all common facets of life in Deadwood.

The Deadwood stagecoach in 1889
Its inhabitants carved out their lives in the ways they deemed best, often at the expense of their neighbours.

Wild Bill Hickok, famed gunfighter, shot and killed in Deadwood in 1876
Eventually, Deadwood settled into a mining town, with a railroad and a somewhat steady pace. (The HBO series is set in rowdy 1876-77, before the situation had stabilized).

Parade in Deadwood in 1888, celebrating the completion of a section of the railroad
Today, it's an American National Historic Landmark. Its dusty origins remain vivid, though, with the help of photographs like these.

Calamity Jane, frontierswoman and resident of Deadwood from 1876-81
* And in Deadwood, as in our day, everyone swears all the time. (See this discussion of the deliberately anachronistic cussin'!)

Monument to Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, 1891
Images:
- All from Wikimedia [link]

Sources:
- Wikipedia [link (town) and link (TV show)]
Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills, by showrunner David Milch (Bloomsbury, 2006). [Amazon link] A truly fabulous book with gorgeous photos and plenty of tales of both TV show and town.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

inspiration: "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" by John Keats

LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI

O what can ail thee, knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight at arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow
With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful, a fairy's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A fairy's song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
I love thee true.

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept, and sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dream'd—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill's side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
Pale warriors, death pale were they all;
They cried—"La belle dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke and found me here
On the cold hill's side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

-- John Keats (original version, 1819)
[via Wikisource here]