A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM: THE FAIRIES' SONG.
FROM SHAKESPEARE. (NEWNE'S PICTORIAL KNOWLEDGE VOLUME9.)

A SMALL BIO. AND SHORT STORY.

      As a young child.....and still now.......I was a avid Reader of many books.

When given a 10 volume set of  the English "Newne's Pictorial Knowledge Encyclopedias" as a gift for my eigth birthday and on glancing through volumes 7 8 and 9 I was hooked on Classical Greece and Rome, the fabulous Architecture and both of their respective fascinating stories, myths and legends long before I knew Homer existed.

The Great English,Scottish, Welsh and Irish writers and poets were included along with some American and Australian: Shakepeare/ Lewis Carol /Walter De La Mare/Kenneth Graham/R.Louis Stevenson/Enid Blyton/Tennyson/Rudyard Kipling/Ralph Waldo Emerson and Adam Lindsay Gordon to name a few. Aesop's Fables plus the wonderful Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson and the many Nursery Tales and Rhymes from all over Europe fired my  young imagination and kept me hungry for more. 

Being a child I had no idea it would carry through to adulthood to the present day or indeed inspire some of my own writings.

Accompanying  most of these wonderful literary works were some beautiful pictures, the beautiful and inspired paintings, sketches and drawings lending even more magic to the words; one of my favourites being the sleeping Fairy Queen Titania as cited in the photo above which inspired a Childrens' short story of my own, "The Magic Grove" set in the New  England Country of NSW Australia.

    At school I began to take to English like a 'duck to water',became hopeless at Maths, couldn't get enough of History and began to love writing small essays which slowly but surely as I continued to understand more words and their meanings gradually matured into a love for writing myself.

Like most people I  was  and still am a 'product' of the generation and era I was born into but also rebellious  and a little eccentric in some ways as many creative people are. But this did not deter me from writing  and eventhough married young and with four beautiful children I still managed the time to be able to continue to do so. Throughout their growing years and the tospy turvy curves of life they also inspired much of my writings as did Nature and  other People and Life in general.

Below is a Short Story blending Fact, Fiction and Myth.

Frances.

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                                                    THE ENCHANTED SLUMBER.

 

          It was high summer, and the woodlands vitally alive , rang with the many varied  songs and calls of birds.

Giant Oaks and Elms shimmered beneath the clear blue sky, their leaves fluttering in the sunlight as a soft gentle breeze danced across one magnificent limb to another.

A small bubbling brook ran through the woods, its sparkling clear waters teasing vain water lillies who had escaped  still ponds; the brook's soft murmur and cool sweetness refreshing and soothing to Plantain, Rushes and small animals who rested beside its silver mantle which enclosed rainbow trout and other fishes. Cheeky Butterflies and curious Dragonflies  skimmed the water quickly then flew away to explore the wild flowers growing nearby.

           Suddenly the wood became still as the golden ball of the Sun had reached the centre of the sky claiming it for its own. All was quiet, for respectful homage was paid to Apollo as his fiery horses and chariot gained mid-heaven.

The golden God reined in his steeds and smiled down upon the earth, when un-expectedly a dark frown began to cross his beautiful shining face! Drifing up to him was the sound of people making merry.  Displeased at this open wanton dsregard for his greatness the god decided it demanded  he investigate the cause himself and leaving his golden chariot descended to the earth far below seeking out the gross indiscretion.

             Following the sounds  he was lead to a clearing in the centre of the wood where the beautiful singing of maidens washed sweetly over him. Enchanted Apollo forgot his anger and listened enraptured to the wonderful singing and tinkling laughter which demanded that he see the owners of the voices. He was not disappointed as young girls came into the clearing and so beautiful of face and form that Apollo caught his breath and couldn't resist calling out to them.

The maidens smiled and waved beckoning him to join them. The imprudent carefree God stepped into the clearing and was immediately aware of a unusual scent wafting all about him. So intoxicating was its perfume of Sandalwood, Patchouli and Wood-Rose he was unable to resist the golden cup of nectar offered to him by one of the maidens.

Had he but known the beautiful aroma was cunningly disguised and in reality  the Golden Cup contained the poisonious herbs of Henbane, Mandrake and  Datura a combination which lived up to its name of Fatal Fragrance and indeed was fatal to both  Gods and men alike.

Unheeding and fully entranced  Apollo drank deeply, and to the dismay of Leto his mother watching from above he fell victim to the deadly drink. 

Before swooning to the ground, the young god god beheld the maidens in their true form; hideous Harpies, the Furies who stripped him of his strength  light and beauty and left him to die.

Grim darkness fell upon the earth and the grief striken Leto sent Diana, sister of Apollo to aid her fallen brother. Swiftly the goddess built a protective enclosure of Wood-Rose  and thorned brambles around his prostrate body and kept her bow at the ready should animal or human dare to approach.

        On Mount Olympus, Zeus King of the gods and father of Apollo called all the gods together and in a mighty host they descended to the earth.

He consulted his brothers Neptune and Hades, and such was the grief and anger of the three brothers they would have  completely destroyed the earth had not the goddesses implored them to wait and be sure the sun god was indeed dead! But Zeus was in-consolable, vowing vengeance and waving the dreaded thunderbolts aloft in his hands ready to strike the cold dark earth and all who lived there.

The gods trembled at the anger of their King and even Hera his wife, Queen of heaven could not calm her husband, silencing her attempt  to do so  with one fierce steely look which rendered her speechless. Sadly she turned away and sat quietly with the other gods in the clearing awaiting the final and inevitable outcome  of the destruction of all mankind and living things by the maddened and enraged Zeus. Just when all seemed lost and Zeus gave the order to the gods to attack, a rustle was heard and into the clearing came an old man, a Hermit by  his clothes, and beside him a small child no more than five years old. Bowing low, the old man addressed Zeus:

"What ails thee  great King? Do you not know that your son but sleeps?"

"Be quiet mortal!" raged Zeus. "My beloved son is dead and I will avenge this act of treachery by destroying all life, both gods and men."

A small hand tugged at  the bottom of his tunic, and there looking up at him was the child.

"No Lord Zeus," said she, "Truly your son only sleeps, to be awakened by the precious  healing plants of the  the earth   which Nature yields."

Amazed at her courage, for she showed no sign of fear, Zeus told he to continue.

"My name is Mirienne," said the girl and I can heal your son. You are the great  god Zeus and you always will be, but cast aside your anger, for does not Love embrace and Heal all? Give me the Goddesses and together we will gather from the fields of the earth the plants to awaken your son!"

Mirienne's wisdom astounded  Zeus but he warned her that if she failed he would destroy all life. Mirienne smiled up at him undaunted by his majestic power and anger, and the light in her eyes silenced the God,  With a wave of his hand  he signaled to her and the goddesses who left the clearing in search of the wondrous plants.

Mirienne led them out of the wood and into the open where they  came upon fields full of flowers and   with every kind of herb was growing.

Demeter, earth goddess, gathered St.John's Wort and Sage. The beautiful Aphrodite goddess of Love, gathered  Red Roses and  Mints . Persephone, Spring's own daughter, gathered Thyme and Broom. Themis, goddess of Justice and Keeper of the Oracle, gathered Hyssop and Marjoram.Artemis, Warrior Goddess gathered Rosemary. Minerva, triple goddess of the Arts and Learning, gathered Lavender and Yarrow and Queen of the gods Hera, gathered Sweet Betony and Rue and Mirienne herself gathered a posy of Yellow Roses. 

      When the fields were clear Mirienne and the goddesses returned to the clearing .With the aid of her mighty sword Artemis cut down the barrier of brambles and thorns erected by Diana to protect her brother. Once the pathway was open, the goddesses and Mirienne walked to where Apollo lay on the ground beneath a Oak Tree and the little girl presented the guarding Diana with the posy of Yellow Roses.

Working quickly, the goddesses bathed the young god in Sweet Betony, Hyssop and Marjoram and gently lifted him from the ground and layed him on a bed of St.John's Wort.Rosemary and Lavender were his pillow and woven Rue and Broom his covering.Leto his mother held a jar of sweet Mints to his nostrils, as Hera spooned the precious liquid of Red Rose Flowers, Sage, Thyme and Yarrow into his mouth.

For a long time there was no change in the god and the face of his father Zeus gradually became darker than the blackness outside the clearing. But just as the last drop of drink was gone and the mints had surrended all of their perfume, the sun god opened his eyes,breathed in a deep gulp of air and upon seeing his mother Leto bending over him sat up and embraced her.

Great was her joy and that of his father and all the gods and goddesses! Apollo was returned!

      Zeus bestowed on the old man Knowledge and Understanding giving him theTitle of The Hermit, and because of little Mirienne all children were born with the gifts of Innocence and Love.

He bound the Harpies and Furies in their own ugliness  and the Fatal Fragrance banishing them for all eternity to flee before Apollo's fiery chariot in the heavens so they would never reach earth again.

The King of the Gods also decreed that each flower and herb gathered by a goddess would be sacred to her and the Yellow Rose sacred to Apollo who himself promised Mirienne he would never again allow vain pride to cause him to leave  his fiery chariot and faithful horses for he knew that all life would perish without the Sun.

The Gods and Goddesses returned to the heavens again and as Apollo climbed back into his chariot continuing his journey across the sky,  to the people on earth, the Total Eclipse of the Sun was a reminder of the sorrow and pain darkness brings and the Joy and Love of Light!

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HERB GARDEN.