Thursday, October 26, 2006

a little bit of magic

What's with all the faerie-elven art lately....?

I started reading Shakespeare again. Just for the record, I don't like Shakespeare. I really don't. I think if most people were honest, they'd admit they don't really like it either. But every once in a while I seem to need to push myself through it again -- this time, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest.

The other night I started to read to the children from The Tempest, as Prospero, in my best Irish accent (I don't know why, it just seemed to add greatly to the effect):

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase erring Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make...

As they shook their heads doubtfully: "It doesn't make sense."

No, I agreed, in a way, it really doesn't. In my opinion, Shakespeare excels in making the English language babble along in a pleasing melody, turning words to water tumbling over rocks in a stream. When I read Shakespeare it's as if I'm translating, not reading.

Yes, yes, he wrote every plot ever possible. He reinvented the literary wheel. He was genius incarnate, a master, so on and so forth, etc. Yeah, well.

So I read Shakespeare now and then, like doing situps or choosing skim milk instead of whole (yuck, yuck, yuck).

But Shakespeare also put forth a fairy and elven world of whimsy and caprice, and probably singlehandedly revised our views for ever of how a fairy would look and behave. Before that, fairies were regarded as old, ugly, cranky, dangerous.

So, I started thinking about that after reading The Tempest. And started drawing. Now I can't seem to stop.

Last fall, when I studied the Renaissance, I couldn't stop drawing angels and cherubs. Now it's fairies. I might have a fondness for winged things. Not sure.

When I write it's often to process thoughts or emotions; when I draw, it seems to be much the same, only (lately) it's ideas I'm describing, or the imagery triggered by something or someone else. And all week, man! I've seen faeries and elves everywhere I turn around. I woke up yesterday morning sitting bolt upright in bed sure there was a gnome perched on the sewing machine next to the bureau. (It was a bag of mini Reese's cups).

But (I thought yesterday as I waited in my car in the parking lot at the preschool, watching through the windshield as a crow flew alone across the cloudswept sky in a dizzying arc) I think there's a little part in all of us that longs for something otherworldly -- not necessarily supernatural, but just....magical.

And I think there's part of us that wants to know that Love (even if J.K. Rowling already wrote it; we want to live it and know it) is the strongest, deepest magic of all.