Juliet at Lammas Eve

 

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My name is Juliet and I was born to the House of Capulet in fair Verona where my story begins.  My birth was on Lammas eve in the night, or so says my wet Nurse, and she ought to  know, having suckled me from her own teats, changed my dirt rags and weaned me with wormwood before my second name day.

The good Master Shakespeare would have you believe I stabbed myself to death for love, unable to live without the lad Romeo after he had foolishly swallowed a measure of poison. Suicide?  Me?  Well now.  If that were true I would not live to spin this tale, would I?

Come closer.  Sit by my side and I will tell you what really happened.

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It was my wet Nurse that cared for me most, for in those days aristocratic women were lack to give attention to their children, save for our wedding prospects and the marriage mules we eventually became. My true mother, the Lady Capulet, had none of me.

“Juliet,” my Nurse told me. “You were born under the star of Leo, on the thirty first day of July, the eve of Lammas or Lughnasadh as I call it.   Because of this your heart will be overwhelmed with love, for Leo the lion knows no boundaries.”

This was my blessing and also my curse.   For better or worse my affections were boundless. Deep as the sea. The more love I gave the more I had for me.  This is the one truth I have always known: love is infinite.

And so it was I fell madly and deeply in love with young Romeo of House Montague.

I had been raised as an aristocrat and it was understood that I be wed before my sixteenth name day. There was a fine man that bid my hand, name of Count Paris. A good enough match this would have been, but when I saw the young Romeo at my father’s masque I was completely smitten. It was as if Cupid’s very arrow had struck my back, never to be released.

 

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Romeo and his cousins had attended my father’s ball in false pretense, for everyone knew a Montague had no business delving in the affairs of Capulet!  Our families were arch enemies. Our feud, however, was so ancient none could remember whence it started, nor what it was even about.  And so when I fell in love with young Montague I could see no reason why we should not be wed.

Romeo had his surname and I had mine.  Montague and Capulet. What of it?  What’s in a name?  A rose, were it called by any other name — say ‘lily’ or ‘weed’ or even ‘shit’ —  would still, of its very essence, smell as sweet.   There was nothing to a name, and none could convince me otherwise!

It was the good Friar Laurence, a well meaning (but somewhat vacant headed) man of the cloth who agreed to wed us in secret. We had a proper ceremony in a proper church, with only my Nurse as a witness.

 

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Alas, after our wedding the real troubles began.

Street brawling was forbidden in Verona. Yet a fray could easily start with a malicious word, a wayward glance, even a biting of the thumb!   Anything at all could bring out the temper in  dramatic  rival foes such as our families were.  So often I had begged the men not carry blades in the street!  But  what was I? A mere female, a fluffy thing of ornament. My requests were dismissed, quickly as the sun sinks a horizon or the wind whistles a breeze.  Yet all who lived would regret this!

 

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It was my cousin Tybalt who acted first, slaying Romeo’s friend Mercutio,  who fell to the ground shouting “Worm’s meat! They have made worm’s meat of me!”    With his quick temper Romeo then chased Tybalt, pursuing him to the top of a cobbled road, finally stabbing him straight in the heart.  Tybalt was instantly dead.  Our Prince Escalus, keeper of the peace, was enraged.  Escalus then banished Romeo from Verona, the act of murder  unforgivable.

The benevolent Friar Laurence and my Nurse, in their mercy, arranged that Romeo and I could spend one night together in my chamber before his banishment. For that I have always been grateful.  My maidenhead was hitherto untouched and our act was one of purity.  Lust unfolded, slowly and delicately, flesh touching beneath those bed sheets.

With much grief I let him go as the sun rose and the morning lark sang.  If it were not for the strict orders of Escalus, I would never have released my dear Romeo from the passion of our bed chamber.

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My father, in his sadness and panic (and knowing nothing of my marriage to Romeo)  then insisted  I marry the Count Paris immediately. With Tybalt slain I was now the sole heir of Capulet blood, and my father wanted I bear children in haste.  Naturally I refused.  “If you’ll not marry the Count Paris,” my father bellowed, “you shall go to a nunnery! Or live in the streets. Die, starve, I care not what happens to you!”

All of this, mind you, occurred before my fourteenth name day at Lammas eve.

Friar Laurence then came to my aid. Or so he thought. His plan was a silly one at best. Listen close, for this twist in the tale will surely cause you amusement: The Friar bid I take a potion that would make me appear dead!  He said I would lie comatose, without breath for three days.  My family, thinking me no longer quick, would bury me above ground in Capulet’s tomb. After those three days, the potion would wear off and I would rise again,  like Christ himself.  During this time, Romeo would be informed of all and he would ride back to Verona to claim me.

When my Nurse heard this preposterous idea, she would have none. “A fake death?” she scoffed.  “The Friar!  Though he fancies himself a worker of dark arts, he is naught but an amateur.  Juliet my child, you will leave this to me,” she said, her cool eyes deep in thought. “I have a much better plan, one that will serve us well.”

 

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My Nurse then told me of the doppelganger.  This being a double spirit that takes on human countenance.  The doppelganger would look like myself, act as myself, seem in every way to indeed BE myself.  But I, the real Juliet, would be elsewhere.

It was my Nurse who gave me the true potion, a noxious mixture of tansy, vervain and mugwort, with frog sperm and another secret ingredient she refused to reveal.  Upon drinking the potion I could feel my body split, like two halves of a walnut shell.  Then, standing  before me was my double Juliet, a picture of myself in every way; the same hair, the same wide eyes, the same birthmark upon my shoulder. Myself but NOT myself!  Had I not seen this with my own eyes I’d not have believed it.

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The doppelganger was obedient. She could  do only as she was told, for that was part of the Nurse’s spell.  This worked out well, for my father adored the docile new Juliet who would adhere to his will.  This Juliet could easily forget the Romeo she had never known, swallow the Friar’s death potion without a blink, even be buried alive in Capulet’s tomb.

As for the real me, I was sick. Devastated.  I wanted my Romeo back and I knew not the outcome of all this.

“Your situation here is hopeless,” the Nurse told me. She peered in a stone of crystal and continued.  “The Friar has sent a messenger to Romeo in Mantua but I assure you, he will not arrive in time.” The Nurse put down the crystal and grabbed my hands. “Juliet, hear me! Your Romeo will never get this message. He will die of grief , and at his own hand.  Yet you can still save yourself!  We will journey to Venice.”

The Nurse’s prophecy came true. Romeo was told only of my so-called death. So distraught was he that he purchased a poison from an unscrupulous apothecary in Mantua.  He then rushed back to Verona. Upon seeing the doppelganger in Capulet’s tomb and thinking it was me, he hastened to imbibe the poison, and so, killing himself.

It was the doppelganger who awakened and, seeing Romeo dead, in turn stabbed herself with his sword.  Her purpose, I must admit, served well; it brought an end to the feud between Capulet and Montague.  Our parents agreed to have us buried side by side, forever ending the silly war that had caused so much grief to all.

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As for myself, I stayed on in Venice with my Nurse. She taught me all her tricks of prophecy and potion. Together we created a thriving business.  Oh! The price men would  pay for a doppelganger, one that allowed them to be in two places at one time! The price men would pay for a prophecy, as we scryed our crystals, predicting the future with accuracy.  Soon my Nurse and I acquired a fortune much bigger than all of Capulet and Montague put together.

My one night with Romeo had left me with child. A boy whom my Nurse delivered, though I suckled him myself, changed his dirt rags and vowed never to partake in the cold ways of  my mother, Lady Capulet. My boy grew strong, and I vowed also to teach him of prophecy and potion, just as my Nurse had taught me.

 

Through all of this I still missed Romeo terribly. Then on one rare, rainy day  as we not often had in Venice, there appeared at my door a stranger dressed in  a hooded cloak and robes.

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I thought at first it was the Friar, come to beg my forgiveness. But no. The stranger moved closer and whispered in my ear, “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” There was no light on this gray day, but I’d know the voice anywhere. With haste I removed his hood.

“It is the east,” I answered boldly. “And Romeo is the sun!” With that I fell into his arms. My own dear Romeo! But how so?

Unbeknownst to me, the good Nurse had given Romeo a doppelganger of his own!  It was that who drank the poison from Mantua, that who now lie in the coffin with my double.  When enough time had passed so none be suspicious my Nurse arranged this reunion.

I was shocked in joy and ecstasy.  I could not be angry with my Nurse, for her plan had worked only to my benefit.  My love, as ever, was boundless as the sea.  The more I gave of it, the more I had for me.

Ah Master Shakespeare!  If only he’d known the truth. Then mayhap he could have written a tale worth reading!  For you see, I was never the star-crossed lover who took her own life. Oh no.  I am Juliet, with Romeo and our son by my side, with potions and prophecies, my great Venetian mansion and enough gold to last  a lifetime!  I am  Juliet —  who in time and with experience became known as none other than the true Merchant of Venice.

 

Romeo and Juliet

 

 

 

Queen Bess Commands the Wind

 

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Could Queen Elizabeth I, who was in many ways a force of nature herself, actually command the elements?

Here is a scene from one of my favorite movies Elizabeth: The Golden Age.  Queen Bess confronts her ambassadors about impending war with Spain. As it turned out, Bess did command the wind — she had the last laugh when fierce hurricane-like gusts actually overtook the Spanish Armada, bringing victory to England.

Was Bess a witch?  You decide 🙂

 

 

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Wind

Quote Challenge: Day 3

 

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For the third day of my Quote Challenge I have chosen these words from the Bard. The metaphysical nature of this quote is very, VERY deep.  It is one that changed my life.

The line is taken from Hamlet. Prince Hamlet, in deep depression and much mental anxiety, describes his native country of Denmark as a ‘prison’. His friends, college buddies Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, disagree. Hamlet then replies:

“Why, then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good
or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.”

Of course, Prince Hamlet has good reason to see his country as a prison. Hamlet’s uncle  Claudius has recently murdered Hamlet’s father, taking over the crown  (which should rightfully belong to Hamlet.)  His mother Queen Gertrude  has married Uncle Claudius in what was then considered an incestuous relationship. Talk about injustice! Oedipus complex! Fratricide, regicide and Hamlet being tormented by the ghost of his father…

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No wonder the poor guy is half insane, depressed and contemplating suicide. (The famous soliloquy “To be or not to be” quickly follows.)

But back to the quote. One man’s trash is another’s treasure; the glass is either half empty of half full.  However, true wisdom comes in recognizing that there is innately nothing good nor bad in anything, but what we BELIEVE about it makes it so.

If, for example, I have a peanut allergy, then I better not eat peanuts. Unless I want to swell up, break out in hives and possibly die.   But if I am a vegan, peanuts might be my life blood. Unless I want a  protein deficiency and the myriad of diseases that go with it.  I would actually take this idea one step further and say the peanut allergy ITSELF is a result of fear based thinking. The adherence to vegan principle ITSELF is  also a result of fear based thinking. “The thinking makes it so.”

We live in a dichotomy (not to mention a propaganda machine)  that teaches us to believe in the well defined nature of GOOD and BAD.  For example —  Life GOOD: Death BAD.  Justice GOOD:  Crime BAD.

Fair enough.

However, death might be good for one who is suffering a disease, or better still, one who recognizes that in the bigger metaphysical picture, there actually IS no death. Regarding crime and justice, who defines it?  A lot of stupid laws have been written and a lot of innocent people have been wrongly punished. Conversely, a lot of criminals with great lawyers have committed heinous crimes and gone free.

Take politics. (I realize this is a dangerous limb, and  the views expressed are NOT my own.) But let’s just say.  Guns GOOD: Enemy BAD.  Fetus GOOD: Abortion BAD.

Fair enough?

But what if a gun gets into the hand of a child who accidentally shoots himself?  Abortion might be a good choice for one who knows she cannot adequately support a child in the current economic system. (Or better still, one who recognizes that in the bigger metaphysical picture, there actually IS no death.)

However, if you are not going to be able to sleep at night without a gun beneath your pillow, then by all means, keep a gun!  If having an abortion will cause you emotional anguish for the rest of your life, then by all means, have the baby!  Even the Bible itself quotes Jesus as saying ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’ Because, the TRUTH is:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

 

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Tripping the Green Fairy

 

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To the audience who watched us upon the stage we must have appeared carefree, smiles of red wax plastered to our faces, legs high in can-can kicks. We moved in synchronicity like mechanical scissors while the orchestra led a bombastic dance.  The men clapped and cheered, often losing their oculars as we stretched our thighs. exposing loins beneath fish netted garters.  Our breasts jiggled like soft melons. The Moulin Rouge was a playground. But not for me. Oh no!  I was no better than a trained pony, a paid concubine who did all but the prurient deed itself in my tiered skirt and high heels.

Monsieur Toulouse attended the cabaret nightly, perched at his table side stage, top hat askew.  He was, apparently, a very important person for he received not only the best seat in the house, but the best of service. It was later that I found out he had been commissioned to design a series of posters.  He sketched constantly, ever bent over his charcoals and parchment, stopping only to sip his absinthe which was brought to him in jar sized glasses with regular replenishing.  Monsieur Toulouse carried a cane and — strange as this may sound —  he sipped from the cane as well.  Later I was to discover he had hollowed  out the middle and filled it with absinthe also, so as to never be without the beverage.

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Monsieur Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec ingested liquor as if it were the very air he breathed. Yet for some inexplicable reason he never appeared intoxicated.

As for his commissioned posters, he took no interest in them. It was portraiture that  he considered his true art.  And so it was one rainy evening that Monsieur Toulouse approached me on Montmartre and asked if I would  consider posing for him.  I  did not like the idea. Toulouse was a spooky, peculiar little character. It disturbed me to even speak to him.  I refused but he persisted, approaching me every night until finally out of sheer exhaustion I agreed.

I followed him to his chambers which  served as an art studio.  Large water color drawings and half finished canvases filled the room, which reeked of oil and turpentine.

Toulouse asked me to disrobe. This was not offensive to me as I knew he often painted nudes. Can-can dancing had made me free with my body and I had no qualms nor embarrassment as I removed my garments.

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Toulouse, however insisted that I must have something to calm me and offered his liquor.  This was ridiculous and I told him so. “Brigitte!  Mon cher!  I insist,” he said, handing me a flute of green absinthe.  It looked so pretty, shining with an odd, preternatural glow. I  became quite mesmerized with the sight of it and I could not refuse.  Upon the first sip it was so delicious that I quickly finished it off.

After drinking the liquor I immediately felt lightheaded and dizzy. Silently I cursed myself for accepting this peculiar man’s peculiar hospitality. I knew well the dealings of his sort!  He was known to frequent the street girls , dirty and syphilis ridden. I was much better than that, certainly! If he planned on procuring any service from me, he’d pay for it,  and he’d pay handsomely,whether he drugged me or not.

It was then that the dizziness subsided and there appeared in the room an entity. She was female with green skin that glittered like the dewdrops at dawn and chartreuse hair that sprouted from her head in tendrils. “Coletta!” Toulouse greeted her, as if this were the most ordinary of circumstances.

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I’d have thought this was a hallucination, but I pinched myself to make sure I was awake, then realized if I’d had the wherewithal to pinch myself, how inebriated could I be?   The woman he called Coletta pulled  a vile from her pocket. She shook it, unscrewed the top and poured to her hand what appeared to be glittering grains of sand. She sprinkled them upon me. My eyes and head burned in fever. The room appeared blurry but I saw Toulouse throw away his cane. He commenced to dance with the green woman, both of them waltzing around the room as some orchestra played through the open windows.  They then tumbled to the bed, pawing one another and laughing the laugh of the insane. The ringing of their voices was the last thing I heard. The two immersed in bed sheets like white waves of an ocean was the last thing I remembered seeing.

When I awoke I was on the stage of the Moulin Rouge. I snapped myself alert, for I was now dancing the can-can in line with the others!  My skirts were green. I kicked my legs higher than I remembered ever kicking them. I looked for Monsieur Toulouse  but he was not seated at his usual table.

During my break I asked the manager what had become of Toulouse. “Monsieur Henri?”  He arched his eyebrow as though I had uttered some obscenity. “Why, he passed away last week!  You stood graveside at his very funeral!  Brigitte, are you quite well?” He looked at me, narrowing his eyes as though I were some strange creature. “You do not look  like yourself.”  He advised I take the rest of the night off. That, of course, was ridiculous!  I had never felt better in my life and I told him so!

Later that night, my body craved absinthe and I ordered a carafe from the Maitre d’.  Upon drinking it I felt my legs go weak and rubbery. The skin on my hand turned a shade of  dark emerald, the exact color of the liquid.  My hair sprouted in tendrils that fell down my back. It was then I heard the voice of Coletta. “My duties here at Moulin Rouge  are done Brigitte,” she said. “You will now carry on and you will be quite good at it.”

I was confused. “But what are my duties?” I asked.  Coletta smiled. “Only to assist our good clientele in the tripping of the green fairy,” she answered. “You are adaptable. You shall soon master this talent.”  She curtsied and then vanished into a stream of green glitter.

Coletta was right. I adapted well to my new duties which sometimes involved life and sometimes involved death.  I never danced the can-can again.  I never felt more carefree.

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This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt Carefree

 

 

Quote Challenge – Day 1

 

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I would like to thank Married With a View  for nominating me for this challenge. I love quotes and I think this will be a lot of fun 🙂

Rules for the Quote Challenge:

Thank the person who nominated you.
Post 1-3 quotes a day for 3 consecutive days.
Nominate 3 bloggers to do the same. 

My quote for Day 1 is:

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I am a huge fan of the Bard and I have always loved this quote. The line is from Hamlet. It is spoken by  the character Polonius as advice he gives to he son Laetres just before Laetres leaves for France.  (Actually, Polonius is a bit of a wind bag — taken completely in context the speech was possibly meant to be more annoying than profound. Plus Polonius has some dirty dealings of his own, like sending a spy to France to keep an eye on Laetres…)   But no matter. They are still great words and they fit well into the sound byte world of today!

“To thine own self be true.”  It means do what is right for YOU regardless of what others think.  Be yourself.  Your cup of tea is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that is fine. That is actually necessary. Imagine what a boring world it would be if everyone were homogenized.

“And it must follow, as the night the day; thou canst not then be false to any man.”  If you are true to yourself, it will follow that you are honest and authentic with others.  People will be able to trust who you are. This has something to do with directness.  People who are authentic then  give others permission to be themselves as well.

Words of wisdom from Mr. Shakespeare, the master, Bard, swan of Avon,  playwright pontificate and keeper of all keys 🙂

For my 3 bloggers I will nominate:

Mad as a Hatter

Sinister Dark Soul

Harmony Autumn Wood

 

Rhetorics and Politics

 

 

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That’s a bit out of your depth, don’t you think? 

Ever hear that voice? The one that says  Oh  no.  Not you.                                                                      Not good enough not smart enough                                                                                                      who the hell                                                                                                                                                    do you think you are                                                                                                                                  that YOU                                                                                      

 should be allowed to do THAT

 

They will tell you all kinds of things. Philosophy, theosophy                                                       Nietzsche and Sartre                                                                                                                                    Kant and Descartes.                                                                                                                                   Rousseau and Plato.                                                                                                                                   constitution institution politics and rhetorics

But in the end

They are nothing

but a pack of cards.

 

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Depth

 

Feast of Stephen

 

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For seven years of my life, I was privileged to serve as a page to his Majesty, the Good King  Wenceslas of Bohemia. This was a great honor to me, for I was from  a modest family, orphaned at a young age, and it was the King  who took me in, treating me practically as his ward.  A fine page I was and I served my master well, so much so that I became his favorite. I was privy to the King’s every secret and whim and I daresay I came to know him better than his own advisers.

The story I am about to tell may come as somewhat of a shock to you. It may in fact seem unbelievable. I assure you it happened,  for I would never tell a lie, and sure as my hand is my hand and my bone is my bone, this story is true.

It was the Year of our Lord 946, on the 26th day of December, the Feast of Saint Stephen. As was the custom for every saint’s feast day, a great repast was served in the King’s hall. The cooks prepared every carnage known to the kingdom; succulent ducks, hogs heads, blackbird pie, mutton and  hens. Great barrels of mead and momsey were served, as well as desserts of apple cakes and plum puddings.

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There was grand entertainment, jugglers and dancers and acrobats that walked like crabs, hands extended over their heads and bodies arched. Fiddlers and drummers and choirs chimed in magnificent orchestration.  The King was quite pleased with this entertainment, but the evening grew late. The King excused himself, and just as he was retiring to his quarters he looked outside the window. Here was something  most  disturbing.

A peasant in tattered clothes with no cloak to warm him scavenged outside in the forest for spare wood. The man rummaged and shivered , filling up his tiny cart, then hobbling away, for he had no horse to pull it.  The King  peered through  window and then tilted his head and let out a long sigh. I quickly jumped to his side, for quite fond was I of the King, and being his favorite I was able to approach him about his every sadness.

“Sire, something troubles you?” I asked.

King Wenceslas nodded. He gestured toward the peasant. He then looked upon me, suddenly serious, a depth of sorrow in his eyes.

“Ah, my dear boy,” he said. “It is with much grief I view yonder peasant. Did you see the  man? Scantily clothed, gathering meager wood from the barren trees. From whence comes he? Where lives he?  Knowest you?’

Sadly, I told the King I was well aware of the poor peasant’s dwelling. Leagues away from the castle the man scraped out his living in a hovel that was little better than a cave.  I was lack to reveal more of the bleak story,  but Wenceslas urged me.  The peasant’s wife and child had recently taken ill from malnutrition.  The scant amount of wood the peasant stole would barely last them the night.

Upon hearing this, the King hung his head. “Their Feast of Stephen was meager I take it,” he murmured.

“Sire,” I said, “Their Feast of Stephen was none!”

The King shuffled his feet, something he was fond of doing when thinking of solutions. He scratched his head and looked back out the window where snow swirled like a vast tornado.  The peasant was long gone.  The King then glanced back to the dining hall where the servants were cleaning up the leftovers.  Suddenly he pivoted on his heel, smiled broadly and grabbed me by the shoulders.  “But of course!” he bellowed, eyes bulging. “Boy,  go to the servants! Tell them to pack baskets of meat and mead, breads and cakes of all kinds!  Kindling wood and candles and blankets and raiment. Tonight that peasant shall dine in splendor.”

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The servants packed up several baskets. My first thought was to get the carriage driver to transport the goods, but the King bid me no. “I shall deliver them in person my dear lad,” he said. “And you shall go with me.”

The King was known to sometimes get odd notions in his head. When this happened, there was no stopping him until his ideas were completely carried out.

The night was bitterly cold, with snow packing the castle walls, so deep  I could barely tread upon it without my legs becoming enveloped. Yet the King insisted we walk, for he longed to visit the peasant in person, goods in hand, making a grand and bold entrance.

We left the palace and headed out into the bleak night. The wind whipped at my back. On and on we walked. The night grew darker still, the moon obscured by  thick drifting clouds. A numbing cold set to my toes. I breathed heavily, teetering my bundles. The King also carried bundles, but I was just a small boy, my legs short and spindly. Finally I knew I could go no further.

“Sire,” I panted. “I fear my heart will fail if I continue.”  My numb hands dropped my bundles in the snow  and I clutched my side. My ribs ached.

“Ah, my dear lad.” The King knelt beside me. “Be not troubled. I have just the solution! Now hear me. You see that my boots make large footprints in the snow, yes? I want you to tread behind me, follow in those footprints. You will find that you are soon warmed and invigorated.”

I knew it would do no good.  My master had surely lost his sanity. The night was now black as pitch. Snow swirled like icy diamonds and I feared a blizzard was  heading our way.  Yet the King casually set back on his path, blithe as if it were a summer’s day. I followed, doing as Wenceslas asked, only because it was my job to amuse him.

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If I had not seen it with my own eyes, felt it in my own flesh, I would not have believed it. The instant I stepped in the King’s footsteps, all chill left my body!  I was invigorated with a health and vitality such as I had never known. Merrily I followed Wenceslas. Once or twice he called behind to me, “How fare thee my lad?”  “Ever so happily Sire,” I sang back, for it was true.

When we reached the peasant’s hovel we found him with his wife and child, shivering in the darkness.  Quickly the King lit wax candles and commenced to lay the feast upon the table. The peasant’s eyes popped. He dropped to his knees, squinting through the candle light, lack to believe that this  generous stranger was actually the King.

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When the meal was finished Wenceslas made a promise; none in his kingdom would ever suffer hunger and cold again.

It was an extravagant promise, but the King made good on it. His great stores of treasure and gold were traded in exchange for new housing, timber wood and farmland so that all in the kingdom were given the chance to thrive.  Wenceslas then had a great dining hall built on the same land where the peasant’s hovel had once been. Ever after that, on the Feast of Stephen, all in the village, peasant and courtiers alike, dined in that great hall. Indeed, no one in Wenceslas’ kingdom ever went hungry again.

I frequently asked the King how it came that my feet had been so warmed and my heart so invigorated in his footsteps that night. It was still a puzzle to me.  The King only smiled, patted my head and said, “The snow and wind and I – we have an understanding.”

 

 

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt  Feast

 

 

In America We Love to Drive

 

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In America we love to drive                                                                                                               highway wide                                                                                                                                             gas be damned as we slam                                                                                                                         pedal to  metal. We speed                                                                                                                       smile sweet                                                                                                                                                 when they ask

License?

Registration?

We dream

of Autobahn, pay blood                                                                                                                               for oil, trade illusion on flat                                                                                                                     land                                                                                                                                                               angels swinging  from a chopper.                                                                                                      Hog the road

to stay alive

in America we love to  drive

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This poem was inspired by the Daily Post Drive

The Raven

 

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At the height of my fame I was known as the master of macabre, Poe the poet. But you, gentle reader may call me Edgar.  It is with much displeasure I look upon your current world. The nightmares you  now face are far more devastating than any I have poured from my pen.  In hopes of diverting your attention  I will tell you a bit about my own life.

Yes, in my day we had atrocities as well.  Disease and tuberculosis.  The enslavement of human beings for profit, great plantations built upon sweat of those who never saw a farthing for their labor. As for myself, I was orphaned at a young age, separated from my siblings and raised by a man called Allan. He hated me.

First, I will speak of the raven for  I hear he is  still an obsession of many.  It was my wife,  my sweet Virginia, who inspired that poem. “Edgar,” she told me, “choose a bird!  One of dark and eerie countenance.  Only such will move the minds of your readers, for they long to be frightened out of their wits!”

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She then giggled her girlish laugh and I knew she was right. The  poem I created sold by the hundreds, enabling me to begin my travels on what you in your modern world would call a ‘book tour’.

Virginia was my muse, my inspiration. She spoke of dark things;  human beings buried   alive,  black cats and black death, the stench of coffins and great stone mansions that crumbled in the quaking earth. Many a night she would entertain me with her wild imaginings, all of which found a true place when I put pen to paper.  Yet her dark fantasies worried me. Her behavior was peculiar, not like that of most women.  Often in the night I found her perched on the balcony as if she meant to take flight.

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Oh, she was a nubile creature!  Our marriage was quite unconventional.  When I wedded her she was but thirteen years old, a budding beauty, hair of silk and skin of peach.  And I, in my lustful maturity (for I was  then twenty seven) could not resist her coquettish charms.

What’s that you say? Pedophilia? The word was not in my vocabulary!   Before you jump to any vile conclusions be assured; my love for Virginia was pure.  She was family,  my first cousin.  We shared the very same blood!   As such, I think I saw in her a bit of myself —  my own reflection.  I could not resist the charm of her lovemaking, the exquisite pinnacles we achieved, for who does not secretly desire  carnal knowledge of one’s own self?

What’s that you say?  Incest?  Risk  of birth defects?  We knew nothing of your modern genetics!  Even if we had, I certainly would not have stopped the union, for I adored Virginia with a passion that was sublime, a passion very few humans will achieve.  Alas, she was to bear no children, a thing I have always regretted.

My true  nightmare  began when Virginia took ill with tuberculosis. In the stifled, slow moving days and the gloomy nights I watched as her  body atrophied. She became a walking cadaver, a blood spewing entity, standing in the path of the reaper, doomed for the bed of death.

When Virginia passed from this world I was devastated. In my loneliness I even tried to replace her.  I courted several ladies. I had affairs with the beautiful Nan Richmond and the illustrious Sarah Whitman. I even called upon the widow Elmira Shelton who  had once been my fiance (before I met Virginia.)  Yet my efforts were for naught.  None could rival  my true love.  Though she was gone I still burned with passion for her.

I then traveled to Baltimore, on a speaking tour. It was there that the spirit of Virginia began to haunt me relentlessly.  She came to me in dreams, visions and visitations. She was pale as chalk, thin as bone, with red stains of tainted  blood still trickling from her lips.  Yet to me she was lovely.

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These visions lasted four nights and it became clear to me; if I wished to reunite with Virginia I must pass through the dark realm myself. I must enter the red masque, step beyond the veil and know the silencing of my own telltale heart.

And so it was outside a public house, on the streets of Baltimore that I drew my last breath.

The night was wet and blustery, chill of the early  October winds setting in. I had been drawn from my chamber, beckoned by a bird. Yes, a raven. Of courses a raven!  What else?  I stood on the pavement  in bare feet and a nightshirt.  I was then encompassed in what I can only describe as a thick fog, soft to the touch of my skin, rich, relaxing and delicious. In that fog  I could feel Virginia’s presence. Finally I saw her, nubile and fresh as she was on our wedding day. In that moment I was  no longer tied to this earth. I joined Virginia in that place of  enthralling darkness, to return nevermore.

Try as they might, doctors  could report no discernible cause for my death.

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Nightmare

 

 

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