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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fairy Tales and Poetry

I was looking through some old drafts and found several fairy tale poems that I'd linked to or posted for the Once Upon a Time Challenge several years back.

I love poetry, and combining poetry and fairy tales has produced some wonderful, delicious, frightening, and/or funny poems.

Here is a delightful poem "How to Change a Frog into a Prince" by Anna Denise; originally published in The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales.  I posted this poem a couple of years ago during the Once Upon a Time Challenge, and still it touches me with both humor and truth.

Another post that I've had in draft form for about a year is a poem by Jane Yolen (can't beat Jane Yolen for poetry and fairy tales).  Another transformational poem.

Swan / Princess by Jane Yolen 

When the change came
she was sitting in the garden
embroidering an altar cloth,
thin gold thread working the crown of Christ.
First her neck
arching like cathedral vaultings.
Dress rippling at the shoulder accomodated wings:
white-vaned, white-feathered like Oriental smocking.
Hands and feet tangling into orange legs,
inelegant, powerful as camshafts.
When her head went, she cried,
not for pain, but for the loss
of her soft, thin lips
so recently kissed by the prince.
Not even the sweet air,
not even earth unfolding beneath her
recompensed for those lost kisses
or the comfort of his human arms.


When the change came
she was floating in the millpond,
foam like white lace tracing her wake.
First her neck shrinking,
candle to candleholder,
the color of old, used wax.
Wings collapsed like fans;
one feather left,
floating memory on the churning water.
Powerful legs devolving;
Powerful beak dissolving.
She would have cried for the pain of it
had not remembrance of sky sustained her.
A startled look on the miller's face
as she rose, naked and dripping,
recalled her to laughter,
the only thing she had really missed as a swan.

(via Endicott Studio)

There are several lines I love, but the last 6 lines are my favorites.

Since I am, for the first time in a couple of months or more, settling back into reading mode, my nightly activities have switched from 4-6 hours of sewing, crafting, and watching tv series on Netflix as I sew and craft--to reading like someone starved for words.

I've finished Heartless by Gail Carriger, The Summoner:  Bk. I by Gail Martin,  and The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (thanks to Nan) and enjoyed all of them.  Heartless is Steampunk fantasy, but I'm undecided as to whether or not to include it as a Once Upon a Time book choice; the other two definitely fit into the Once Upon a Time category.

I've started Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, a massive and complicated tome that was not really what I intended to check out, but the library didn't have Snow Crash. did I end up reading Neal Stephenson, an author I was not familiar with until a few days ago?

I stopped in at So Many Books and read her post about optimistic science fiction (you can find the post here), then followed her links, then put Snow Crash on my list.  The library didn't have Snow Crash, but they did have Cryptonomicon, and I remembered that Stefanie had given it high praise.  I have also long been fascinated by codes and code breakers, especially anything to do with the Enigma machine and the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII.

Hesitating when I saw the size of Crypto, and knowing how much I love the fairy tale, fantasy, and myth to which I intended to devote myself, I just couldn't resist the connection to Enigma and tucked the huge book in my bag.  What I didn't bargain for was the complexity of the is gonna' take a while to get through these 800+ pages!  I could have read an entire book or two in the time I spent getting through about 75 pages until after midnight last night!

I like it, and I like the tongue-in-cheek-iness of it, but NUMBERS and FORMULAS are not my thing.  On the other hand, I'm always so impressed with individuals who do understand math and physics and abstractness to the most randomness possible.  I'm as captivated by these individuals as I am by David Weber's weaponry and military tactics (another realm of possibility beyond my abilities).

I am an eclectic reader.  :)


  1. Love Neal Stephenson & both books mentioned, if you like fairy tales & myths & are trying Science fiction a great collection to get hold of is The Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories, which I wrote a post on & the tales have less of a mechanistic edge & quite often relate to earlier folktales. Another great book of Fairytales is Italo Calvino's Italian FolkTales or the one by W.B. Yeats Irish Fairy tales both great reads edited by great writers.

  2. I haven't tackled Neal Stephenson, yet, but I'm pretty sure I have a copy of Crytonomicon, somewhere. You've made it sound infinitely more appealing.

    Love the poem, too.

  3. Parrish Lantern - Oh, some great suggestions. I looked for James Stephenson's Irish Fairy Tales at the library, but they didn't have it. Surely, though, they will have Calvino's or Yeats. Thanks!

    Nancy - Cryptonomicon is a bit confusing, but interesting. Nonfiction books I've read about WWII (including Operation Mincemeat) are making their fictionalized versions into the story.

  4. I was just saying tonight that I wanted to read some poems by Jane Yolen. Thanks for this post!

  5. Kailana - I'm always impressed with Jane Yolen. She has a wonderful visual imagination.