Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Witch on a Rooftop

Happy Halloween, dear readers. I thought I'd share a very of-the-season artwork from a French artist at deviantart. The title of the piece is Halloween, and I love the perspective: reeling not quite dizzily high over the city; it looks as though the young witch has just landed there, and is looking quietly out over the night and very much enjoying herself. A peaceful night for her: secretive she may be, but so are children who slip away into the wood to find an abandoned hollow under a tree in which to rest for a while and think young and deep thoughts.

Isn't this a fresh view for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Robert Borski's "Witch's Broom"

In honor of the approaching Halloween festivities, I want to feature a snatch of poetry from the current issue of Goblin Fruit, which is one of the best online journals for fairy tales; these are just a couple of phrases from Robert Borski's poem "Witch's Broom":

Only the best straw will suffice.

This is why she makes sure
to fertilize the field properly,
burying alive a dozen little boys
in the thick ground, just before
the advent of spring rains.

The handle -- which must accommodate
her legs in several different fashions --
she forges from wormwood and polishes
with bat grease....

Read the rest of the poem here. I am delighted at the creativity and playfulness of the piece. In fact I am jealous and wish that Dante's Heart had published it. The last few lines of Borski's poem are breathtaking in their humanity, so please don't be satisfied with the little bit I've included here, and go get the rest.

Happy Halloween, boys and girls -

The Editors, Dante's Heart

Soldier in winter

We have featured Venator_Somniorum's work on the blog before, but I just had to drop a note about this new piece, entitled Like I Promised:

Elegant! These days, anthropomorphic animal fantasy is difficult to pull off, but I have long been passionately in love with animal stories in folklore - deep roots there - and this just appeals to me on a level deeper than the intellectual.

Venator has a brief prose vignette to accompany the portrait, which you can read here, and from which I'll excerpt only enough words to use a breath on:

The snow still didn't stop, while the small team tried to reach their camp. Many wounds and scars covered them, those who survived the trap, to show the pride of The Alliance.

I am still trying to decide whether the alienness of the lynx's eyes is a flaw or a strength of the piece. In any case, worth the sharing. Venator has a gift for evoking something haunting, even in pieces that with only a few different brush strokes would have remained unremarkable. I will have to ask our art editor what she thinks of this particular one; I suspect she will dislike it, but there is something in the mood of the piece - perhaps only the sternness of the face against the bleakness of winter - that makes it difficult for me to draw my eyes away.

I fear I remain an entrapped and unrepenting fan of space opera and Star Wars (at least the older Star Wars) and of vast, outlandishly epic scenes with sweeping romantic scores that border on the sentimental or hyperbolic. Yet also I am still searching for that painting of the tiny baby dragon curled up on an autumn leaf, which was the subject of our first blog post. Caught between the desperate celebration of the Mahabharata (with its heavenly weapons and burning supernovas tossed so casually about a tiny battlefield) and the quiet of a haiku, I can only sing out my fascination for the violence of all those fantastical moments that strike us out of our chronos and make us see the world again as for the first time.

Mountain Thoughts

Dear readers,

Travel, fatigue, and the excitement of gathering submissions for our first issue of the Dante's Heart journal have kept me away from the blog too long. I'm back. I am reading Bill Buck's retellings of the Sanskrit epics, and had to share a passage - the prose is beautiful, the translation of Hindu mythwork into American English is stunning, an ennobling of our own native tradition and a great credit to the original. If you haven't run across Buck's and Mahabharata and Ramayana yet, this is very worth doing. Also Shirley Triest's illustrations are a wonder.


Once when Sanjaya had gone to get water, Dhritarashtra's holy fire tipped over in the dry leaves and grew to be a forest-fire, and Sanjaya at the river in the evening saw two sunsets through the trees, one to the west, one in the south.

Wild animals burst past then, yet Dhritarashtra and the two Queens could not move. The fire had cut them off on all sides; they met the flames in peace.

And after, Sanjaya rose from the water with the deer and bear and elephants and walked three times round where their camp had been. He poured some ashes into Ganga and went all alone up into the Hills, into the lonely Himalyas watched over by the gods.

Sanjaya's memories fell away like the dead ashes of a burnt-out fire--the bright stars of arrows in the sky, the rending sounds of the great bows, the sparks of shattered swords, the cries in the night, all were no more--and he thought to himself, "Earth my mother, how ungrateful and heartless were all those who rejected your bounty and instead chose to go to death. How could you appear to them as a mansion of sorrow, where no one could remain?"

How can one read this and not catch one's breath?

We are hoping to receive submissions for Dante's Heart that engage with many myth and fairytale traditions. The sanctus mundi that ripples beneath our cultural consciousness is rich and vivid, jungle and desert and dark deep all at once. Like Darwin and St. Francis, I am in love with the diversity of life. We become too used to encountering fairy tales and any accounts of marvels and wonders only within carefully bordered zoos and menageries - within encyclopedias of fairy tales, or children's carefully illustrated editions of Grimm. Even so with myth: we think of an almanac of Greek figures meticulously catalogued and distanced, rather than the vicious and vociferous bursting of myth into our daily lives. With Dante's Heart we will hope to break the zoo open a little bit more and try to catch glimpses of myth and fairy tale thriving in the literary and artistic wild.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tears of a Dying Hope

Take a look at this artist's work at devianart - the artist goes under the attractive callsign Venator_Somniorum. I believe he hails from Scandinavia. The best of his work is desperately emotive and atmospheric. A figure weeping tears (unless it is a Virgin Mary) is difficult to pull off in art, but he has done it. Haunting: this feline thing stepping into the lake of hope under a chill moon. I have no words. It is beautiful.