Let's talk about magic
Myth & Moor update

The sea, the sea

Mermaids by Arthur Rackham

Undine illustrations by Arthur Rackham

I'm in Sheffield right now, preparing for The Secrets of the Selkies tonight, immersed in the lore of seals and sea ... and I'm reminded of these salty, mysterious words from Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard:

"Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, a dawn fast over the mountains split....

"I open my eyes. The god lifts from the water. His head fills the bay. He is Puget Sound, the Pacific; his breast rises from pastures; his fingers are firs; islands slide wet down his shoulders. Islands slip blue from his shoulders and glide over the water, the empty, lighted water like a stage.

Neptune's Horses by Walter Crane

Prospero and Miranda by Edmund Dulac

"Today's god rises, his long eyes flecked in clouds. He flings his arms, spreading colors; he arches, cupping sky in his belly; he vaults, vaulting and spread, holding all and spread on me like skin.

Dreamland and Sea Fairies by Florence Susan Harrison

The Little Mermaid by Helen Stratton

"I came here to study hard things -- rock mountains and sea salt -- and to temper my spirit on their edges...[And what I face is] sea, and unimaginable solid islands, and sea, and a hundred rolling skies. You spill your breath. Nothing holds; the whole show rolls....Land is a poured thing and a time a surface film lapping and fringing at fastness, at a hundred hollow and receeding blues....

Illustrations for The Little Mermaid by Edmund Dulac

Tilly on the Devon coast

"Here is the fringy edge; where elements meet and realms mingle, where time and eternity spatter each other with foam.

An illustration for The Tempest by Edmund Dulac

Tilly on the Devon coast

"The salt sea and the islands, molding and molding, row upon row, do not quit, nor do winds end nor skies cease from spreading in curves. The actual percentage of land mass to sea in the Sound equals that of the rest of the planet: we have less time than we knew. Time is eternity's pale interlinear, as islands are the sea's. We have less time than we knew and that time is bouyant, and cloven, luscent, and missile, and wild."

On the south Devon coast

Undine by Arthur Rackham

Words: The passage above is from Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard (Harper & Row, 1997). The poem in the picture captions is from The Last Selchie Child by Jane Yolen (A Midsummer Night's Press, 2012) -- run your cursor over the images to read it. All rights reserved by the authors.

Pictures: The illustrations above are: Mermaids by Arthur Rackham, Neptune's Horses by Walter Crane, Prospero and Miranda (from The Tempest) by Edmund Dulac, Dreamland and Sea Fairies by Florence Susan Harrison, The Little Mermaid (drawing) by Helen Stratton, The Little Mermaid by Edmund Dulac, another illustration from The Tempest by Edmund Dulac, and water spirits by Arthur Rackham. The photographs are not of Puget Sound, but of me and sea-loving Tilly on the north Devon coast a while back. (The one of me was snapped by Howard.)


Beautiful words.

Both passages are so evocative, effortless and beautiful.
In the second photo of Tilly running, she looks so puppy-like :)

Thank you, again. Much love to you and yours. I think I'll go spend more time by the sea, the sea.

Ohhhhh. Must reread this one now. ❤️❤️❤️

This is one of the most beautiful descriptions/essays I have read about the sea, its spirit and its force. Absolutely lovely. Thank you Terri so much for sharing this piece and these incredibly gorgeous paintings!!

Here, in the high desert we have had a taste of the sea and a real Autumn as a cold rain sweeps in from the coast bringing with it a slow drift of mist and air tinged with cool dampness. And perhaps, in its gray gathering of clouds on the mountains, the spirit of the seal, the selkie.

Selkie Weather

Clouds beach themselves on the mountain
as cold rain rises from the grey
mammals of storm.
Slow and slender, she descends
to earth possessing
anything natural or human.
She soaks through my hair, my skin
infusing the bones with her song
of sea and winter birds
stuffed between the large stones
hungering for rest. The wind calling
for high tide and full moon. A flood
that weakens those stubborn things
beyond moss and barnacle. Its waves
washing off what splinters and laments.

Take care

And just wanted to add

I am absolutely enthralled by Jane's extraordinary poem" Great Selkie". This one enchants with its wistful magic and beauty, its voice and gorgeous language. Thank you for sharing this!

My best

Wendy, I love this. We are helplessly (and willingly?) possessed by a storm. And I'm excited by the idea of a selkie spirit finding her way into the desert through rain...there's a story in that for sure.
Thanks for sharing this.

Thanks so much Lunar
for reading and sharing your thoughts on this poem! I deeply appreciate them. And yes, we are possessed by a storm and in my humble opinion/experience by the elements themselves. I believe nature's temperament is often a mirror of our own.

Again, thank you!

Good luck, Terri!

This from Charles Causley:

Mother, I hear the water
Beneath the headland pinned,
And I can see the seagull
Sliding down the wind.
I taste the salt upin my tongue
As sweet as sweet can be.

Tell me, my dear, whose voice you hear?

It is the sea, the sea.

'upon', that should be...

mammals of storm

Ooooo....shiver.....tremble. Thanks.


The Gulls As They Slide

The gulls as they slide
down the long wind,
like children playing
in the field of sky,
The tumble of feathers,
screech of pleasure,
and the big blow after.
Oh, to be by the old sea now,
where the tongue of waves
curl about my ankles,
and gulls laughter,
like the blue sky,
follows me home.

©2029 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

Made my day!!!


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