Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Leaves of Silver, Leaves of Gold


Another illustration by Mirko Hanak.

For the tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, from a collection of Rumanian folktale by Petre Ispirescu (1830-1887), sometimes called "the Rumanian Grimm."

In other versions of the popular tale, the number of princesses vary.


Raine of the Secret Garden, of all people, asked in comments below the Mind-Walker post on Monday, how do you Surprise your reader and so bespell him.

The short answer is: I don't know.

Surprise itself may be part of the magic, when the reader is struck with an arrow of delight, falling suddenly out of a sky of words.

A twist in a familiar path, a window sliding open on a different world. Something as undefined as abstracts, and only in analogies.

Perhaps, if one took each favourite story and noted the point and passage where one became enthralled beyond escape, one might acquire a portion of the spell and compose one's own grimoire.

I have read many fairy tales. The Twelves Dancing Princesses ( by whatever name) remains one of my favourites. Not because of the brave gardener's boy or the magic that befriends him. Not because of the sweet youngest princess. Not because of the secret door to their bedchamber, nor the victory over compulsion, nor the reward for daring.

But because of the picture invoked when, after they cross the lake, on their way to the Other Court, they pass through three forests.

One where the trees are leaved with silver, one where the trees are leaved with gold, and one where the leaves are diamonds and precious jewels.
The wonder stays with me yet.

22 comments:

Sam said...

That's a very evocative passage - three forests, each one a wonder.
I never read that story - I guess I'll have to find it!

writtenwyrdd said...

that sense of delightful surprise is, to me, like walking down a dreary (or just ordinary) hallway and then turning a corner which opens onto a magical fairy garden. If you experience the equivalent of a kid's squeal of delight and want to leap into that new space and climb the trees or roll in the flowers, it's a feeling you can't beat.

Now as to how one writes that... I think that's a small miracle that you the writer can invite it in...

Bernita said...

Sam, my imagination ran through them, touching the leaves, listening to their sound.
It's quite a popular tale and many collections may have it, though perhaps under a different title.

Bernita said...

Some image or insight, Written, that rings like a silent bell.

Ric said...

The point where the author engages the reader. Yes, very hard to pinpoint - I suspect it is different for each. But, as you indicate, magical when it happens.

It draws you into the work - and, if the writer has done her job, will send you searching for every thing she's ever written, hoping for that feeling again.

Be it ever thus.

kmfrontain said...

One of my favourite fairy tales as well, that and the three massive dogs with larger and larger eyes, and Koschei, the Undying. Love those. Never could stop reading my old book of fairy tales. Read it so much, the cover fell off. :-) Now I find it interesting that fairy tales work so well. They're full of tell, not show, but somehow inspire the imagination and make people love them for years and years, century after century. Same with myths. Perhaps it's that the few passages that do show us the scene are so fantastical we latch on and don't let go. Says a lot for human imagination, if we can make so huge an inner world on so few indications from an author.

Bernita said...

I wonder if it's different for each author, Ric, or different for each reader, or both.
I wonder if there's a commonality for popular stories.

~delighted~
Yes, Karen! I met Koschei in a book of Russian fairy tales called "Vasilisa the Beautiful" in a story "Marya Morevna the Lovely Tsarevna" - which is constructed like the egg-dolls.
And your analysis is very well put.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Yanno..some days you just blow me away with your 'normal' writing. I mean, like that was expository and you made it sound like a poem.

*shaking her head* I don't know how you make regular english sound so, so...I don't know what it is, but you do it!

Bernita said...

And here I was thinking the post was fairly vague and rather banal.
Bonnie, you are my heart-friend and sister-love.
Thank you.

spyscribbler said...

A study, though, as you suggest would be a smart thing. Problem is, that moment usually carries me away from critical thought. When I blink into reality again, the moment is far away. If we anticipated if/when it would happen, I wonder if it would?

raine said...

Raine of the Secret Garden, of all people...

Ha!! :-D

I think I know what you mean. It's that sort of entranced feeling, as if the pages themselves contained some sort of fairy dust that breezed over you at a certain point or passage. I've experienced it many times, and yes, frequently with fairy tales, but never stopped to analyze it. Usually just shut the book, close my eyes, and sigh happily.
I need to read over some of my favorites, see how that was accomplished.
Great post.

One where the trees are leaved with silver, one where the trees are leaved with gold, and one where the leaves are diamonds and precious jewels.

Sigh...

Bernita said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernita said...

It might not, Natasha, that's why I suggest favourites so one can rely on memory.

Said that because I think you have that magic dust, Raine....

December Quinn said...

I agree with Bonnie. Your voice is always beautiful and evocative.

There was a tv series done by Jim Henson (I believe) called The Storyteller; it's available on DVD and well worth checking out. Live-action versions of fairy tales, some very unusual ones too, and some where they've done the older or less well-known versions of the tales.

Funny, I always loved that bit in The 12 Dancing Princesses too. They've done a Barbie version on DVD, I was disappointed to see that's not there. I thought it was such a lovely image, and a little sinister as well. What strange world are they in, where such things exist?

I'll have to think of my favorite fairy tale, and the moment that excited me in it.

Candice Gilmer said...

What a lovely passage...

Bernita said...

Thank you, December.
If it is live action and not animated cartoon style, I will certainly look for it.

I thought so, Candice. Possibly one of the reasons I have one of those twisted wire trees with the tiny metal leaves.

raine said...

(blush)
Thank you, Bernita, I'm honored.

anna said...

Oh my! I must leave you now and walk in those three forests.
Lovely post Bernita

Donnetta Lee said...

Beautiful. I suppose the author takes us by the hand and escorts us to the party. Then, with a smile, hands us the gift to open. Donnetta

Holly Kennedy said...

*sigh* Bernita, your posts always do this to me. I stop by, stare and stare at an amazing photo or illustration (today's is, as usual, stunning, btw), read what you've posted, and feel...rough around the edges and clumsy next to your truly evocative way of putting things. Beautiful. Honestly.

Scott from Oregon said...

Surprise itself may be part of the magic, when the reader is struck with an arrow of delight, falling suddenly out of a sky of words.

My word, bernita!

You are a gift to the world.

Truly...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna and Donnetta.

Thank you, Holly and Scott. Kind of you and exaggerated.
But believe me, I suck it up.