This is last week’s fairy post; I wanted to post it on Sunday, but then realized it’s the 15th of April, so yeah. Oh well, one day doesn’t make much of a difference.
(Surprisingly, it’s a Frenchman today; unsurprisingly, it’s another Shakespeare-inspired work.)
Edmund Dulac (also known as Edmond) was born in Toulouse, France, in 1882, under the amazing sign of the Libra. He studied art and law simultaneously, moved to London, and was asked to illustrate Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre when he was 22. That was the beginning of his success, as he moved on to famous fairy tales, newspaper caricatures, stamps, theatre set design, as well as illustrations for more ‘serious’ books (try googling his paintings for E. A. Poe’s poems). He died of a heart attack in 1953, while working on a masque by John Milton.
As most English (or wannabe English) artists, he also had an attempt at illustrating Shakespeare. The image below is from his take on The Tempest and it’s entitled Ariel in a tree (1908) (higher quality here):


I would love to delve into a (not quite)mini essay on Ariel as a Shakesperean character, his (her?) peculiar complexity and his strange nature, illusive, thin, air-like, which has been a nightmare for stage directors, as well as artists. I’m afraid I can’t come up with anything intelligent, though, nor with anything that a thorough google search/reading of the play would provide, so we’ll skip that part. (was that a very bad paralipsis?)
The painting, as the title suggests, depicts (an interestingly androgynous, but boringly substantial) Ariel in a tree which seems to bend to accommodate the shape of his body. The entire picture has a very flowing character, I’d say, and an interesting composition, with the subject to the top right of the image, and a whole lot of free space in the opposite corner. You can also see, especially in the HQ version, the green/dark shadows of the forest behind, which I thought was a lovely subtle touch providing a great contrast.
I will avoid being VERY predictable (that is, quoting Shakespeare), and settle for being merely predictable; this is Sylvia Plath’s poem Ariel, written in 1962, not long before her death, and published in 1965 in a homonymous antology. There are many interpretations of it, so that’s another topic I’ll skip, but it might be worth mentioning that Ariel was also the name of a horse which she used to write weekly in her youth, and that the name itself originates from Hebrew, in which it means “Lion of God”.

by Sylvia Plath

Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.

God’s lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! — The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Berries cast dark
Hooks —-

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Something else

Hauls me through air —-
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels.

Godiva, I unpeel —-
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child’s cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies,
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron of morning.


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Filed under Artlove, Poetrylove, Pseudointellectual

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