Today is the last day of my vacation. Different activities have wandered in and out of my weeks off. Mundane things, such as car repairs, have taken up time. Spinning and reading and knitting and playing games and socializing and calligraphy and photography and painting and studying are amongst the other activities. Probably the most amusing, though, has been reading a popular book about a certain witch and vampire . . . if you are into the subject matter, you know of whom I write.
It has been a fun journey into Elizabethan (Tudor) England, and its historical figures. I have read about Sir Walter Raleigh and his unhappy end; about Nicholas Hilliard, the limner and miniaturist (his work is quite admirable); Edmund Spenser; Thomas Harriot, who was an Einstein of his time; Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland; Mad Kit Marlowe (I read his plays in college); Matthew Roydon. I’ve also looked up articles on quill cutting for writing purposes – I used to cut my own quills years ago – and the different hands used in Elizabethan England. Ink recipes, too.
I dug out my own dip pens, and steel nibs (19th and 20th century items) to practice handwriting with such. Poor paper, which is porous and pulls the ink out of the nib in blurry blobs, yields frustrating results. Bond paper, such as 24 lb. copier paper, is far better, but not ideal. Wider nibs, made by Speedball, require deep wells to hold the ink. While practicing such, I decided that I would look up a poem apropos to the era, and found one by Roydon: An Elegy; or, Friend’s Passion for his Astrophel.
From there, on to different poetry archives, with poems by Sir Raleigh, Edmund Spenser, Shakespeare and others. However, for some reason, this one popped up without any planned search, just by clicking on the name of the author, Royall Snow:
i. A Melody with Sombre Chords
Pierrot draws aside the willows
As a curtain,
And naïve Columbine steps through.
In the moonlight–
Like the twinkling of silver minnows
The gurgling brook winks at Pierrot.
He had come there before.
ii. Danse Macabre
From a hidden orchestra
Drifts in blurred melody the valse hesitation
A dancer presses his partner’s hand
“No,” whispers the woman
And turns her head
So that the moonlight falls on her bare throat.
Given the subject matter of my reading, one cannot help but wonder why this one poem appeared.