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The Massacre of the Innocents part 5

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The
parishioners inquired of him in undertones, “What does he say? What is he going
to do?” Others, seeing the curt: in the orchard, emerged cautiously from their
huts, and women hastily came near and whispered in small groups among
themselves, while the soldiers who had been besieging the inn, came out again
when they saw the crowd assembling in the square.

Then
he who held the innkeeper’s child by one leg, cut off its head with a stroke of
the sword. The peasants saw the head fall, and the body bleeding on the ground.
The mother gathered it to her arms, forgetting the head, and ran toward her
house. On the way she stumbled against a tree, fell flat on the snow and lay in
a faint, while the father struggled with two soldiers.

Horror to the accompaniment

Some
of the younger peasants threw stones and wood at the Spaniards, but the horsemen
rallied and lowered their lances, the women scattered in all directions, while
the curd with his other parishioners, shrieked with horror to the accompaniment
of the noises made by the sheep, geese, and dogs.

As
the soldiers went off once more down the street, they were quiet again, waiting
to see what would happen. A group went into the shop of the sacristan’s
sisters, but came out again without touching the seven women, who were on their
knees praying within.

Then
they entered the inn of the Hunchback of St. Nicholas. There too the door was
instantly opened in the hope of placating them, but when they appeared again in
the midst of a great tumult, they carried three children in their arms, and
were surrounded by the Hunchback, his wife and daughters, who were begging for
mercy with clasped hands.

When
the soldiers came to their leader they laid the children down at the foot of an
elm, all dressed in their Sunday clothes. One of them, who wore a yellow dress,
got up and ran with unsteady feet toward the sheep. A soldier ran after it with
his naked sword. The child died with its face on the earth.

The
others were killed near the tree. The peasants and the innkeeper’s daughters
took flight, screaming, and went back to their houses. Alone in the orchard,
the curd fell to his knees and begged the Spaniards, in a piteous voice, with
arms crossed over his breast, going from one to the other on his knees, while
the father and mother of the murdered children, seated on the snow, wept
bitterly as they bent over the lacerated bodies.

As
the foot-soldiers went along the street they noticed a large blue farmhouse.
They tried to break in the door, but this was of oak and studded with huge
nails. They therefore took tubs which were frozen in a pond near the entrance,
and used them to enter the house from the second story windows.

The Massacre of the Innocents part 4

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They
made their way toward the Golden Sun and knocked at the door. It was opened
with some hesitancy, and the Spaniards entered, warmed themselves before the
fire, and demanded ale. They then left the inn, taking with them pots,
pitchers, and bread for their companions, and the old man with the white beard
who stood waiting among his soldiers.

 As the street was still deserted, the
commanding officer sent off some horsemen behind the houses to guard the
village on the side facing the open country, and ordered the footmen to bring
to him all children two years old or under, as he intended to massacre them, in
accordance with what is written in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

The
men went first to the small inn of the Green Cabbage and the barber’s hut,
which stood close to each other in the central part of the street. One of them
opened the pigsty and a whole litter of pigs escaped and roamed about through
the village. The innkeeper and the barber came out of their houses and humbly
inquired of the soldiers what was wanted, but the Spaniards understood no
Flemish, and entered the houses in search of the children.

The
innkeeper had one who, dressed in its little shirt, was sitting on the dinner
table, crying. One of the soldiers took it in his arms and carried it off out
under the apple trees, while its parents followed weeping.

Stables of the barrel-maker

The
foot-soldiers next threw open the stables of the barrel-maker, the blacksmith,
and the cobbler, and cows, calves, asses, pigs, goats and sheep wandered here
and there over the square. When they broke the windows of the carpenter’s
house, a number of the wealthiest and oldest peasants of the parish gathered in
the street and advanced toward the Spaniards.

They
respectfully took off their caps and hats to the velvet-clad chief, asking him
what he intended to do, but he too did not understand their language, and one
of them ran off to get the cur6. He was about to go to Benediction, and was
putting on his golden chasuble in the sacristy.

The peasants cried, “The Spaniards are in the orchard!” Terror stricken, he ran to the church door, followed by the choir-boys carrying their censers and candles. From the door he could see the cattle and other animals set loose from their stables wandering over the grass and snow, the Spanish horsemen, the foot-soldiers before the doors of the houses, horses tied to trees all along the street, and men and women supplicating the soldier who carried the child still clad in its shirt.

He hastened into the churchyard, the peasants turning anxiously toward him, their priest, who arrived like a god covered with gold, out there among the pear-trees. They pressed close about him as he stood facing the white-bearded man. He spoke both in Flemish and Latin, but the officer slowly shrugged his shoulders to show that he failed to understand.

The Massacre of the Innocents part 3

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The
sisters of the dead woman and various other relatives got into the cart, and
the curt: as well, for he was old and very fat and could walk only with the
greatest difficulty. They drove off into the wood, and in silence reached the
wide open fields, where they saw the dead soldiers, stripped naked, and the
horses lying on their backs on the shining ice among the trees.

They
went on toward the farm, which was still burning in the midst of the open
fields.

When
they reached the orchard of the burning house, they stopped short before the
garden gate and looked upon the terrible tragedy. Korneliz’ wife hung, naked,
from the branches of a huge chestnut. He himself climbed up a ladder into the
branches of the tree, below which his nine little girls awaited their mother on
the lawn. Korneliz made his way through the arching boughs overhead when all at
once, outlined against the bright snow, he caught sight of the crowd beneath,
looking up at him.

Golden Sun

Weeping,
he signed to them to come to his help, and they came into the garden, and the
sacristan, the Red Dwarf, the innkeepers of the Blue Lion and the Golden Sun,
the curd carrying a lantern, and several other peasants, climbed into the
snow-covered chestnut to cut down the body of the hanged woman. The women took
the body into their arms at the foot of the tree, as those other women once
received Our Lord Jesus Christ.

She
was buried on the following day, and for the next week nothing unusual occurred
in Nazareth, but the next Sunday famished wolves ran through the village after
High Mass, and the snow fell until noon. Then the sun came out and shone bright
in the sky, and the peasants went home to dinner as usual, and dressed for
Benediction.

At
this time there was no one out on the square, for it was bitter cold. Only dogs
and chickens wandered here and there among the trees, and sheep nibbled at the
triangular spot of grass, and the curd’s maid swept the snow in the garden.

Then
a troop of armed men crossed the stone bridge at the far end of the village,
and pulled up at the orchard. A few peasants came out of their houses, but
hurried back terror-stricken when they saw that the horsemen were Spaniards,
and went to their windows to watch what was going to happen.

There
were thirty horsemen, in armor. They gathered round an old man with a white
beard. Each horseman carried with him a foot-soldier dressed in yellow or red.
These dismounted and ran about over the snow to warm themselves, while a number
of armored soldiers also dismounted.

The Massacre of the Innocents part 2

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After
deliberating a long while in the churchyard, they decided to hide in the wood
which the Spaniards were to come through, attack them if they were not too
numerous, and recover Petrus Krayer’s cattle and any booty they might have
taken at the farm.

The
men armed themselves with forks and spades while the women remained with the
cur£ by the church. Looking for a favorable place for an ambuscade, the men
reached a hilly spot near a mill at the edge of the wood, where they could see
the fire glowing against the stars of night. They took up their position under
some enormous oaks by the side of an ice-covered pond.

A
shepherd, who was called the Red Dwarf, mounted to the top of the hill in order
to warn the miller, who had already stopped his mill when he saw flames on the
horizon. But he allowed the peasant to enter, and the two went to a window to
look out over the countryside.

Dwarf went down

The
moon shone down brightly upon the conflagration, and the men could see a long
procession of people wending their way across the snow. After they had done
watching, the Dwarf went down again to the others waiting in the wood.

They
could soon distinguish in the distance four riders behind a herd of cattle
browsing over the fields. As they stood, clad in their blue breeches and red
mantles, looking about by the pond’s edge under trees made luminous by the
heavy snowfall, the sacristan showed them a box-hedge, and behind this they
crouched.

The
Spaniards, driving before them flocks and cattle, made their way over the ice,
and when the sheep came to the hedge and began nibbling at the greenery,
Korneliz broke through, the others following him into the moonlight, armed with
their forks. There was then a great massacre in the presence of the huddled
sheep and cows, that looked on frightened at the terrible slaughter under the
light of the moon.

When
they had killed the men and their horses, Korneliz went out into the fields
toward the blazing farm, while the others stripped the dead. Then they all
returned to the village with the flocks and cattle. The women, who were looking
out toward the dense wood from behind the churchyard walls, saw them coming out
from among the trees and in company with the cur£ ran to meet them. They all
returned dancing amid laughing children and barking dogs.

As
they made merry under the pear-trees, where the Dwarf had hung lanterns as for
a kermesse, they asked the cur£ what ought to be done next. They decided to
send a cart for the body of the woman who had been hanged and her nine little
girls, and bring them all back to the village.

The Massacre of the Innocents part 1

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Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949)

Maurice
Maeterlinck was born at Ghent in 1862. He studied for the law, but left for
Paris after a short career as a lawyer. In Paris he became acquainted with
several writers who exercised considerable influence over him. Maeterlinck’s
chief contributions to contemporary literature are his plays and his essays.

The
Massacre of the Innocents was the earliest published work of this writer. It
appeared in 1886 in a small magazine. It is a skilfully constructed tale, in
which the background and details are strikingly similar to the early paintings
of the Flemish school.

The
translation, by Barrett H. Clark, was made especially for this collection.
Originally reprinted by permission of the author.

The Massacre of the Innocents

On
Friday the 26th of December about supper time, a little shepherd came into
Nazareth crying terribly.

Some
peasants who were drinking ale at the Blue Lion threw open the shutters to look
into the village orchard, and saw the lad running across the snow. They
recognized him as Korneliz’ son, and shouted at him from the window: “What’s
the matter? Go to bed, you!”

But
the boy answered in a voice of terror, telling them that the Spaniards had
come, having already set fire to the farm, hanged his mother from a chestnut
bough, and bound his nine little sisters to the trunk of a large tree.

The
peasants quickly came forth from the inn, surrounded the boy and plied him with
questions. He went on to tell them that the soldiers were clad in steel armor
and mounted on horse-back, that they had seized the cattle of his uncle, Petrus
Krayer, and would soon enter the wood with the sheep and cattle.

They
all ran to the Golden Sun, where Korneliz and his brother- in-law were drinking
ale, while the innkeeper hastened out into the village to spread the news of
the approach of the Spaniards.

There was great excitement in Nazareth. Women threw open windows and peasants ran forth from their houses carrying lights which they extinguished as soon as they came to the orchard, where it was bright as midday, because of the snow and the full moon. They gathered round Korneliz and Krayer in the public square before the inn. Many had brought pitchforks and rakes. They took counsel, speaking in tones of terror, out under the trees.

As they were uncertain what to do, one of them ran to fetch the curd, who owned the farm that was worked by Korneliz. He came forth from his house with the keys of the church, in company with the sacristan, while all the others followed him to the churchyard, where he proclaimed from the top of the tower that he could see nothing, either across the fields or in the wood, but that there were red clouds in the direction of his farm. Over all the rest of the horizon the sky was blue and filled with stars.

The Legend of Pygmalion Part 6

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VI. The Melody of Grief

A pale dawn hovered. With the first gleams the sea awoke, stretching its golden scales. Across the heavens as purple as martyred flesh flew black arrows of birds. And a beam came to encircle like a collar the neck of Galatea.

Pygmalion, wearied after that night, lay sleeping. Awakening, he rubbed his eyes that were freighted with visions, for this had doubtless been a nightmare. The statue was not his, his Galatea Victrix. The lips had lost their curve of a taut bow. With the human precision of pupils these eyes told the grief of living.

A maternal milk films and conquers these breasts; the hips have lost their softness; the fragile frame is bent toward Mother Earth. Instead of the statue of potent Beauty, all night long he has been sculpturing the very face of grief. His hands, formerly as exact as pupils, have deceived him, and now his eyes, too, must be deceiving him. No pain is comparable to that of the creator before whose piercing sight is unfolded the sterile perspective of an uninspired future.

Death is preferable, when consoling vanity does not come to suggest victorious to-morrows. He who has known the anguish of the perishable is no longer capable of eternal masterpieces. He was punished in his divinity for having adored the imperfect creatures of this world.

And he was like a man weeping over a ruin.

The Legend of Pygmalion Part 5

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V. Fever

And because on one dazzling morning the light revealed her de-formation, Pygmalion foresaw her inevitable fate. Without wakening her, when night came he took his chisel and struck her bosom a blow. There came the roar of the sea, unfailing and intermittent, liljp Fate herself. And in the gloom that is so favorable to the dreams of the poets, Pygmalion said: “Why art thou so cruel, O Beauty? It were better that I should be blind. Why does human ugliness so much offend me, and why dream if every dead dream becomes a corpse?”

His hands felt the cold body. He trembled as he divined the new miracle: Galatea was returning to the original marble. Her body was acquiring the firmness and the inert smoothness of the pure divine mat-ter. Her tresses grew fixed in salient lines like hard veins. And even a tear on her cheek had turned to stone.

Oh, wonder of the creative soul, emotion of death or of miracle! To remedy the imperfections of this ruined flesh his ancient frenzy returned. He groped in the dark for his chisel and hammer. All that night he chiseled. In the wondrous silence the blows of his hammer seemed like the throbs of a vast bosom. To this human matter conquered by grief—this shroud with which we come into the world—succeeded a flesh resistant to the centuries, indomitably firm, incorruptible and pure.

In this gloom and silence so favorable to perennial creation, Pygmalion felt his hands agitated by a quivering of wings. At moments they rose caressingly to form a shield upon each breast; he was yet too close to the image of the ardent woman for the statue not to appear still docile to the slavery of life and love. But after this loving interlude there resounded anew, as vehement as cries of victory, as wild as shouts of jubilation, thunderous and rhythmical, the blows of the hammer that were to resuscitate this marble life.

The Legend of Pygmalion Part 4

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IV. Weariness

Thought Pygmalion, not daring to say it in words: “O godly form, despite your divine origin, you shall die. Worm and rot, instead of the eternity that I have dreamed. To reveal to myself my godly powers, I subjected you to the law of death. But I’ll not be able to bear that you should die. Let me die instead, and let my flesh rot; but you must remain unchangeable, immune to time. Ah, why did I teach you love!”

With a nameless anguish he espied in his perfect companion each hollow and wrinkle. Then began sad days of terrible memory when love, having reached the summit, descends the hill with wings folded across her soft shoulders. But no, as in earthly passion, blindness prolonged his affection, save that in Pygmalion’s eyes, unfortunately, was the clairvoyance of the artist accustomed to notice in the skin of the marble as in the flesh, the coarse grain and the future crack. In the hue of dawn his artist’s nerves at times tingled to exasperation. He would surprise in the face of the sleeping woman that fatigue which changes all beauty. The delicate charm of her abandon still provoked kisses, even as does a sleeping child; but the breasts were losing their supple firmness, no longer pointing as before their desires to the skies.

In the corners of his studio Pygmalion meditated, weeping: “You have given me everything, and yet… You have revealed to me felicities the mere memory of which makes me swoon. But happiness, like grief, can weary us. Because I did not know that dreams, translated to earth, are corrupted, I wished to endow you with an inferior reality, that of life.

Ah, beautiful creations should remain eternal! And behold ine now, sad and loving, vacillating between an unholy crime, that I may not witness the misery of a perfection destined to-morrow to be sullied, and the most human, the deepest desire to let you live, though my dream be shattered, that I may not lose—O cowardice!—this daily commerce of happiness.”

Pygmalion joined his hands and wept. From the sea came those raucous accents that to great hearts are as cooings. His impatient hands trembled anew with the fever for new forms.

But for a few days the aridity of an unbounded fatigue followed upon this plenitude. Art seemed to him a new lie invented to satisfy the need of adoration. It was as servility and a superstition worthy of slaves.

If Galatea cried, his pity returned convulsively. And though she did not understand his words, he said to her in that low voice in which dreams are told or children are spoken to: “O my Galatea, do not weep. My reason for living is these creatures of marble. You, at least, have felt the possibility of eternal being.

But I, an earthly creature with divine promptings, do not resign myself to death. Though my cherished dreams float off on the wind, my finest enthusiasms shall have been for a fleeting moment part of eternity. At least let not the evidences of my madness die. A little of our wretched nature remains living in our eternal labors. My friend, my wife, tell me that you understand my grief.”

But the sweetly unknowing one could only weep. In a brief space her eyes had lost their clearness of rare and luminous stones; her breasts were no longer clusters tipped with the pink grape; wasted was the line of the hips.

She was journeying to her ruin, pale and austere as the statue of Fate. Through need of sharpening her agony, she recalled the olden shining hours of vows and kisses, as if a wasted face could rouse in her beloved the selfsame worship that her inviolate beauty had won. Daily, between one who aspired to self-perfection and his conquered, abandoned companion, the separation increased.

Pygmalion would not deceive her with creatures of flesh, but with new dreams.

Galatea compared herself with those pure sisters of the atelier, envying the immutable virtue of the stone that knows neither grief nor age. After these human lusts she began to feel the selfsame yearning of the gods: self-annihilation.

But, wretched creature that she was, she could not die at her wish.

The Legend of Pygmalion Part 3

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III. The Initiation

Pygmalion became her master and her guide. This manner of teaching filled him with a confused intoxication, like to that of one who models the cherished image in wax. And, as the features of human beauty are adumbrated in the hazy sketch, so in this ingenuous child appeared—with a more than terrestrial charm—the first restlessness of womanhood.

No longer did she wander among the slabs of the atelier; nor did she lie upon the marble blocks, so crude and full of possibilities, into which her body seemed ready to merge and thus suddenly return to its primal element. Perhaps some dim memory induced in her a preference for the nearness of this pure material. Standing, she assumed always the attitude of a goddess. And when she reclined in meditation, she became the supple form that advances in the procession of the Panathenaea.

Aureoled thus in pure, resplendent white, at every hour before the astonished artist she repeated the miracle of a dream come true. From the depths of his soul there rose to Pygmalion’s lips thanks with no definite goal, fervor for that blind Fate which had been so kindly.

Art, his sculpture, did not appear to him, as in past hours of ennui, the sterile labors of a solitary fanatic, but the glorious replacement of the unknown God, for he, like God, could create in living flesh. What mattered mortal sleeplessness while waiting for the inspiration tha t never came, the untranscribable madness of night and the cold disillusionment of the morrow, which daily dies, the grievous solitude of him who dreams because every aspiring ecstasy is a punishment! To create, to feel one’s hands strong as claws for molding all the clay in the world, to be for a moment God after having so many times been wretched and powerless!

The urgency of tears wrinkled his features. In his veins began the prostration of one about to pray. On his knees now, he twined his arms around her strong legs,” which were almost virile like those of the hermaphrodite. Intoxicating as the perfumes of the nocturnal woods, as those wines that madden thirst, there breathed from her youth a feline aroma. It was the odor that sent the centaurs galloping with their voracious nostrils opened wide.

Thought Pygmalion: “Why is a kiss not enough? Why, from our double nature of horse and man rises the harshness of possession? Lust, thou art blended even with the highest purity!”

And on one voluptuous evening, Galatea, with her clear pupils dilated, learned the wonder and the terror of being a woman. For that avid lover, woman, or all womankind incarnate in a single insuperable body, there were madnesses of possession, cries, sighs, languorous tendernesses until dawn, fatigue resembling death, divine deaths from which one does not wish to rise. Before the changing spectacle of that sea were repeated the childish stammerings, the interrupted vows that lovers in all times have invented to lull and deceive the brevity of love.

The waves, with their unceasing restlessness, gave them an image of life’s inconstancy. But they did not understand its lesson.

The Legend of Pygmalion Part 2

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II. The Miracle

Evening descended upon these virginal forms. But the white mass resisted the shadows, and when the walls were draped in mourning, these bodies still shed light. The very gloom lent them grace and the illusion of nakedness. At this hour Pygmalion could feel them throb with a life that was different from the changeless existence of marble. Twilight tinged their limbs with its ruddy flame and on their breasts the setting sun traced a lingering hand.

That evening the zephyrs pulsed with voluptuousness. From the near-by sea where Venus ruled in her naked chastity, came an enervating languor. First Pygmalion kissed her naked feet, nestling his feverish head against her nubile thighs. Then, with a brusque movement, he arose on the pedestal and sealed her speechless lips with the human compact of a kiss. It was the first kiss of love. He lowered his eyes in shame. Suddenly, however, they grew wide with amazement and thrilling terror before the miracle: the statue had come to life and was stirring. A blush of blood rose to its cheeks. A tremor of life rippled down from its neck to its rosy feet. Slowly, slowly, with rhythmic pauses, the breasts began to rise. And the terrified lashes fluttered before the light.

Now he no longer doubted. His hands became as tender as a gardener’s. At their touch, the marble lost all weight and hardness. The tresses became as black as if the night had been kneaded into them, but the eyes acquired the luminosity of the sea.

She did not speak; she smiled with an expression of astonishment upon her radiant face. Like a child in a cradle she stretched out a hand to touch Pygmalion’s hair. As she parted the dark locks, she laughed. It was a clear laughter. He spoke a few words, and for the first time her smooth forehead wrinkled in an effort to understand.

She was lulled in a tender stupor, for doubtless life is more fatiguing than motionless eternity. Delirious, as if after infinite labors he were about to lose his greatest work, Pygmalion watched for signs of life. In her repose, Galatea, with her arms crossed over her bosom, her lips supine and on her face such a sleeping abandon, evoked not the proud image of a marble goddess but that of sad flesh seeking the shelter of love. By divine consent she had been fashioned, not of common clay, but of pure marble. And, as in the hours of creation, so he too felt divine.

All that night he kept vigil over this tender life. At the first glimmer of daybreak his amazement was repeated. All trace of marmorean life had disappeared in Galatea. Perhaps in her flesh there remained the polished softness where caresses glide. But in her lips and in her arms, in the hair that cascaded over her shoulders, there were an earthly grace and frailty. Only in her eyes without pupils there floated the vagueness of an Olympian remembrance.

She did not speak because she had been eternal. Doubtless, with the light there entered into her mind a confused perception of earthly things. Her soul was like those Hindu blocks of ivory whereon one may sculpture alike the goatish visage of the satyr and the face of Pallas Athena.

The Legend of Pygmalion Part 1

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Peru

Ventura Garcia-Calderon (1890—1956)

Ventura Garcia-Calderon, born at Lima of an old Peruvian family, was one of the most distinguished critics and literary historians of South America. He was also a fastidious writer of verse. His short stories are clearly the work of a poet, and are characterized by an extreme deli-cacy of style and treatment.

The legend of Pygmalion is translated by Isaac Goldberg especially for this collection and included by his permission. It has never before appeared in English.

The Legend of Pygmalion

I. The Artist

When Pygmalion had finished that statue, he smiled. The enchanted smile of children discovering the world! Truly it was perfect, unsurpassable. Just as the ancient sculptors of idols venerated the deity created by themselves, so would he gladly have fallen to his knees in adoration. About him, on rough pedestals or on the ground, close by, farther off, on shelves or on the window seats, a marble populace rigid in attitudes of grace and abandon. All the dreams of a now declining youth lay there as in a living quarry. This was why, out of a maternal modesty, he forbade access to his atelier…What could others be seeking in this abode? Only curiosity or the desire to carp could bring them. And here he had bared his soul.

There were blocks as vague as chrysalides of thought; in others, only the hinted outlines of a hip. There the chisel had traced coarse furrows; as if Pygmalion, in the grip of the creative demon, had cracked the marble with heavy blows, in his eagerness to impart to this inert matter the living gesture. And successive sketches of a work, from the confused embryo to the perfect image, revealed sadly the painful task of conception.

But amid all these sister images, amid this white populace united by the kinship of a selfsame fever and a selfsame pain, none could equal in victorious rapture the virgin Galatea, bending her light head over the mirror of her hand, the better to admire its graceful negligence. Pygmalion had informed her with the evanescent and legendary delicacy of Psyche.

The imagination added short wings to the lightness of the feet; the softness of the stomach recalled the vases of the school of Athens; the arms formed such a glorious chain that, joining to embrace a favorite, they could hold him fast till death.

Pygmalion gazed at his palms, still white with dust, doubting that he had completed this marvel with hands that were destined to die. It was possible, then, for the human artificer to wrest from the gods the secret of beauty. Without self-deception, with that clairvoyance of the hours of loftiest judgment, he knew that this time, by a miracle, he had fashioned the eternal masterpiece. Ah, how he remembered his failures before the uncompleted marbles, when his idea lingered and, face to face with the truncated form, he felt his hands so clumsy and his mind so dull! This was an agony that no death relieved. Bitter tears, towering rages, almost an iconoclastic fury, at the disproportion between his petty accomplishment and the cherished ideal.

The Eclipse part 1

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Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940)

Selma Lagerlof came of a family of landowners, from that part of rural Sweden which she described in many of her most delightful books, particularly in Gosta Berling’s Saga. In her youth she taught for a little, making time to write occasionally, until public recognition and material success enabled her to devote all her energy to literary work. Her books, which include novels, travel sketches, plays, and stories, reveal a personality deeply conscious of its environment. In 1909 Selma Lagerlof received the Nobel Prize for literature.

The Eclipse is translated by Velma Swanston Howard. It originally appeared in the American-Scandinavian Review, December, 1922. For permission to reprint, thanks are due to the editor and the translator.

The Eclipse

There were Stina of Ridgecote and Lina of Birdsong and Kajsa of Littlemarsh and Maja of Skypeak and Beda of Finn-darkness and Elin, the new wife on the old soldier’s place, and two or three other peasant women besides—all of them lived at the far end of the parish, below Storhojden, in a region so wild and rocky none of the big farm owners had bothered to lay hands on it.

One had her cabin set up on a shelf of rock, another had hers put up at the edge of a bog, while a third had one that stood at the crest of a hill so steep it was a toilsome climb getting to it. If by chance any of the others had a cottage built on more favorable ground, you may be sure it lay so close to the mountain as to shut out the sun from autumn fair time clear up to Annunciation Day.

They each cultivated a little potato patch close by the cabin, though under serious difficulties. To be sure, there were many kinds of soil there at the foot of the mountain, but it was hard work to make the patches of land yield anything.

In some places they had to clear away so much stone from their fields, it would have built a cow-house on a manorial estate; in some they had dug ditches as deep as graves, and in others they had brought their earth in sacks and spread it on the bare rocks. Where the soil was not so poor, they were forever fighting the tough thistle and pigweed which sprang up in such profusion you would have thought the whole potato land had been prepared for their benefit.

Nessebar

30/05/2019 | GM6 | No Comments

The ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’ is impatient to see you enjoying your Bulgaria vacation

Bulgaria vacation in Nessebar– the scent of the sea and of journey through times long since passed

Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’ and ‘Bulgaria’s Dubrovnik’, Nessebar is more like a magical and timeless feeling than a resort. Windmills, ancient fortresses and sea depths that keep ancient secrets… This is not a fairytale for times long since passed but the decor of a modern and contemporary town – Nessebar, perfect for a great Bulgaria vacation and private tour Bulgaria.

bulgaria vacation

Nessebar is a town with ancient and rich history. İt is in the central part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, about 30 km away from Burgas. The ancient part of the town is situated on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus. Variety of different civilizations, that occupied the place, left their marks. As a result, in 1983 UNESCO included Nessebar in its list of World Heritage Sites. This is due to the abundance of historic buildings in the town. Thus it made the town a desired place for a memorable holiday in Bulgaria.

Enjoy the ‘multi-coloured’ Bulgaria tourism in Nessebar

The hard task is for the tourists now – how to capture all the beauty of Nessebar!? With a camera, through knowledge or experience, or simply by touching an ancient stone… Or why not use all of these and plunge into the adventure of living Nessebar.

This article is copied from www.enmarbg.com. For more information, you can click on Bulgaria vacation.

Private Balkan trip

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Wake your senses up with private Balkan trip

A private Balkan trip in the Balkan countries means a good possibility to sink into the history of the region and put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together.

What is a better way to tease and wake your senses up than travelling? They say that travelling is the key to happiness. Do you believe it? I do. Join us and let’s find out together.

The countries on the Balkan Peninsula are all different and at the same time they share this ‘similar difference’. (Balkan tours 2019 ) For example, ‘The coffee we had tastes like the Turkish coffee but they call it Greek. Or, ‘ Isn’t that dish the same as the one we had in the place, etc.’ These kinds of conversations probably look familiar to you. I am sure most of you experienced them and enjoyed them really much.

croatia balkan tours 2019

Our private Balkan trip travels around the Balkan countries and enjoys their most interesting, attractive and ‘have-great-stories-to-tell’ places.

The whole text can be seen on link private Balkan trip.

Galgano part 4

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No longer venturing to refuse, he sent a grateful answer back that he would very willingly attend. And having heard tidings of Messer Stricca’s departure for Perugia, he set out at a favorable hour in the evening, and speedily arrived at the the house of the lady to whom he had been so long and so vainly attached.

“Checking his steed in full career, he threw himself off, and the next moment found himself in her presence, falling at her feet and saluting her with the most respectful and graceful carriage. She took him joyously by the hand, bidding him a thousand tender welcomes, and setting before him the choicest fruits and refreshments of the season.

Then inviting him to be seated, he was served with the greatest variety and splendor; and more delicious than all, the bright lady herself presided there, no longer frowning and turning away when he began to breathe the story of his love and sufferings into her ear. Delighted .and surprised beyond his proudest hopes, Galgano was profuse in his expressions of gratitude and regard, though he could not quite conceal his wonder at this happy and unexpected change; entreating, at length, as a particular favor, that she would deign to acquaint him with its blessed cause. ‘That willl do soon,’ replied the glowing beauty;

‘I will tell you every word, and wherefore did I send for you’; and she looked into his face with a serene and pure yet somewhat mournful countenance. ‘Indeed,’ returned her lover, a little perplexed, ‘words can never tell half of what I felt, dear lady, when I heard you had this morning sent for me, after having desired and followed you for so long a time in vain.’ ‘Listen to me, and I will tell you, Galgano; but first sit a little nearer to me, for, alas!

My husband replied

I love you. A few days ago, you know, you passed near our house when hawking, and my husband told me that he saw you, and invited you in to supper, but you would not come. At that moment your hawk sprang and pursued its prey, when seeing the noble bird make such a gallant fight, I inquired to whom it belonged, and my husband replied, “To whom should it belong but to the most excellent young man in Siena”; and that it did well to resemble you, as he had never met a more pleasing and accomplished gentleman.

‘Did he—did he say that?’ interrupted her lover. ‘He did indeed, and much more, praising you to me over and over; until hearing it, and knowing the tenderness you have long borne me, I could not resist the temptation of sending for you hither’; and, half blushes, half tears, she confessed that she was no longer indifferent to him, and that such was the occasion of it. ‘Can the whole of this be true?’ exclaimed Galgano. ‘Alas! too true,’ she replied. ‘I know not how it is, but I wish he had not praised you so.’ After struggling with himself a few moments, the unhappy lover withdrew his hand from hers, saying, ‘Now God forbid that I should do the least wrong to one who has so nobly expressed himself, and who has ever shown so much kindness and courtesy to me.’

Then suddenly rising, as with an effort, from his seat, he took a gentle farewell of the lady, not without some tears shed on both sides; both loving, yet respecting each other. Never afterwards did this noble youth allude to the affair in the slightest way, but always treated Messer Stricca with the utmost regard and reverence during his acquaintance with the family.”

Galgano part 3

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The moment the latter had turned his back, our poor lover began to upbraid himself bitterly for not availing himself of the invitation, exclaiming, ‘What a wretch am I not to accept such an offer as this! I should at least have seen her—her whom from my soul I cannot help loving beyond all else in the world.’

“As he thus went, meditating upon the same subject along his solitary way, it chanced that he sprung a large jay, on which he instantly gave his hawk the wing, which pursuing its quarry into Messer Stricca’s gardens and there striking true, the ensuing struggle took place. Hearing the hawk’s cry, both he and his lady ran towards the garden balcony, in time to see, and were surprised at the skill and boldness of the bird in seizing and bringing down its game. Not in the least aware of the truth, the lady inquired of her husband to whom the bird belonged.

Messer Stricca

‘Mark the hawk,’ replied Messer Stricca; ‘it does its work well; it resembles its master, who is one of the handsomest and most accomplished young men in Siena, and a very excellent young fellow, too; —yes, it does well.’ ‘And who may that be?’ said his wife, with a careless- air. ‘Who,’ returned he, ‘but the noble Galgano—the same, love, who just now passed by. I wish he had come in to sup with us, but he would not. He is certainly one of the finest and best-tempered men I ever saw.’ And so saying, he rose from the window, and they went to supper. Galgano, in the meanwhile, having given his hawk the call, quietly pursued his way; but the praises lavished upon him by her husband made an impression upon the lady’s mind such as the whole of his previous solicitations had failed to produce.

However strange, she dwelt upon them long and tenderly. It happened that about this very time, Messer Stricca was chosen ambassador from the Sienese to the people of Perugia, and setting out in all haste, he was compelled to take a sudden leave of his lady. I am sorry to have to observe that the moment the cavalcade was gone by, recalling the idea of her noble lover, the lady likewise’ despatched an embassy to our young friend, entreating him, after the example of her husband, to favor her with his company in the evening.

Galgano part 2

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A prey to the excessive cruelty and indifference of one dearer to him than his own life, who neither noticed nor listened to him, he still followed her like her shadow, contriving to be near her at every party, whether a bridal or a christening, a funeral or a play. Long and vainly, with love-messages after love-messages, and presents after presents, did he sue; but never would the noble lady deign to receive or listen to them for a moment, ever bearing herself more reserved and harshly as he more earnestly pressed the ardor of his suit.

Unhappily dwelling

“It was thus his fate to remain subject to this very irksome and over-whelming passion until, wearied out, at length he would break into words of grief and bitterness against his ‘bosom’s lord’. ‘Alas! dread master of my destiny,’ he would say, ‘O Love! can you behold me thus wasting my very soul away, ever loving but never beloved again? See to it, dread lord, that you are not, in so doing, offending against your own laws!’ And so, unhappily dwelling upon the lady’s cruelty, he seemed fast verging upon despair; then again humbly resigning himself to the yoke he bore, he resolved to await some interval of grace, watching, however vainly, for some occasion of rendering himself more pleasing to the object he adored.

“Now it happened that Messer Stricca and his consort went to pass some days at their country seat near Siena; and it was not long before the lovesick Galgano was observed to cross their route, to hang upon their skirts, and to pass along the same way, always with the hawk upon his hand, as if violently set upon bird-hunting.

Often, indeed, he passed so close to the villa where the lady dwelt, that one day being seen by Messer Stricca, who recognized him, he was very familiarly entreated to afford them the pleasure of his company; ‘and I hope’, added Messer Stricca, ‘that you will stay the evening with us.’ Thanking his friend very kindly for the invitation, Galgano, strange to say, at the same time begged to be held excused, pleading another appointment, which he believed—he was sorry—he was obliged to keep. ‘Then,’ added Messer Stricca, ‘at least step in and take some little refreshment’: to which the only reply returned was, ‘A thousand thanks, and farewell, Messer Stricca, for I am in haste.’

Galgano part 1

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Ser Giovanni (Flourished about 1380)

This writer was called simply Ser Giovanni II Fiorentino, the Florentine. Very little is known about him, except that he was a notary who lived in Florence and began his collection of tales called II Pecorone, or The Dunce, in 1378. He was influenced by his great contemporary Boccaccio. Like The Decameron, the Pecorone is set within a fictitious framework: a young man falls in love with a nun, becomes a chaplain and during the hours he is able to see her, the two exchange stories.

Like most of the brilliant writers of novele, Giovanni excels in the quality of raciness. Many of his tales are based upon history, with a plentiful admixture of anecdotes, true and untrue. Galgano is somewhat exceptional among the stories of the time, in that it reveals a delicacy and reticence that seem to have appealed but rarely to the full- blooded Italians of the early Renaissance.

The present version is translated by Thomas Roscoe and reprinted from his Italian Novelists, London, no date. The story has no title in the original.

Galgano

Having agreed upon the manner in which they were to meet each other in the convent parlor, as we have already stated, the two lovers were true to the appointed hour. With mutual pleasure and congratulations, they seated themselves at each other’s side, when Friar Auretto, in the following words, began: “It is now my intention, my own Saturnina, to treat you with a little love-tale, founded on some incidents which really occurred, not very long ago, in Siena.

There resided there a noble youth of the name of Galgano, who, besides his birth and riches, was extremely clever, valiant, and affable, qualities which won him the regard of all ranks of people in the place. But I am very sorry to add that, attracted by the beauty of a Sienese lady, no other, you must know, than the fair Minoccia, wedded to our noble cavalier, Messer Stricca (though I beg this may go no further), our young friend unfortunately, and too late, fell passionately in love with her.

“So violently enamored did he shortly become, that he purloined her glove, which he wore with her favorite colors wherever he went at tilts and tourneys, at rich feasts and festivals, all of which he was proud to hold in honor of his love: yet all these failed to render him agreeable to the lady, a circumstance that caused our poor friend Galgano no little pain and perplexity.