Thursday, August 30, 2012

H is for Hymlumé

Note to the Reader: I think I should warn any of you new to my blog that this A-Z post series is about aspects of Moonblood, the third novel, and if you haven't read it, there are SPOILERS throughout! So heed this ominous warning or read at your own risk . . .

And now, on with the today's post.
One of the more interesting little snippets in Heartless is this passage early on, when Una lies in her bed and studies the embroidered canopy above her:
Her mother had embroidered it soon after Una's birth. She had made it especially for Una, and if only for that reason, Una loved it. Bold threads of gold, which picked up light from the fire, depicted the contours of Lord Lumé surrounded in a glowing aura. He wore robes like those worn by the old singer who sang at all royal christenings and weddings, though those in the embroidery were much grander and fanned out like flames.
Lord Lumé was the sun, and he sang the Melody.
Across from him, picked out in delicate silver threads, was his wife, Lady Hymlumé, the moon, and she sang the Harmony. She wore robes such as Una had never seen anywhere else, and she wondered how her mother had dreamed them up. Una thought she would much rather wear the silver garments of Hymlumé than all the brilliant fashions into which the royal tailors stuffed her. (Heartless, p. 51)
Thus we are first introduced to one of the most important themes in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series: The Sphere Songs and those who sing them.
By Moonblood that theme has become more familiar to us, for we have heard references to Hymlumé and Lumé throughout both the previous novels. But it is in Moonblood that we first learn that these monarchs of the skies are more than mere poetic imagery. They truly exist, truly sing, truly dance their patterns through space, great and beautiful and incomprehensible to mortal minds.
One of the most difficult and satisfying scenes to write was the scene where Lionheart follows Queen Bebo up the long stair of Rudiobus and steps into the fringes of Hymlumé's Garden. For their Lionheart is made to look upon things he cannot understand. He must see the vastness of the skies, the flowing of the Final Water, and then, at last, he is turned to see Hymlumé's face.
He looked again at the enormous moon, wincing away from her brightness. This time, though only for a moment, he saw her, the Lady Hymlumé. Beautiful and awful and vision filling, the sun's wife sat crowned in silver light.
In that instant, he heard her song.
Lionheart fell to his knees and might have slipped right over the edge of that precipice had not Queen Bebo held so tightly to his hand. Tears streamed down his cheeks, and he turned away from the moon and Iubdan's queen and covered his face in shame. (Moonblood, p. 249)
Looking upon the impossible, Lionheart is first made to truly face who he is and what he has done. In that moment of clarity, seeing Hymlumé's face, he must see his own.
And even then, he cannot quite understand . . . Not yet.
It would be easy to think, based upon the description above that Hymlumé and Lumé were god-like beings. But we know from the chapter previous, in which Eanrin sings Ordenel Hymlumé Nive, that such is not the case. Hymlumé and Lumé and all the starry host sing the Sphere Songs given them by  the Song Giver and dance the pattern of Time and Timelessness across the sky. But they did not create the Songs for themselves.
And the whole plot of Moonblood centers on the pain of Hymlumé when the Dragon flew into her garden and poisoned her children.
"She watched them fall," said the Chief Poet, his voice no greater than a whisper, though it filled all of Rudiobus. "She watched them step out of their heavenly dance, the rhythm of the song she and Lumé had sung since the worlds were first created . . . Those who had never noticed the Sphere Songs singing in the night heard instead their silencing. And while the thunder of that silence yet rang in their ears, they heard the voice of Hymlumé crying out." (p. 240)
In her agony and despair, Hymlumé herself cried out:
"If I but knew my fault!
I blessed your name, oh you who sit
Enthroned beyond the Highlands.
I blessed your name and sang in answer
To the song you gave."
The mighty singer of the sky begs for answers, to know if she somehow deserves this sorrow as her own children turn upon her and pierce her with their horns. In that celestial song, she echoes the hearts of all those who dwell below, all those in pain who beg for answers from above.
But at the last--as echoed in later ages by Sir Oeric--Hymlumé sings:
"I need no answers. Do not answer.
You are true and you
Are right, and your name is mighty.
Your name is my life.
By your name, I accept my doom."
But doom is not to be her fate, for the Giver of Songs has not forgotten her or any of His loved creation.
Nor has he forgotten the pain of Rose Red, Lionheart, Oeric, Beana, Eanrin, Imraldera . . . any of the characters who question His goodness and question His heart.
The original inspiration for this theme of the Moon and the Sun and the songs came from many old poems and songs. Notably the lovely lines from the old hymn:
"This is My Father's World,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings and 'round me rings
The music of the spheres."
The simply beauty of these lines have captured my heart and imagination since childhood. It did not surprise me as I grew and read, and grew and read some more, that the theme of the singing spheres has poured from the pens of poets for centuries.
"The sun makes music as of old
Amid the rival spheres of Heaven,
On its predestined circle rolled
With thunder speed: the Angels even
Draw strength from gazing on its glance,
Though none its meaning fathom may:--
The world's unwithered countenance
Is bright as at Creation's day."
Percy Shelly
But no poet ever wrote this theme more beautifully than did King David when he said:
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."
Psalm 19

And so in Moonblood I offer my own contribution to this great lineage of poets and prophets. May my simple words and stories be offered in praise of my Creator!


Hannah said...

Learning about the Spehere Songs was very interesting, and I was even more intrigued to learn about Hymlume's children. I had a bit of trouble picturing Hymlume, but as a great author (I think it was C.S. Lewis) once said, "We can only imagine what we know."
And of course how could I, a mortal, understand something as fey as the moon herself? :)
"Ordenel Hymlume Nive" was a powerful song. The way it was taken from everyone's perspectives was intriguing. It's nice to know Eanrin can sing something other then mushy sonnets.
And I REALLY appreciated the itty-bitty glimpse we get into Eanrin's mind..and the memory therein.
I look forward to learning more about the Spheres and the songs they sing.

Martin LaBar said...

Then there's Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measures, if you know?
Or who stretched the line on it?
6 Whereupon were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (World English Bible, public domain)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Another passage singularly appropriate to the story of Hymlume. Thank you for sharing, Martin!

Rachel6 said...

That is simply magical. I love that hymn, and I sing it often.

And you're reading "Going Postal"!! If you enjoy that, the sequel is "Making Money". :)

Christa McKane said...

Reading the words to The Night of Moonblood reminded me of Psalms. Many of the themes of those psalms are David crying out to God for answers, but always ending with him relying on God for strength and hope. Reading that chapter and the lyrics of Hymlume's song touched me to the core of my being.