We still have several chapters to get through before completing the Christmas Read-along, however . . . . Sorry about that! But keep reading and keep commenting, and you'll be eligible for a big giveaway at the end: a chance to win Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower all in one fell swoop!
Una dreams. I don't remember if it occurs in this book, but in one of the later books we learn that the Dragon is also known as Death of Dreams. I think this scene illustrates that. In Moonblood we learn that the sleeping dragons relive their dying dreams again and again. Their dreams are probably something like Una's . . . longing dreams that can never come true, tormenting them, building the furnace in their spirits.
Poor Una dreams she is home, on her dear Old Bridge under the familiar shadows of the trees in Goldstone Wood. She knows she's dreaming, but she tells herself that she does not care. Instead, she revels in the momentary peace the dream brings, even though it's a peace that will only accentuate her heartbreak upon waking.
But even inside this dream, she hears a song calling to her. A song not all associated with her love and longing for Lionheart. A song which I do not believe the Dragon would like to allow in her dreams, but which infiltrates her mind, down to her spirit.
We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart. The original ideas for this song--which has become known as "The Sphere Songs" as the series developed--actually stemmed from an Anglo-Saxon poem I read my junior year at university. The poem is called "Wulf and Eadwacer," and it is a very difficult piece that defies classification. Some would argue that it is a riddle; some, that it is a romantic ballad, or even a selection of an epic.
One way or the other, I found it haunting and intriguing . . . a mystery centuries old. What I love about literature, old literature, is that link it creates between us and those so long dead. As though we were never truly separated by this flimsy thing called Time. Through literature, we can have the smallest glimpse of what Eternity might be, unbound by Time, all of mankind united in brotherhood.
Reading "Wulf and Eadwacer" made me want to reach out to that link, to join with it in my own small way. So I wrote the rough draft of the poem that is now featured in Heartless and in other Tales of Goldstone Wood. It and the original share some similar lines and thoughts.
I thought of my Wulf with far-wandering hopes,
Whenever it was rainy weather, and I sat tearfully,
Whenever the warrior bold in battle encompassed me with his arms.
To me it was pleasure in that, it was also painful.
"Wulf and Eadwacer" (translation)
Cold silence covers the distance
Stretches from shore to shore.
I follow in my mind your far-off journeying.
But I will walk that path no more.
"The Sphere Songs"
that one easily sunders which was never united:
our song together.
"Wulf and Eadwacer" (translation)
We who were never bound are swiftly torn apart.
Won't you return to me?
"The Sphere Songs"
Give and take. I think the song, as it is used in Heartless, becomes a give and take between two spirits. Some of those lines are Una's spirit, crying out into loneliness and despair. But others are a response from the Prince himself, from the ministering wood thrush even. Both sides of the song are a gift, for it gives voice to Una's longings and hurts that she could not otherwise understand or express. It also answers that longing and hurt.
It has definitely, over time, become much more than a mere response to "Wulf and Eadwacer." Still, can you see how a study of ancient poetry and literature can make a huge difference in your writing? I highly encourage those who wish to pursue the writing life to also pursue literature of all kinds, ancient to modern. And if you can pursue an English Lit. degree, so much the better!
No. Wait for me. In this scene we see Una, lost as she is in this dragon dream, believing that it is Leonard she waits for, Leonard she longs for. But the song reaches to her even there, even in the confusion of her dream, and whispers the truth to her. It is not Leonard for whom she should wait or hope.
Imoo and Rogan. Two knights of Farthestshore stand guard over the gates of Fidel's northern fortress, watching over the king. We don't know a great deal about either of these knights based on the information in Heartless. I suspect, based on his description, that Rogan is a Rudioban like Eanrin. Possibly even a cat, since he's described as having eyes that "shone like those of a cat." We really don't know where Imoo is from, however . . . at least, not at this point in the series!
But he has a story. Most of them have stories . . .
Diarmid. And so Prince Aethelbald strides right down into the midst of the Dragon Village. The dragons do not recognize him at first. Many of them have met him in another form, but they have never seen the Prince of Farthestshore so humbly clad a human man.
But the yellow-eyed dragon recognizes him at once. And Aethelbald calls the yellow-eyed dragon by his former name, "Diarmid."
Someone, at least, never forgets the names of those lost to the fire. And he has not forgotten Una's name.
My Personal Favorite Lines
1. With a laugh that filled her whole body with feathery lightness, she jumped from the bridge and splashed into the water, soaking her skirt up to the knees. It was cold, bitingly cold, and delicious to feel. She spun around, searching the trees. Sunlight gleamed through branches, spattering the ground with touches of gold. Beyond the light, shadows thickened. (p. 289-290)
2. "I feel I shall become like one of those before long." He indicated the stone watchmen carved and set within alcoves of the fortress wall. There were two of them, solemn figures from legends of Parumvir's past. It was the custom for statues of these men to stand guard over the king's fortresses, but Imoo found them uncomfortable company in the long watches of the night. (p. 292) I wonder if these two men might be Etanun and Akilun? I'll bet they are!
3. "Hello, Prince of Farthestshore," he said.
"Hello, Diarmid," Aethelbald replied.
"What do you call me?" The yellow-eyed boy snorted. "Is that a name?"
"It is your name."
"Funny thing that. No wonder I forgot it. I have no name now, Prince." (p. 294)
Questions on the Text.
1. Many different poems have inspired portions of Heartless. Have you ever been inspired by poetry for your own works of fiction?
2. Some might look at this scene as a situation where Aethelbald is not in control. Considering his role as a Christ-figure, this might seem incongruous at first glance. What are your thoughts? Do you think Aethelbald was overwhelmed and unable to help these dragons? How does this scene fit into his role as Christ-figure?
3. Favorite lines?