And thus we conclude our Ren Faire retrospective, Gentle Reader. If you’re in Washington State, USA, please drop by – the second weekend starts tomorrow, and there’s another after that! Or you could visit the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire Website for more details. Also, to my beloved companions of the last decade and more, Hail Paisley! Make sure that Last Sunday is everything I would wish it to be.
Gentle Reader, I am very excited to write this post. I hope that I have time to edit it before it goes live – a little more than a week from now. I just had a memory pop into my head, from Faire, and since we’re doing a Friday series about Faire for right now*, I just had to put down my wineglass and start it.
Picture it: I am dressed as Hamlet; my best friend, Miss Ward, is dressed as a fairy in blue. We are both holding parasols; we are perched on the back end of a convertible, that will convey us from the camping site of the Faire up to where the Faire actually is. This is Miss Ward’s last time here before she flies to Korea, on her own in the wide world for the first time. We are making the most of our time together, and are both tremendously excited.
We wander the Faire, as one does; when one has been doing this as long as we have – and we stopped working it long ago, mind you – there is a tendency to just change costumes, go and take a turn around Merchant’s Row, and return to camp, and then repeat. In this instance, Miss Ward wanted to do the full tourist thing – take in some shows, visit the vendors, and so on.
It came to pass, as we first entered the site proper, that Miss Ward ran into someone we’d known for years. I don’t know the actual name of her character, but as she handed out white rocks and always refused to speak, we have called her the Crack Fairy since time immemorial†. The two blue fairies are seen exchanging a moment, here:
And then – oh, this is the moment that inspired the post! – we saw an Abyssinian maid, and, in fact, on a dulcimer she played – she ought to have been singing of Mount Abora.
If you don’t understand the reference, it’s from Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, written because of a dream, never finished, and one of my favorite poems. Both Miss Ward and I happen to know it by heart, and on seeing the girl, playing the instrument named above – we began to recite‡. Not in tandem – we alternated lines, until by the last stanza, in perfect unison, we finished.
“His flashing eyes! His floating hair!
Weave a circle ’round him thrice –
And shut your eyes with holy dread,
For he on Honeydew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise – ”
A completely spontaneous moment of poetry.
*Well, by the time you’ve finished reading this post, we’re done, really. I hope you didn’t mind it; I promise to write about my Farewell Party/Triumphant Abdication that’s due to take place THIS SUNDAY very soon. By the way, if you see this, Gentle Reader, and you’ve ever been to Paisley Glen, please come by, if you can, and bring everything full circle.
‡Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
If you made it through all that – it’s not that long, and it’s a lovely recitation – well, here’s a bonus photo. I have a dead bird hat. You’re welcome.