the good people

Thunder and lightning swirling

The palace of heaven tumbling

The Angels of Mutiny are falling

Falling below, downward, falling

into the sea and the earth.

While the light of Divine Grace

still flickers on the scraped wings,

They become the Good People

too vivacious to be in Hell.

alchemist and four fairies

all

An old alchemist had assistants

Of Craft from Titania’s Kingdom

And they worked for him at nights

in return for fairy food abloom.

 

Salamander belched out a fire

Under the tripod holding a beaker

In shrill forever fiery yellow ire

that grew hotter and madder;

 

Until Undine’s Purified Water

From the well of Fairy Realm

Boiled and bubbled in the beaker

She watched with pensive calm;

 

As Gnome put a sorcerer’s stone

As black as the Stygian River

From the bottom of Earth alone

Into the Water like a wise thinker;

 

While Sylph was breathing Air

Into the Earth joined with the Water

And the Fire in the Craft of Wonder

Creating Gold and Elixir in Splendor.

 

P.S.: The fundamental personality types are sanguine – red (hopeful), choleric-yellow (ireful), melancholic -black (shy), and phlegmatic -blue (calm). In fairy-tale theory, the following fairies represent the four elements: Sylphs – air (red), Salamanders – fire (yellow), Gnomes -earth (black), and Undines – water (blue) . Hence this poem is an amalgam of the aforesaid theories conjured up in my mind’s eye.

‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’, by Susanna Clarke – review

Jonathan Strange & Mr NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Magic and fairies are not the proprietary subjects of teenage novels or esoteric pagan reference books that are exclusive to a select few. They were part of a belief system kept by your distant and not-so-distant ancestors, learned or unlearned, which was a fountain of their norms and mores and acculturated even into a Christian organized religion. So much so that the world of supernatural was thus believed to be hidden in this world of terrestrial, enveloping the outer circle of the earth with a gossamer of ethereal air, thinning the boundary of corporeal and incorporeal. This system of belief has survived particularly in the British Isles, where Celtic mysticism has produced its fairy progenies and dispersed them beyond the watery boundaries of the Isles. Out of such British fairy progenies comes this wonderfully imaginative Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke whose mission is to prove the world that there are more things in earth and heaven than are dreamt of in your rational impulse.

The story is a fascinating hybrid of history, adventure, and fantasy all entertainingly interwoven in the magical tapestry of literature. It’s also a great house of imaginativeness built upon Clarke’s erudition of the subjects ranging from the rise and decline of English magicians to the changing social customs and values, all the marks upon her mastery of storytelling that will make you steeped in the pages after pages as if you were enchanted by her alchemy of words. Her characters are extraordinary, but their personalities are not far from the ordinary, which endows a sense of verisimilitude upon the story and leads you to a seemingly obvious path to the maze of her fascinating tale. It is Clarke’s own magic that creates this wondrous make-believe world of magicians and fairies who are indeed very much alive in her mind’s theater to which she invites you to join her in the bewitching festival via witchcraft of literature.

Her vivacious creativity doubled with her alchemy of words accounts for a thick volume of the handy little book, which is also extraordinary for a customary semblance of a paperback. This also shows Clarke’s ability to record supernatural events and things in the ordinary subjects with her dazzling narrative skills and ingenious composition of plots seamlessly connected to one another that would have been an infelicity of redundant multiplication of stories as a result of insufficient creative ammunition. Which is to say that this book will take you from the rut of your ordinary reality to the world beyond where you can summon a fairy to your service and make a wish, especially at this epochal moment of time when you need something delightful to read.

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