nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
[personal profile] nancylebov
The man greets Awd Mally, who is something like a woman and something like a stone. "She had never spoken to him; she was not always there. Some said she walked the moors, peering and prying into sheepfolds, owling after souls."

From the Word Hoard: owled after: To hunt as the owl does, silently, stealthily, and with a sudden swoop upon the prey.

"But he thought that she alone stood unmoving, though all else turned: hills, clouds, and reeling stars."

This echoes Charles Williams' Greater Trumps, in which the only real Tarot deck has a matched set of figurines. The Fool is either the only one that's still, or is constantly dancing with all the other figurines.

I'm not sure that it's relevant, but have a little T.S. Eliot anyway....
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I don't know whether Gilman's stars are falling about dizzily or dancing a reel or both.

From the beginning of the page: "...Awd Mally, grey and lumpish, looking out on her domain, the clouds of earth." Picking up after the reeling stars: "He slept in a ruined sheepfold, back of Cloudlaw, and dreamed: he lay on the fell, stark cold and turning to a cloud of stone, stars icy at his cheek, unturning." We've got the clouds of earth and a cloud of stone, which should be an interesting parallel, but I'm not sure what's intended. I'm pretty sure the stars are "unturning" at the end of the passage because he's stuck in one season.

He dreams: "He was blind. His mouth was stopped with earth, ribs hollowed round a heart of stone: but hands took root, thrawed sinews down and downward, warping."

From the word hoard: thrawed: Twisted, turned awry.

It's a good thing I checked. I was guessing it was related to throw.

"He were tree. Awd crow i't branches cawed and cried: Bone, bone o branches, ah, and eyes of leaf."

The italics look like a reference, but I didn't find anything.

"Leaves falled away til dust."

Just thinking about what it would be like to be a blind, sentient tree. How would having leaves or losing them feel?

"Bones stood bare. But hands, they hawded fast, they wark i't earth. Hand scrat at summat sharp not stone, but fire-warked, cawd iron, siller, gowd."

Presumably, awd = old, hawded = holded = held, gowd = gold. I think we have a pattern. Is it better (from the point of view of reading) to have the pattern made explicit, or to get at the words by guess and feel? This project is about making things explicit, but I'm not sure I'm right about the dialect sound/spelling shifts. What do you think?

"Awd broken ring, he thought."

I assume the ring is sharp because it has broken edges. And that it's not made of all three metals just because rings usually aren't-- instead, they're examples of fire-warked.

"Awd moon. Could never get it back i't sky, were darkfast. Cawd and dead. But the ring grew fast to him, turned O and handfast. Moon leamed under earth."

I just realized that "fast" is one of those double words. It mean moving quickly or (as seems usual in Moonwise) firmly attached.

As I recall "A and O" will be showing up later, and I didn't get the significance sorted out. It might be Cloud and Law.

As found by [personal profile] thnidu: "leam: Of nuts: To separate easily from the husk. Also: To shine, gleam; to light up. OED." Good thing I'd checked-- I'd forgotten the second meaning. That one seems likely to be related to "gleamed", but I wonder if the first meaning is related to any modern words. The second meaning makes easy sense, but the moon unsheathing itself so that its light shines doesn't seem totally implausible.

"O now he saw: the fell was cloud, and starry back of cloud, and deeper still. And all turned headlong, he was branching into dark and moon, turned lightfast with his roots in sun."

His hand is turned to roots grasping the ring, which implies that his legs and feet are turned to branches.

From the word hoard: Lightfast Kindling: Candlemas.

Candlemass: "Candlemas is the last festival in the Christian year that is dated by reference to Christmas; In the West, the date of Christmas is now fixed at December 25, and Candlemas therefore falls the following February 2....On the Pagan side it occurs in the middle of winter, with the promise of spring. Due to the poor weather at the time of year, it was almost impossible to have a bonfire festival and candles are thought to have been used as a replacement to move the ritual indoors."

Good thing I checked. I thought Candlemass was another name for Christmas. I blame H.P. Lovecraft.

As previously noted, the weather lags the the equinoxes and soltices. Candlemas is probably either the nastiest part of winter or when the weather is just starting to get a little better.

From the word hoard: "fell: A hill or mountain; also a wild, elevated stretch of waste or pasture land, a moorland ridge, a down; also a marsh or fen." It's a hill! It's an upland! It's a down! It's a marsh! It's another of those Gilman words! And by the way, a down is a gently rolling hill, not a lowland.

[Middle English doun, from Old English -dne (as in ofdne, downwards), from dne, dative of dn, hill; see dheu- in Indo-European roots.] From The Free Dictionary. I wouldn't be surprised if it's related to dune.

Probably not relevent to Moonwise, but "Down: a flock of sheep, etc. Examples: down of hares; of sheep." I had no idea there was a Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms.

Have 100,000 stars, a lovely video of the stellar neighborhood-- tremendous depth and starriness. The Milky Way has up to four hundred billion stars.

"Broke leaf. Bright swans above him, and his leaves arising in a crown of wings, and crying out: a thrang of birds. He woke to a fleeting sense of joy, winged with a glory and taloned with want."

An expansion of the misery (wore out seven pairs of iron shoes) which is passed over rather quickly in fairy tales.

Word hoard: "thrang: A variant of throng [a thrang of birds] or thronged [The nuts were brown and ripe; they clustered, thrang as stars] but also meaning busy as well [Mally went owling about her hovel, thrang at her obscurer wintry tasks]. “She’s thrang as Throp’s wife” is idiomatic for being over-ears in work."

"No roots, no eggs, and t'brambles all wizened, devil-spat-upon and scathed. No drink, wi'out yon becks ran ale. No breakfast. Eh well, he could thole."

Word hoard: "Caldbeck: Literally “cold brook.” In our world, a village in the Northern Fells of the English Lake District.
thole: To endure, bear, or suffer."

This is less than two pages, but it seems like enough. My apologies for being late-- it was partly a matter of being distracted by Philcon and partly that I couldn't seem to get a grip on the section. Then I decided to just copy out the dream and see what I could do, and the thing exploded.

[personal profile] thnidu was concerned about getting involved with this because he might end up writing a page or more about single words. This almost happened with "down", and I probably having explored the whole thing.

A non-theraputic way of looking at Ariane's shifting moods is probably to make her part of a myth.

I asked at Ask Metafilter about blood of nightingales, and got this: Persian rugs with nightingales and roses. It's at least plausible, and they're gorgeous rugs.

the title

Nov. 1st, 2012 02:29 am
thnidu: Tom Baker's Dr. Who, as an anthropomorphic hamster, in front of the Tardis. ©C.T.D'Alessio (Dr. Whomster)
[personal profile] thnidu
The directions of rotation in modern American English are clockwise and counterclockwise; in modern British English, clockwise and anticlockwise. Before clocks there was and is the movement of the sun across the sky, from the eastern horizon to its peak in the southern sky to setting in the west, moving rightward through its arc; and anything that turned that way was therefore moving in the manner of the sun, or sunwise. Its opposite, widdershins, comes from Middle High German wider "back" + sinnes "in the direction of", i.e., "in the opposite direction [to the sun]".

What, then, would moonwise be, beside 
moon-wise adj.  Obs. rare knowledgeable about the moon, its movements, etc.
1582   R. Stanyhurst tr. Virgil First Foure Bookes Æneis iii. 48   And moonewise Coribants on brasse their od harmonye tinckling.
? Would it be
  • "clockwise", moving as the moon does through the sky as the sun does?
  • "counterclockwise", seeing the moon as a complement, counterpart, or opposite to the sun?
  • in some other sense "in the same way as the moon"?
nancylebov: (blue moon)
[personal profile] nancylebov
There's a new section called 0:Hallows. The other sections are sequentially numbered with roman numerals.

From The Word Hoard: Hallows: All Hallows Day, when Annis wakes and hunts souls. November 1 or Samhain, depending on which calendar one uses. Hallow means holy or sacred; but to hallow is to chase with shouts or even to rouse to action with a sharp cry.

So I wasn't procrastinating on doing this update. I was waiting for the appropriate day.

"He walked in the Cloudwood that they were to fell, had felled long since...." Time is strange here, which could explain the out-of-sequence numbering.

"And wandering, he pulled and plucked the hazelnuts, the brown and starry beechmast, ash-keys, acorns, letting fall as many as he took, so many hung and ripened, fell and leamed among the leafdrift, far and farther still." Anyone know about the starry beechmast? A reference to the boat with a tree for a mast? I was wondering if beech leaves were star-shaped like maple leaves, but they aren't. Also, what does leamed mean?

"Birds sang, but flurried, shrill, it being fall of the year. They waked; and through the branches of the trees, the wind spilled leaves of light and shadow, leaves of dust, like the souls of all the birds since Eve." The birds and their shadows (possibly also the shadows of the leaves) are part of the echoes and shadowing in this chapter.

"All afternoon he lay beside the water, and watched the leaves rising from the dark to touch their falling shadows from the air, bright, haily. Being still where leaf and its foretelling image met, he did not know if he rose or fell through time." More doubling. I don't know what 'haily' means.

And he got his coat from a scarecrow, but he's like a scarecrow himself.

"Times changed, as time did not. They who had slain children in the fields, sowing blood with corn, hung garlands; still the seeds grew tall and winter died. Come wakenight, they stoned the wren, poor Jenny Knap, and hanged it in a crown of green, with rimes; they fired thorn, kept lightfast and langnight, so the sun would turn. They danced the years and died."

That last sentence is one of the very good ones.

Wren Day is on December 26, but the unnamed man is trapped in the fall. He's got a very bad sort of immortality. I'm also hearing a little echo of Lewis' "Always winter and never Christmas."

"Once, from the nuts he had gathered had sprung a hazel tree, and branched from his side, and borne and withered, in the space of a dream." The Celts believed hazelnuts gave one wisdom and inspiration. The man is just trying to survive, he's not learning anything trapped in autumn in the Cloudwoods, and perhaps it's not a coincidence that he sleeps through the life of a hazel tree. Sources from google give answers for the lifespan of a hazel tree of 20 years from one place and 70-80 years from another-- and just as well really, this isn't the place for precise world-building.

"The cup turned all to shadows. Lying by the water now, held it, wood and handworn. Fitted hand, he thought: his own and other's. Lad at given it were lightborn. Last. Not see'd him sin, nor any face i'Cloud."

Here's my guess at the meaning of the second half of the paragraph. "The lad that gave it was of fairy. (I have no idea what "Last" means in this case.) Haven't seen him since, nor anyone in Cloud."
nancylebov: (blue moon)
[personal profile] nancylebov
"One page was all a maze of umber sketches--hands, leaves, stones, strange leering faces--all in Sylvie's nervous line, no right way in: at its heart, a weird luminous painting. Night: an endless branching passage, wood carved with moongrey faces, woods turning hall, with queer worm-eaten faces in the bark. A child walked, her hand outstretched on nothing, far beyond, her clew of cobweb glinted in the moonlight."

Here we have mazes, woods, and spiderweb... but it's Sylvie's drawing, not Ariane's.

"'Are you doing the Curdie books?'" This is a reference to The Princess and Curdie and probably also to The Princess and the Goblin.

"Nan's great ebony and silver teapot, black but comely...." Song of Solomon 1:5-6.

Ariane joking about what else might be in the teapot. "Valentines," said Ariane. "Soldiers' buttons. Small change in faery gold. The odd ring of power." Faery gold turns to dried leaves or something else worthless at midnight. And a LOTR reference, though it would surprise me if this ring wasn't in the count of Rings at the beginning of the book.

"There, no bigger than a hazelnut, O there, green-blue, unearthly, sailed the Ship, its mast a tree, great--rooted, and its leaves far-drifting stars. It sailed in the winter sky, a constellation in Cloud, of the Nine Worlds: one of theirs."

This is probably a reference to a verse of The Lass of Loch Royal (mentioned in the previous entry):
But I'll take down that mast of gold
and set up a mast of tree
For it does not suit a forsaken maid to sail so royally
There's a shift of tone, though-- in the song the mast of tree (probably mere wood) is acknowledgement of lower status or perhaps a bit of passive aggression, but it's not something wonderful.

I'm also seeing a little echo of Tolkien reading MacBeth, "Tolkien the boy thought it was a total cheat that the witches' prophecy about Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane was fulfilled by boring old men carrying branches: "I wanted to devise a setting by which the trees might really march to war." " Quoted from Dave Langford.

"A dry red leaf, like an old mitten." Just a nice phrase. Any ideas about what sort of tree it might be from?

"...the cat came and crouched on the book. Stone, said his gaze, I am stone. A cromlech. One of Maire's Long Meg's, she remembered: Timour the Tartar." And it turned out that Tim[o]ur the Tartar is Tamerlane, and also a fiddle tune-- playing at speed starts at 1:30. You have no idea how grateful I am for google.

Sylvie looks at Ariane, who's happily eating bread with jam: "There's Ariane gone full moon, she thought, looking shrewdly at her face: all crazy and bright, but she never stays. She sickles. Eats herself up."

This is the moon symbolism again, but now it's in the mind of a character. And it's a reference to Ariane cycling in and out of depression-- her moods shift very quickly. I wonder if this will lead me to a non-theraputic way of thinking about Ariane's emotions.

"...her long-remembered Arden. She'd arrived, as always, somewhere else, (On a boardwalk in Bohemia?)" As You Like It is set in Arden, A Winter's Tale is set partly in Bohemia. Would someone who knows Shakespeare care to help out with what the references might mean?

"It was always farther in." "Farther in" is a phrase which has been used a number of times, and I keep hearing it as an echo of "farther up and farther in" from Lewis' The Last Battle.

Sylvie thinks about Ariane: "Air comes and goes. Watching and wanting. Not the moon, exactly--ghostly." Well, here's another angle on the symbolism-- Ariane isn't just the moon, apparently.

And I made a mistake in an earlier post-- Sylvie is the artist, Ariane is the writer.

"Deea. You kept that?" 'Deea' has appeared at least once before. I assume it's dialect.

A photograph: "Sylvie, slouching barefoot in the cold early spring, farouche and flighted, with her elsewhere gaze; Ariane, scowling in a cloud of hair--quadrocento severity--in a draggled flouncing skirt, and rose-wreathed broad straw hat. The Silly Sisters. The sisters Grimm."

Farouche: Fierce, wild. Also, of withdrawn and shy temperament coupled with a cranky and even sullen fey charm.

French, from Old French faroche, alteration of forasche, from Late Latin forsticus, belonging outside, from Latin fors, out of doors, from the free dictionary.

Quattrocento: the cultural and artistic creations of 15th century Italy. Quattrocentro images don't strike me as especially severe-- perhaps Gilman had a particular artist or painting in mind.

Ariane: "There. See, it's really me, I didn't fall at Waterloo. Or Flodden. Take your pick." I don't know what this is a reference to-- perhaps legends about ghosts coming back from battles, but I'm guessing.

"On her hand lay a silver ring, bent and blackened; she had found it writhen in an oak root. Its stone was elsewhere, was the star of the Nine worlds." I believe this is a plot point.
nancylebov: (blue moon)
[personal profile] nancylebov
Ariane played croquet with Sylvie, Thos, and Cat: "...ah, but she would never know them, they were elsewhere, sliding from themselves to other selves, three and many and one mind, teasing her with an uncomprehended joy. "Look! A falling star!" they cried. And she, her own cloud, had run after, never quite seeing what they saw, but ecstatic with the rumor of transcendence." This strikes me as having echoes of the Christian Trinity, but I'm reasonably sure that no real world religion has a strong presence in the book. On the other hand, it also wouldn't surprise me if Annis and Malykorne get invoked now and then by neo-pagans.

"....Ariane thought, O but I never heard her when she sang; it was like those falling stars, gone before I could say, how beautiful, beautiful in going." I'm going to assume this is a literal description of how Ariane experiences the world. Her memories are vivid, but her current sensory experience (possibly just for hearing and kinesthesia) is apt to be vague. This probably has something to do with her clumsiness, but she sees her clumsiness as a background fact, a personal defect that there's no point in thinking about. Of course, I might be projecting here-- let's see how sensory experience is portrayed for Ariane and for the other characters.

"In remembering Sylvie's voice, she heard it rise, travelling as if through years, like starlight from a long-cold, hanging stone." This took me a bit to figure out, since I don't normally think of dead stars as hanging stones. My first thought was that it had something to do with the lintels at a stone circle like Stonehenge, but clearly not.

Ariane remembers Sylvie singing: "Now open these windows, open and let me in: The rain rains on my good clothing..." [elipsis in the text] The lyric is from Lass of Loch Royal, which was on Silly Sisters-- the album whose name is used for the section of the book.

"Ariane was silent, neither song nor shadow, but the glass in which they meet--O now the I is crystal". I assume the glass is a mirror rather than a drinking glass.

It's tempting for me to focus on Ariane's problems, but her nature also leads her to be able to do extraordinary things.

"What's this?" Ariane tweaked the wet bundle under Sylvie's arm. "Lord Gregory's kid?" From the "Lass of Loch Royal".

""I like the coat," said Sylvie. "Like a highwayman." "The woman they couldn't hang", said Ariane;" Presumably a reference to John Babbacombe Lee, the man they couldn't hang. After the trapdoor on the gallows failed three times, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Fairport Convention made a rock opera about him, and at least some of the songs are available at youtube.

..."then wheeling, "Stand and deliver!" She snatched the loaf. "Ha! 'Tis Fitzgranary. The Scarlet Pumpernickel."

I have no idea whether Fitzgranary is a reference to anything in particular or is exuberant nonsense. The Scarlet Pumpernickel is a reference to The Scarlet Pimpernel, and is a surprisingly memorable pun.

"The ash-witted antiquarian for whom Ariane had so long and so painstakingly collated folklore had died, in mid-fascicle, leaving no scheme or sense of her entanglements, that her presence had made scholarship as a spider makes its web. Not being formally ararchnid, Ariane was severed--snip--and so turned out, an unpapered alien." A fascicle is a bundle.

I'm not sure whether "made scholarship as a spider made its web" is sarcastic-- whether it was incoherent work which was declared scholarship, or whether the antiquarian inevitably made scholarship out of clutter.

In any case, the theme of abandonment echoes with "Lass of Loch Royale".
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
[personal profile] nancylebov
Sorry folks, I just realized I accidentally posted this to my dreamwidth blog rather than to reading_moonwise.

Sylvie's ancestors are Herons and Farranders. Farrander shows up in Cloudish Word Hoard: "Farrander: The adjective “farrand” applied to a person means comely, handsome, well-favored (applied to an object it means becoming, dignified, and pleasant); so the Farrander family may be construed to be well-beloved by their author."

Farrander is an actual name.

"blood of nightingales scabrous rug": "blood of nightingales" seems to be a dye (Gilman also uses the phrase in Cloud and Ashes, but a fast search doesn't turn up anything more.

Thos, like Sylvie, is one of Nan's grandchildren. (The other one is Cat.) Would anyone know how it was likely to be pronounced?

"Ghostly, fleeting, she saw Thos again"-- as in the description which compares the slightly changed room to musical chords, Ariane has an excellent visual memory. This may be connected to her being an artist.

"long thieving Rackhamish fingers": Have some reasonably long-fingered Rackham. As I was reading the phrase, I imagined (vaguely, since I don't have Sylvie's visual memory) any quantity of very long-fingered Rackham fae crowding a page, but a fast hack through google images didn't turn up what I think of as archetypal Rackham.

"...she touched the dusty workbox, horn and ivory.": Gates of horn and ivory I knew that the phrase was about true and false dreams, but I had no idea it so old or based on Greek puns. I'd heard of windows made of flattened translucent animal horn, iirc in a book about colonial America, and I assumed that was the source of true dreams while opaque ivory supplied the false dreams.

"The mirrored hall was empty where Nan strode, tall and witless in her hundreds, like an oak unleaving, stern and dry and rattled by the wind. She'd died of a lightning stroke within, and Sylvie'd gone on and kept house, and her hundred acres, and her kingdoms: all wood."

I'm quoting this because tying a medical stroke to a stroke of lightning is so excellent.

hundred acre wood might be a reference to Winnie the Pooh.

"Wood" means mad as well as forest.

UnLethe: one of Ariane and Sylvie's imagined worlds. Let's keep an eye out for whether this has something to do with remembering what has been forgotten.

"the bounding, wind-berzerking linen": great phrase for laundry in a high wind.

I'm somewhat foggy-minded from a cold, and I feel like I'm missing some good stuff in the last few paragraphs (up to the croquet game) but it's not coming into focus. I hope you guys will take a crack at the passage.
kestrell: (Default)
[personal profile] kestrell
I scanned _Moonwise_ a few years ago and the etext appears accurate and clean of junk characters. If anyone would find it convenient to read this on a book reading device, feel free to contact me and I will send it to you.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
[personal profile] nancylebov
I've made my first post, but it doesn't show up on livejournal, even though I've tried to make crossposting happen. It's possible that I've fixed it, but cross-posting isn't retroactive. So let's see if this goes to both sites.
nancylebov: (blue moon)
[personal profile] nancylebov
The first section is called Silly Sisters, a reference to June Tabor and Maddy Prior's folk music.

"There was a green bough hanging on the door." A fast search to see whether this is a custom didn't turn up anything, but I found this: "If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come." (Chinese proverb) I have no idea whether it's an actual Chinese proverb, but it's a good thought.

"The year was old, and turning lightward, into winter." I don't know whether the actual date will turn up in the text, but this matches the Delaware/Philadelphia climate I'm used to. The hottest part of the summer and the coldest part of the winter come after the solstices.

"Cold and waning....Ariane looked back the way she'd come". One of the big themes I want to look at is resemblances between the two women and the two goddesses. I'm not going into more detail because I'm trying to avoid spoilers.

"hill beyond blue glaze of hill"-- this is more a thing I see with mountains, but they do look like layers of blue glaze.

"While we poor wassail boys do trudge through the mire...the wind. Cold by the door, it sang."

"Should I turn my coat? Or break a twig of holly? Or snare a wren?" Folklore: Turning your coat can be a protection against pixies. The Wren and Its Folklore.

Speaking of the generally tricky and unreliable nature of things, these links are the result of fast google searches. I don't guarantee the reliability of any of it, and welcome corrections and further discussion.

"Her air of gravity and desolation was, she knew, rather spoiled by her wraggle-taggle trail of clutter." Sylvie keeps an eye on herself in self-obstructive way. If she's neurotic, can her parallel goddess also be neurotic?

Folksong: the Raggle Taggle Gypsy. I'm reasonably sure this is just picking up the cool-sounding adjective rather than a deeper reference to the text of the song.

King Herla's rade-- King Herla was one of the leaders of the Wild Hunt. The link about him looks as though there's some fine eerie legendry, but I'm going to try and get this entry finished. If you know of any fiction about being led on the Wild Hunt through references rather than woods, please led me know.

"distraitly wandering through time" This definitely happens to one of the other characters.

"An owlish, cat-stumbling sort, but her absurdity did not console her." I don't know whether it's reasonable to expect anyone to be consoled by their absurdity, but it's a good phrase. It might also be worth keeping an eye out to see whether there's any consolation by absurdity later in the book.

"the kettle withering on the fire" another good phrase

"backed into the drying rack, which collapsed into the ashes like a fainting stork, all legs, and plumed with tatty underwear" another good phrase, and a reason for doing this sort of close reading-- until I transcribed it, I only noticed the fainting stork, but missed the way the metaphor was continued.

"She began to feel quite happy, a cup unspilled, a new moon turned." Ariane gets a lot of lunar metaphors.

"--yet they were drifted over, rooted in the sweet nourishing decay of loved ephemera" This is the only book I've seen make bad housekeeping look numinous. It also seems to me that the house would not survive so much neglect, but there's more to fiction than meticulous world-building.

I'm not transcribing the whole passage, but there's a nice parallel between the house and a forest, with the tall furniture standing unchanging while the soil is building up around it. It's probably relevant that the owner of the house is named Sylvie.

Ariane remembers the rooms, but they're a little different: ..."only subtly aslant: a table moved, a book left open. The dissonances made an eerie harmony of parallels, fifths, and seconds." Probably a reference to rules for musical harmony. It's probably relevant that parallel fifths are discouraged in some kinds of classical music, but normal in some kinds of folk and medieval music.

Incidental search result: There's an Etsy shop called Moonwise which has good-looking jewelry.
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