A beautiful statue of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.
Goddess Lakshmi is, in a sense, the eastern equivalent of Aphrodite/Venus, for she is said to have emerged from the ocean, riding on a lotus.
They were younger than I,
Younger by all my years, those country lassies
Who little dreamed their dreams
Of love would bring me here,
Travelling away from their accustomed days
Into this strange place, beyond their guesses
Of a future that might be
Some day, some far-off day
Beyond companionable kitchen and plain stone house
Under unchanging hills and a wide sky.
Deceiving dreams of love, that promise only joy,
It was to me you led, along a lonelier road
Than ferny loning where each lingered with the lover
She needs must choose, since he it was that met her on the way
And stepped into the circle of her dream
To carry her away, to carry me away
Into the exile of that dream’s awaking.
Or are my waking days the regions of their fears
Whose dark shapes were lurking, passions and griefs
Less innocent than those familiar songs of Scotland tell of:
And yet my dream tells still of Paradise.
No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.
O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee!.
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.
Though earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou – Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.
And oh, my dear,
to hear the robin’s call,
the cardinal’s challenge,
the excited chatter
of all the returning
migrants, full of stories
about tropical fruits
and sunny days and
nights among the
trumpet vines and
on the Gulf of Mexico.
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Another by Patricia Ryan, author of Still Life with Murder, which I noted was “one of the best – and best written – historical crime novels I have ever come across”.
When I began The Sun and the Moon, I didn’t know it was a sequel. In fact, I didn’t realise that until I had finished it and found I was being recommended Book 1 – Silken Threads. So don’t let that put you off. It really does “stand alone”.
I also thought it was going to be a medieval spy story, but it turned out to be much more than that. Spy story it certainly was – the hero, Hugh of Wexford, a sort of 12th-century James Bond, working for Henry II – but it is also a medieval love story which occasionally crosses genres yet again to become erotica. The long and detailed description of the gentle deflowering of a virgin is perfect, but there are a couple of other set-pieces – one overt BDSM scene – that strike me as perhaps gratuitous here, in this context. Only having read the one other book by Patricia Ryan before, I am not sure whether this kind of thing is characteristic. Maybe it is. In Still Life with Murder, there are frequent references to Nell’s past life as a prostitute, but no flashbacks; perhaps there should have been. Yes, I believe now, having read this other book and seen how good she is at this kind of thing, that there should have been, that it would have filled out the background. So, on second thoughts, those scenes in this medieval story are not gratuitous after all. I’ve changed my mind.
I’m rambling here, but I am going to leave this as it is. Suffice it to say that while Patricia is not as at home in 12th-century Oxford and Southwark as she is in 19th-century Boston, Mass (“Bloody Hell!” seems hardly medieval – I’m more used to such colourful and authentic sounding phrases as “God’s Bollocks!”) this is another very good story and while Hugh of Wexford is a bit stereotyped (the hard case with a heart of gold) Philippa of Paris, the virginal James Bond girl, is completely original.
There is a sorcerer in Lachine
Who for a small fee will put a spell
On my beloved, who has sea-green
Eyes and on my doting self as well.
He will transform us, if we like, to goldfish:
We shall swim in a crystal bowl,
And the bright water will go swish
Over our naked bodies; we shall have no soul.
In the morning the syrupy sunshine
Will dance on our tails and fins
I shall have her then all for mine
And Father Lebeau will hear no more of her sins.
Come along, good sir, change us into goldfish.
I would put away intellect and lust,
Be but a red gleam in a crystal dish,
But kin of the trembling ocean, not of the dust.