jueves, 26 de septiembre de 2013

BY NO MEANS A NAZI

A fortnight ago, I published, on this very blog, an essay titled "Freedom, Communism, Disturbance, and Pandora", containing a particularly pungent critique of Karl Marx's projects... (if you have forgotten or not read it, click here: http://al261200.blogspot.com.es/2013_09_01_archive.html) and thus, you may have thought: "This girl is doubtlessly a Nazi!"

I. Am. Not. JUST READ THE TITLE OF THIS POST!

I do support liberalism as an economic system, but I also support divorce, LGBT, abortion, euthanasia, separation of church (or whatever religious authority) and state, empowerment of minorities (being female and disabled, I know what it is like), and the egalitarian freedoms spoken of in the Human Rights (of speech, of thought, of conscience...). My Swedish/Enlightened moral compass leans towards secular and self-expression values, and the resulting ideology would, according to my standard, come out as centrist with a slight turn to the left.
Which means: I am by no means a Nazi, Fascist, or any other xenophobic white male chauvinist right-wing extremist.

domingo, 22 de septiembre de 2013

RETURN OF THE CLEVER STUDENTS

While searching the Web for Christ myth theory, I found another translation of Apollonius legend, in which the student, "the young man" I have compared with Nietzsche, Leibniz, Napoleon, Queen Christina, and me... was referred to as: "of youthful appeareance, but mature judgment". Remember the Latin original: aspectu adulescenssedquantum ingeniosenex.


 I also found documents from a certain Naumburg boarding school, describing a young Friedrich Nietzsche as sensible and clever beyond his years. Fritz was, obviously, abused by roomates and classmates, giving him grounds to doubt the existence of God. When he had to pursue superior studies, he followed his heart, even though it meant to rebel against his mother herself: Frau Nietzsche wanted him to study Theology at Bonn and become a vicar like his late father, but Fritz was already hell-bent on a Classics degree at Leipzig.
Think of this as a turning point. If Fritz had studied at Bonn and become a vicar, he would never have met his best friend Richard Wagner, a born Leipziger, nor had access to so much secular literature. Friedrich Nietzsche has now become as connected to Leipzig University as Leibniz, Goethe, and Schiller, among many others.

Returning to our nameless young Ephesian, who would surely have been a Leipziger were he born in the early modern era, a recent essay (published last year!) explains that "prodigious wisdom in ancient literature is often described by means of the puer-senex character". He is merely called "discipulus" (the student) and "iuvenis" (the young man) in the Latin original, Machaon (physician) in the Viennese German translation, and Pandecta (compilation) in the Leipzig translation. His name would be either Gottfried or Fritz in the early modern AU (as a tribute to Leibniz or to Nietzsche).

viernes, 20 de septiembre de 2013

HOW A STORY COMES TO BE

"Once upon a time, there was a countess whose spouse was killed and whose estate was burned in the wars, so she fled into the woods with her infant girl child..."
Thus began a story that I stumbled across, by chance, in this collection: http://archive.org/details/lostlegendsofnur00clariala
"Hush-a-bye-baby", from The Lost Legends of the Nursery Songs, by another unsung Victorian story writer, Mary Senior Clark.

Perchance inspired by Swinborne's epic love story (http://archive.org/details/gustavusadolphus00swinrich), I decided to set my version of the story in the Rhineland during the Thirty Years' War. So, I imagined those two young damsels under attack from the Catholic League. "The Croatians are coming!", thus starts their dramatic calvary. Luckily, the Protestants save the shire: a double "Fourth Story plot" ensues, and so does a twofold wedding. I am not afraid of using Chekhov's Law ("If there is a loaded gun on stage, it is meant to be fired during the play"): Caroline's daughter is carried away by the stream, while Hildegard's son Konrad is abducted by the enemy, then raised by an Austrian officer and his wife.
A thirteen-year time skip ensues, and Act Two, with Fourth Story and Ovidian (mainly from the Salmacis myth, of which this story is a retelling) influences, can begin:
"Thirteen years had elapsed since then. On a sunny spring day, a good-looking young man, dressed in a sky blue doublet and soldier's boots, was seen marching along the east bank of the Rhine, towards the chateau that could be seen in the distance, amidst blossoming fruit-trees. The sun burned his rosy cheeks. His hair was strawberry-blond, long and straight, and he was chanting an old ballad about the exploits of Gustavus Adolphus.
He (our male protagonist) was a professional soldier, born and raised in camp..."
Upon his arrival, he recognizes both the lady of the land and her equally widowed sister. Stripping his left sleeve and showing a scar, they recognize him as Konrad, the long lost only son of one of them and nephew of the other:
"Both the colonel's widow and the countess burst into tears, and they embraced the hired soldier, who burst into tears himself. He didn't expect to finally find a home, his mother, and easier life".
"Now, the countess and her estate finally had an heir: the young stranger. Thus, she had her bedchamber prepared for him. That night, after having supped with his real family, Konrad slept incredibly well and comfortably."
Having exchanged the flint-and-steel couch of war for a soft bed of eider-down, the young heir starts exploring his lands with the court huntsman, a veteran of the great conflict.
"Though the scarred veteran found it hard to agree with the restless young newcomer, both often conversed merrily about commanders and confrontations."
Weeks later, on Midsummer Day, Konrad has the experience of his lifetime:
"The hot June sun bleached his and Volker's plumed hats. The young aristocrat's downy cheeks were obviously glowing red, and his parched throat did obviously hurt. He took leave of Volker to search for a spring that he had previously seen and heard in the woods.
At last, a thirsty and exhausted Konrad found the spring he sought, and he climbed off his steed at the pond. It was blank as a mirror and cool as a breeze. It tasted sweet, as if sweetened with honey, and spearmint grew in impressive quantities around the pond. Down his throat the blessed liquid surged, as if the stream were running inside the young nobleman.
At the same time, he heard a merry girl's laughter. That couldn't be running water: he recognized that sound as a laughing human girl... or maybe was it a nixie? Konrad knew the local legends about nixies, beautiful freshwater nymphs who lured innocent mortals into their domains, to condemn those unfortunates. And he did believe in those legends, like most people did in the seventeenth century.
When he lifted his head, he saw a young girl with long, fire-red tresses decked with a lily-pad, and large blue-green eyes that joyously glittered. Although she was barefoot and clad in a short green dress, made of woven reeds and cattails, she was quite beautiful. Around her neck, she wore a long golden chain, and a little silver cross hung on her petite breasts. Was she a human or not?
Konrad tried to control himself, but his heart raced in his chest, and he sat by the spring as if he were frozen. The young nobleman couldn't take his eyes off such a modest beauty. He could return later to the chateau. Volker, his aunt, and his mother could wait.
The redhead blushed heavily as well. She too felt her heart wanting to burst her chest. She had seen many humans, peasant women, before... but never a young aristocrat. It was something she had never seen before. And he was so dashing! She had certainly seen black grouse lekking, dragonflies mating, frogs croaking, and stags duelling for the does' favour, every springtime. But she didn't believe that humans were as capable of loving as other animal species. Until the Midsummer Day when she first met Konrad.
He introduced himself as the heir to the estate, and he told her the story of his life. Raised in the wild as she was, she was excedeeingly curious about everything the nobleman had to tell, and she constantly interrupted his tale with questions about the military and about the rulers Konrad had served.
The redhead's name was Elfhilde. She lived with her mother, a nixie, in a cave by the spring. She was seldom alone: the frogs, the songbirds, and the dragonflies of the pond were her best friends and playmates, and she had named all of her animal friends. Konrad had so much to learn from her!"
At dusk, the young heir has to get back home, and the nixie is introduced: "She was incredibly beautiful and pale, she had long platinum blond tresses, and her hands and feet were webbed. Her developed legs were covered in silver scales, not like those of a fish but more like those of a serpent. Even her green eyes reminded of an adder's eyes, or of a wild cat's." Then, it is revealed that the nymph found the girl as an infant, drifting downstream in a wicker basket. The redhead is human, and she is revealed to be Countess Caroline's missing daughter, Elfrieda. Thus, she is betrothed to her beloved Konrad, and they finally marry, but not before the girl is welcomed at the chateau with tears of joy, like the young officer before her.

The ending of "The Fallen Ones' Change of Fortune", a feminist and anti-war story like many of other tales I have written, gives the idea that "life goes on": Konrad and Elfrieda have grandchildren, who grow into Enlightened freethinkers "who looked forward into the future, away from intolerance and prejudice". The eldest, their heir, is driven to exile by the Napoleonic Wars. In the end, no trace of the events survives into the present day after the Industrial Revolution and the World Wars.
I have dedicated the story to my own mother, "for giving me life, and for her great love and interest in my upbringing. Without her, I wouldn't be what I am." It is introduced by a Shakespeare quote, the one that ends with the beautiful words "good in everything."

MY RECENT FADS

I an currently, on one hand, looking for Lord Byron's Don Juan in Spanish (second hand), and, on the other hand, collecting editions of "The Snow Queen", in which I always bookmark the Fourth Story for obvious reasons. I also have "The Forget-Me-Not" and "Die Upon a Kiss", my best fics, on paper. I think "The Forget-Me-Not" is a darker version of the Fourth Story, with a tragic ending (she realized that he loved her too late: he had alrady fallen with a bullet through the heart, having sought death on the battlefield).

miércoles, 18 de septiembre de 2013

OLIVER CROMWELL BY MONTY PYTHON

Only Monty Python can combine the works of Oliver Cromwell and those of Frederic Chopin. There you have it: the great general's career sung to a polonaise. It opens with a typically British and Pythonesque black joke (and a brilliantly told one!) about the height of Charles I Stuart:



Oliver Crom-well... Lord Pro-tec-tor of Eng-land (and his warts!)... Olé!

BACK WITH TROUBLE

After the short summer, it's back to university! Let's see if I can keep up with all the homework and the exams this year too!

EAH CHARACTERS THAT APPEAR IN MY FICS

After introducing my own OC:s, I will continue with characters that belong to the Ever After High franchise and do appear within my fics. I do not own Ever After High!

Katherine "Kitty" Cheshire: REBEL. Daughter of the Cheshire Cat. A mischievous werecat who can turn invisible at will (expect "eyes-and-grin"!). A running gag in my fiction is to have her pop up, eyes and grin first, in the most unexpected moments, à la "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Roomates with Lizzie at the time of the first fic, and enjoys upsetting her royal frenemy, who keeps her collared and leashed like a pet, in a D/s (Dominance and submission roleplay) scenario... something that such a free spirit clearly hates.

Kitty Cheshire

  • Parent: The Cheshire Cat
  • Parent's Story: Alice in Wonderland
  • Roommate: Madeline Hatter
  • Secret Heart's Desire: To unravel rules, just like I would a ball of yarn.
  • My "Magic" Touch: Obviously, I can turn invisible and POOF from place to place without being seen.
  • Storybook Romance Status: Forget boys with puppy-dog eyes. Give me a guy who’s the cat’s meow.
  • "Oh Curses!" Moment: My curiosity gets me in a lot of trouble.
  • Favorite Subject: Geografairy. After I memorize the lay of the land, I can appear anywhere I want.
  • Least Favorite Subject: Swim Class in Grimmnastics. Just thinking about getting soaked makes my fur stand on end.
  • Best Friends Forever After: Lizzie Hearts. She’s my sister from another litter.

Madeline "Maddie" Hatter: REBEL. Daughter of (good guess!) the Mad Hatter. Her pet dormouse is called Earl Grey. Maddie is friendly, but hyperactive and scatterbrained. Allergic to pirates. She always looks on the bright side of things, but she dislikes arguments. Her favourite subject is Chemythstry: she enjoys making potions, especially the size-change kind. In my fic, she was roomates with April Hare the former course, before they were separated. Now Maddie has to share a room with Raven, the gothic and sarcastic daughter of Snow White's wicked stepmother of a queen dowager. But she is putting up with such an unexpected test of character. She will snap at a point in the fic, and side with Katla for a while... She is a social butterfly, and she can sense the good in everyone, even in people like Laurent, Will, Lizzie, and Katla (She also has a stern and reserved, "uptight" or "Stannis-like" alternate personality).
  • Parent: Mad Hatter
  • Parent's Story: Alice in Wonderland
  • Roommate: Raven Queen (Arc I) / Kitty Cheshire (onwards)
  • Secret Heart's Desire: To explore this mad world, and also own the most famous Hat & Tea Shoppe in the land!
  • My "Magic" Touch: I can pull anything out of my Hat of Many Things. Tea sets, school books, white rabbits... they're all in there somewhere.
  • Storybook Romance Status: I'm waiting to have tea with a boy who loves madness as much as me!
  • "Oh Curses!" Moment: Well, everyone thinks I'm mad. So nobody believes me when I tell them I can see into the future.
  • Favorite Subject: Che-myth-stry. I love making potions that make you grow or shrink!
  • Least Favorite Subject: Debate. If more people spoke in riddles, maybe I'd do better in this class.
  • Best Friends Forever After: I like everybody!


Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hearts: ROYAL. Daughter of the Red Queen of Hearts. She is rather irascible and shows sometimes sadistic tendencies (she collars Kitty and treats her like a pet cat, causing the werecat to scratch her in a secret place [between the shoulder blades, she still has the scars], for instance). She also owns a red pet hedgehog, called Shuffle, that she uses for a croquet ball. Lizzie's Napoleon complex and ego stand often in the way between her and others. She keeps a guillotine as a clothes rack in her bedchamber, and she enjoys playing croquet. Frenemy to the members of the Literature Club. Fond of red roses and of popularity, she is counted one of the four great belles at EAH (together with Sophia, Mireille, and Katla). Is unaware of the fact that Will Scarlet, the commander of her personal guard, is plotting her death for revenge...
  • Lizzie Hearts

    Website - Lizzie Hearts card
    • Parent: The Queen of Hearts
    • Parent's Story: Alice in Wonderland
    • Roommate: Duchess Swan (canon) / Kitty Cheshire and Sophia von Lilienstiel (fanon)
    • Secret Heart's Desire: I'm proud of my heritage, though I do wish to be a kinder Queen of Hearts. All that shouting hurts my throat.
    • My "Magic" Touch: With a flick of the wrist, I build anything you can imagine out of cards.
    • Storybook Romance Status: I'll wait until I get back to Wonderland to think about that.
    • "Oh Curses!" Moment: People take me way too literally. When I yell, "OFF WITH YOUR HEAD," that's just my Wonderland way of saying "Please" and "Thank you."
    • Favorite Subject: Grimmnastics. I royally heart croquet. They've even made me captain of the team!
    • Least Favorite Subject: General Villainy. Why does everyone think I'm a villain? My destiny is to be a riddle!
    • Best Friends Forever After: Kitty Cheshire and Madeline Hatter are the only ones who understand me. Literally.

Cerise Hood-Rouge (née Scarlet): Descendant of Red Riding Hood. A dark-haired and reserved girl in the renowned scarlet cloak. Dark skin, short hair, and nutbrown eyes. Loves galettes (flapjacks or thick pancakes). Ostensibly related to Sparrow, and actually a werewolf. Her real older brother is Will Scarlet (she was attacked by werewolves and saved by peasants after the massacre). This aloof loner joins the team after Roswitha's disappearance, in Series II. REBEL. 
  • Parents: Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wold
  • Parent's Story: Little Red Riding Hood
  • Roommate: Cedar Wood
  • Secret Heart's Desire: Sometimes I just want to proudly howl to the world, "I'm proud of who I am!" Hopefully someday I can.
  • My "Magic" Touch: The speed and enhanced senses of my father, plus my magic red cloak lets me travel unseen through shadows. Wicked cool, huh?
  • Storybook Romance Status: I'm really shy around boys, but I've always been drawn to the leader of the pack.
  • "Oh Curses!" Moment: I have to always hide my ears under my hood. If anyone finds out my parents were the first Rebels, we could be in big bad trouble!
  • Favorite Subject: Grimmnastics, especially cross country running. Maybe it's because I run like the wind.
  • Least Favorite Subject: Chemythstry. I sometimes feel like I have a hard time mixing well with others.
  • Best Friends Forever After: Raven Queen, Madeline Hatter and Cedar Wood.

Blondie Lockes: A vain and blond, cute-looking gossip with fair skin and blue eyes. This ditzy and cute-looking aspiring artist is the daughter of Goldilocks, equally fond of porridge and curious. She hates Arts and Crafts classes, being sensitive and unable to take constructive criticism for her paintings. Blondie lacks sense of personal space and she frequently rifles others' belongings. Yet she is a nitpicking perfectionist. Though she is but a bourgeois commoner from Book End, she manages to trick the whole school into believing she is royalty... a lie, and one of her many Münchhausen-style tall tales, that she has managed to uphold so far. Yet she knows fair is fair, and, like Sophia, she won't hesitate when things ain't just right. What's more, her snapping up of knowledge on her mirrorcast blog/social network Just Right has made her the Varys, or the Fouché, on campus. ROYAL.
  • Parent: Goldilocks
  • Parent's Story: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • Roommate: C.A. Cupid
  • Secret Heart's Desire: Well since my family comes from an old kingdom, having my whole story told and being recognized for my Royal roots would be just right!
  • My "Magic" Touch: I can unlock any door. It's no big deal, really. Doors like being walked through. You only insult their destiny by locking them!
  • Storybook Romance Status: I can't wait to meet the Prince Charming that's just right for me!
  • "Oh Curses!" Moment: Why do people get so mad when I borrow their things? I just assume if they leave their stuff out in the open, they want to share it with me.
  • Favorite Subject: Debate. Obviously, people need to know when they're just wrong.
  • Least Favorite Subject: Arts & Crafts. If you want my opinion, I don't think my paintings should be criticized.
  • Best Friends Forever After: Apple White and Briar Beauty



sábado, 7 de septiembre de 2013

MY EVER AFTER HIGH OC:S

Ever since I first came into contact with the Ever After High franchise, I created a few original characters, that I nowadays use in EAH fandom.


  • Sophia Eleonora von Lilienstiel: ROYAL. Daughter of the Clever Princess from Andersen's tale The Snow Queen (Fourth Story) and her late consort. President of the EAH Literature Club, the Alliance of Late Bards, that she has founded herself à la Dead Poets Society. An only child with an impressive cultural level, whose Secret Heart's Desire is to espouse her intellectual equal, someone who would price her mind rather than her wealth or beauty. She is hetero and she only does bad at Grimm-nastics and Crownculus (she can't climb up trees, and she is prone to sign errors). Her greatest strengths are her kindness and gift of languages. The leading character. Sophia is tall and fragile, with nutbrown (auburn/mahogany) hair and hazel eyes. She dresses Regency/Empire style. She is considered "sexy" and popular (even among the girls), which embarrasses her. Her pet is a female crow, Muninn. Later on becomes roomate to her frenemy Lizzie Hearts, with whom there is some ship-tease.
  • Vivian Seelie: ROYAL. Daughter of Merlin and Nimue, from Arthurian legend. Vivian is flat-chested and strawberry blond, with blue-green eyes, that shine violet when she does magic. She tends to speak her mind, and to be absent-minded and do wrong with magic and potions. She is roomates with Ivy Goodwill, the would-be Ghost of Christmas Future. Vivian dresses and acts in a New Agey manner, like a Wiccan. However, she might be more than just a cute and powerful ditz. Unlike Sophia, she does not want to be involved in any relationship. Her pet is a male Kelpie colt, Mee.
  • Rainer Leutnant: REBEL. Nephew of the lieutenant in Putlitz's story Forget-Me-Not (knowledge of this story is significant to understand why he skipped the pledge on Legacy Day, so here it goes: A boy and girl of the gentry are childhood friends. He goes to university, while she is betrothed to a general. When he returns to the shire, the engagement ball is taking place. The student has fallen in love with his childhood friend, but she remains cold and indifferent. Thus, he joins the army as a lieutenant to seek death on the battlefield, and he dies with a bullet through his heart. As for the young lady, she realizes that she did love her childhood friend and regrets having scorned him). The typical feminine "sensitive guy" (though he is taller and more broad-shouldered than Charles), but still hetero. Rainer's hair is nutbrown and curly, while his eyes are light blue. He dresses in a nineteenth-century Prussian officer's uniform. A reserved young person who sees himself as an aesthete and an epicurean, in love with everything that is pleasant and beautiful. He dreads blood, pain, and conflict with all his heart. Roomates with Laurent, and member of the Literature Club. He hasn't got any pet. His betrothed, Lillianne von Wintergarten, left EAH three years ago, due to her state of health, to be homeschooled by her parents at the Wintergarten estate. She was cold and haughty towards him, but maybe he'll forget her during this course.
  • Charles Liddell: ROYAL. Son/nephew of Alice Liddell, the titular heroine of Alice in Wonderland. Charles is both brave and sensible, in spite of his short stature and cuteness. His eyes are amber, and he keeps his dark blond hair tied in a ponytail with a black ribbon. He dresses in a preppy fashion, in white and blue. His curiosity and bravery lead to his betrothal with Sophia (both are hetero). His favourite subject is Crownculus, but he is a letters person at heart no matter for how long he denies it. A running gag involves him looking for Ruby. Charles suffers from middle child syndrome, which explains the personality he has developed to break with such a past. He is roomates with August. Like Vivian, Charles isn't afraid of speaking his mind, and he will never let an innocent suffer. He keeps a wounded male crow, that he found in the woods, called Huginn. Mid-series, he becomes roomates with Fitzwilliam Scarlet and aware of the young officer's agenda... though his addiction to a certain potion and the promise he was forced to make (not to betray Scarlet under death penalty) conflict and he finally speaks to Katla under the influence, leading to Scarlet's recruitment and a grudge between him and Charles... 
  • April Hare: REBEL. Daughter of the March Hare, and sister of November and August. April is a tomboyish and sensible perfectionist. She does good at Grimm-nastics, constantly competing against Roswitha for higher marks. She tends to be brash, even dictatorial, to her roomate Ruby. April considers herself the only sane member of the Hare family, and she sure is right! She's neither a letters nor a numbers person, much like her frenemy Roswitha.
  • November Hare: REBEL. Son of the March Hare, and a shotaro-type character shorter than his roomate Charles. A gothic dandy who rarely speaks, and who appears to suffer from compulsions (i.e. washing his hands in a special way before each and every class). A nutbrown bunny-boy with heterochromia (black right eye, amber left eye). He is more than BF4EA with William, who received from him their mutual pet Tick-Tock, a saltwater crocodile. Long story short, William and Nov are one true pairing, until Nov reurns to Wonderland due to health issues. 
  • August Hare: ROYAL. Another son of the March Hare. Like his brother November, August is odd-eyed, but with inverted colour scheme. He is fond of inventing contraptions and coming up with Blackadderian schemes that nearly always fail. Auggy appears to have either mania or impulsive ADHD. He is merry and outspoken, unlike his more reserved roomate Jamie Hook. A Falstaffian waistline and impressive sideburns add to his eccentric appearance. He dresses in an outright eclectic and crazy style. 
  • Ruby Rabbit: ROYAL. Daughter of the White Rabbit and of Mopsy Rabbit (the former from Carroll's Alice, the latter from Beatrix Potter's storybooks). An albino bunny-girl (with white fur and hair, and ruby eyes) who dresses preppy-style. Shy and reserved, and quite the perfectionist. She has to do everything on time. A running gag involves Hook stalking her to get a hold on either her pocket-watch or Rainer's, ever since Tick-Tock ate Hook's own watch. A more serious plot point involves Charles pursuing her to learn secrets of hers, which makes her think he is a stalker. Ruby might be a shrinking violet, but she is sure that she will make an excellent herald in Wonderland. She is slightly scared of Hook, but even more (terrified!) of Charles (considering how sternly he pursues her). Like Vivian, she doesn't like commitment.
  • Mireille de Myrthe: NEUTRAL. Niece of the myrtle/marquis poet in J.J. Grandville's story The Myrtle and the Laurel (Some knowledge about this story is also necessary: A veteran colonel and a versifying courtier, both in their autumn years, live in the same shire and they are good friends, until both of them fall for the same younger woman. Their quarrels escalate, and they even challenge each other to a duel, but both old men suddenly die of internal bleeding -"a blood vessel broke in both their chests"- right before they draw their pistols). Roomates with Sophia at first, second-in-command of the Literature Club, and most truly bi. Mireille is an airheaded and prissy ditz, who starkly contrasts with her roomate. She has platinum blond hair, powdered to look white, and gray eyes. Mireille dresses in pastels and petticoats, like a French court lady, and she is rather concerned with her appearance (but, at heart, she's a closeted military otaku). When it comes to love, she is slightly less popular than Sophia, but nevertheless one of EAH's three resident belles alongside Sophia and Katla. Mireille is frenemies (both rivals and close friends) with Laurent, like Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Jean-Laurent des Lauriers: NEUTRAL. Nephew of the laurel/veteran colonel in The Myrtle and the Laurel (see above!). Most truly bi, and roomates with Rainer. Like his frenemy Mireille, he is platinum blond and gray-eyed. He wears an eighteenth-century French officer's uniform. Stalwart and broad-shouldered, dashing and cool, he's the blue ogre to Jamie Hook's red, and he starkly contrasts with his more feminine roomate as well (but, at heart, Laurent is also found of cute things!) He has, nevertheless, one fatal flaw: he can't hold his liquor.
  • Fitz-James "Jamie" Hook: REBEL. Bastard son/nephew of Captain Hook (it is later on revealed that there is more than one Captain Hook!). Dark-skinned and amber-eyed, with cascading shoulder-length raven locks and some curly hair on his chest. He is the "red ogre" to Laurent's "blue ogre": literally, as described by temperamental Jamie's maroon and scarlet seventeenth-century coats versus the more reserved and refined young Frenchman's blue uniform jacket. Roomates with November. Ambidextrous. Has not lost a hand in action yet, but his clock was swallowed by Tick-Tock, leading to his attacks on Ruby and, less frequently, Rainer. Jamie likes releasing his wrath on Tick-Tock when contrariated. Though he is moody and brash, he is considered as dashing as Laurent, causing even war to be declared between their supporters of both genders. Partners in crime and more than BF4A with November.
  • Roswitha Törne: REBEL. Daughter of the Robber Girl from The Snow Queen (Fifth Story). A Roma tomboy with wild raven hair and black eyes. She can speak and comprehend animal languages fluently. Roswitha is best when it comes to Grimm-nastics, and a frequent partner to Jamie and Nov in their hijinks. She is petite and cute, but broad-shouldered and battle-scarred. Nearly all intellectual subjects fret her. Though she may be stubborn and moody, she is also brave leaning on reckless. Roomates with Katla. She keeps a male reindeer, Bae, as mount, and two homing pigeons, Frey and Freya, as pets.
  • Katla von Feuersbrunst: REBEL. Daughter of the Dragon Princess in The Singing, Springing Lark (the Germanic version of East of the Sun and West of the Moon), a jilted villainess/false heroine. Like Sophia, she is the only child of a single mother, yearning for someone who understands her. On Legacy Day, Katla declared that she wouldn't follow in her mother's footsteps: her Secret Heart's Desire is to espouse her first love. Katla is confident and arrogant. She dresses in provocative, elegant style, along the lines of a belly dancer and of a flapper. She is a Drakharin or weredragon, her fully reptilian form being scarlet and orange with blue gleams. Her humanoid form, seen throughout most of the series, is that of a girl of Sophia's height and bearing, with strawberry blond (don't say it's red when she's near, or prepare to face her wrath!) hair, amber/chartreuse serpent eyes, and blue scales on some parts of her fair skin. Like Sophia, Katla is considered more than attractive by EAH students, and even staff, of both genders: she develops a rivalry (similar to that of Hook and Laurent) with Lizzie, Sophia, and Mireille. Katla falls at first sight for Charles, and she decides to separate him and Sophia, thus becoming the leading villainess in the stories, a clingy "female Iago" who won't stop at anything. But she will soon discover that Charles may not be the one she truly loves... As a pet, she keeps a chicken chick called Blondette, and a chestnut griffon called Blutaar is her steed. Katla herself is pretty hot-blooded, passionate, and aggressive when she snaps... but most usually sarcastic.
  • Snowdrop, Holly, and Ivy Goodwill: NEUTRAL. Related to the ghosts in A Christmas Carol. They act as a Greek chorus of sorts. Currently, two of them (Snowdrop and Holly) share a room. They are lolitas all three (a sweet lolita, a naive-Bavarian lolita, and a gothic lolita). Snowdrop has got platinum hair and blue eyes, she is petite and cute. Holly has got a voluptous and imposing physique, nutbrown hair and green eyes to fit her Dirndlkleid. Ivy is pale and darkhaired, she wears a black hooded cloak with a silver bell, the masculine one of the three, and speech-impaired... yet she says a lot without words. Not much is known about them, except that they have the same personalities as their Dickensian ancestors. 
  • Bianca Ivory: REBEL. Daughter of the White Queen and thus, related to Lizzie: her designated enemy. She is also related to the Snow Queen. She is platinum blond with violet eyes, and emotionally cold. Attractive in a nerdy sort of way, but she thinks she is ugly due to the magic mirror shard in her heart: a flaw that Katla will exploit. Lesbian, and fond of her soulmate Ruby. She likes austere, white clothes, and she wants to make peace with Lizzie in the future, which Liz disagrees with... In the end, she will become court prelate and Duchess of Wonderland, her Heart's Desire of stopping the feud within the Wonderland royal bloodline having become true.
  • Herr Christian Drosselmeier: Related to Herr Drosselmeier in Hoffmann's stories, the most famous one being The Nutcracker. Christian Drosselmeier looks like Rainer, but three decades older and wearing eighteenth-century clothes. He seems to suffer from heterochromia, but his gray left eye is actually made of glass. He is the strict and harsh, slightly sadistic, Crown-culus teacher at EAH. He is nicknamed "Old One-Eye" by the least supportive students. Chris and Polly were classmates in EAH and he was her second-in-command. Will they or won't they, in the end?
  • Miss Polly Poppins: Related to Mary Poppins. She is the eccentric guidance counsellor at EAH, and she tends to be less harsh than Herr Drosselmeier. Miss Poppins has nutbrown hair and violet eyes, and she can fly with her umbrella. As a young girl, she was spirited and eccentric, but kind at heart, and led a group like Sophia's as "the EAH Resistance".
  • Friedrich Albrecht von Nehmen: Son/descendant of the Baron von Nehmen, a brutal feudal lord in a story by Henry Morley. Looks like a teenage Wallenstein, and appears to provoke Rainer constantly. He is revealed to be Lilli's husband and Rainer's rival in the end.
  • Hermann and Adelgunde von Brakel: Children of a Prussian courtier, the Count of Brakel (in the story Das fremde Kind). Fraternal twins, who teased Polly and Chris but were recruited into the Resistance. Both wear eighteenth-century clothes: he wears a military uniform (he is a cadet) reminiscent of a hussar's, while she wears a frilly court dress like Mireille's with a blue, crown-like tricorn. Both have hazel eyes and speak gratuitous French. Hermann is a whiz at military history, knowing all the details (lives of generals, strategies, number of men slain and taken prisoner) of several battles, and is thus regarded as a military otaku. While Adelgunde is a whiz at languages and over-interested in astrology. They may represent Sophia and Laurent, respectively, in the backstory. Of course the Literary Club members plus Laurent wish to know them better and interview them. In the end, they are revealed to be the least expected: their Literature teacher is Adelgunde, while one of Sophia's own tutors, a stern veteran general who married the widowed and destitute Lady Friederike von Wintergarten and sired her daughter Lillianne... is revealed to be her brother. Both have become international authorities, each in a different field, but they were already the most popular at class in EAH already...
  • Lillianne von Wintergarten-Brakel: Rainer's betrothed and childhood friend, who left EAH three years ago, due to her state of health, to be homeschooled by her parents at the Wintergarten estate. She was cold and haughty towards him, and treated him more or less like a servant. This blond and blue-eyed mademoiselle is dressed and styled like Adelgunde or Mireille, but with less lace (being the daughter of gentry instead of courtiers). Still she speaks gratuitous French. For being so sickly and cool, she is quite the spirited lady. Her absent father is a tutor and a general at the Lilienstiel royal court. She is betrothed to von Nehmen, but then realizes that her heart belongs to Rainer when it is too late. Still she learns to love her abusive spouse and even to warm his heart.
  • Fitzwilliam "Will" Scarlet: OSTENSIBLY ROYAL, REBEL WITHIN, RECENTLY REFORMED. Descendant of Will Scarlet, the Red Knight, and the Knave of Hearts. Lizzie's personal bodyguard/generalissimo, bent on revenge at first but later gives up on his agenda. After the Crown claimed his family estate (where he was born and raised) and royalists killed his parents when they stood up, he fled into the Dark Forests with his little sister Cerise, but they became separated. He joined a band of highwaymen and got to know Rosi's parents, before her father was killed. Later on, he was taken prisoner, but subsequently received the royal pardon and became the commanding officer of Wonderland's Royal Guard. He would use the position to get revenge on Lizzie and dethrone her, while developing a crush on his liege and getting stuck in a loyalty crisis... which Katla took advantage of. However, his agenda is, in the finale, discovered and he begs his liege for pardon once more. A mock execution before the hedge of thorns ensues, but he is pardoned and resumes his post. A brave and tall redhead in a scarlet doublet and landsknecht-like garb, something along the line of Wallenstein and Pappenheim, with a scar (from childhood) on his left eye and a sharp widow's peak. At first resented and psychologically scarred but ostensibly optimistic and extraverted to conceal his true agenda, he remains equally extraverted, but much more light-hearted, after having been branded as a traitor and nigh-executed. Jealous of Laurent for his higher success. Roomates with the more physically imposing and reserved von Nehmen, until his departure for the Lilienstiel court mid-series, at which point he becomes roomates with Charles Liddell, November having left for Wonderland due to health issues. But Katla's plans give fruit, and he soon finds himself a sworn enemy to his roomate, who betrayed him under the influence: Scarlet knows that Katla is one worthy opponent... In the end, he will find his missing little sister...
Besides, a day like today (7th of September 1631), 382 years ago, a dapper young Gustavus Adolphus crushed poor old Count Tilly at Breitenfeld. The battle was not fought just for Leipzig or Saxony, but for the Western world as a whole. The outnumbered and sunstruck Swedish ranks won a renowned landslide victory through more advanced weaponry and revolutionary tactics. Ever since, the North of Europe has had the upper hand over the South. Which is crystal clear in these troubled times.


viernes, 6 de septiembre de 2013

FREEDOM, COMMUNISM, DISTURBANCE, AND PANDORA

You still remember the story of the lovers of pleasure who sought the Messiah in scenes of earthly enjoyment?
If not, let me remind you:
Forgotten Victorian author Margaret Gatty wrote a series of "Parables from Nature", that is, moral and religious stories based upon natural phenomena.
One of them, "The Deliverer", set before the birth of Christ, tells of humankind's hope for a messianic redeemer. While most people expect a royal palace to be his birthplace and courtiers or royals for parents, "the lovers of pleasure hoped for a Deliverer in scenes of earthly enjoyment":
The conquering spoken of is but the overcoming of all wish for strife; the rule in store, the sovereignty of love, suppressing all desires but that for universal joy.
Ah! surely, when the Deliverer came it would be to make all people happy alike, and pour a healing balsam into every wound! Then would all the old griefs be buried and forgotten, and the soothed minds of the contented trouble themselves no more with struggle.
Oh for the dawning of that morn when the world should resound once more to the songs of rejoicing which gladdened the golden age! Had not the Sybils so spoken, and had not the Poet so sung? Then should everyone sit under his own vine and his fig-tree, and poor and rich alike cease from the land, for all should be equal and all happy.
"But whence should such a Deliverer be looked for—where be expected to arise?—Ah! surely only in some happy spot of Nature, some valley peaceful and beautiful as that of Cashmere, among a race of pastoral simplicity; in some perfect household, where disturbance was never known, and one mind prevailed. Thence alone could come He who would cause the cruel swords of war to be turned into ploughshares, and spears into reapinghooks, and animate and inanimate Nature to join in one general song of joy.
So these looked to the lovely valleys and the quiet nooks of Nature for the magic spot where discord had never entered. But they, too, looked and waited in vain—yet looked and waited on as before, and called upon Nature herself to confirm their hopes."
They looked and waited in vain because the Lord "had chosen base things of the world, and things which are despised, that no flesh should glory in His presence." And the Earth remained in suffering and oppression because "not many wise men after the flesh" are called by the Lord. That's why, according to Mrs. Gatty, Jesus was born in midwinter:
"Thus, thus, thus—while Nature lay torpid and hopeless, and half the world was winter-wrapt in snow. Thus, thus, thus—with healing on His wings, but not the healing they sought for: not a deliverance from death or sorrow, not a freedom from toil or pain, not even a ransom from temptation and sin." And, to add more fuel to the fire, the village inn where he was born and near which his carpenter father came from was located in a warzone (something Gatty never came to mention!).
Mrs. Gatty was a devout Christian, while I am a pacifist, an epicurean (i.e., a "lover of pleasure"), and a freethinker. The idea of "the magic spot where discord had never entered", so dismissed by the author's realism and spirituality simultaneously, is tantalizing to people like me in spite of its lacking foundation; for the problem of pain was and is a riddle without an answer.

Remember Leibniz, the baroque courtier? He clearly told physical evil from moral evil. The "sorrow" and "pain" mentioned in Gatty's excerpt refer, clearly, to moral evil: "strife", "struggle", "disturbance", "the cruel swords of war", "discord". These words refer to conflict between humans, not to pain caused by the laws of Nature (illness/injury).
As a teenager, I wondered why we humans are able to do wrong: to untie knots of love,  to declare wars, and to persecute outsiders. I asked my wise and well-spoken Philosophy teacher (who currently resides in Stockholm, and whose wife I met in the Swedish capital a month ago) the question. He replied: "Because we wouldn't be free if we could only do good."
Free will is both a blessing and a curse. If we are free to do wrong, we can do wrong. But if we only can do good, we are not free. Now, what is good actually? There lies the quid of the question!
Let's say, like Gatty's lovers of pleasure, that earthly enjoyment/happiness/joy/pleasure is good/right, while disturbance/discord/warfare is bad/wrong. The snag is: we humans are too self-centered and stubborn for "the magic spot where discord had never entered" to be a reality.
There have been attempts at recreating "the magic spot" in vivo, the most remarkable (nation-level, in several countries!) being Karl Marx's egalitarian and classless nationwide Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It still survives in some military governments of the present day. The Marxist doctrine is too good to be true: it works only on paper, but not in real life. Communists from Eastern Europe crossed the heavily fortified Iron Curtain en masse, not stopping at anything, because of their own interest's clash with national authorities. Let's illustrate this phenomenon with a satirical East German joke:
Q: What's the difference between the black market and the Leipzig Trade Fair?
A: At the black market, you can't see anything, but you can buy everything.
At the Leipzig Trade Fair, you can see everything, but you can't buy anything.
Long story short: liberalism/capitalism, though it relies on the survival of the fittest, is a far better economic system.

Moving from economy to life in general, we find the fallacy of humans striving for earthly enjoyment while not caring for fellow humans (0r other species). A striking Swedish proverb reads: "One's person's bread is another's death".
 A sad but true paradox. Yet "the magic spot" must live on in myth and literature, in every Edenic/Arcadian scenario, from Siduri's isolated house/stronghold/palace/inn in the garden by the Waters of Death to the candy lands of modern children's daydreams.
The Edenic myths often tell a story of paradise lost, of how both physical and moral evil came into the real world. Eve was told by her Father that the forbidden fruit was lethal, but she was persuaded to taste it by the serpent's words and the bright colour of the fruit itself. The first transgression makes her aware of her nudity and causes her to hide. At the end of the Fall from Grace story, poor Eve and her spouse are cursed with pain and sorrow; with toil, blood, tears, and sweat. The punchline of this immense black joke is reached when, out of her two children born in pain and trouble, the jealous older brother kills the younger one. It must have felt like a stab to the heart, especially because one of her children was killed by the other as their quarrels escalated.
The Mediterranean pre-Christian "Fall from Grace" story, of which my favourite version, an Andersenian masterpiece by Nathaniel Hawthorne, can be read at http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=hawthorne&book=wonder&story=paradise, substitutes the fruit for a box. The sinner is here called Pandora: "Everygift", since the gods have circled aroud her like the fairies around newborn Sleeping Beauty and given her each a gift or two: a pleasant appearance, a good mood, a taste for the arts and music... Hermes/Mercury, the trickster on Olympus, called Quicksilver by Hawthorne ("mercury" is "Quecksilber" in German and "kvicksilver" in Swedish), gives her both the box, with the interdiction to open it, and the gift of curiosity: thirst for knowledge and/or for pleasure. He has arranged for her not to fear the unknown, so that the box can be opened. She's got both the lock and the key (like, in Genesis, the Eternal Father placed the forbidden fruit -and presumably the serpent as well- within Eve's reach): it is a test of character. A tricked test whose only outcome was, perhaps, for the rule to be broken: it was expected of Eve to taste the forbidden fruit, of Pandora to open the forbidden box. Which makes this kind of stories theodicies: what kind of deity would allow evil (physical and moral) to exist, keep it in one place, and then entrust that place to someone who, most surely, would let it all out?



miércoles, 4 de septiembre de 2013

A GERMANIC ENCAMPMENT

How did the people of the northern lands live in the past? Scattered throughout the harsh northern countries, in isolated cottages, farmsteads, and royal halls. And, when they clustered together, they did so at royal courts and in encampments. Like Trelburg, somewhere along the Baltic coast:

FOR THE SPACE OF TWO DAYS WE SAILED ALONG A FLAT coast among many islands that are called the land of Dans, coming finally to a region of marsh with a crisscross of narrow rivers that pour onto the sea. These rivers have no names themselves but are each one called "wyk," and the peoples of the narrow rivers are called "wykings," which means the Northmen warriors who sail their ships up the rivers and attack settlements in such fashion. 

Now in this marshy region we stopped at a place they called Trelburg, which was a wonder to me. Here is no town, but rather a military camp, and its people are warriors, with few women or children among them. The defenses of this camp of Trelburg are constructed with great care and skill of workmanship in the Roman fashion.

Trelburg lies at the joining point of two wyks, which then run to the sea. The main part of the town is encircled by a round earthwork wall, as tall as five men standing one atop the other. Above this earthen ring there stands a wooden fence for greater protection. Outside the earthen ring there is a ditch filled with water, the depth I do not know.

These earthworks are excellently made, of a symmetry and quality to rival anything we know. And there is this further: on the landward side of the town, a second semicircle of high wall, and a second ditch beyond.

The town itself lies within the inner ring, which is broken by four gates, facing the four corners of the earth. Each gate is barred by strong oaken doors with heavy fittings of iron, and many guards. Many guards also walk the ramparts, keeping watch day and night.

Inside the town stand sixteen wooden dwellings, all the same: they are long houses, for so the Northmen call them, with walls that curve so that they resemble overturned boats with the ends cut flat front and back. In length they are thirty paces, and wider in the middle portion than either end. They are arranged thus: four long houses precisely set, so as to form a square. Four squares are arranged to make sixteen houses in all. 

Every long house has but one entrance, and no house has its entrance within sight of another. I inquired why this was so, and Herger said thus: "If the camp is attacked, the men. must run to defense, and the doorways are such that the men can hasten without mingling and confusion, but on the contrary each man can proceed freely to the task of defense."

Thus it is within the square that one house has a north door, the next house an east door, the next house a south door, the next house a west door; so also each of the four squares.

Then also I saw that while the Northmen are gigantic, these doorways were so low that even I must bend in two to enter one of the houses. I inquired of Herger, who said: "If we are attacked, a single warrior may remain inside the house, and with his sword cut off the heads of all who enter. The door is low so that heads will be bent for cutting."

Verily, I saw that in all respects the Trelburg town was constructed for warfare and for defense. No trading is conducted here at all, as I have said. Inside the long houses, there are three sections or rooms, each with a door. The center room is the largest, and it also has a pit for rubbish.

Now I saw that the Trelburg people were not as the Northmen along the Volga. These were clean people for their race. They washed in the river, and relieved their waste out of doors, and were in all ways much superior to what I had known. Yet they are not truly clean, except in comparison.

The society of Trelburg is mostly men, and the women are all slaves. There are no wives among the women, and all women are taken freely as the men desire. The people of Trelburg live on fish, and some little bread; they do no agriculture or farming, although the marshlands surrounding the town contain areas suitable for growing. I asked of Herger why there was no agriculture, and he said to me, "These are warriors. They do not till the soil."

Buliwyf and his company were graciously received by the chiefs of Trelburg, who are several, foremost among them one who is called Sagard. Sagard is a strong and fierce man, almost as huge as Buliwyf himself.

During the night banquet, Sagard inquired of Buliwyf his mission and the reasons for his travels, and Buliwyf reported of the supplication of Wulfgar. 
Sagard spoke thus: "It is sensible for Wulfgar to carry out the errand of a messenger, though he is the son of the King Rothgar, for the several sons of Rothgar have set upon one another."

Buliwyf said that he did not know of this, or words to that meaning. But I perceived that he was not greatly surprised. Yet it is true that Buliwyf was seldom surprised by any thing. Such was his role as leader of the warriors and hero to them.

Sagard spoke again: "Indeed, Rothgar had five sons, and three are dead at the hand of one of them, Wiglif, a cunning man,  whose conspirator in this affair is the herald of the old King. Only Wulfgar remains faithful, and he has departed."

Buliwyf said to Sagard that he was glad to know of this news, and would hold it in his mind, and there the conversation ended. Never did Buliwyf or any of his warriors show surprise at the words of Sagard, and from this I took that it is ordinary for the sons of a king to dispose of one another to gain the throne.

Also it is true that from time to time a son may murder his father the king to gain the throne, and this is likewise counted nothing remarkable, for the Northmen see it the same as any drunken brawl among warriors. The Northmen have a proverb which is "Look to your back," and they believe that a man must always be prepared to defend himself, even a father against his own son.

Upon our departure, I inquired of Herger why there should be another fortification on the landward side of Trelburg, and yet no such additional fortification on the seaward side. These Northmen are seafaring men who attack from the sea, and yet Herger said, "It is the land that is dangerous."

I asked of him, "Why is the land dangerous?" And he replied, "Because of the mists".

Upon our departure from Trelburg, the warriors assembled there beat their staves upon their shields, raising a loud noise for our ship which set sail. This, I was told, was to draw the attention of Odin, one of the number of their gods, so that this Odin would look with favor upon the journey of Buliwyf and his twelve men.

For the next two days, we sailed among the islands of the Dan country, and then on the third day we crossed a passage of open water. Here I was afraid to see more of the sea monsters, but we did not, and eventually arrived at the territory called Venden. These lands of Venden are mountainous and forbidding, and the men of Buliwyf in his boat approached with some trepidation and the killing of a hen, which was thrown into the ocean thus: the head was thrown from the bow of the ship, and the body of the hen was thrown from the stern, near the helmsman.

We did not beach directly on this new land of Venden, but sailed along the coast, coming at last to the kingdom of Rothgar. I first saw it thus. High upon a cliff, commanding a view of the raging gray sea, was a huge great hall of wood, strong and imposing. I said to Herger it was a magnificent sight, but Herger and all his company, led by Buliwyf, were groaning and shaking their heads. I inquired of Herger why this was so. He said, "Rothgar is called Rothgar the Vain, and his great hall is the mark of a vain man."

I said, "Why do you speak thus? Because of its size and splendor?" For verily, as we came closer, I saw that the hall was richly ornamented with carvings and silver chasing, which sparkled from a distance.

"No," said Herger. "I say that Rothgar is vain because of the way he has placed his settlement. He dares the gods to strike him down, and he pretends he is more than a man, and so he is punished."

Never have I seen a more impregnable great hall, and I said to Herger, "This hall cannot be attacked; how can Rothgar be struck down?"

Life at the warcamp is radicaly more different than life in the Viking villages and settlements. Men are predominant, and all the women are slaves... Well actually it isn't that different, they still drink, and still feast endlessly... Vikings will be Vikings I guess... Upon the exit of the camp Trelburg, and back onto the sea, they witnessed a siting so amazing, few ever see, a sea monster! 

lunes, 2 de septiembre de 2013

SNOILSKY'S LÜTZEN IN ENGLISH

I have finally translated Snoilsky's poem on the Battle of Lützen into Shakespeare's language (having already translated it into Spanish three months ago), and I have dedicated it to a teacher of mine:

THE BATTLE OF LÜTZEN
A historical tableau by Carl Snoilsky
translated from the Swedish by Sandra Dermark
on the 2nd of September 2013


(Dedicated to Juan Carlos Ruiz with sincere admiration)


With thunder and lightning, two armies have clashed
at daybreak, one autumn morrow.
Through thick gray fog, gunfire has violently flashed,
stifling the wounded’s cries of sorrow.


On winning, on winning, on daring to dare
is hell-bent the mind of each rider,
though he lose the grip on the reins of his mare,
and rashly dismount, in a stride, her.


As the heavy cuirassier falls to the ground,
the pikeman, who would stand defeated,
sees his chance and thrusts his blade, turning around:
thus, rider and steed are mistreated.

The common soldier rushes into the fray:
his duty reads “dying or slaying”.
The commander watches his men the game play,
and soon heavy cards he’s seen playing.


There he rides, his blue plume flutters! Lovely lad!
Cool eyes, every muscle in tension!
The tall, dashing figure in bright doublet clad
draws friends’ and enemies’ attention!


Thus he takes command of his faltering wing,
exposed like a leader of twenty.
Like a young lieutenant, risks takes the blond king:
his sword’s drawn, his scabbard is empty.


He’s shuttled by thunderstorm wings through the ranks,
into the fog, into the fire.
Like hail, many a bullet on a breastplate clanks
where enemy units conspire.
“Onward, my brave Swedish cavalry!
Onward, comrades of German breeding!”
In vain… they can’t catch up… their leader don’t see...
then, suddenly, hear: “The King’s bleeding!”


Into the dark bosom of Wallenstein’s troop
no one the wounded rider followed.
The yellow doublet was, at one fell swoop,
by the clanking iron wave swallowed.


Then, a rising clamour sears flesh and bone:
“Gustavus! Our father! Our leader!”
Thus, his brigades combine: he won’t die alone.
They roar, rushing forward, dear reader.


Croatians retreat and Walloons take to flight,
and, buried in heaps of slain sinners,
the Friedlander’s cannons are hidden from sight:
the martyr’s men shall be the winners.


The last word was missing in his epic song:
the word that crowns every achievement.
The mourners have done their duty, right or wrong:
they wrote it in blood and bereavement.


They’ve won. On the fields, with a lovely parade,
they honour their beloved leader,
but most of them have fallen within the glade:
the living are few, my dear reader.


On the plains of Lützen, by faint evening light,
in cold, foggy early November,
I saw such a bloody, violent sight,
that I, to this day, still remember.