Nice Weekend, working on The Invisible College, a few more daze…. Weather went from sublime to the rainy, in one day. Pouring now on Sunday night.
Saw my good friend Tom Charlesworth Sunday. Went out for a pint at the local. He is in the process of trying to escape Portland with his wife Cheryl to sunnier climes. We will miss him. We have been friends since 1969. So many stories!
Had a nice time with family, talked to good friends around the place, including Tomas B. back in RI. Hey Tomas!
Put together “The Laughing Show” for Radio Free Earthrites. Still on if you want to catch it, coming off the air Monday night.
Hope your weekend was sweet!
On The Grill:
You Never Want to Cross an Elf By Brad Steiger
Poetry: René Char
The Art: George Frederic Watts
George Frederic Watts
A portrait painter and sculptor, George Frederick Watts was born in London, the son of a piano maker. Initially, he wanted to become a sculptor, and at the age of 10 was apprenticed to William Behnes. However, in 1835, at the age of 18, he went to the RA Schools, where he remained for only a short period, and thereafter was mainly self-taught. After he first exhibited The Wounded Heron at the Royal Academy, painting became his main preoccupation. When his picture Caractacus won a £300 prize, he used the money to finance a trip to Italy, where he stayed with friends in Florence. He did not return to England until 1847, when his painting Alfred won the first prize of £500 in a House of Lords competition.
In 1850 Watts visited the home of Valentine Prinsep’s parents in Holland park, supposedly for a three-day visit, but instead he stayed for thirty years. The Prinseps seem to have borne the situation cheerfully, and it no doubt gave them a certain cachet in the Bohemian circles in which they moved, which included such writers and painters as Thackeray, Dickens, Rossetti and Burne-Jones. Fortunately, Watts was a man of frugal habits. Although he had been depressed and unhappy when he had moved in with the Prinseps, Watts blossomed in this strange household, where notable writers and painters were treated with reverence. As a portrait artist, his gallery of eminent Victorians is unsurpassed: included among his sitters were the poets Tennyson, Swinburne and Browning, the artists Millais, Lord Leighton, Walter Crane and Burne-Jones; others were Sir Richard Burton, John Stuart Mill and Garibaldi, to mention only a few. He finally left the Prinseps’ home in 1875 and moved to the Isle of Wight. In 1864 Watts married the actress Ellen Terry, who was only 16, although the marriage was short-lived, and he remarried in 1886 when he moved to Limnerslease, near Guildford. His new wife was Mary Fraser-Tytler, thirty-two year his junior. She was of Scottish descent, growing up in a castle on the shores of Loch Ness, and was an artist in her own right.
Watts was a modest, hard-working artist who twice refused a baronetcy and other honours, including an offer to become president of the Royal Academy, although he did accept the Order of Merit. His work as a sculptor exists in the Cecil Rhodes Memorial, Cape Town. His chief work as a sculptor is the heroic figure of a man on horseback known as Physical Energy, casts of which are on the Cecil Rhodes estate and in Kensington Gardens, London.
The critic G.K. Chesterton said of Watts: “.. more than any other modern man, and much more than politicians who thundered on platforms or financiers who captured continents, [Watts] has sought in the midst of his quiet and hidden life to mirror his age… In the whole range of Watts’ symbolic art, there is scarcely a single example of the ordinary and arbitrary current symbol…. A primeval vagueness and archaism hangs over the all the canvases and cartoons, like frescoes from some prehistoric temple. There is nothing there but the eternal things, day and fire and the sea, and motherhood and the dead.”
Another contemporary admirer, Hugh MacMillan, wrote that Watts “surrounds his ideal forms with a misty or cloudy atmosphere for the purpose of showing that they are visionary or ideal…. His colours, like the colour of the veils of the ancient tabernacle, like the hues of the jewelled walls of the New Jerusalem, are invested with a parabolic significance…. To the commonest hues he gives a tone beyond their ordinary power… Watts is essentially the seer. He thinks in pictures that come before the inward eye spontaneously and assume a definite form almost without any effort of consciousness.”
Watts’ declared aims were clear: to paint pictures that appealed ‘to the intellect and refined emotions rather than the senses’: “I paint ideas, not things. I paint primarily because I have something to say, and since the gift of eloquent language has been denied to me, I use painting; my intention is not so much to paint pictures which shall please the eye, as to suggest great thoughts which shall speak to the imagination and to the heart and arouse all that is best and noblest in humanity.”
Since the revival of interest in Victorian painting, Watts is slowly regaining the recognition and respect he enjoyed in the 19th century. However, in terms of public recognition he is not as well-known as contemporaries like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. Exhibitions such as the Tate Gallery’s ‘Symbolism in Britain’ have helped renew interest in his work.
“We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.”
“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”
“Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?”
“Sanity is a madness put to good use.”
“Seeing a murder on television… can help work off one’s antagonisms. And if you haven’t any
antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.”
“Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face.”
“Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”
“Someone’s boring me. I think it’s me.”
“I know not, sir, whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his life.”
You Never Want to Cross an Elf By Brad Steiger
For many people today, the image of an elf is firmly established in the characters of either the handsome Legolas Greenleaf or the lovely, ethereal Arwen as depicted in the Peter Jackson film of J. R. R. Tolkiens Ring saga by actors Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler. While the elves in Tolkiens vision are tall and stately beings, tradition has most often portrayed elves and their fellow citizens from the unseen realm as diminutive, hence, the wee people. Small in stature though they may be, elves, the Hidden Folk, are not beings with whom to trifle.
Careless or disrespectful humans who trespass on forest glens, rivers, or lakes considered sacred to elves may suffer terrible consequenceseven cruel deaths. Entrepreneurs who wish to desecrate land whereon lie fairy circles or mounds in order to build a road or construct a commercial building may find themselves combating an unseen enemy who will accept only their unconditional surrender.
Trouble at the Herring Plant
In 1962, the new owners of a herring-processing plant in Iceland decided to enlarge the work area of the building. According to Icelandic tradition, landowners must not fail to reserve a small area of their property for the Hidden Folk, and a number of the established residents earnestly pointed out to the recent arrivals that any addition to the processing plant would encroach upon the plot of ground that the original owners had respectfully set aside for the elves who lived under the ground.
In a condescending manner, the businessmen explained that they didnt harbor those old superstitions and neither did their highly qualified construction crew who had modern, unbreakable drill bits and plenty of explosives.
But the bits of the unbreakable drills began to shatter, one after another.
An old farmer came forward to repeat the warning that the crew was trespassing on land that belonged to the Hidden Folk.
The workmen laughed when the old man walked awaybut the drill bits kept breaking.
Finally, the manager of the plant, although professing disbelief in such nonsense, agreed to the local residents recommendation that he consult a local elf seer to establish contact with the Hidden Folk and attempt to make peace with them. The seer informed the manager that there was a very powerful member of the Hidden Folk who had selected the plot near the herring-processing plant as his personal dwelling place. He was not an unreasonable being, however. Elves really do try to get along with humans and compromise whenever they can to avoid violence. If the processing plant really needed the plot for its expansion, the elf seer said, the Hidden One would agree to find another place to live. He asked only for five days without any drilling, so that he could make his arrangements to move.
The manager felt a bit strange bargaining with a being that was invisibleand, as far as he was concerned, imaginary. But he looked over at the pile of broken drill bits and told the seer that the Hidden One had a deal. Work on the site was shut down for five days to give the elf a chance to move. When five days had passed and the workmen resumed drilling, the work went smoothly and efficiently until the addition to the plant was completed. There were no more shattered drill bits.
Because the incident cited above occurred in 1962practically medieval times in some young peoples mindsmany readers will no doubt assume that Icelanders of the 21st century no longer cherish such quaint beliefs. Those readers would be wrong.
In the Boston Herald, December 25, 2005, Ric Bourie wrote that highway engineers and construction crews still regard the Hidden Folk very seriously: Mischief befalls Icelandic road builders who cant recognize good elf domain, including breakdowns of heavy equipment and even worker mishaps and injuries. It is said to have happened on more than one job site, enough to take the mythology seriously. Consequently, road planners here consult with an elf expert before routing a road or highway through rock piles that may be elf habitat.
Bourie interviewed elf seer Erla Stefansdottir, who named elves, gnomes, dwarves, angels, light-fairies, and the hidden people as all belonging to classes of what she called elfin beings. Any of the above-named entities, Ms. Stefansdottir said, can get quite upset if we ruin their houses or go against their wishes. They get very upset and we have to face the consequences. They can put a spell on us.
Fairy Mound Disturbed
<img width='272' height='350' border='0' hspace='5' align='left' src='http://www.earthrites.org/turfing2/uploads/1904watts320copy.jpg' alt='' /While some people may be surprised that stereotypically stoic Scandinavians believe in elves and other beings from the hidden world, it seems that the whole world embraces the stereotype of the country folk of Ireland taking their wee people seriously. According to popular leprechaun and elf stories, the Irish know that to disturb the mounds or raths in which they dwell is to invite severe supernatural consequences.
Since ancient times, it seems that the Irish have understood that there are certain areas that the wee ones consider sacrosanct, special to them. Certain mounds, caves, creek areas, and forest clearings have been staked out by the Hidden Ones as their very own, and the wise human, sensitively in touch with the natural environment, knows better than to trespass on such ground.
The trouble at the fairy mound outside the village of Wexford began when workmen from the state electricity board began digging a hole for the erection of a light pole within the parameters of a rath. The villagers warned the workmen that the pole would never stay put, because no self-respecting community of fairy folk could abide a disturbance on their mound.
The big city electrical workmen had a coarse laugh and made uncomplimentary remarks about the level of intelligence of the townsfolk of Wexford. The workmen finished digging the hole to the depth that experience had taught them was adequate, then placed the post within the freshly dug opening and stamped the black earth firmly around its base. The satisfied foreman pronounced for all within earshot to hear that no fairy would move the pole from where it had been anchored.
However, the next morning the pole tilted askew in loose earth.
The villagers shrugged that the wee folk had done it, but the foreman of the crew voiced his suspicions that the fairies had received some help from humans bent on mischief. Glaring his resentment at any villagers who would meet his narrowed, accusative eyes, the foreman ordered his men to reset the pole.
The next morning that particular pole was once again conspicuous in the long line of newly placed electrical posts by its weird tilt in the loose soil at its base. While the other poles in the line stood straight and proud like soldiers on parade, that one woebegone post reeled like a trooper who had had one pint too many.
The foreman had endured enough of such rural humor at his expense. He ordered the crew to dig a hole six feet wide, place the pole precisely in the middle, and pack the earth so firmly around the base that nothing short of an atomic bomb could budge it.
Apparently fairies have their own brand of nuclear fission, for the next morning the intrusive pole had once again been pushed loose of the little peoples rath.
The foreman and his crew from the electricity board finally knew they were licked. Without another word to the grinning villagers, the workmen dug a second hole four feet outside of the fairy mound and dropped the pole in there. And there it stood, untouched, untroubledexactly where the wee folk permitted it to stand.
The Wee Peoples Rock
In The Times, November 21, 2005, Will Pavai and Chris Windle tell how a small colony of wee folk living beneath a rock in St. Fillans, Perthshire, cost developer Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, nearly $40,000 when community pressure forced him to scrap his building plans and start again. A group of his workmen had been about to move a large rock from the center of a field to make way for the new housing development.
According to Salter, one of the residents of St. Fillans came running, shouting that they couldnt move the rock or they would kill the fairies. At first Salter thought the man was joking. Then came the series of angry telephone calls.
Salter attended a meeting of the community council where he learned that the council was considering lodging a complaint with the planning authority, which was likely to be the kiss of death for a housing development in a national park.
Although the Planning Inspectorate has no specific guidelines on how to deal with fairies, a spokesman told Salter that Planning guidance states that local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when a developer applies for planning permission.
Salter was forced to redesign the new estate so that the wee peoples rock would be in the center of a small park nicely situated within the new community.
When some friends and I were discussing the recent accounts of wee people activity receiving media attention in late 2005, Patty recalled staying with an Irish family some years ago.
They owned a large hotel that dated back to before the Easter Rebellion (1916) and had housed lots of IRA activity, Patty said. The owner of this place, Mr. Conroy, told me that there are fairy rings all around the area outside of Dublinespecially in St. Kevins Bed. There is a story of a truck driver that made fun of the villagers for their superstition about the fairy circles and to prove how stupid he felt they were, he drove his truck through one of them! Then he got out of the truck, laughed at the crowd watching him, and promptly died of a heart attack! Conroy swore that this man was a big fellow in perfect health.
Patty heard another story while she was in Ireland about some construction workers who wanted to remove a stump near a fairy ring. They felt that since it wasnt actually in the fairy ring, the coast was clear. They tried to dynamite the stump three or four times and nothing happened. They checked the dynamite, the wiring, and so forth and found nothing wrong. Finally, they all saw a little man dressed in green climb out of the stump and run. Just as he ran off, the stump exploded into a million pieces!
As crazy as this sounds, there was a photographer there from the local newspaper who had heard about all the problems and was going to take a picture of them trying to blow up the stump. He did actually get a picture of the leprechaun. However, Patty was told, it is locked away somewhere in Trinity College.
Patty recalled many conversations with the maid at the hotel where she stayed and she said that she had heard many stories of people who had seen the wee folks. And on one thing all the stories agreed, Patty said, You never want to cross one! Not ever!
I have concluded in my research that there exist throughout the world pockets of energy in which another order of intelligence abides. And I should make clear that I agree wholeheartedly with elf seer Erla Stefansdottir, who includes elves, gnomes, dwarves, angels, light-fairies, nisse, brownies, skaramooshes, and devas as a single shape-shifting intelligence that we have come to call The Hidden People. In some instances, these pockets of intelligent energy may be influenced by human intelligence and manifest in a physical form as a variation on the theme of a human image. In other circumstances, this energy may direct and controleven possesshuman beings.
In essence, these nature spirits may be the Elder Race or The Old Ones referred to in so many myths and legends. These vortexes of intelligence may comprise a companion species to our own and may well have maintained a strange kind of symbiotic relationship with us throughout the centuries of mutual evolution.
David Spangler of Findhorn claimed that he was told by such an intelligence that they recognize humankind as a necessary and vital part of the synergistic state of the planet, thus they are essentially benignly concerned with human survival because it bears directly upon the survival of Earth. Spanglers understanding of humankinds relationship to these entities is that we were first cousins, and that we somehow had a common ancestor.
The elves benign nature has been experienced by those men and women who have won their favor. On behalf of such humans, the Hidden Ones can materialize to help a poor farmer harvest a crop and have it in the bins before a storm hits, or they can clean a kitchen in the twinkling of an eye to ease the stress of an exhausted housewife. If they see fit to do so, the elves can guide their favored humans with their ability to divine the future, and they will stand by to assist at the birth of a special couples child, whom they will tutor and protect throughout his or her lifetime.
Other researchers, biblically inspired, see the elfin clans as forms assumed by the rebellious angels who were driven out of Heaven during the celestial uprising led by Lucifer. These fallen angels, cast from their heavenly abode, took up new residences in the forests, mountains, and lakes of Earth. They exist in a much-diminished capacity, but still possess more than enough power to be deemed supernatural by the human inhabitants of the planet. These paraphysical beings on occasion take humans as mates, thereby breeding a hybrid species of entities betwixt Man and Angel.
Among the more than 30,000 men and women who have returned the Steiger Questionnaire of Mystical, Paranormal, and UFO Experiences, a remarkable 29 percent claim to have seen elves, fairies, or some form of nature spirit. In certain cases, recounted in the questionnaires, such a being may have considered a deserted house or barn its own. Generally, if the elfin entity understands that a human wishes to occupy the dwelling place and if it is treated with respect, it will quietly move out. At most, a token gift of fruits, nuts, or meal would compensate the spirit squatter and make it agree to move on to a more natural habitat. However, in some instances, humans have just walked into a particular situation at the wrong moment, and they can experience some trauma before squatting rights are straightened out and understood.
Together with the return of her questionnaire, Lorrie Jastrow sent an account of an experience which occurred to her and her fiancé, Karl, shortly before their marriage. They had gone to a movie, then decided to drive out to the tiny house in the country where they would live after they had celebrated their nuptials.
Lorrie thought it was fun to go out there and plan their future. The house was on land that was too wooded to be good farmland, but they intended only to plant a small garden for vegetables. Karl would continue his job in town.
Our only lights that night were our flashlights. Since we wouldnt be moving in for another month or so, the landlord had yet to switch on the electricity. He had given us keys to the place, though, and he didnt mind that we would drive out there to dream about our future life together.
That night when they walked into the house, Lorrie had an eerie feeling that something was wrong, that they were not alone. Karl must have felt the same way as I did, because he kept looking over his shoulder, like he expected to catch sight of someone spying on us.
Then we heard a strange chattering, like some giant squirrel or chipmunk, coming from a dark corner in the room. It suddenly seemed so unreal, unearthly, and a strange coldness passed over my body. I told Karl that I wanted to leave, that I was frightened.
But before they could move toward the door, Karl suddenly threw his hands up over his head as if he were trying to grab at something behind him. His head seemed pulled back and to one side. His mouth froze in a grimace of pain and fear, and his eyes rolled wildly. He lost his balance, fell to his knees, and then to his side. He rolled madly on the floor, fighting and clawing the air around his neck.
Lorrie stood stunned with fear and bewilderment. Karl managed to struggle to his feet. His eyes bulged, and he gasped fiercely for each breath. Some unseen thing seemed to be strangling him. He gasped that they must run to the car, that Lorrie must drive.
Somehow, they got out of the house with Karl stumbling, staggering as if something heavy and strong were perched atop his shoulders with a death grip about his throat.
I…cant get the damned thing off of me! he gasped.
At last they got to the car. Lorrie got behind the wheel, and Karl told her to drive, fast. He was still trying to pry the invisible things hands from his throat.
Lorrie drove for about two miles down the roadand suddenly there was a blinding flash inside the car. A brilliant ball of light about the size of a basketball shot ahead of their car, then veered sharply to the left and disappeared into a clump of trees.
I did not stop until we were back in town, Lorrie said. Karl lay gasping beside me, his head rolling limply on the back of the seat. He did not speak until we were well inside the city limits, then he said that some inhuman thing had jumped on him from the shadows of the house. He was certain that it could have killed him if it had really wanted to do so.
Lorrie Jastrow concluded her account by writing that although they returned to their small home in the country with some trepidation, they never again encountered that monstrous, invisible strangler that chattered like a giant rodent. Once the nature spirit had time to calm down and come to terms with the fact that humans were reclaiming the empty house, it moved on to another, more appropriate dwelling. But it certainly did give Karl and Lorrie a piece of its mind before it did so.
People who leave their vacation homes empty for the major portion of the year also frequently suffer from an elfin spirit developing a proprietary interest in what appears to be vacant property.
Scott Halstead said that he and his family had vacationed in the same cabin in the Northeast for the past 22 years. We started vacationing in this cabin when Allan was two years old, and we always take the last two weeks in August. And for 22 years, weve had to share the cabin with something else.
Halstead and his wife Lynette made a point to emphasize their contention that although the something else sometimes frightened them, their sense of the entity was that it was extremely protective of the cabin and the grounds on which their cabin and others like it had been built.
The cabin and nine or ten others are situated on a beautiful lake, Halstead said. And old Charlie the caretaker knows that there is something kind of spooky going on around there, but he usually just shrugs and says that it doesnt bother him. It sometimes bothers his dogs, though. Hes got two big German shepherds, and Ive seen them cower and whine when neither Charlie nor anyone else was near them.
Lynette said that when their son Allan was around four he would say that he had an invisible friend named Mo-Ko who lived in the woods. If we were afraid that he might wander off in the woods, he would say, Mo-Ko wont let me. He says that I have to stay near the cabins. Who could complain if his invisible playmate was also a good baby sitter?
Lynette and Scott agreed that the most dramatic evidence of a guardian spirit looking over the cabin came in 1985 when Allan was 11 and their daughter Tonya was 7.
Scott and I had gone swimming, Lynette said. The kids knew that we would be chilled when we got out of the lake and a fire would feel good to us. Allan had watched his father building a fire for years, so he knew the basics, but he just kept piling on kindling. Tonya tossed newspapers and magazines onto the fire, and pretty soon they had a huge blaze roaring in that fireplace.
Shivering, clutching towels to their chilled bodies, Scott and Lynette returned to the cabin to see the colonial-style rag rugs in front of the fireplace on fire, the curtains to the side of the chimney ablaze, and another finger of flame moving across scattered newspapers toward the living room carpet.
There was that moment of panic, when you just kind of scream and shout before your brain kicks in, Lynette said. Allan and Tonya were standing against a wall, crying their heads off in fear.
And then, as weird at it may seemas strange as it is for Scott and Lynette to attest to itsomething started to beat out the flames.
Im standing there barefooted and soaked in my swimming suit with a towel wrapped around me, Scott said. I dont even have time to react, really, when I see something snuffing out the fire. More than beating out the flames, its like something is smothering it, as if it is covering the fire with a big wet blanket. In minutes, what looked like it would be a major disaster, has become a smoke-filled cabin, a couple of burned and scorched throw rugs, a blitzed curtain, and two crying kids.
Lynette said that she hugged Allan and Tonya and gave thanks to God and to whatever protective spirit looks out for the cabins.
Over the years Lynette and Scott Halstead said that there were numerous signs to indicate that some spirit entity was protective of the cabin. All of the family said that from time to time they felt someone was watching them. Items would disappear and reappear in bizarre places. And an eerie kind of scratching noise would often be heard issuing from within the walls.
Out of curiosity, they once wrote to the Wagners, a family they knew rented the cabin in July, and asked if they had ever noticed anything peculiar during their occupancy.
Beverly Wagner wrote right back and said, I imagine youre referring to the invisible live-in maid? Lynette laughed at the memory. The Wagners had noticed some of the same numerous little things that we had, but once when they left a messy table after a party at the cabin, they woke up the next morning to discover that someone or something had stacked the dirty dishes in the sink and cleaned the table top. Jim Wagner jokingly said that it must be elves, so he left a bowl of oatmeal on the front step that night. In the next morning it was gone, but, of course, birds or some critter could have eaten it.
Scott and Lynette speculated that it could be the spirit of some Native American who cherished the environment around the lake and who kept a vigil over the cabins and their inhabitants, but they added that they had come to believe that the force, the energy, that loved the place so much was something more primeval.
Its almost as if nature itself is somehow protective of the few remaining areas that we humans havent covered over with concrete and erected shopping malls and gas stations, Scott said. Sometimes I would visualize some kind of elf or nature spirit sitting outside near the lake, looking across the beauty of this area toward the city and sighing, What fools these mortals be.
Wrestling with Huldefolk
Richard Connors found out that an elf may sometimes envy a humans possessions and try actively to claim them for his own. Richard said that his family was one a few token Irish in a small town in northern Minnesota that had been settled predominantly by immigrants of Scandinavian stock. Ever since Richard could remember, he had heard stories about the family of Huldefolk that lived in a cave on Ulmer Sorensons property north of town. Teenaged boys would sometimes go out there to test their mettle by throwing rocks into the mouth of the cave and daring the Huldefolk to come out and chase them. Some of the braver teens even walked a few feet inside the cave and shouted their challenges. Later, they told everyone how badly it smelled inside the cave, worse than skunks or civet cats.
Every now and then, someone would breathlessly describe having seen one or more of the Huldefolk moving around in the woods after dark, and it was common knowledge among the kids that those nocturnal raids on farmers chicken coops that carried away hens and eggs were the work of hungry Huldefolk, not wily foxes.
Richards father told him that the stories about the Hidden Folk had probably been made up by Ulmer Sorenson himself, to discourage kids from plundering apples from his orchard. His father said that their Scandinavian neighbors had their stories about the dark creatures of the forest just as did the Irish with their leprechauns.
Late one afternoon on a warm July day, Richard decided to ignore the No Trespassing sign on Sorensons fence and cut across his orchard to take a shortcut to his girlfriends farmhouse. He was walking on a worn deer path when up ahead he could see a short, stocky guy coming toward him. As he drew nearer, Richard saw that the stranger was one ugly character. He had coarse black hair that literally jutted from his skull, deep-set black eyes, and an enormous nose. And when he grinned at Richard, he saw yellowish, jagged teeth that seemed badly in need of a dentist.
Living in a small Minnesota village, Richard was perplexed that he had never before seen the stranger anywhere in town or in school. He was about five-foot four or so and built like a fire hydrant. He was dressed in a worn bib overall a couple of sizes too large, a torn, dirty work shirt, and his bare feetat least size 13swere covered with thick, black hair.
As they stood facing one another, it became clear from the strangers frank stare that he was greatly covetous of Richards new jeans and boots. Without speaking a word, the brutish fellow suddenly tackled Richard around his waist and hurled him to the ground.
Richard at that time was five-foot-nine and 180 pounds of solid muscle, captain of the high school wrestling squad, and never one to turn down a tussle. The ugly little guy was incredibly powerful, and he seemed very surprised when I did a reversal, escaped from his takedown, and flipped him over on his back. I was twisting his hairy arm behind him when this incredible thing happened: I swear to all the saints that he started to grow larger.
Before Richards amazed eyes, his opponent stretched several inches taller and gained about 50 pounds. And the smell of him became almost overpowering. He stank bad enough when he was a short little bugger, but now he could win a fall by his smell alone. Not being an idiot, I realized that I was up against something beyond my powers of reasoning. This was no ordinary farm boy. Deep in the pit of my stomach, I knew that I would now be fighting for more than my pants and my boots.
The coarse-haired, foul-smelling stranger now filled out his bib overalls and worn shirt. His black eyes were turning red in color and from deep within the creatures chest came a low, steady growl.
Then I knew for certain that the legends about the Hidden Folks in Sorensons woods were true, Richard said. I turned tail and ran as fast as I could, leaving the thing roaring and screaming behind me. Twice I glanced over my shoulder to see if it was following me, but I didnt stop running until I got back into town.
When Richard told his family of his encounter with the creature over dinner that night, his father laughed and said that Ulmer Sorenson often hired temporary field hands from a pool of unemployed lumbermen from up north.
A lot of those men are pretty rough and tough and a bit short on manners, his father said. And they might take a fancy to your new boots and jeans and decide to borrow them without your permission. You best not tangle with any of them.
Richard did not press the issue with his father. Nor have I ever done so with anyone else, he said, but I will always know that there are many kinds of creatures and spirits that exist in the shadows all around us. Maybe they normally live in some other dimension and only occasionally pop into ours. Whoever they may be and whatever their names, I know that the Hidden Folk are real.
Brad Steiger is a professional writer who deals with the strange and unknown. He lives in Forest City, Iowa.
Poetry of René Char (1907 – 1988 / France)
Forehead of the Rose
Despite the open window in the room of long absence, the odor of the rose is still linked with the breath that was there. Once again we are without previous experience, newcomers, in love. The rose! The field of its ways would dispel even the effrontery of death. No grating stands in the way. Desire is alive, an ache in our vaporous foreheads.
One who walks the earth in its rains has nothing to fear from the thorn in places either finished or unfriendly. But if he stops to commune with himself, woe! Pierced to the quick, he suddenly flies to ashes, an archer reclaimed by beauty.
the lords of maussane
One after the other, they wished to predict a happy future for us,
With an eclipse in their image and all the anguish befitting us!
We disdained this equality,
Answered no to their assiduous words.
We followed the stony way the heart traced for us
Up to the plains of the air and the unique silence.
We made our demanding love bleed,
Our happiness wrestle each pebble.
They say at this moment that, beyond their vision,
The hail terrifies them, more than the snow of the dead!
You have been my love for so many years,
My giddiness before so much waiting,
Which nothing can age or cool;
Even that which awaited our death,
Or slowly learned how to fight us,
Even that which is strange to us,
Both my eclipses and my returns.
Closed like a box-wood shutter,
An extreme and compact chance
Is our chain, our mountain-range,
Our compressing splendour and glow.
I say chance, O my hammered one;
Either of us can receive
The mysterious part of the other
While keeping its secret unshed;
And the pain that comes from elsewhere
Finds its separation at last
In the flesh of our unity,
Finds its solar orbit at last
At the centre of our own cloud
Which it rends and starts once more.
As I feel it, I say chance.
You have raised up the mountain-peak
Which my waiting will have to clear
When tomorrow disappears.
The River Sorgue
River which parts too early, in one go, without a companion,
Give to the children of my countryside the face of your passion,
River where the flash of lightning ends and where my home begins,
Which rolls all the way right up to the footsteps of oblivion, the rocky ground of my reason,
River, in you the earth shudders, there is sun, anxiety,
Would that every poor man in his night make his bread of your harvest,
River often punished, river abandoned to its course,
River of apprentices to a callused condition,
There is no wind that does not weaken at the crests of your furrows,
River of the empty spirit, of rags and suspicion,
Of an old misfortune unravelling itself, of the elm, of compassion,
River of eccentrics, of the feverish, of stone cutters,
Of the sun which lets go of its plow to sink to the level of liers
River of those who are better than oneself, river of blossoming fogs,
Of the lamp which quenches the anxiety around its hat,
River of consideration given to dreams, river which rusts iron,
Where the stars are of that shade that they refuse to the sea,
River of powers transmitted and of a scream that enters the water’s mouth
Of the hurricane which bites the vine and announces the new wine
River of a heart never destroyed in this world mad for prison,
Keep us violent and friendly to the horizon’s bees.
When the barriers to people have been moved away, sucked up by that giant flaw, the abandonment of the divine, words in the distance, words which did not want to be lost, tried to resist the exorbitant pressure, there they decided upon the dynasty of their senses.
I ran up to where that diluvienne night issues forth, planted in the shaking dawn, my belt full of seasons, I wait for you, O my friends who are about to arrive. Already I can make you out in the darkness of the horizon. What I wish for your houses is not dried up by my hearth. And my staff of cypress laughs with all its heart for you.
René Char, one of the important twentieth-century French poets, was born in 1907 and died in 1988. A controversial figure, he had as many detractors as admirers. He was a pivotal personality in the surrealist movement, and later was a strong cultural force in the French Resistance. “His work,” writes Yves Berger, “is the portrait of a man with will, energy, impatience, an almost animalistic force. Nothing provokes him more than immobility (that is, resignation, or acceptance of the status quo): thus his language, his images of movement. a movement not supple and flowing, but rapid, strong, violent, even brutal.”
Jackson Matthews, in the introduction to Char’s Hypnos Waking, provides this portrait:
He is an abundant manin size, in vitality, in speech, in silences, in ideas and affections, in seriousness, gaiety, gentleness, violence. The sum of all these is a kind of brooding intensity that seems at any moment free to take any turn. He is exalted and harried by the excessive life in him. He speaks in the rhythms of Provence where he was born, where he grew up, and where he still lives in part. He studied at the lycee in Avignon and at the University in Aix. He was one of the early surrealists.
But it was the war and his experience as the leader of a Maquis group in Provence that have most deeply affected his workchanneled his major themes, furnished the substance and many of the subjects of his later poems. The privation, the hunger, the moral suffering of those years were somehow turned into the passionate economy of his style, his rage to compress everything into aphorisms and short bursts of prose.
Char restores to the poet his mission in our distraught world. This is the major burden of his work. He has faced the difficult conditions of human freedom, and understood the role of the imagination in the life of man. He defends poetry with the passion of Shelly but with more human warmth and wisdom. It is in his humanity, his love, that Char stands above most of his contemporaries. But this love is fatally crossed. For the poet is the visionary leader of man, an absolute figure alone on the frontiers of the possible, ‘there where the sky just went down.’ His task is to bring into being the unhoped-for, the unexpectable. In the high lucidity of his star-crossed love, in the flash of the poem, Char has learned how to hope and how to praise.”
Joshua Cody, with text from The Library.