(Pygmalion and Galatea -Jean-Leon Gerome)
Here is the entry for today…. I have been setting up for a new painting. I am returning to an old theme of mine, that has had me captivated for many an outing with the paint or air brush; The Wheel Of Dharma. After I finish this entry, back to working on it. I have a smaller version I am working from, but have found some classic sources that are pretty sweet.
It seems the BBC has picked up a story run in Pravda a year ago: Russian squirrel pack ‘kills dog’ This of course is pure fantasy… It was debunked and now it is back, so what gives with the BEEB putting this one out?
The house last night was humming with activity, Mary with her sewing machine, Rowan was working on making talismans, and I was pulling my hair out with the prep for the painting. Had to use Melatonin to fall asleep I was so wound up…
Still working through Graham Hancock’s “Supernatural”. I really suggest that you pick it up. A great read.
That is it for today, hope your life is sweet.
On The Menu:
The Story of Pygmalion and Galatea
From Germany: The Dwarf’s Nose
Saif al-Rahbi Poems Part 2
Art: Jean-Leon Gerome
The Story of Pygmalion and Galatea
as told by Orpheus in Ovids Metamorphoses; translated and with an introduction by Mary N. Innes; Penguin Books; 1955.
…As for the loathsome Propoetides, they dared to deny the divinity of Venus. The story goes that as a result of this, they were visited by the wrath of the goddess, and were the first women to lose their good names by prostituting themselves in public. Then, as all sense of shame left them, the blood hardened in their cheeks, and it required only a slight alteration to transform them into stony flints.
When Pygmalion saw these women, living such wicked lives, he was revolted by the many faults which nature has implanted in the female sex, and long lived a bachelor existence, with out any wife to share his home. But meanwhile, with marvelous artistry, he skillfully carved a snowy ivory statue. He made it lovelier than any woman born, and he fell in love with his own creation. The statue had all the appearance of a real girl, so that it seemed to be alive, to want to move, did not modesty forbid. So cleverly did his art conceal its art. Pygmalion gazed in wonder, and in his heart there rose a passionate love for this image of a human form. Often he ran his hands over the work, feeling to see whether it was flesh or ivory, and would not yet admit that ivory was all it was. He kissed the statue, and imagined that it kissed him back, spoke to it and embraced it, and thought he felt his fingers sink into the limbs he touched, so that he was afraid lest a bruise appear where he had pressed the flesh. Sometimes he addressed it in flattering speeches, sometimes brought the kind of presents that girls enjoy: shells and polished pebbles, little birds and flowers of a thousand hues, lilies and painted balls, and drops of amber which fall from the trees that were once Phaethons sisters. He dressed the limbs of his statue in womans robes, and put rings on its fingers, long necklaces round its neck. Pearls hug from its ears, and chains were looped upon its breast. All this finery became the image as well, but it was no less lovely unadorned. Pygmalion then placed the statue on a couch that was covered with cloths of Tyrian purple, laid its head to rest on soft down pillows, as if it could appreciate them, and called it his bedfellow.
The festival of Venus, which is celebrated with the greatest pomp all through Cyprus, was now in progress, and heifers, their crooked horns gilded for the occasion, had fallen at the alter as the axe struck their snowy necks. Smoke was rising from the incense, when Pygmalion, having made his offering, stood by the alter and timidly prayed, saying: If you gods can give all things, may I have as my wife, I pray– he did not dare say: the ivory maiden, but finished: one like the ivory maid. However, golden Venus, present at her festival in person, understood what his prayers meant, and as a sign that the gods were kindly disposed, the flames burned up three times, shooting a tongue of fire into the air. When Pygmalion returned home, he made straight for the statue of the girl he loved, leaned over the couch, and kissed her. She seemed warm: he laid his lips on hers again, and touched her breast with his hands–at his touch the ivory lost its hardness, and grew soft: his fingers made an imprint on the yielding surface, just as wax of Hymettus melts in the sun and, worked by mens fingers, is fashioned into many different shapes, and made fit for use by being used. The lover stood, amazed, afraid of being mistaken, his joy tempered with doubt, and again and again stroked the object of his prayers. It was indeed a human body! The veins throbbed as he pressed them with his thumb. Then Pygmalion of Paphos was eloquent in his thanks to Venus. At long last, he pressed his lips upon living lips, and the girl felt the kisses he gave her, and blushed. Timidly raising her eyes, she saw her lover and the light of day together. The goddess Venus was present at the marriage she had arranged and, when the moons horns had nine times been rounded into a full circle, Pygmalions bride bore a child, Paphos, from whom the island takes its name….
(The End of the Sitting – Jean-Leon Gerome)
From Germany: The Dwarf’s Nose
In a well-known town in Germany there lived for many years a shoemaker and his wife. He mended boots and shoes and made new ones when he had money to buy the leather, and she sold fruit and vegetables which she grew in their little garden. Many customers came to her stall in the market-place, being attracted by her neat appearance, and the way she arranged her wares.
This worthy couple had one boy, named Jacob; he was eight years old, handsome and well-grown. He helped his mother at the stall and sometimes carried home the customers’ purchases.
One day, as the shoemaker’s wife was sitting in the market-place, and little Jacob stood near calling out the prices of her vegetables, there came along an old woman, rather shabbily dressed, with a thin, pinched face, red eyes, and a long pointed nose. She leant on a long staff, and hobbled and halted as if her feet were covered with corns, and she looked as if every moment she might tumble on her nose.
“Are you Hannah, the vegetable woman?” asked she, wagging her head. “Let me see if you have what I want.” With her ugly brown hands she turned and tumbled the cabbages about, breaking their leaves; with her long, skinny fingers she poked here and there. When she had disarranged all the baskets, she grumbled “Bad stuff, wretched cabbagesmuch better to be had fifty years ago; bad stuff!”
These remarks made little Jacob angry, and he cried: “Listen, you horrid old woman; you call our vegetables ‘bad stuff,’ and with your long nose you sniff and smell at them so that no one else will care to buy them; but all the same the Grand Duke’s cook buys all he wants of us!”
The old woman looked at the bonny boy, and answered hotly: “My lad, my nose seems to please you. You shall have one like it, but longer still!” She picked over the cauliflowers again, and threw them back into the basket, muttering: “Bad cauliflowers, bad stuff!”
“Make up your mind what you want,” returned the shoemaker’s wife, indignant at the waste of time. “That were better than talking nonsense to my boy!”
“I will take these six cauliflowers,” said the old woman; “but I cannot carry them home. Let your boy come along with me and I will pay him for his trouble.”
The boy did not want to go; but his mother persuaded him, for she thought it would be wrong to let the feeble old dame carry such a load, and half crying, Jacob went.
The old dame walked slowly, and it was quite an hour before they reached a little house outside the town. She opened the door, and Jacob was quite surprised when he entered; for inside the house was beautiful. The walls and staircases were of marble, the furniture ebony inlaid with gold, the floors of glass so highly polished that Jacob slipped and fell. The old woman took a whistle out of her pocket, blew it, and immediately some guinea-pigs came in, and Jacob noticed with amusement that they wore men’s clothes and walked on their hind legs.
“Where are my slippers?” shrieked the old woman, shaking her stick at them, so that they were quite frightened. They came back again directly with two cocoa-nut shells soled with leather, and the old woman put them on.
Now she began to bustle about. She took Jacob by the hand and went quickly across the glass floor. At last she took him into a room something like a kitchen. “Sit down, little man,” said she, pushing him into the corner of a couch. “You have had a heavy load to carry. Men’s heads are not light.”
“What do you mean?” cried the boy. “They were cauliflowers I brought here.”
“Now you know that is a lie,” laughed the old woman; and took a man’s head out of the basket. The boy was dreadfully frightened, for he thought if this got known his mother would be in sore trouble.
“I must give you a little present,” said the old woman; “wait a moment and you shall have some delicious soup.” She whistled; and there entered several guinea-pigs in men’s clothes, with aprons on and cooking spoons stuck through their waistbelts; after them came several squirrels in white Turkish trousers; they also walked on their hind legs and wore green velvet caps on their heads. They bustled about and brought saucepans and dishes; and the old woman ran hither and thither in her cocoa-nut slippers, and Jacob saw she was evidently going to give him something good to eat. At last something in one of the pots began to boil over, and the smell filled the room. She took it off the fire, poured the contents into a silver soup tureen, and said: “Now, sonny, if you drink this soup, you will have all that you admire in me. And you might also become an excellent cook, only that you will never be able to find the particular cabbage of which it is made. Why does your mother not keep it on her stall?”
The boy hardly understood what she, meant; but he drank the soup eagerly and it tasted delicious. His mother had often made good things for him to eat, but nothing like this. While he was drinking the last spoonful, the whistle sounded for the guinea-pigs, and thick clouds of smoke began to fill the room. The fumes of the smoke confused little Jacob; he wanted to get away; he said he ought to be going back to his mother; but he seemed unable to move, and fell back on the couch and went fast asleep.
Wonderful dreams came to him. It seemed to him that he was changed into a squirrel, and he went about with the squirrels and guinea-pigs and had his duties like the others. At first he had to work as a shoemaker. As he had often helped his father he did not find that difficult. After a time, pleasanter work was given him. He had to go with some of the squirrels to get sunberries. The old dame preferred a certain sort; and as she had no teeth, she made her dinner off bread and sunberries.
After a year he was set to find drinking-water for the old woman. This was done in many different ways. The squirrels and Jacob had to fill the hazel nutshells with dew from the roses, and that was her drinking-water. As she was always thirsty, her water-carriers had plenty to do.
After another year he had indoors work to do; chiefly to keep the glass floors clean. He had to sweep them and then tie his feet up in cloths and so dust them.
In four years’ time he was put in the kitchen, and Jacob, from being scullery boy, became head pastry-cook, and his skill was so great that he was sometimes surprised; for pasties of two hundred different flavours, and the most delicate cabbage soups, he could make with greatest ease.
After he had been seven years in the old woman’s service it happened one day, when she had gone out with basket and staff, that Jacob had to draw a fowl and stuff and roast it before she came back. In the herb-room he suddenly noticed a cupboard he had not seen before. He looked in it and found inside a great many baskets of herbs. He opened one and found a herb of a quite different colour. He looked carefully at it; it smelt strong, and like the soup that the old woman had given to him on his first day there. But the smell was so strong that he began to sneeze, and sneeze and sneeze, until at lastsneezing he awoke.
He was lying on the old woman’s sofa and looked bewildered around.
“What strange things dreams are!” said he. “I could have sworn that I had been a squirrel; and as squirrel a clever cook. How my mother will laugh when I tell her: but how she will scold me for sleeping away from home, instead of helping her.
His limbs were stiff with long sleeping, and so was his neck, and every moment when he moved he either hit the wall with his nose, or when he turned over banged it against the doorpost. The squirrels and guinea-pigs ran busily here and there as if they would accompany him, but they gave it up as they saw him leave the house, and took their nutshells inside and by-and-by he heard them chattering in the distance. He felt very anxious as he got near the market. His mother sat in her usual place and had plenty of vegetables in her baskets; he could not have slept long; but it seemed to him that she was very sad, for instead of calling to the passers-by, she sat with her head resting on her hand; and as he came nearer, he saw she was looking paler than usual. At last he plucked up heart and said, “Mother, are you angry with me?”
His mother turned round, and shrieked with fright.
“Go away, horrid dwarf,” said she; “I do not like such jokes.”
“Dear little mother, look at me. I am Jacob, your son!”
“Now, this is really too much,” cried Hannah; “there stands a hideous dwarf, who says, ‘I am your son, your Jacob.’ For shame!”
Then all the market-women came to try and comfort this poor Hannah, whose fine boy had been stolen seven years ago.
Poor Jacob did not know what to think. They called him a hideous dwarf and spoke of seven years ago! What had happened to him?
When he saw that his mother would have nothing to do with him, he went with tears in his eyes to the booth where his father worked at his shoemaking, and stood by the door and looked in. The master was so busy that he did not notice him, but chancing to look round he cried out, “Good heaven! what is that? What is that?”
“Good day,” said Jacob, stepping in; “how are you?”
“Badly, little man,” answered his father to Jacob’s surprise, for it seemed he was not recognised. “I am so lonely, and old, and weak.”
“Have you no one who can help you?” asked Jacob. “Where is your son?”
“God knows!” answered the shoemaker. “Seven years ago he was stolen from the market-place.”
“Seven years ago!” cried Jacob.
“Yes, little man, seven years ago. An ugly old woman came to the market, tumbled about my wife’s vegetables, and bought so many that she could not carry them herself. My wife, good soul, sent our boy along with herand we have never seen him. since.”
“And is that seven years ago, do you say?”
“Seven years next spring. We sought him everywhere the town crier ‘cried’ him, but all to no purpose.”
So spoke Jacob’s father, and returned to his last.
The youth realised now that he had not been dreaming, but that for seven years he had worked as a squirrel for the old woman. He stood for some time thinking over his strange fate, and then his father said: “Do you want anything, young man? A pair of slippers, or a case for your nose?”
“What is the matter with my nose? Why should I want a case for my nose?” asked Jacob.
“If I had such a horrible nose,” said the shoemaker, “I should put a red patent leather cover over it. You might do worse, little man!”
Jacob was dumb with annoyance. He felt his nose. It was about eight inches long. “Oh, for pity’s sake let me look in the glass,” said he, “it is not for vanity’s sake.”
“I have not one, but if you want to look in a mirror, go over the way to Barber Urban, he has one as big as your head!”
With these words he pushed the youth through the doorway, shut the door, and sat down to work. The boy went sadly across to the barber, whom he knew in years gone by.
“Good morning, Urban,” cried he. “Will you let me look in your looking-glass?”
“With pleasure,” laughed the barber. “You are a handsome youth, and a little bit vain, I am thinking.”
As the barber spoke a ripple of laughter went round the saloon. The dwarf, however, stepped to the glass and looked at himself. Tears came into his eyes. How dreadful he looked! His eyes were little; his nose hideous, it hung down over his mouth and chin; his head was deep set between his shoulders; his back and chest were humpy, like a well-filled sack. His clumsy body had thin short legs, but his arms were long, his hands brown, his fingers thin and bony, and when he reached them out they touched the floor. He was the most misshapen dwarf ever seen.
“Have you gazed long enough, my prince?” said the barber, as he laughingly looked on. “Come, enter my service, little man; you shall have whatever you ask for, if you only stand at my doors every day and invite the people to step in. I shall get more customers, and each will give you a present.”
Jacob was annoyed at this proposition, but it could not be helped. He told the barber he had no time for such service and went away. He intended, however, to pay a final visit to his mother.
He went to the market and begged her to listen to him. He reminded her of the past, and told her that the old woman had turned him into a squirrel, and had kept him there seven years. The shoemaker’s wife knew not what to say to this, and thought she had better talk it over with her husband.
She went with the dwarf to the shoemaker’s bench, and said:
“Listen! This dwarf says he is our long-lost son Jacob, and he has told me how he has been for seven years bewitched.”
“Wait a moment,” said the shoemaker. “I told him all that an hour ago, and now he goes to you with the tale. Take care, boy, or I will have you locked up!”
Thus saying, he took a bundle of pieces he had just cut and beat the dwarf over the back and arms so severely that he screamed and ran outside.
He found no one who pitied him or took compassion on him; and had to sleep, that night, on the stone steps of the church. When morning came he went into the church and prayed. Then he suddenly remembered that he could easily earn a living as a cook, and that the Grand Duke was fond of eating, and loved a good table. So he went to the Palace.
As he passed through its gates the doorkeeper asked what he wanted. He said he was a cook, and that he wished to see the major-domo.
When Jacob was taken to his office, the major-domo looked him up and down from head to foot, and said laughing: “So you want to be a cook. Whoever sent you to me has been making a fool of you.”
The dwarf would not let himself be disheartened. “Where there is plenty to eat,” said he, “an egg or two, some flour and sausage, will never be missed; give me a little meal to prepare, and then you will say, ‘He is indeed a cook, and no mistake.’”
The dwarf spoke earnestly, and it was amusing to see how his long nose wagged from side to side, and how he gesticulated with his long thin fingers.
“Very well,” said the major-domo, “just for fun we will go into the kitchen.”
It was a large, roomy, well-arranged apartment, fires were burning on twenty hearths, and kitchen utensils of every sort lay about and rubbed shoulders with kettles and pans and spoons and forks.
But when the major-domo entered all the servants paused in their work, and the only sound heard was the crackling of the fires.
“What has the Grand Duke ordered for his breakfast to-day?” asked the major-domo of an old cook whose position was “head of the breakfast department.”
“Danish soup and red Hauburg dumpling.”
“Good,” said the major-domo to Jacob. “Do you think you could prepare this difficult meal?”
“Nothing easier,” answered the dwarf. “For the soup I shall want the fat of a wild swan, turnips and eggs; for the dumpling, however, I shall want four different kinds of meat, some Madeira wine, goose-grease, ginger, and some mixed herbs and marjoram.”
“What magician has taught you?” cried the cook with astonishment. “We have never even heard of that herb; it must make the dish very much nicer.”
“Let us put him to the test,” said the major-domo; “give him the things that he requires.”
This they did, and arranged everything on the stove, but found that the dwarf was too short to reach them, so they put two stools together, and laid thereon a marble slab, and invited the little curiosity to begin his cooking.
When he had got everything ready he asked them to put both pots on the fire and let them simmer for a certain time; then he called out, “Stop!”
The pots were set aside, and the dwarf invited the major-domo to come and taste their contents.
The great man marched with dignity to the hearth, tasted, smacked his lips, and said: “Excellent, excellent, upon my soul!”
And the head cook shook the dwarf heartily by the hand and said: “You are a veritable master in the art. That herb gives it quite a special flavour.”
Just then a footman came to say that the Duke was waiting for his breakfast. The food was put on silver dishes and sent to table. The major-domo, however, took the dwarf into his room and entertained him there. They had not been together long before a messenger came to say that the major-domo was to go at once to the Duke.
The Grand Duke looked very pleased and stroked his beard.
“Well, major-domo,” said he, “who cooked my breakfast to-day? It has never been so good since I came into my kingdom. Tell me the name of the cook; we will send him a little present.”
“My Lord Duke, it is quite a history,” said the major-domo, and told him all that had happened.
The Grand Duke sent for the dwarf, and asked him who he was and where he came from.
The dwarf answered briefly, that he had no parents, and had been taught cooking by an old woman.
The Grand Duke asked no more, but made himself very merry over the new cook’s comical appearance.
“If you can stay with me I will give you every year fifty ducats and a handsome suit of clothes. In return for this you must cook my breakfast every day yourself and keep my kitchen clean. You shall be called ‘Longnose’ and wear the uniform of a deputy major-domo.”
“Longnose” fell on his knees before the Grand Duke, and kissed his feet, and promised to serve him faithfully.
The dwarf well fulfilled his duties; before he came, the Grand Duke had been sometimes inclined to throw the plates and dishes at the cook’s head; but since the dwarf had been in the house everything soon changed. Instead of three meals a day, the Duke ate five, and found everything delicious. He was always good-tempered and got stouter every day. The dwarf was the wonder of the town; people begged for permission to see him at work, and some of the best families obtained leave from the Duke for their servants to take lessons from him, and he earned no small amount of money this way.
He gave all this, however, to the other cooks, so that they should not be jealous of him.
So “Longnose” lived respected and prosperous, only troubled by the thoughts of his parents’ grief; but at the end of his second year’s service he had a great stroke of luck. As often as he could find time “Longnose” went to the market-place to buy poultry and fruit. One day at the end of the stalls he saw a woman sitting by a large coop of geese, which seemed not quite the common kind. He went up to her and felt and examined the birds. They seemed satisfactory, and so he bought three. He noticed with some surprise that, while two of the geese gobbled and grunted, the third was quiet and mopish, and sighed heavily like a human being.
“It is ill,” said he; “I must make haste and cure it!”
But the goose suddenly said:
“Treat me well, I’ll be your friend;
Treat me ill, your life shall end!”
“Longnose” was so startled that he dropped the coop, and the goose looked at him with soft, sad eyes and sighed.
“Why, you can speak!” cried Jacob. “I did not expect this. Do not be so unhappy. I will do all I can to help you. You certainly were not born with feathers on your back!”
“That is true,” said the goose. “I was not born in this terrible form, but while I was in my cradle it was prophesied that I should end my life in the kitchen of a Grand Duke!”
“Do not be alarmed, you poor thing,” said the dwarf; “nothing shall happen to you. I will take your coop to my own room, and will tell the major-domo that I am feeding up a goose on special green stuff for the Grand Duke’s table, and at the first opportunity I will set you free.”
The dwarf did all that he had promised. He built up a little cage for the enchanted bird in his own room, saying he wanted to fatten it up on special diet as a surprise for his master. As often as he had time he used to go and chat with her.
She told him all her history, and “Longnose” learnt that the goose was called Mimi, and was the daughter of Wetterbock the magician, who lived on the island of Gottland. He had quarrelled with an old fairy, who had revenged herself by turning his daughter into a swan, and bringing her to market.
When “Longnose” had listened to her story, she said:
“What you have told me about herb magic, and your own transfiguration after smelling a herb, convinces me that you have been bewitched by the perfume of these herbs, and that if you could find the plant used by the old fairy, you could regain your own appearance.”
Just at this time a very powerful Prince visited the Grand Duke, who sent for “Longnose” and said:
“This is an excellent opportunity for you to show what a master cook you are! The Prince who is coming to stay with me is a connoisseur in food, and a very wise man. See, now, that such meals be served as may quite astonish him. Never serve the same dish twice. You can ask my treasurer for anything you want. I would rather become poor than blush for my table.”
The little dwarf put all his skill forward. All day long he was to be seen in clouds of smoke from roasting fires, and his words of command were to be heard all through the kitchen.
The stranger Prince had been a fortnight at the Castle, and was well fêted and flattered. There were always five meals a day, and the Grand Duke was delighted with his cook’s skill, when he saw how his guest enjoyed himself. On the fifteenth day the Grand Duke sent for the dwarf, and presented him to the Prince, asking if he was satisfied with his cooking.
“You certainly know what is good to eat,” said the Prince to “Longnose”; “you have never repeated a dish all the time I have been here; and everything is splendidly served. But why have you delayed sending us a ‘Suzeraine’ pasty? It is the queen of dishes.”
“Longnose” had never heard of this queen of pasties, but he answered readily enough:
“My Lord, I hoped your gracious visit to this Court would be a long one, and I was waiting to offer this delicacy on the day of your departure.”
“Why have you never prepared this pasty for me?” cried the Grand Duke. “Think of another parting dish, and let us have the pasty to-morrow.”
“It shall be as my Lord wishes,” replied the dwarf. And he went out feeling as if his luck was over, for he had not the least idea how to make the pasty; and he went to his room and wept.
The goose, Mimi, asked what troubled him. “Dry your tears,” she said, when he told her; “we often had that pasty at my father’s table. I know exactly how it is made, and what you require for it, and if some little thing is left out, no one will be much the wiser.”
“Longnose” blessed the day when he bought this good little goose, and immediately set to work to make this queen of pasties according to her instructions. He first made a small one, and it tasted delicious, and the major-domo again praised his ability.
The next day he sent the pasty to table hot from the oven and decorated with a wreath of flowers; then put on his best suit and went to the dining-hall. As he entered the Court carver had just served both the Prince and Grand Duke with their portions, and on magnificent silver plates. The Grand Duke ate a mouthful, looked at his plate, and said:
“Truly this is the queen of pasties, and my dwarf is the king of cooks. Is he not, my friend?”
‘The guest took a bite and chewed and tasted, laughing to himself. “The thing is good enough,” said he, as he pushed his plate away, “but the ‘Suzeraine’ it certainly is not; I can answer for that.”
The Grand Duke frowned with anger and cried: “Dog of a dwarf how dare you trifle with your Lord?”
“Heaven knows, my Lord, I have made the pasty according to the best recipe; it must be right,” tremblingly answered the dwarf.
“It is a lie, you rascal,” shouted the Grand Duke, “my guest would not otherwise have found fault. I will have you chopped up and made into a pasty.”
“Have pity,” said the dwarf, throwing himself on his knees before the Prince. “Tell me what is lacking. Do not let me die for a handful of flour and a little bit of meat.”
“That would not serve any purpose, dear ‘Longnose’,” answered the Prince, smiling. “This pasty lacks a herb which no one about here knows. It is the herb ‘borage,’ a notable relish, and without it the pasty has not its true flavour, and neither your master nor I care to eat it!”
Then the Grand Duke stormed and raged. “By my soul,” he cried, “if you do not bring me the exact pasty to-morrow, your head shall be cut off and fastened on the gate of my Palace. Go, you little wretch. I will give you just twenty-four hours’ grace!”
The dwarf went weeping from the hall and told the goose of his fate, and that he must die because he had never heard of this herb.
“Tell me, my friend, are there any old chestnut-trees near the Castle?” asked the goose.
“Yes,” answered “Longnose,” “by the lake there is a large group; but why do you ask?”
“Well, at the foot of old chestnut-trees this herb grows,” said Mimi; “so take me under your arm and put me down by the trees, and I will try to find it for you.”
He took her up and went to the door. But a guard had been placed there and said: “I have orders that you are not to go out of the house.”
“But I must go in the garden,” said “Longnose.” “Send one of your fellows to the officer of the Palace and ask if I may go into the garden to look for herbs.” The guard did so, and the dwarf received permission to go into the garden. The goose wandered round and round the chestnut-trees, but could not find the herb, and cried with disappointment and sympathy. But the dwarf, who was also looking about, suddenly noticed some trees the other side of the lake and cried: “Over there, there is a large old tree, perhaps we shall be more fortunate.”
The goose flew along, and he ran after her as quickly as his little legs could carry him; the chestnut-tree threw a deep shadow, and it was so dark beneath its branches that it was difficult to see anything; but the goose suddenly stood still, flapped her wings with joy, and poked her bill into the long grass, and pulled something out, which she handed to the astonished dwarf and said:
“This is the herb, and here is a large patch of it, so you need never be without it again.”
The dwarf looked thoughtfully at the herb; its, sweet scent reminded him of the day when he was bewitched; the stalks and leaves were bluish-green, and it had a bright red flower with golden stamen.
“Thank God!” he cried at last. “How wonderful! I believe this is the very same herb which changed me from a squirrel to a dreadful little dwarf. Shall I taste a bit?”
“Not now,” said the goose. “Bring a handful with you, and let us go back to your room and collect all your things together, and then you shall see what the herb will do.”
They went back to his room, and the dwarf’s heart beat fast with excitement. After he had made a bundle of his clothes and safely concealed his moneyabout fifty ducatshe said: “Surely God has willed that I shall end this unhappy condition,” and he pushed his nose down in the bunch of herbs and inhaled the scent.
Then his whole body seemed to stir, he felt as if he had his own head on his shoulders. He looked at his nose in the glass, and it was getting smaller and smaller, his chest and back straightened out, and his legs grew longer.
The goose was greatly astonished.
“Oh, how you are growing! How tall you are!” cried she. “Thank God that nothing worse has happened to you. Now you are yourself again!”
Jacob was indeed happy, and he folded his hands and said a short prayer. But in his joy he did not forget his gratitude to the goose Mimi; and though he longed to go at once to his parents, he felt he must defer this pleasure for her sake, and said:
“To whom do I owe this happiness but to you? Without you I should never have found that herb, and must always have remained a dwarf or have been hanged by the Grand Duke. So first of all I must consider you. I will take you to your father; and he being so clever in magic will easily remove the spell from you.”
The goose shed tears of joy and they took their departure. Jacob got safely and unrecognised out of the Palace, and made his way as quickly as possible to the seashore, where Mimi’s home was.
There is little more to tell, except that they happily reached their journey’s end; and that Wetterbock was able to turn his daughter back into her former state, and that Jacob, laden with presents, made his way home. His parents welcomed him joyfully, and with the money Wetterbock had given him he bought himself a shop, and became rich and prosperous.
One thing more; after he had left the Palace things were rather unsettled; for the next day, when the dwarf did not bring the pasty as he promised, the Grand Duke raged and stormed and sent for Jacob to cut off his head. But he could nowhere be found. And the Prince said he believed the Grand Duke had hidden him away so that no one should rob him of his best cook; and accused the Duke of breaking his word.
Then war was declared between the two Princes, well known as the “Herb War,” and many battles were fought; but peace was made at last, and this was known as the “Pasty Peace,” because at the banquet the Prince’s cook served the celebrated “Suzeraine” pasty, so that the Grand Duke should taste it in perfection.
So you see that small beginnings have often great endings, and there is no more to tell about the Dwarf’s Nose.
Saif al-Rahbi Poems Part 2
Museum of Shadows
White birds cross wide rivers
on nights more lonesome than widows of war.
Bridges and closed-eyes trees strolling
as if in a museum of shadows.
From a distance you could see their shadows, staggering
among the stupidity of daytimes
You know them, one by one
They came from a house next to your dreams,
searching for a heart more merciful than knowledge
and under the enormous shadows of a sombre dawn
they all disappeared
except for a single peal of laughter.
In the murky mirrors of distant waters
the bird of desire soars beyond a sealed horizon
Faces split by the cawing of years
Chariots bark behind the walls
As if you came for a trip preceding birth
you follow a grand funeral of reminiscences
wearing a shirt stained with the blood of distances.
Struck with amnesia, camels
are lost in the alleyways
Dynasties crossing the desert
all drowned in quicksand
You walk with a lonely step
leaving every place its private wound
and every minaret a belt of howls.
Body smeared with departures,
those who came from distant waters tell you to stop
and watch your sin fleeing.
From Mudia Wahidah la Takfi li-Dhabh Usfur
[One Penknife Isnt Enough to Slaughter a Bird],Oman, 1988
Water Blessed by Prophets
Spoils granted by heaven
Water blessed by prophets
at the rock of their racking thirst
Flutter of the hoopoes wing at Solomons throne
From pain and delight you cry my love
from desire, erupting at the curve of longing
(My bodys veins are hidden rivers)
You walk around stripped of a wedding ring on
You were the lake dreamt of by the winds.
You shut all doors
so I can open up a door or window
and look through at your dark cave
your concealed treasures
where crescents and baskets dangle
with ripe fruits
and gazelles through whose movements the ignorance
of those who passed before me seeps.
The luxurious find
for the body thats moulded with a breeze
And for him who loiters in the night of organs
the blood of desire oozes
in search of the spring that flows with abandon
in the delirium of the forest.
Under the Roofs of Morning
My scream is still blossoming under
the roofs of morning.
Your city couldnt stifle it.
My scream, on whose frost
I built a lawn
a blind plunderer of the legacy of silence.
The screams of shepherds when their herd is startled
by a predatory animal
The screams of saints and demons
at the edge of doomsday
She carried it from town to town
like a nursing mother carries her child
like a tribe carries its seeds of origin
My only guide to the source of the river
in the blind darkness
in times of forgetfulness
my scream under the roofs of morning
is the witness to my silence
the witness of madness and pleasure.
You cant take that away from me
no matter how big the claws and weapons.
From Al-Jundi al-Ladhi Raa al-Tair fi Nawmih
[The Soldier who Saw the Bird in his Sleep], Cologne, 2000
Bells will not toll tonight
The storm in front of my door
will not subside tonight.
Its Herculean armies have slammed shut the doors.
In the church’s fading light
I glance at monks pulling handcarts,
fleeing to the mountains
on horses that stretch and strain in the wind
as if from the Byzantine age.
On this memorial night,
bells will not toll,
the storm will never subside.
When I go out,
I leave the music on
to guard the souls of the dead,
music of the ancients that carries
the smell of grass,
and guards the gardens of Babylon
hanging in the depths.
When I go out,
I leave everything closed in on itself
except for the music throbbing in the empty lounges
and some oysters,
which I picked from the shore
on the night of the storm.
From my room to the café
In the morning when I wake up,
the world wakes in my head
with creatures and screams smashing my bones.
I leave my room –
it’s like a cave filled with the slain –
and shuffle off to the café.
I look intently at my cup — it’s like a snake
relaxing on a summer afternoon –
and think: “This is my last cup in this city!”
But morning is still at its outset,
and I’ll have to go through wars and kisses
and will only discover their flavour
When I travel to a country,
rumours precede me there,
and I am aroused
like a wolf whose fantasies anticipate
and I never arrive.
I walk, I feel under my feet
a sky, trembling with all its victims,
and on my head, an earth
that has stopped rotating.
I hear a thunder of steps behind me,
steps of people coming
from the past,
silent as if they are dead.
Past, retreat a while,
let me finish today’s walk.
Our old house
It’s as if I’m walking
through valleys, filled with fear,
valleys I can neither touch
nor easily recall.
As if I’m taking that first step there,
I walk into our old house, and find emaciated horses,
the ghosts of our ancestors
wander amongst their neighings.
The door opens onto this desert of absence
a smell of grilled fish,
a smell of gas,
wafting from the disused stove.
The jars as they were, speaking to the corners,
and water still boiling in the pots.
The sheep have come back from the fields
except for the one a wolf ate.
Saddles and guns hang on the walls
as if at a funeral gathering.
Tomorrow is Eid al-Adha+,
but the children have forgotten to buy new shoes,
or wash their feet before they slept.
White clouds wrap the neighbouring sky,
and accompany travellers to their distant villages.
And we are swimming in the festival rain,
where birds gently peck the air,
to wake it, with us, on the roofs,
where we dried our dates and dreams
on the clayey balconies
and fell between the feet of an agitated bull,
where the stains of an enervated sun
seize the house, with its birds and women
and ancient trees stumbling like
shepherds among ruins.
Beyond the fence
you can still see the palm trees,
like bewildered spirits colliding with minarets,
like ships lowering their sails
in misty seas,
and amid their somnolence and green dreams
lurks the evening’s next soirée.
+ the Sacrifice Festival
(Phryne – Jean-Leon Gerome)