Come, faeries, take me out of this dull house!
Let me have all the freedom I have lost;
Work when I will and idle when I will!
Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.
—W.B. Yeats, “The Land of Heart’s Desire,” 1894
Image: Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing. William Blake, 1786
As he [Sir Malcolm Sargeant, conductor of the London Philharmonic] stood in waist deep in the shallows of Whaler’s Cove, the littler Spinners came drifting over, sleek and dainty, gazing at him curiously with their soft dark eyes. Malcolm was a tactful, graceful man in his movements, and so the spinners were not afraid of him. In moments, he had them all pressing around him, swimming into his arms, and begging him to swim away with them. He looked up, suffused with delight, and remarked to me, “It’s like finding out there really are fairies at the bottom of the garden!”
― Karen Pryor, Lads Before the Wind: Diary of a Dolphin Trainer
Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.
As we’re leaving the King’s Arms Hotel after Sunday lunch, I watch a beautiful white dove walking down the wet road. A car approaches and the bird accidentally turns into the wheel rather than away from it. A gentle crunch. The car passes. A shape like a discarded napkin left in the road. Still perfectly white, no red stains, but bearing no relation anymore to the shape of a bird. A trail of white feathers flutter down the road after the car. The suddenness is very upsetting. That gentle crunch.
― Antony Sher, Year of the King: An Actor’s Diary and Sketchbook
There was a Camellia Tree of great beauty
Whose blossoms were white as honey wax
Splashed and streaked with the pink of fair coral.
When the moon rose in the sky,
The Camellia Tree would leave its place
By the gateway,
And wander up and down the garden,
Trailing its roots behind it
Like a train of rustling silk.
The people in the house,
Hearing the scrape of them upon the gravel,
Looked into the garden
And saw the tree,
With its flowers erect and peering,
Pressed against the shoji.
Many nights the tree walked about the garden,
Until the women and children
And the Master of the house
Ordered that it be cut down.
But when the gardener brought his axe
And struck the trunk of the tree,
There spouted forth a stream of dark blood;
And when the stump was torn up,
The hole quivered like an open wound.
My eyes blinked like a camera shutter clicking through the frames of my life, except the images were mismatched and haphazard: a ragged-looking doll with a rose-colored dress; crocheted white baby mittens, slightly unraveled; a row of tulips, vibrant red; Rex’s smile; a rusty weather vane whirling in the wind.
My eyelids fluttered, fighting to remain open, but when they closed, the welcoming image that waited beckoned me to stay, promising to give me the comfort, the peace I longed for.
I could see them, seemingly endless rows of big, bushy green trees with waxy leaves and showy flowers the size of saucers. Pinks, reds- bursting into bloom, as if they’d been painted by the Queen of Hearts.
― Sarah Jio, The Last Camellia
Her delight in the smallest things was like that of a child. There were days when she ran in the garden, like a child of ten, after a butterfly or a dragon-fly. This courtesan who had cost more money in bouquets than would have kept a whole family in comfort, would sometimes sit on the grass for an hour, examining the simple flower whose name she bore.
― Alexandre Dumas-fils, La Dame aux Camélias
We fly, but we have not ‘conquered’ the air. Nature presides in all her dignity, permitting us the study and the use of such of her forces as we may understand. It is when we presume to intimacy, having been granted only tolerance, that the harsh stick falls across our impudent knuckles and we rub the pain, staring upward, startled by our ignorance.