Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cupid in the Tuscan Woods

This is a guest post by the fabulously gifted Barbara Lambert, author of The Whirling Girl, certainly a VERY gifted writer, but someone wonderfully at home with matters mythic, folkloric and transcendent.  That is always a magical thing to encounter in one's bookish potterings, especially if one has a passion for them as I do.

I am reading TWG at the moment  and will review it in a few days but find myself getting endlessly and ecstatically caught up in the language and metaphors of Barbara's creation and dragging my heels about completing my reading as a result.  

There can be no higher praise or more telling measure of an artist's creation than to say that one is caught up in the work and longing NOT to finish it.

Cupid in the Tuscan Woods

It’s hard not to think of him as cute. A chubby little figure with a bow-and-arrow. Up to sweet mischief.

Then cloak him in his Greek name. Eros. Suddenly there’s a darker atmosphere. In Greek mythology he was a  “primordial” god, one of the first to emerge from the swirling state of Chaos, not just an Immortal but formed of the very fabric of the universe – a winged figure charged with the atomic power of that primeval explosion.

In Greek myths (and in the art of the Etruscans) there’s often a gleeful malevolence hovering around the mischief his arrows inflict. Medea stricken with such passion for Jason that she murders their children, overcome with jealousy. Paris abducting Helen of Troy. Or the terrible infatuation of Myrrha who, as punishment for her illicit passion, was transformed into a perfume-laden tree. And whether he’s known as Cupid, or Eros; whether the fever he spreads is fatal of benign; when the arrow strikes -- game over! As if he literally trailed chaos with him, when he took on his sweet winged form.
Or trails it still?

If, as science now suggests, we too are made of the dust of stars -- could chaos be woven into the very fibres of our beings? Is this what stirs an unconscious shiver at the mention of his name?

There are moments when the Tuscan hills feel full of spirits.

It is late afternoon. I have spent the day hiking alone, and now – though I can see the outline of a familiar fortress on a nearby hill – I have lost the trail. The slanting light is powdery with gold. I jump at a rustle in the leaves at my feet. A fat green lizard freezes there. When I look again, it has disappeared. Now every leaf and bush and tree has fallen silent, and I’m suddenly aware of the ancient nature of these woods. It isn’t hard to believe that nymphs and satyrs might still wander here. I have the sensation of being watched, though not by human eyes, just an ageless watching going on. And something else. I catch a turbulence of emotion … whose?

I try to track this. My foot slips; I slide downhill.

And suddenly I’m pushed aside by the figure who has been walking beside me in my solitude all day. Clare. Whose own story echoes Myrrha’s: (“And her arms became branches. Her skin hardened into bark, flowing sap instead of blood!) Clare, who will struggle, all through the novel I am writing, to free herself from the emotional prison she’s half embraced.

It is Clare in that thicket where I’ve landed. Clare seeing a flash of movement below. She peers through the tangle of vines. For a moment she can hardly believe her eyes.

And like the watchers that I imagined moments ago, she watches now, riveted and ashamed to be spying on the out-of-control behavior of two people, married but not to each other, with dire results to follow: She watches – queasy and alarmed, but hearing a whisper of reassurance, too, about the fever in her own wayward being -- as Eros once again wreaks havoc in the ageless Tuscan woods.

As for me, thanks to his winged mischief, I lost my way -- but found the next link in my story.


Please note that I will write and post a review here on Friday morning.


the wild magnolia said...

memorable finding...and words...and white hot purity of words.

Tabor said...

Very interesting and exotic writing. Another author to anticipate.