Tales from the Hidden Grove

Tales from the Hidden Grove
"Amongst the finest short story writers in the UK right now" ~ Black Pear Press

Monday, 22 December 2014

One Last Time


Two years ago, when the first Hobbit film came out, I took a retrospective of my relationship with Lord of the Rings, and Legolas in particular.  I commented that it was ten years since my first fan poem, "Legolas", which was to spark a whole wave of fan fiction, and lead me back into creative writing as a professional.

Now, fresh from viewing the final Hobbit film, I would like to complete that retrospective (although my writing relationship with Middle-earth will never be ended).  It has been wonderful to see Mirkwood on screen, to see Legolas and Thranduil together, and to see another person's angle on those classic fan girl questions: "What was Legolas doing during the Battle of the Five Armies?"  "Did he really get on badly with Thranduil?" And, "What about Legolas' mother?"  I'm sure a lot more of those thoughts will come out on the extended DVDs, but for me, watching the Hobbit films has been like being inside a living fanfic, revisiting so many of the places I went in my own writing.

Since my fanfic days, my own writing has moved on a lot.  In 2013, my first novel, Silver Hands, was published.  I sent a copy to Orlando Bloom.  I was blessed to receive a lovely signed photo in thanks.  That very week, a rave review of Silver Hands came out in Wellington, New Zealand.  Connected?  I'll never know.  But it goes to show that the Lord of the Rings connection goes on and on.  It will never cease to be godparent to my writing.

So, by way of farewell (until the next time) I would like to print, "The Mirkwood Lament", written in June 2003.  I think it says it all about Legolas and Thranduil's relationship.  And, no, I don't think Thranduil would ever say this to his face.  Thank you, Lord of the Rings.  A star shone upon the hour of our meeting.

The Mirkwood Lament

When shades of night are falling upon the leaves of green
A figure like a shadow of a shadow may be seen.
Fair is his face and blue-grey are his eyes.
The Elf-King of the forest, to the forest night he cries:
"Alas for my woods, which once were proud and great.
Fading is their glory as the years grow late.
Fading are my people, as shades that meet the day,
And no more shall men see them, seek though they may."

When the autumn leaves are falling red and gold
Amidst the swirling mist, his voice sounds clear and cold:
"Alas for my son who hunted by my side.
The quest was set before him and he would not be denied.
I saw the sea reflected in his eyes of blue and grey.
The Bless├ęd Isle had called him, no longer would he stay.
Oh, Legolas!  Legolas!  The deer are on the heights
But no more will you hunt with me by cold starlight."

When the boughs are swaying in the soft summer breeze
The song of the Elf-maidens comes stealing through the trees.
"Where now is Legolas, of all the Elves most fair?
White was his forehead and golden was his hair.
We put our question to the moon, but he would only say
That Legolas went sailing in a ship of Elven grey.
Oh, Legolas!  The harpists play a sweet and mournful tune
But no more will you come to dance with us beneath the moon."

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Wolves are Running

My vintage copy of The Box of Delights by John Masefield

I made a wonderful discovery this week.  This year - 2014 - marks 30 years since the BBC first showed their iconic TV dramatisation of The Box of Delights, the magical Christmas story by John Masefield.  I was 10 years old in 1984, and I remember it well.  Herne the Hunter.  Curates who turn into wolves.  Kidnapped choirboys.  "The Boy" appearing out of a table.  The mysterious Punch-and-Judy man, Cole Hawlings.  And the phrase that still has the power to put a shiver down my spine: The wolves are running.

30 years on, and the magic hasn't died.  I've read the book Christmas after Christmas.  I've watched the series again on YouTube as an adult.  The Carol Symphony by Victor Hely Hutchinson, used as the theme tune, is on my Christmas playlist.  And I'm still trying to write The King of Ice Leaves, influenced by The Box of Delights.  One day...

Recently, I've been reading some books on old Christmas customs and folklore, and it reminds me again that what makes The Box of Delights great is the perfect mix of Christian and pagan in its influences.  Herne the Hunter and the Lady of the Oak Tree arrive in sleighs drawn by lions and unicorns to ensure the Bishop, clergy and choir get to the Cathedral in time for the Christmas service, and there is nothing incongruous in that.  It sums up precisely my own joy in Christmas, as a time both magical and holy.