Friday, May 25, 2012

An Art Nouveau Pre-Raphaelite Fairy Tale

Before I got married, I lived for a year in Wales, and the song "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)" by Florence & the Machine was on the U.K.'s top ten list all summer.

It would be one of three songs I would bring with me to a desert island.

I don't know what about it first caught my attention, but I'm going to go with what seems obvious: it's just a beautiful melody.  I liked  to watch the Top 10 on television, so at the same time the music was wooing me, the video intrigued and enticed me.

I swore I'd seen the scene before.

Yep.  That's because it evokes stepping into a quintessential Art Nouveau fairy tale painted by a pre-Raphaelite.  (In my personal art jargon, this is the ultimate compliment.)

Christina Rosetti, The Holy Grail
Anyway, the words flew out like pins here and there and stuck in my brain.

Through the looking glass, so shiny and new,
how quickly the glamor fades.
I start spinning, slipping out of time.
Was that the wrong pill to take?

Raise it up!

You've made a deal,
and now it seems you have to offer up.

Raise it up!
Raise it up!

At the time I was undertaking my MA in Arthurian literature--actually writing my thesis on David Jones's The Anathemata--and was wading waist-deep in the Holy Grail motif and its imagery of sacrifice, fertility, and sacred ritual.  As Chesterton says,
Ritual will always mean throwing away something; destroying our corn or wine upon the altar of our gods.
Here was so much of what is poignant, mysterious, and real about myth, fairy tale, and legend.

James Frazer would be proud.

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