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The White Deer, Re-enacted
in memory of James Thurber, fabulist
Dreamed 2009/3/2 by Wayan
In this borderwood, nets sweaty,
all our parishfolk stand ready,
Crown-commanded to treat as real
Thurber's animal-maiden tale
The White Deer. So we dog the wood,
though not to slay the fey doe; only snare.
But why'd our Ranger declare and proclaim
all White Creatures in our wood fair game?
We've only seen each other. Are we
white enough to hunt? Aren't we too dim?
Shade-hush. Of a sudden, wild and white
Creatures all leap free! In a sing-
le choreographic overspring
they vault the oak-limb labyrinth,
whelm us in a wave of shine
as neat as any mortal chorus line.
Elegant willowy these White Beasts--
then deer swiftdrawn
on paper rough as bark, in chalk--
(for chalk is all our Albion).
To our gloom-adapted eyes they shone
like lithe lights, unpinnable swift
blur-fish in this wood abyss.
Before we can raise a net,
Now what? Empty butterfly
hoops. I think "We've a long hunt yet."
As I ponder the pulse of their gleaming
wonder who she is we sought to net.
And there ends my dreaming.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
- England, white critters: The dream puns Albion and albino (when I type either word, I get the other!) They're both from the Latin for white--the Romans named England "Albion" for the White Cliffs of Dover. A land made of chalk! And my dreamworld was drawn in chalk--all looked colorful but grainy.
- The White Deer: in James Thurber's fairytale the king and his sons hunt a white deer in the wizard-wood. Cornered, the deer becomes a woman. An amnesic woman. Is she a deer transformed by a wizard, or a woman whose curse they've broken? As Prince Jorn falls in love with her, it starts to matter to more than her. Can they even have an heir?
- A line of white cervine creatures leaping: in Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn (his tribute to The White Deer) the unicorns, set free, stampede in a gleaming wave like this, washing away the castle of their jailor King Haggard, then dissolving a curse on the village of Hagsgate. Is a curse dissolving here too?
- What the two tales share: a magical forest creature becomes a woman unsure what species she really is. She knows only that the answer will shape her responsibilities--love or freedom, magic or mundane life, castle or wild. A dilemma I share--I'm an autistic prodigy with chemical sensitivities effectively banishing me from humanity's mainstream. Shall I seek what commonality I can, or glory in my difference?
- Who was I in the dream? Was I really an English villager chasing "deer" with a butterfly net? I felt more like that wave of wild things--they knew exactly who and what they were. The energy of surety! Unlike waking me: lately I've been tame and dull. Maybe it's time to drop the butterfly net. I'm not a villager. Or a nice horsie.
LISTS AND LINKS:
dreaming personified -
spells and curses -
freedom and not -
digital dream-art - dreamt the same night:
Handmade Dimensions and
A Squirrely Business Plan - an interview with a graduate of the Weird White Critter Program:
The White Mare of Transform Ranch -
England - two more woodsy hamlets on dream's edge:
How to Be Happy and
Pass the Vial On -
Peter S. Beagle and The Last Unicorn -
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