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A Syrup of the Bees   By: (1863-1940)

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A SYRUP OF THE BEES

TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

BY F. W. BAIN

Love was the wine, and Jealousy the lees, Bitter of brine, and syrup of the bees.

WITH A FRONTISPIECE

METHUEN & CO. LTD.

36 ESSEX STREET, W.C.

LONDON

TO MRS. THEODORE BECK

And I rove on the breeze with the world of bees like the shadow of a bee: For a dead moonflower which the worms devour is the tomb of the soul of me.

O the hum of the bees in the mango trees it murmurs taboo! taboo! Should a dead moonflower which the worms devour smell sweet as the mangoes do?

What! shall I deem my flower a dream when I do find, each morn, Wet honey sips left on my lips, and in my heart, a thorn?

PREFACE

The Young Barbarians, when Rome's ecclesiastical polity got hold of them, were persuaded by their anxious foster mother to sell their Scandinavian birthright of imagination for an unintelligible, theopathic mess of mystic Græco Syrian pottage. But the "demons," though driven generally from the field, lurked about in holes and corners, watching their opportunity. They took refuge in bypaths, leaving the high road: they lay in ambush in a thicket, whence nothing ever could dislodge them: that of fairy tales and fables.

In India, the "demons," i.e. the fairy tales and fables, have never had to hide. But the fairy tales of India differ from the fairy tales of England, much as their fairies do themselves. The fairies of Europe are children, little people: and it is to children that fairy stories are addressed. The child is the agent, as well as the appeal. In India it is otherwise: the fairy stories are addressed to the grown up, and the fairies resemble their audience: they are grown up too. They form an intermediate, and so to say, irresponsible class of beings, half way between the mortals and the gods. These last two are very serious things: they have their work to do: not so the fairies, who exist as it were for the sake of existence "art for art's sake" and have nothing to do but what people who have nothing to do always do do to get themselves and other people into mischief. They are distinguished by three noteworthy characteristics. In the first place, they are possessors of the sciences, i.e. magic, and this it is which gives them their proper name ( Widyádhara ),[1] which is almost equivalent to our wizard . Secondly, every Widyádhara can change his shape at will into anything he pleases: they are all shape changers ( Kámarupa ). And finally, their element is air: they live in the air, and are thus denominated sky goers, sky roamers, air wanderers , in innumerable synonyms. These are the peculiar attributes of the fairies of Ind.

[Footnote 1: Some kindly critics of these stories have objected to the W, here or elsewhere. The answer to this is, that European scholars have taught everybody to pronounce everything wrong, by e.g. introducing into Sanskrit a letter that it does not contain. There is no V in Sanskrit, nor can any Hindoo, without special training, pronounce it: he says, for instance, walwe for valve .]

Like many other persons in India (and out of it) who are far from being either fairies or wizards, they are extraordinarily touchy, and violently resentful of scorn or slight: things not nice to anybody, but the Wizards are not Christians, and generally take dire revenge. A very trifling provocation will set them in a flame. The Widyádharí lady is jealousy incarnate. Jealousy, be it noted, is a thing that many people much misunderstand. Ask anyone the question, where in literature is jealousy best illustrated, and ninety nine people in a hundred will reply, Othello. But, as Pushkin excellently says, Othello is not naturally a jealous man at all: he is his exact antipodes, a confiding, unsuspicious nature... Continue reading book >>




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