You’d have to be a hermit in a cave to have missed the excitement and passion generated among girls and women across the UK by the latest Twilight movie. Stephenie Meyer’s books have tapped into the deep river of romanticism that lies within the modern woman – though we’re strong and confident and self-sufficient, don’t we all long for a partner who’ll worship us till the end of time? In my opinion, the Twilight saga is a traditional romance repackaged for a current audience by the addition of the paranormal elements. The writing is abundantly romantic and poetic, and though the plot is not for me – I prefer my romances true-to-life – there’s no doubting that the story has touched a chord with millions of females worldwide.
What I most like about Meyer’s books is the simple but evocative titles: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. In romance writing, we authors often draw upon nature, the elements, the weather to highlight and foreshadow the characters and action.
Twilight, for me, is a time when lovers may meet, tentative and new to their connection; it’s a time when magic can happen, but also a moment when a darker side – passion unrequited – can emerge as light becomes dark.
But it is in the dawn that I think characters are most likely to be resolute in their love. It is the beginning of a new day, a new beginning. There is newfound energy and hope; new calmness and focus. In my novel Burning Embers my characters come together several times at dawn – at the start, at their first meeting, when Coral is contemplating a new start ahead; once following their first physical intimacy, when the barriers in the relationship have, for now, lowered; and then again towards the end in the book when Coral is full of forgiveness and a willingness to move forward with the man she loves (well, at least at first).
Dawn, then, is a time of hope, of beauty, of romance. Previously on this blog I have introduced readers to the poetry of Leconte De Lisle, a fabulous 19th-century French poet whose writing is wonderfully visual. Today I’d like to share with you his take on dawn.
The cloudy heavens were of pale gold, and, from a pleasant, cool sky,
Upon the yellow bamboos, on the thick rose-bushes,
Upon the puffed moss and the wild crocuses,
Narrow sunbeams would steal through the foliage.
A faint scent of grass and flowers would rise;
An unending murmur float in the delicate air:
A choir of hidden Spirits, souls of all that is,
Which cause the fountainhead to sing and the roses to come into bloom;
Young, benevolent gods, kings of an enchanted world
Where strength and beauty of love come together.
The blue mist would drift across the slopes of the dells;
And, from their crimson beaks preening their small wings,
The light-feathered waxbills, in the clove-bushes
Bedewed with pure water, would awake in their thousands.
The sea was calm, and on the limpid swell
The keen dawn would shoot its arrow of light;
The mountain swims in the dazzling air
With its green sides filled with ripening maize,
And its azure blue peaks, and its forests lulled
By the morning breezes, launched on the torrents;
And the isle, blushing and drowsily awakened,
Would sing and smile at the sun’s kisses.
O sacred youth, irretrievable joy,
Lost bliss, in which the tearful soul steeps itself!
O light, O coolness of the calm, blue heights,
Of the hillsides and the rolling leafy woodlands,
Dawning of a heaven-born day, the melody of the happy seas,
The blooming vigour of my finest years…
You live, you sing, you pulse still,
Holy realities, on your golden horizons!
But, O nature, O heavens, sacred billows, lofty mountains,
Woods whose friendly winds make your treetops whisper,
Ideal shapes, wondrous to the eyes,
You have slipped from my forgetful heart!
And so it is that I, faint from bitter delights,
Panting with desire for my thousand vain fancies,
Alas! have unlearnt the anthems of former times,
And that the gods whom I betrayed no longer heed my voice.
La nue était d’or pâle, et, d’un ciel doux et frais,
Sur les jaunes bambous, sur les rosiers epais,
Sur la mousse gonflée et les safrans sauvages.
D’étroits rayons filraient à travers les feuillages.
Un arome léger d’herbe et de fleurs montait;
Un murmure infini dans 1’air subtil flottait:
Choeur des Esprits cachés, âmes de toutes choses,
Qui font chanter la source et s’entrouvrir les roses:
Dieux jeunes, bienveillants, rois d’un monde enchanté
Où s’unissent d’amour la force et la beauté.
La brume bleue errait aux pentes des ravines;
Et, de leurs becs pourprés lissant leurs ailes fines,
Les blonds senegalis, dans les gérofliers
D’une eau pure trempés, s’eveillaient par milliers.
La mer était sereine, et sur la houle claire
L’aube vive dardait sa flèche de lumière;
La montagne nageait dans l’air éblouissant
Avec ses verts coteaux de maïs mûrissant,
Et ses cônes d’azur. et ses forêts bercées
Aux brises du matin sur les flots élancées;
Et l’île, rougissante et lasse du sommeil,
Chantait et souriait aux baisers du soleil.
Ȏ jeunesse sacrée, irréparable joie.
Felicité perdue, où l’âme en pleurs se noie!
Ȏ lumière, ȏ fraîcheur des monts calmes et bleus,
Des coteaux et des bois feuillages onduleux,
Aube d’un jour divin, chant des mers fortunées,
Ftorissante vigueur de mes belles années…
Vous vivez, vous chantez, vous palpitez encor,
Saintes realités, dans vos horizons d’or!
Mais, ȏ nature, ȏ ciel, flots sacrés, monts sublimes,
Bois dont les vents amis font murmurer les cimes,
Formes de 1’ideal, magnifiques aux yeux,
Vous avez disparu de mon coeur oublieux!
Et voici que, lasse de voluptés armères,
Haletant du desir de mes mille chimères,
Hélas ! j’ai désappris les hymnes d’autrefois,
Et que mes dieux trahis n’entendent plus ma voix.
With thanks to John Harding for the translation.