THE NEW SANTHALIAN JOURNAL, ISSUE III
A GLIMPSE ON NYBELMARIAN LITERATURE


In this edition of the New Santhalian Journal we give you some closer insights into the fascinating world of Nybelmarian Literature, which for some might appear very different compared to the Santharian texts we're used to, showing us the richness and depth of alien cultures like the Zhunites, the Krean, or the Lillivear in particular. We've selected two pieces her in this Journal, a poem (including interpretations from Santharian scholars) and a Zhunite essay on nature, to introduce you into the literaric world of this "unknown" continent - and there's a lot to discover!
 


FALL FREE FAIR AELIREL
BY COREN FROZENZEPHYR

The following poem was written by a Nybelmarian sorcerer, Coren FrozenZephyr, who immigrated to Santharia at an early age. Throughout the poem one can see Sarvonian myth merge with Nybelmarian belief. The poet laments his dead love, who appears in the form of a charmingly white aelirel in the poem, and the state of despair he is in. Note that the poem darkens as it follows the passage of time from day to nightfall. Detailed comments on this interesting piece were provided by several famed scholars of the Society of Foreign Poetry in New-Santhala.

As the rain trumpets ‘gainst my sullen frame,
Coursing down to fused streams longing for calm,
To dampen winded paths, to meet Her grace, [1]
I will miss you always my white, still wind.

Where ithildin casts the grieving firstflame, [2]
Come sweet Aelirel [3], dance the gentle song,
Drift through the misty white, up the gloom spread, [4]
And steal me to meet the Injèrán rise.

When the Mari dreams [5] haze the dying light,
Sail through the glaze of night never-ending/everlasting,
Stretch your rieuing [6] call, spread snow-frost wings,
And fall free to pierce the quiescent charms. [7]

As the grey shade gives way to a dark reign, [8]
Reeling in passing promises, leaping
To rising shades, to whispering shadows,
I shall dance for you my mellow sea hymn.

Take wing off this gray isle [9] of ice and mist
Lurching in dark ecstasy ever-bound,
Roll off these carpets of misty white, up
The sapphire sky to greet the break of day.

Hear my panting prays Oh fair Aelirel!
Your laughter once to break these webs of grief
And hope to disrupt the flows eternal
For something in the soul, for something more!

Your white charming, the last gate fast swaying
Fall free and in a brighter place arise! [10]

Footnotes:

[1] This is a very ambiguous reference; it is not clear if the poet alludes to the Lillivear Goddess of Earth (Ankriss), the Aesteran Goddess of Water (Arlea) or the Murmillion Goddess of Dreams and Hopes (Mari). Most probably the poet himself was also confused. Among his great grief he perhaps looked for a beacon of hope (the aelirel/his lost love) but as the tears misted his vision and blurred his judgment, he found three. [Return]

[2] Lord Coren FrozenZephyr is known for his dense imagery and deep metaphors, and this line surely illustrates of his style. The line refers to the gloom of a concrete-coloured dawn. [Return]

[3] Aelirels are small, friendly birds of white plumage that live in forests, plains, and heaths throughout Santharia. Aelirels are often viewed as a symbol of peace, so perhaps we could say that the poet mourns his loss of innocence instead of taking the literal interpretation of mourning over the death of a loved one. [Return]

[4] The choice of words here is quite interesting: From the many alternatives (“up”, “across” etc.) the author picked “through”. Could this be taken to imply that the bird is able to get past the grief around it? [Return]

[5] We thought it might help to include a brief extract on Mari, the Murmillion Goddess of Dreams and Hopes, for readers who might not be well-acquainted with Nybelmarian lore: She is believed to reign over everything of this world and is opposed to a principle of nothingness and destruction known as "the Unspoken" - which strangely enough is credited with the task of creating the world on which Mari reigns. Mari, as a goddess of dreams but especially as one of hope, indeed seems to fit seamlessly here. A more cynical approach might put forward the suggestion that the only reason a Krean poet chose Mari was that he was looking for a harmonic, two-syllable word. [Return]

[6] Quite an odd word, we feel this is not a misspelling as some scholars suggest but an onomatopoeic usage of the bird’s call. This interpretation also unearths a rather intense pun (with “ruing”). [Return]

[7] Notice the curious contrast in this line: The calmer, seemingly peaceful undertone of ‘quiescent’ is unsettled with the fiercer, slightly negative connotations of ‘pierce’ as if to challenge the readers to ponder again where the truth really lies. Here the tables are turned around; echoing the Krean belief that deeper truths can only be reached through the bridge of paradoxes and contrasts. The poet makes a very delicate warning against the deceivingly gentle appearance of sorrow. Grief is oftentimes such a soothing blanket that we do not let ourselves lose hold of it after it has served its purpose – even at the expense of its veil obscuring our view. Most humans measure the ‘quality’ of one’s affection and remembrance of a lost loved one by the length of his woe. This was a very alien concept for the Krean. The Aestera considered it rude wearing dark garments at funerals or mourn after their loved ones (a quick glance at the places entry for the Aesteran trading town of Sah for instance will provide further illustration). The Krean believe in life eternal and try to see through the illusion of death; for them physical death should be viewed as a transition (a ‘passing away’?) of the soul to a brighter stage of existence. They grieve instead for the hard times the relatives of the deceased, the ‘remaining ones’ have to live through. This is again a typically Krean concept; despite having lived in Santharia for almost all his adult life it seems Lord Coren FrozenZephyr could not entirely shake the influences of his homeland off himself. [Return]

[8] Here the poem is darkening as it follows the passage of time from day to nightfall. In contrast, the aelirel, if anything, becomes even a brighter symbol: Through the blackness of the night, the aelirel is a beacon of feathery white the poet holds onto. Note also that “Greyshade” and “Darkreign” were written without a capital start and as separate words (unlike the “firstflame” in the second stanza) to bring out the inherent personification. [Return]

[9] Although the Great Compendium conducted a thorough search, it could not come up with any historic or mythical references in Nybelmarian role. Thus, we feel it would be safe to claim that this is entirely a figurative island: The isle of grief is lurching in dark ecstasy as it feeds on the misery of the poor, stranded sailor. [Return]

[10] Once again the hallmark concluding couplet; for once the poet has managed to restrain himself to ten syllables and not disrupt the meter of the whole piece. Could the last line (along with the conclusion of the third stanza) be a very subtle allusion to the elven poetess Rayne Avalotus’ beautiful poem “Flower Dreams” (see especially: lines 10-12)? [Return]
 


ESSAY ON NATURE

No-one quite knows how this rather random piece turned up at the Great Library of New-Santhala, but it is believed to be an essay (or an excerpt from an analysis of one of the poems of the famous Zhunite writer R. S. Séníshíá) by Dearan Saliador Asaen from the early days of his imperial officialdom in Zhun.

Man fears what he cannot understand, and despite his immense struggle, the fear draws him to the unfathomable like the enticing gleam of a Blue Hunter’s nest. The elated butterfly [1] within craves to respond to the siren's song - the silent song of its own inexplicable nature. Standing bare feet on the green ground, head bathed in the blithe air, the soul uplifted to infinite space, he enjoys a perfect exultation; a feeling of invincibility engulfs him: nothing can befall him in life which nature cannot repair.

I have known myself to stand before the rose fields of Ratheen, unable to move, to talk; replete to the most remote edges of my soul with an immobilizing bliss. My essence extends towards the multicoloured mantles of red and pink and white; as streams meandering towards a river, I’m struck, I’m taken, I’m washed into them. I am one with the flower fields, I am one with the rolling mountains, spring passes to summer… I am one. I am whole.

But are the roses not also frightening? Are they not excessive in their sheer and silent abundance, a force so immutable that he who comes wandering over the hilltops is struck and saturated with a simple happiness? I stand and stare into the cities of the roses, their sweet softness an extension of my essence.

Nature, like so much in the complicated lives of the Lillivear, is reflects in likeness of our subjective reality. The very air we breathe may as well be "a cordial of incredible virtue" as a toxic vapor suffocating the soul under its unassailable weight whilst we fluctuate between two opposing poles of emotion. Nature "fits equally well in a comic or mourning piece" because it is a part of ourselves, an inseparable part of our own nature. Simply by opening the gates of the soul to its uncontained and immortal beauty, simply by surrendering to the currents of the Universal Being circulating through ourselves, we are elevated to a state of "perfect exhilaration". As the human soul pushes the limits of a universal paradox, as it is filled with "gladness to the brink of fear", a tiny parcel of the self may be revealed.

R. S. Séníshíá's evocative style reveals the rejuvenating energy of nature; her vivid imagery channels the abstract concepts of eternal youth and sanctity into the mundane life of modern [2] Zhunites. When a man surrenders himself completely to the grandness and splendor of nature, he is "cast off his years" as the snake of its cumbersome slough. Amidst the deafening silence of the woods, a man finds the greatest, the sweetest pavane, the voice of God [3] - his own beautiful voice. In the woods, in the land of perpetual youth, he is allowed to remain forever a child, an almost symbolic embodiment of innocence and joy. Only when he sheds off all judgment and opens himself to the "infinite space in-between", does he become "a transparent eyeball" – being nothing, seeing all. Only when he gives away the self, yields all "mean egotism", does he receive the "universal-self" - a state of godliness strived to by Krath mysticism since the dawn of time.

The figurative language and flowery imagery may seem at first arrogantly hyperbolic, but in fact they are very modest understatements of the ecstasy Séníshíá feels upon uniting with the whole of existence. When we are one with all there is, all puny human dramas, "acquaintances [...], master or servant" disappear in the vigorous flow of bliss and exhilaration. In the tranquil landscape not only do all faith and reason return, allowing us to be the lovers of "uncontained and immortal beauty", but the self is transformed into an expression of divine love. Thus, "man beholds something as beautiful as his nature" as he realizes that nature is a bridge between him and his celestial self.

Footnotes:

[1] Elated butterfly & sirens: According to Zhunite legend, there is an island in southern Zyloth where cities of butterflies cover the rocks like a blanket of flowers. Just like the sailors, they too were enticed by the sirens’ haunting voices and are unable to move on. [Return]

[2] This essay was written in the nineteenth century b. S. [Return]

[3] Surely this must be either a mistranslation by Santharian scholars or a terribly careless inaccuracy in reproduction by Zhunite scribes for it is a now well-known fact that the Krean only worship two deities: Ankriss, the High Goddess of the Earth and Arlea, the High Goddess of Water. [Return]
 

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