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Concerning Lafcadio Hearn


Excerpt: ...beautiful in the most exotic literature which I was able to obtain." In a letter he writes, "The language of 'Stray Leaves' is all my own, with the exception of the Italic texts and a few pages translated from the 'Kalewala.'" The tapestry he is weaving is of the same crimson threads as that of the earlier tales, but the colours of sunset are softening to the gentler hues of the after-glow, and interwoven sometimes are strands of pure moonlight. We read of the great Book of Thoth which contains a formula whosoever could recite might never know death, and we learn how the cunning magician Noferkephtah obtained the book, which caused the wrath of the gods to fall upon him; later, how Satni, of whom "there was not in all Egypt so wise a scribe," yearned for the book, and Pg 155 took it from the tomb of Noferkephtah, and of the magic wrought and the penance done. There is the exquisite tale of the Fountain Maiden, whom Aki caught in his own fish-net, and whom he grew to love more than his own life. The story lingers of the sea-bird which fell into the hunter's hand, and when he looked more closely he found it had become transformed into a beautiful girl, "slender . like a young moon," and pity rose in the hunter's heart, and then love. One day, when their children had become strong and swift, and while they were all hunting together, the Bird-Wife called to the little ones to gather feathers: then she covered their arms and her own shoulders with the feathers, and far away they flew. Passing onward, we read of Tilottama, and that by reason of her beauty "the great gods once became multiple-faced and myriad-eyed"; and that this beauty brought punishment to the wicked Sounda and Oupasounda. There is Bakawali, for "whose history of love, human and superhuman, a parallel may not be found." For her great love of the mortal youth Taj-ulmuluk each night she sacrificed herself to the fiercest purification of fire. And then to appease the gods, she suffered... Hide synopsis

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