Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Prince of Poets

Long ago, I found a worn old fantasy book in a rummage sale at a local market. It was called ARDATH, and it was written by Marie Corelli, an author who flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century. Corelli was wildly popular during her time but also much despised for her alleged bad taste. ARDATH was a fantasy adventure, published in 1889, about a young man, a poet, whose career was going badly and who seriously doubted his own talent. He goes to visit a mysterious monk and is given instructions to proceed to the Middle East, to a place called "Ardath." When he gets there, he spends the night in a field full of mind-altering flowers, and falls into a time-traveling hallucinatory dream. In the dream, he is in a fabulous city named "Al-Kyris," and he meets all sorts of characters, including a beautiful young man who is the Poet Laureate of this ancient and long-lost realm. Our hero falls in love with the Poet Laureate, who somehow resembles him closely. This image depicts the Poet Laureate, whose name is "Sah-Luma." Sah-Luma lives a life of luxury and a fair amount of debauchery, and our modern (1889 that is) hero is drawn into that life as Sah-Luma's companion.

This little image, about 4 inches by 7.5 inches, was done in ink and watercolor in 1975. It won an award for "Best Fantasy Picture" in the Amateur class at Boskone 1978. Now, in 2008, it has been raised from dusty storage to face the harsh light of the scanner and the myriad points of pixelation. 

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