Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Red

The sumach tree is ablaze. The geraniums flare. Hips on the Handel Rose glisten in the brilliance of the morning sun. It feels both like summer is here and summer is passing at the very same moment. It’s been making me think red.

P1060958Red for the ears of the shining white hounds that Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, encounters on the sacred hill at Arberth in the First Branch of the Mabinogion. (I’m preparing the Third Branch for telling next Friday at the Storytelling Café in Llangollen.)

Red for the drops of blood that fall on the snow-covered window ledge when the princess in the story of The Sleeping Prince as retold by Alison Lurie in Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Tales pricks her finger with her needle and the bird in the tree outside her window alerts her to the mission she will undertake to go and waken a sleeping prince:

Gold and white and red
The Prince lies in his bed.

In Welsh and Irish tradition, white and red are the colours of the other world, the supernatural. But I’ve been seeing the red as the farewell of summer and the herald of autumn. It’s that subtle moment of change that is my story this week and I make no apology for telling it through the extraordinary words and sensibility of a poem by Emily Dickinson who died in 1886 after a life devoid of outward event. This week, reading a book of her poems, she has brought so much alive for me. (Her poems, by the way, were all untitled.)


As imperceptibly as grief
The summer lapsed away, –
Too imperceptible, at last,
To seem like perfidy.

A quietness distilled,
As twilight long begun,
Or Nature, spending with herself
Sequestered afternoon.

The dusk drew earlier in,
The morning foreign shone, –
A courteous, yet harrowing grace,
As guest who would be gone.

And thus, without a wing,
Or service of a keel,
Our summer made her light escape
Into the beautiful.

P.S. See you next week. And if you’re in North Wales this next Friday, 10th October,  please do come to the Storytelling Café  at Saint Collen’s Community Hall on Regent Street in Llangollen for 7.30 for From the Land of the Magic.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        


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2 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Red”

  1. Liz Richards Says:

    Love this blog and last week the one about the reflection of a door ,like a secret door, My granddad looked after the gardens at the mansion near our house and there was a secret door . The anticipation and excitement of my granddad opening that door was a memory I will never forget . Just like the Secret garden , Mary you inspire me to search and remember things that happened to me as a young child and my writing is on the go again ,Thank you Liz x

  2. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Liz, I think you’ve said it – it’s the anticipation and excitement of something like a secret door that a child never forgets. It feels like remembering those feelings as an adult brings inspiration. It’s great to hear your writing is on the go again. Mary x

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