Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Land of the Polar Star

Edmund Dulac
Fairy-Land 1912

The Land of the Polar Star
from the book,The Star Fairies by Edith Ogden Harrison, 1903.

* Click on The Star Fairies hyperlink above and it will take you to the book and you may download it for free.

In days long gone by, in the most beautiful country in the world, a kind king and queen reigned. Their friend, the Fairy King, gave them a magnificent jewel, more precious than any other on earth. He warned them that no human should ever put a hand on it once it was placed on the roof of the palace treasury or they would all be banished from their kingdom forever.

The people of the kingdom carefully guarded the glistening gem but never touched it. The beautiful Queen Gertrude, however, trembled with excitement when she dreamt of the jewel shining in her lovely hair. Each night, as she gazed in her mirror, she thought, “No jewel is so beautiful as the Fairy King’s, and I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I should wear it!”

Soon her desire overwhelmed her. She snuck into the treasury house and crept up to the roof. As her hand grasped the jewel, terrible noises thundered around her and the palace shook. She dropped the jewel, but it was too late. The Fairy King appeared before her and roared: “This jewel is contentment—something that you will never have again! I shall hide it and for the rest of your life, you shall long for it, but never find it!”

Since his favorite daughter begged him to reconsider his harsh punishment, he gave her the jewel as a wedding present: “You cannot give it back to the mortals for at least a thousand years! If you do this before the time has expired, I condemn you and your new husband to fade away into moonshine and mist.”

The King and Queen and all their subjects wept as they left their beloved country to live in exile. The fairies wrapped the country in a glittering gossamer web of snow and ice. As the years went on, the mortals longed to return to their first home. Sailors set sail to recapture the city, but their ship stuck in the ice and could move no further. The men soon ran out of food and wasted away, close to death. The fairies took pity on them and lifted the ship up out of the ice and placed it in open water headed homeward.

Every year since then, generation after generation,ships have set sail seeking that wondrous land with its fabled treasure. None have ever found it. But the thousand years may soon expire, the ice and snow may melt away, and the brilliant jewel may once again pass from the fairies to more deserving mortals.

The picture above was one of the many illustrations Edmund Dulac painted for 'The Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe' in 1912.