The Birth of Venus
Dedicated to the memory of my late sister Christine Rosamond Benton
In the time before the coming of Man, before he learned to count the stars in the Heaven, and name the Seas that surrounded him, there was a morning star that danced in the deep blue sky at dawn’s first light. This was the time when wisdom and thoughts were not in man for he was not created yet. But there was whisperings in the inky night, and hushed tales reaching earth from distant stars, and in great tales yet to be stored in the hold of the moon, whose round sails traversed the sky, its sails adjusted and trimmed to the moods of the months and seasons, but not to the moods man, for even the gods did not have their whims as yet.
Then there was talking amongst the great rocks that buttressed into the sea, so deep and ancient the voices that only the seagulls could hear them and amass took flight over the horizon. There were rumors in the pounding waves as they marched to the shore that eternity was coming to dwell on Earth, and until then, only the breaking waves could count it. And they consulted the prophets in the rocks who had no form, who let the great waves take them bit by bit and turn them into sand till they fell like colossus back into the sea. But they were not vanquished for they dwelt in the spirit of all the land and had the wisdom to know they were not immortal, that their demise would take almost forever. But by then they would be wise, almost as wise as the gods, and by then, they would go wherever the gods would lead them, like dust captured in the tails of comets, they will follow.
But this rumor would not abate, for they did not understand the nature of it, from where it came, or where it would wend. Even the fish in the sea became agitated, and the shellfish wiggled deeper into the sand as if a great storm was brewing.
“Ahh!” the wisdom in the sea and rocks sighed with relief. “It is a great storm the god have in store for us. So, this is the nature of the rumor. But, we have withstood the greatest forces the gods have hurled at us. We can survive any tempest. Let it come and do its worst.
But in the Night they became aware it was longer, and the rumor would not desist. Now the birds on the land, and the song in the tree began to understand, and the great fatherly Night was awoken. Stroking his jet black beard, where gather a thousand stars, his deep piercing blue eyes searched for the offender, the rebels, so he might blot them out then file their existance atop the mountain tops pressed in stone. So many great bragarts had come and gone.
“What is it that awakens all that should be asleep, what nocturnal song is this that steals the Earth’s deep slumber, that wakes me falsely before it is time? Best not let the rising sun catch you at such play; for he is jealous of what you do when he is away. I his grandfather am too old for this ruckus, and I am left in charge of you like a nurse maid. Now return to your sleep, and be patient.” he ordered.
There was grumbling in the sea and rocks who were insulted by the Night. For their wisdom was treated like the buzzing of insects, and collectively they protested.
“Perhaps it is better for you to retire old man, and take your insults with you. For you are never here to see who you are really talking to. You are blind to how beautiful the world really is, and how great is our drama that unfolds at the signal of dawn’s rainbow, the ribbons of celebration that herald the arrival of your golden grandson. Oh how festive we can be, how young and eternal as we rejoice, as the color of the world returns – and the turquoise sea crashes like symbols upon the majesty of the cliffs!”
And now the animals joined in this rebellion and the Night gave out a great “Hush!
Quiet you fools. I have seen your antics. I have seen them reflected in the moon that appears in the day. It is my mirror I hold, for as you know I am full of curiosity. I might be senile and forgetful, but not as forgetful as you. The language of my time appears distorted, but not as distorted and forgetful as your dreams. Now to sleep with your arrogance, for you know I forget nothing. In your sleep I am your master, and it all comes back to haunt you. The ghost of your days are false, as is the false dawn.
Now for those whom sleep can not return to, I will have my daughter sing you a lullaby of the morning. For she is like a mother who has risen early to do her chores. She lights the little candle in the sky and her brightness clears the sleep from all who behold her. She is like my dear daughter. Who speaks ill of her? I will not ever give her away. She is too precious to me. To pure and shy. What goes on in the day is none of my business, or hers. It is full of arrogance, just as the Sun is. And even from him she shys away.
So come my daughter, and sing a quiet refrain. You are dutiful and prompt. You are patient and kind. Come, and sing a song about humility.”
But as the great Night turned to retire, his daughter did not sing. And this filled the Night with dread. Had she rebelled against him too? He was afraid to look fearing the mockery of the earth, for her creatures were now in frenzy of whispering that gave the Night a chill on his back.
“Look oh fatherly Night. Your daughter is gone. She is not there”
All beheld this were sad and alarmed, for they knew the Night had spoken wisely. Was this the rumor they had heard that was now a Nightmare; for all who beheld her were calmed by her beauty and her fresh young steadiness, and above all, her loyalty. Her song and her voice were liken to the Angels – who visit the earth.
Now the stars waning in the sky twinkled with confusion, and they beheld from their perch a great black cloud rising from the middle of the sea. And suddenly the sea was tossed into a tempest, and even it was afraid, and the sea is never afraid. And it embraced the wise souls within the rocks who hugged the rocks like a frightened child, but could not hold on, and slid back into the churning froth.
The trees on the edge of the land were trying to flee from the cloud, shuddering in fear. Their roots held for a little while, and then they were felled. The creatures on the land ran for cover, but the shrieks of the storm that ran faster they, and were in their dens before them, filling them with dread. The birds on the cliffs, and the rocks could cling on, and like leaves from a great oak they were plucked and carried in a great vortex around the black beating wings of the cloud that made the sea go where it did not want to go. Even the great fish in the sea were turned round and round. All but the clam was not safe.
Then there came from the menacing cloud and a bolt of lightening that turned the night into day. The Night cried out; “I am blind!” And the sea let go a terrible moan as a bolt of lightening pierced its depth, its ever present darkness, and not even the clam was spared as it tried to burl deeper into the sand, and was struck one mighty – but gentle blow.
The Birth of Venus
The storm now went upon the land and raised havoc with those things who had never seen such fury. It struck angrily at the ground, and from it rose angry men, the first men. And they saw the tempest they were born into and the devastation around them. And the wisdom that had dwelt in the great rocks, flew from their crying mouths, saying; “This is a cruel land!” And they took felled trees to the sea and made rafts of them, then sailed away.
At first light, all was still and quiet. The sea had lost much of its voice that now filled the mouths of the captains of the ships, they using the wisdom that now found a home in them, commanding as the sea had done the new living things to make their crafts sturdier and defy the sea itself.
And they were wise enough to flea from the reach of the rocks that tried to pull them back and embrace them, jealous now that they were wise enough to avoid them. And they pointed to the stars who were startled, but pleased, as the wisdom from the captains declared them their only friends. But the stars were in morning and in unison asked the Night; “Where pray-tell is our sister? Why do you not let her come out and play with us?
Then came a warm wind from over horizon. It was the last sigh of the Night, and from it flew a Kite and it spoke of this rumor that had stirred the whole world; “Love is coming.”
“Love! What is Love?” And the world turned to the Night as he wearily receded over the land.
“I don’t know. Don’t ask me.” But from then on humanity would ask this question of the Night, in the night, and in a hushed embrace find the answer.
Even the captains at sea suddenly found themselves asking “What is Love?” and sat on the prow of their ships looking at the first light of dawn, then up into the heavens where once rose a beautiful star who the Night named Venus, whose lovely calm song and beautiful dance was yet to be beheld by men. If they had heard and seen her then they would know the moment they lay eyes on her, before the sea, the great rocks, the birds, the fish in the sea even suspected there was such a thing, that she was Love. Deep down in the core of all things they knew they were humbled; for with the coming of Love was a better and more endearing idea of what Eternity is. Only the Night knew this was the Truth. For only eternity could take a beautiful star out of the heavens, and as he sadly turned and beheld the pink ribbons in the sky that pulled from over the sea the great star that was the Sun, he whispered. “And only Eternity can put a star in the heavens.” But where oh where was his granddaughter?
There was a hush upon the land, but for the birds who rose early to tune the harps in their song. The wings of the great storm were now billowy giants in the sky, its mountainous peaks lit in the purest white, the finest gold, and decorated with the most heartwarming pinks and violets. This was the throne room of Zeus, the new god born to rule over men and their chaos. But, he was nowhere to be seen. No one dare ask after his fury for answers to the questions that haunted them. Perhaps the youth, the Sun know. In his delight, and in his daylight would come an answer. For something else had come to dwell on Earth….The Unknown.
“What will become of us? What is our Fate?”
Lying in a tide pool was a scallop shell it too exhausted by the storm. But suddenly the two halves opened up to expose the deepest and blackest pearl, and all gasped. For it was blacker and deeper then the blackest night. Then it began to turn a deep blue, deeper then any blue in the depths of the sea, or in the last light of the day. Then came a song so frail and faint all things hushed but the birds in flight. Only their flapping wings could be heard, but they now went into a glide circling to hear the song like an angels. And this song put a spark in the black marble of their eyes, and it shown like a star as they now beheld one resting in the shell.
Venus my daughter, rise!” Spoke a voice from deep the cloud. And it spoke as all the drops of rain, now as one. And the earth filled with the musical quality of the rain, and the sky cleared. It was the song of all questions yet to be asked “Do you love me?”, now joined as one in the answer, as they answered the song of Venus as she grew and rose from the shell, a dutiful maiden, always with a song in her heart.
The Birth of Venus
(click on images to enlarge)
She was beautiful, in a form not unlike that of men. But hers did not boast, defy, command, but had received the best qualities that wisdom deigned to create. Her form was as reasuring and comforting to the life around her as she was when she was a star in the sky. All that beheld her beauty was well pleased, for she was as perfect a compliment one could pay to life’s majestic design.
Then Venus began to dance. She saw all things as a mirror to reflect the beauty she felt, and she reflected it back. In the motion of her form her hands imitated the waves. Leaping, she mimicked the plumes of the waves that were thrown high into the air by the rocks. Her hair was like the wings of an albatross in graceful slow-motion flight as she pranced like a horse into the water, then arching her back, she dove into its depths. Her strong tapered legs like mating porpoises raised her to the surface. Then, standing in the pristine sea she wiggled her toes like fish playing with other fish, all the time not letting go of the two halves of the shellfish that born her.
Suddenly she heard a quiet voice inside her, and looked brightly about to see what other wonders were before her.
“Oh, Daughter Star. Tell me why you hold those shells so tight, and never let them go?”
Venus looked up and beheld a sliver of moon peeking at her in the sky, and asked;
“Is it you who spoke to me and gave me a name?”
“Yes Venus I did. We are dear friends. I have cradled you since the dawn of time.”
Venus smiled at ther lofty faraway friend, and then dearly at her shells.
“I carry these shells for they are my mother and father and I care about them so very much.”
Venus closed her eye as the world sighed at her innocence. She now knew who she was talking to. It was the Dream in the Night, the dream of long ago that took her places she could not go, but somehow, she knew those places well. For the day-moon was whispering all its secrets to her, reassuring her, that life would always be a wonderful mystery.