Fantasy Coleridge, Sara: Phantasmion, a Fairy Tale. v1. 24 Aug 2016
#1  GrannyGrump 08-24-2016, 06:17 AM
PHANTASMION, A Fairy Tale. By Sara Coleridge (1802–1852)
Introductory preface by Lord John Coleridge (1820–1894)
With a glossary added for archaic terms

First published in 1837. This book is in the public domain worldwide, because the creators died more than 100 years ago, and it was published before 1923.

Sara Coleridge was an English author, poet, and translator. She was the third child and only daughter of noted poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner).

Phantasmion, Sara Coleridge’s longest original work and her only work of fiction, is described in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1999) as “the first fairytale novel written in English”. Matthew David Surridge, in his article “Worlds Within Worlds,” argues that it is the very first fantasy novel set entirely in an alternate world. Some historians of the fantasy genre believe Phantasmion may have influenced the work of George MacDonald.
[—Adapted from Wikipedia.]

Phantasmion presents no heavy-handed parables or moral teachings. The characters, though not deeply realized, still, are not one-dimensional: heroes and heroines have flaws and weaknesses; villains sometimes exhibit kindness and generosity. It is, simply, a captivating story, with unique concepts and beguiling imagery, told in beautiful prose and verse.

Spoiler Warning below

No sooner had he closed his eyes than the fairy, whom he had formerly seen on that very spot, seemed to stand there again. In his dream she touched him with her wand, and forthwith leafy branches, like those which drooped over him, sprouted from his shoulders; imperceptibly those branches changed into green wings and up he soared, feeling as if his whole body were inflated with air. As he floated along in the sky a group of angel faces shone before him: he surveyed them, and all were lovely, but one was far lovelier than the rest, and, while he gazed upon that countenance, it grew more and more exquisite, the others becoming indistinct and fading gradually away. Suddenly, like a balloon exhausted of air, down he dropped to the earth, and was snatched away from the vision.

“Potentilla!” he cried aloud; starting up in the intensity of feeling, and stretching out both his hands, “Potentilla! help! help!” No sooner had he uttered that long-forgotten name, than he opened his eyes, and saw the little old fairy smiling in his face. “Phantasmion,” she said, “what shall I do for thee? I am queen of the insect realm, and powers like those which insects have, are mine to bestow.” “Give me wings!” he cried; for still he had a vague hope that he might once more behold that heavenly face if he could but soar aloft.

Potentilla waved her wand, and soon the air was filled with butterflies, those angel insects pouring from every region of the heavens. Here came a long train arrayed in scarlet, waving up and down altogether like a flag of triumph; there floated a band clad in deep azure, and flanked on either side by troops in golden panoply. Some were like flights of green leaves, others twinkled in robes of softest blue besprent [03] with silver, like young princesses at a festival; and, in front of the whole multitude, a gorgeous crowd, adorned with peacock eyes, flew round and round in a thousand starry wheels, while here and there one butterfly would flit aloof for a few moments, then sink into the circle and revolve indistinguishably with the rest: now the entire wheel flew off into splinters, now reconstructed itself at once, as if but a single life informed its several parts.

Again Potentilla waved her wand, and the bloomy throng descended on trees and shrubs, attiring every bough in fresh blossoms, which quivered without a breeze. Phantasmion saw that he was to choose from this profusion of specimens the wings that pleased him best, and he fixed on a set like those which he wore in his dream. The moment that Potentilla touched him with her wand a sensation of lightness ran throughout his body, and instantly afterwards he perceived that wings played on his shoulders, wings of golden green adorned with black embroidery: beneath an emerald coronet his radiant locks clustered in large soft rings, and wreathed themselves around his snowy forehead; robes of white silk floated over his buoyant limbs, and his full eyes, lately closed in languor, beamed with joyful expectation, while more than childlike bloom rose mantling to his cheek. Potentilla had seen an eagle teaching her young ones to fly, gradually widening her airy circles, and mounting in a spiral line that swelled as it rose, while the sun burnished her golden plumes; just so she flew before the winged youth, who timidly followed where she led the way, trembling in his first career when he saw the earth beneath him. But, gaining confidence, all at once he shot away from his guide, like a spark from a sky-rocket; he soared and gyred and darted on high, describing as many different figures as a skater on the ice, while from the groves and flowery meads [22] below this choral strain resounded:—

See the bright stranger!
On wings of enchantment,
See how he soars!
Eagles! that high on the crest of the mountain,
Beyond where the cataracts gush from their fountain,
Look out o’er the sea and her glistering shores,
Cast your sun-gazing eyes on his pinions of light!
Behold how he glitters
Transcendantly bright!

Whither, ah whither,
To what lofty region
His course will he bend?
See him! O, see him! the clouds overtaking,
As tho’ the green earth he were blithely forsaking;
Ah now, in swift circles behold him descend!
Now again like a meteor he shoots through the sky,
Or a star glancing upward,
To sparkle on high!
Text was obtained from OCR errors were corrected, punctuation formatted, decorative fonts embedded. A brief glossary has been added, explaining some archaic words and unusual spellings.

The “original layout” retains the long paragraphs of the print book.
The “new layout” version has had numerous paragraph breaks added for more comfortable reading.
(For instance, check out Part 1 Chapter 13. In the original, 3,000 words all in one paragraph! Only the poetry at the end is separated.)
This work is assumed to be in the Life+70 public domain OR the copyright holder has given specific permission for distribution. Copyright laws differ throughout the world, and it may still be under copyright in some countries. Before downloading, please check your country's copyright laws. If the book is under copyright in your country, do not download or redistribute this work.

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#2  petro1 03-31-2020, 07:40 PM
what a wonderful story! Thanks for putting this together

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