Thursday, September 30, 2010

This England

When I visited the library in Auckland I always enjoyed
looking at some of the "This England" magazines. There were articles describing the
beauty of English villages,
often with historical and unknown little snippets of information which were a joy to read, often accompanied by wonderful depictions of historic homesteads
and scenery. While in Australia I have not as yet come across these wonderful
magazines, but will make an endeavour to find out about them.

There was also a poetry page and I remember on one occasion a reader could remember
a few lines of a poem from school but could not remember the rest of the poem or where it came from. The reply was that it was "The Elfin Artist" by Alfred Noyes.

I will include the link for this poem here as I also found it quite exquisite, light and beautiful:

This England

  I also think of Shakespeare's poem about "This England" and of course Shakespeare was right,
England is a gem, a beautiful country, as was mentioned in Richard II, quoted by John of Gaunt.
I will have to return to this beautiful isle again sometime.

  My best wishes

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Magical Enchantments - poem three

Today I have a Magical Enchantments poem about Louise de la Valliere.

Alexandre Dumas has written a book about Louise. Sandra Gulland has written a book
"Mistress of the Sun"
which I enjoyed reading which was a story based on the life of Louise
and gives a wonderful description of her life and also of the times
in which she lived evoking a distant past with descriptions of the countryside
and villages.

Magical Enchantments – Poem Three

Within the shades
and water and glades
The King enjoyed Charades
and Tirades,
also a Masquerade:-
At another time,
An Enchanted Ball
which was to enthrall,
the Princess of the Land.
A Mirrored Hall
of Sparkling Dreams.
The Sunbeams of a Thousand Dreams
glittered upon the Stage.

The game of life
was a springboard of hope
played in games of chance
Seasoned knights got on with
the show;
And in an old fashioned way
As into this Play,
As the Music did ring,
and the bells did chime,
The hopes and dreams of Destiny
were swingng wildly in Time.

The ups and downs of the Merry-go-Round,
La Valliere and La Montespan
seemed to turn around;
Life's treasures,
how are they measured
in a glimpse of time?
In the world of give and take,
and the lives which it does shake
A clearer vision of the world takes shape;
Within the realms of bitter-sweet,
Louise's life was in retreat,
Devoted to solemnity
and religiosity.

Through the days and
through the time,
As the Hour glass
spins in time
And fates and fortunes
turn around
Seeking favours all around
And the round-a-bout
goes round and round,
Where was Love not sound?
In the twists of destiny found
of Louise in her surround,
This was not as she had planned,
occasioned by La Montespan.

The King had been so true and near
The beauty and flowers which were so dear
Were inspired by his love for La Valliere;
The magical settings and plays on the stage
Pastel and pastoral of the age,
Lost allure with love upstaged;

As a Swan glides on in gilded time
Flaps its wings over a bell clock chime
In the pearls and twirls of time
As the Seasons do entwine
And for ourselves, do see a sign,
seeking a love which was divine:

For once in a lifetime beauty doth shine
As autmn leaves upon a vine
dappled leaves of grape and lime
reflecting sun glints of the time
sprinkled with a scent of thyme;
peach and apricot, plum and pine
fir, willow, yew and elm combine
with orange trees in straight line;
As sunlight glimmers on the wine
And of love which would be thine
Pure and simple, beautiful, kind;
Starlight lovers matched in time
Pictured within a flower clock frame
a rose flower bower and leaves of plane;
Shimmering leaves,
golden colours interweaved;
In a green, in a dell
where the apple blossom dwells;

A mirrored image, reflections grew
Life patterns were found a-new,
Glimpsed within a Looking Glass Through:

Two butterflies swirl about
Darting in and out
As it was from the start
With Hope's Promise not to part;
Heaven's Raindrops glistening
From a shower of early spring
Fluttering daily on the wing
And, oh, how they could sing!

The Song of the Universe
echoes still;
Throughout the Day,
Throughout the Night
In the Starlight Dew and Light;

Do we see ourselves
In the Playing Cards
Fashioned by the Day
All in glittering array
Or in the leaves of an old tea cup
And from the seeds when earth began
Sprinkled in a Starlight Land
Within a band of Hope – a ray
Reflections in the Sand?

La Valliere,
So Sincere,
A Maid of Honour to
Princess Henriette of Angleterre
Came from the Valley of the Loire
Met the King
At a town called Blois,
Again at the Court in a game of bluff;
The Court Jester,
Frolicking and rousing about,
Made the Court all laugh-
Wild antics and affront,
and he seemed to be so blunt;
And noted of a Love held fast,
Love before it was all cast;
Danced in a ballet at the Court,
Appeared as “Diana” of the Hunt;
and rode with
the hounds at the front;

Dreaming, believing
of a Love Paramount;

Was it really Cupid's Arrow she had seen,
or was it only in her Dream?
Was this how her love had been,
As a dart to her heart
Echoing softly from the start?

A beam in floating Leaves of Time
Swirling in a Universe Rhyme
Magically falling to the ground
In a love which she had found;

Fancies' whims and fancies' loves
Fairies and goblins come out to play
Were they dancing for their Pay?
Was this the theme of yesterday?
Where was love from above
In the chivalry of the day?
Caught in the intrigue of the play
Lost on the swings
in a round-about way;
Found peace in Scriptures
and a ring,
Surely, this was a glorious thing;-

A Shower of Starlight over earth
A cloud burst rain drop gives new birth
Matched a tear drop of her heart,
Raining forever in her heart;

What of her life worth now
reflecting upon life's golden hour
Entertainments and courtly games,
Life would never be the same;

“Into a dance, a ballet true,
All I give it was to you.”

A new life for Louise would start;
A pearl, not many, and numbered few
Now was time for her cue
took to praying at her pew;

Fairy dust sparkled a magical glint
Horse's shoes sparked a fiery flint
Throughout a most enchanting night;
As moonlight shone its misty light
Night creatures in their mystery
seemed to be in sympathy
with Louise and her despondency;
But now, as Louise rode spritely on
Upon the dew drops of the grass
In a brand new day
She halted her dray,
Upon her way;
A Song of a bird
could be heard
echoing in a

Trilling clearly as a crystal glass
In the morning mists which passed;
And in the light of the early morn
Saw Heaven's Splendour in the Dawn
Of all the Colours of a Spectrum Drawn;
New beginnings would take form.
Travelled on horseback throughout the night-
Searching for her guiding Light.

The landscape turned a vibrant green
Newly polished from a shower of rain
The Sun did glisten its brilliant rays
filtering its light across the plain;

Glittering Versailles called no more
Touched by a Light
of the Ever-More
Louise entered Sanctuary
Sister Louise of Mercy be;

Another time,
another place,
In the Story of the Play
In the Land of Not-Forgot
Love may have been divine
The King and Louise
could be free,
Celebrate their love in ecstasy;
but at this moment of her timidity
A dancing nymph was set free;
A solitary star
glistening in a milky sea
awash in Versailles complexity;

Her love for the King,
was her light and joy,
A flower strewn in the wind,
Became to see her life as sin,
In all of life's perplexity;

Fortune's losses, Fortune's gained
The court of Versailles was no longer claimed,
The King once wished Louise to stay,
But this was not her way;
Three queens in a coach
was her reproach:
And from all the despair and the tears,
now would come the Montespan years;
The dancing years, the sparkling years,
they were all a wonder and joy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reflections of Versailles - The early years

Reflections of the Court of Versailles

The early years:

It is fascinating to contemplate the early years of the Court
of Versailles, which from looking towards a distant past seem
to hold a magical quality today.

It is wonderful to read of the enchantments of the early years
of the court of Louis XIV which were often held in the gardens as
the palace was being built.

At the divertissements there were plays, poetry
and songs by Lully, who became the court composer to the king. Fireworks displays
were often a theme at the close of the evening at these entertainments.

Louise de la Valliere seems to hold imagination as a love of the
king. The king was inspired by his love for Louise and created beautiful

The king had previously wished to marry Marie Mancini, a niece of Cardinal
Mazarin, but this was not permitted which distressed and upset the young king
greatly. There were three Mancini sisters,
who were nieces of the Cardinal at the Court. A marriage was arranged for the
king to marry Marie Therese, Infanta of Spain.

There was also another cousin, who may at one time have become a prospective bride
for the young king. This was the Grande Mademoiselle, Duchesse de Montpensier,
a daughter of Louis XIII's brother, Gaston d'Orleans,
who was based at the Castle of Blois. The Grande
Mademoiselle may have grown up believing that one day whe was destined
to become a queen. However, during the fronde years, she fired a cannon
at the royal party from the Bastille,
the king being age 11 or 12 at the time. The Grande Mademoiselle was 11 years older
than the king, but she had by this act irrevocably ruined her chances of becoming
a queen of Louis XIV. Charle II at one time wished to marry her. The court composer
Lully, at one time was in her service.

Queen Henrietta Maria, widowed queen of Charles I of England,
in Margaret Irwin's book "Royal Flush" is described
as saying that one ought never to be responsible for one's own misfortune in life.
In time, the Grande Mademoiselle, after many years in exile, at a place Saint Fargeau,
was eventually permitted to return
to the Court. Perhaps by then, many of her chances in life were diminished.

Princess Henriette is also a vibrant character of the early years of the
court. She married the king's brother, Philippe, though unfortunately
died young. In Margaret Irwin's book "Royal Flush" she is described
as being as the Moon, a complement to Louis XIV, who was likened to the Sun,
given a title of the "Sun King" after dancing in the ballet of "Le Roi Soleil"
at age 15. His first ballet was Cassandre. He spent many years dancing, which
gave him grace, poise and a bearing appropriate to his role of the king. Louis XIV
has been described as being good looking. Because of his aura and demeanour, even
without being a king, he would still have been distinguished. People would often take a second
glance at him and I have also read that at times he also had a slightly oriental
appearance. This may be from an individual impression.

Princess Henriette often assisted the king with diplomatic duties and court functions
and also danced in ballets
with the Sun King and Louise de la Valliere.
Princess Henriette had lived at the French court from a young age
as she had fled from England as also had her mother during the years of Oliver Cromwell
in England.

Her brother, Charles II, was not so fortunate to remain at the Court,
as for political reasons, it was difficult to harbour the heir to the throne of England.
Louis XIV was young at the time
and his mother and Cardinal Mazarin would have been making decisions which they
would have believed were in the best interests of the country at the time. Charles II
spent many years in Europe living in poverty. However, he also had many loyal supporters
who had followed him into exile. Many of these people endured poverty during
their years of exile.

Philippe's second wife, Liselotte, a princess of the Palatinate, had a son who eventually became
Regent of France in 1715. Liselotte had quite a forthright personality in the Court, and
would often speak as she thought, calling a spade a spade.

The early years of the court reflect a time of culture,
arts, entertainment and literature. The young king was respected
and admired. The king may have acquired his love of Italian arts from the influences
of Cardinal Mazarin and Marie Mancini. Tapestries and decorative arts were
as a magical showpiece of the Sun King's reign, they seemed to be so much part of his
reign with the Gobelins and Savonnerie, making wonderful tapestries and carpets.

He shared a vision with Le Notre for the beauty of landscaped designs in the
gardens. Over the years, there was a potager, or vegetable garden, with
innovative plans by La Quintinie, who experimented with glass to reflect the sun
and made
pear trees look as though shaped in a candlelabra frame. Many of the innovations
and experiments are detailed in the book of "The Sun King's Garden" by Ian Thompson,
which is a wonderful book, full of coloured illustrations and diagrams describing
the creation of the gardens at Versailles.

There was also the Orangerie where the trees could be kept at a moderate temperature
during the winter months. Louis XIV preferred the scent of the orange trees.
At Trianon once, the king and courtiers had to leave as the scents of the
flowers became quite overbearing.

The fountains also added enchantment to the setting. Chains of buckets and
horses at one time kept the water flowing and they were called "Rosaries of
Return" of "Jacob's Ladders" as the water was being redirected and recycled.
The king's imagination knew no bounds and it would have been a wonder and joy to walk
around the gardens with the king while the fountains were playing.

The early years seemed to be quite a magical time,
with the creation of Versailles and the magnificent gardens.

The Hall of Mirrors was built a little later. Italian craftsmanship of innovations
with glass
would have assisted with the mirrors at the time, which was a new phenomenon.
Glittering candles, a majestic setting and beautiful views looking out on to the
flower gardens and fountains
have given an appearance of a magical enchantment with an ephemeral quality
with the statues and bosques and garden parterres and broderies of the time.
The Hall of Mirrors
reflected the splendour of the young king's reign. There was also silver
furniture in the Hall at one time, which was subsequently sold to pay soldiers' wages.
The settings and magnificence created a sense of wonder and foreign ambassadors
would report home of the power and display of the Sun King.

Reflections of Venice, it must have seemed with a grand canal outside the windows of the palace,
which in turn
would reflect the beauty of the surroundings, the trees, statues and flower arrangements.
At one time there was a little
boatyard called "Little Venice" (Petite Venise) and the king was presented with two gondolas
from the Republic of Venice, complete also with gondoliers.

A Menagerie was also later included with exotic animals, which was given to Princess Marie-
Adelaide of Savoy. This princess arrived at the court at a much later time, destined to become
a queen and marry the Sun King's grand-son. A fascinating insight into her life is given
in Charles Elliott's book "Princess de Versailles." In this book the author describes the
love of the king and Louise de la Valliere as being beautiful.

A picture of the scenery at Saint Fargeau where the Grande Mademoiselle was sent into exile:,_par_Constance_de_la_Martel,_1806.jpg

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Katherine by Anya Seton

Katherine by Anya Seton,

I enjoyed reading this book again for a second time this year.

I loved the story and Anya Seton has described a beautiful love story

It is set during the times of Edward III in Plantagenet England,
where England was a very different place with more countrified and rural settings.
Wonderful descriptions are given of London with the Savoy Palace as a land
mark of the city with its pennants fluttering in the breeze, which could be
seen from the banks of the River Thames.

Katherine married at a young age to Sir Hugh Swynford. In those times
it was deemed a suitable match for Katherine, being an impoverished
knight's daughter, who had followed her sister, Philippa, to court.

Katherine and Philippa de Roet were daughters of Paon de Roet, a knight
of Hainault. Unfortunately, he died not long after his knighthood in a battle and
the two sisters were taken to England where Philippa of Hainault, Queen
of Edward III took an interest in their welfare.

Katherine, at the time, even though reluctant to marry Sir Hugh Swynford,
eventually agreed to marry him.
The story is told over a life time and describes the beautiful Blanche
of Lancaster, the Duchess of John of Gaunt in glowing terms. Katherine
eventually became a governess of the Lancaster children.

If there ever was a fairy tale to tell, this would come very close,
as the story also has a magical ending.

The descriptions of England at the time take the reader into a
world of colourful pageantry and the court of Edward III.

Katherine Swynford lived for many years at a little place, Kettlethorpe,
which is out of Lincoln, and also spent time at Kenilworth Castle,
which is also renowned for the pageants which the Duke of Leicester,
staged when entertaining Elizabeth I.

In the times of Katherine and John of Gaunt, there was also a
mere, or a lake, which people could row across. It would be
nice to visit this fairy tale castle. There is still a magnificent
hall which was completed in John of Gaunt's time.

Alison Weir, in her book, "Katherine Swynford, The Story of John of
Gaunt and his Scandalous Mistress" gives a detailed description of
Kenilworth Castle at this time on pages 133-134 of her book. It is
located in the County of Warwick, built of golden sandstone and dates
from the twelfth century. The great hall or
"New Chamber" which was built by John of Gaunt was decorated with
fine stone panels or carvings. There was also an Oriel window which
would have reflected light into the hall and also a fire-place, where
the Duke's table was set. The rest of the house-hold would have dined
at trestle tables which were set up in the hall with two magnificent
fire-places of carved stone with traceried windows and stone seats in
the alcoves. The hammerbeam roof no longer exists or the wooden floor
of the hall. Alison Weir notes that the Great Hall is said to have
inspired the remodelling of Westminster Hall by Richard II in the 1390's.
An undercroft can be seen where provisions and wine were
stored. There was also a tiltyard and a garden. The gardens at
Kenilworth have been recently restored to look as they would have
appeared during the times of Elizabeth I.

There are a couple of depictions from wikipedia of which the links are:,_2010.jpg

and a depiction of the restored gardens:

Painters have also painted Kenilworth Castle over the years as it is set
in a magical setting and some of these paintings are quite beautiful
depicted in a natural setting inspired by nature and light.

There was also a Strong Tower for the domestic quarters and bakehouse
and kitchens. Also a Saintlowe Tower, which was the Duke's apartments
and overlooked the Mere. The family, knights and squires would have
lodged in this tower. There was also a throne bearing the arms of
Castile, as John of Gaunt had subsequently married Constance of Castile.
This aspect of the story was sad for Katherine at the time, as described
in Anya Seton's novel of Katherine. Katherine and John of Gaunt spent time
in the Pyrenees of France, as during the fourteenth century there were English
provinces in France.

The "White Hall" on the first floor in the Saintlowe Tower was where John of
Gaunt gave important receptions and met visitors. There was also a
chapel and garderobes on the ground and first floors, so all in all,
it must have been quite a magnificent setting.

The scenery would also have been beautiful.

Kettlethorpe, by comparison, was a little different. The River Trent
would often overflow and sometimes it would be difficult for the crops
to grow. Apparently the land was stony and sandy, though over the years
Katherine made the best of these conditions and also in time there were repairs and maintenance for the upkeep of the buildings.

I enjoyed the story for the beauty of the romance and the wonderful settings.

It is an unusual story of the times and from the line of the Beaufort
children, who were the children of Katherine and John of Gaunt, (who were subsequently
came a future line of kings and queens, including the tudor dynasty.

There are also fascinating descriptions and accounts of people from the
time, including Wat Tiler, Geoffrey Chaucer, (married to Katherine's sister)
a chronicler Froissart, who
was in the retinue of Queen Philippa of Hainault and the children of John
of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster.

There are also glimpses of the patterns of life of fourteenth century
England and the politics of the time, including the Good Parliament.

The book inspires with the ideals of chivalry. It was Edward III who
initiated the Order of the Garter. There were also poignant moments
described in the novel, describing scenes and moments of beauty, as for example,
watching the water of the River Thames flow by, while discussing matters
of import, and yet Katherine would say that it is as it is, it did not
matter, as at this time, John had not given her any lands
which concerned him.

There have also been other books and literature published about Katherine
and John of Gaunt. It is an unusual love story, poignant and beautiful.

My best wishes, Sandra

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Angelique in Love

I have recently finished reading the book "Angelique in Love"
by Sergeanne Golon.

What a wonderful story!

Full of romance and adventure.

Angelique sets off for the New World to start a new life,
free from the prejudice and oppression of the old.

This is a cover of the story from

The book cover which I read had an exciting cover of Angelique
and a swash buckler in elegant fancy dress of the times. The depictions
on the covers of the books must vary occasionally

The link from is also interesting to read
for the customer reviews:

This is the sixth book which I have read in the Angelique series.

The first being, "Angelique, Marquise of the Angels" which encompasses Angelique's childhood,
growing up in provincial France, where she came from an old, noble and impoverished family
and her subsequent marriage to Joffrey de Peyrac, a Count of Toulouse.

This story was also wonderful to read and depicted the times of seventeenth century France
extraordinarily well.

The third book, "Angelique and the King" was also magnificent to read for the descriptions of court life
during the time of Louis XIV.

Anne Golon has a descriptive quality to her writing which is quite unique and magical.

Wonderful story telling! Anne Golon was recently at a Fantasy Book Fair where she was signing

There is a beautiful romance in "Angelique in Love" and also a sense of adventure,
where she is taken aboard a pirate ship.

The time spans of the romance bring to mind another wonderful romance story of "Katherine"
by Anya Seton, of which I will post a review as I have recently finished reading this book
also for a second time.

Concepts of new beginnings in the New World,
the colours, scenery and pictures and unimaginable
endings combine to make this story a wonderful
magical read.

I hope that you like this review and will post another shortly,

Best wishes Sandra

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I will be returning shortly to more
poetry of the court of Versailles
and also some book reviews of books
which I believe are quite magical.

  In the meantime, I have another poem
today of Jewellery:


When I have need

of my Jewellery,

I step outside,

under a Canopy,

Where a-waiting me-

A Cascade of Stars,

Glittering and twinkling

in Twilight,

Glittering golden in the Light.

Wondrous gem-stones

Come into Sight,

All in a Starry Night;

And in my Reverie

I do glimpse,

a Tracery

of magnificent Majesty,

In a distant galaxy,

Glittering wonder -

in a panoply,

Sparkling gold

in the fold

From the Stars,


And all the Colours

of the Universe,

They all protect

and enchance me-

The deep sea-green

and ocean blue,

The trees which come

into view,

In a beauty of no appareil

Upon a Setting of an

Angel's Trail;

And when I have need of my

Colours beside,

I step outside-

by the road-side;

For out there-

Sweeping colours

all beside,

The greens and yellows

of buttercups

seen in a maze

of distant haze,

glimmering from

a mountain-side.

A Rainbow inspires

with surprise

its golden colours

upon the land,

Sprinkled in a Stardust band.

Nature's spoils in Scenery,

Bedecked in glittering Finery.