19.4.11 | By: Megan Langham

Beautiful People - Vale of Darkness

Take a guess who I've got to blame for this.

In case you couldn't guess, click here. Me being me, I pounced on the prospect of yet another character questionnaire -- and had a glorious time filling it out. This time it is for Merry, the main character of my in-progress novella "Vale of Darkness".

I haven't mentioned that here, I don't think. Well, if you don't already happen to know what it is, do not be dismayed. I may post an excerpt sometime. At any rate, I think this can stand on its own. So here we are: Merry!

1. What is your character’s full name?
Charles Meredith “Merry” Malvern.

2. Does his/her name have a special meaning?
No, though “Merry” is a more-or-less accurate representation of his personality.

3. Does your character have a methodical or disorganized personality?
He’s somewhere in the middle, leaning more towards disorganized. Usually there is some sort of order to his disorder.

4. Does he/she think inside themselves more than they talk out loud to their friends? (more importantly, does he/she actually have friends?)
Merry has many friends, but only two or three who are extremely close. He doesn’t talk all that much, unless he is excited about something, and then his friends can hardly get him to stop.

5. Is there something he/she is afraid of?
Ever since his parents died he’s been haunted by fear that he won’t be enough for his sister, that he will lose more of his loved ones, and that perhaps their mysterious fate will befall him.

6. Does he/she write, dream, dance, sing, or photograph?
He has dabbled in writing, but never really took it seriously until he was asked to record his strange experiences. He doesn’t daydream, though he does quite a lot of the regular nighttime sort; he can dance decently, he can sing rather well, and he has never tried photography (except for taking mediocre pictures with his mobile phone).

7. What is his/her favorite book? (or genre of book)
Merry reads widely, with a special fondness for well-done fantasy and the Victorian classics. Lately he has been delving into modern sci-fi, at the insistence of his sister.

8. Who is his/her favorite author and/or someone that inspires him/her?
His two favorite authors are Charles Dickens (for the eminently Victorian humor and insight into human nature) and Stephen Lawhead (for the Celtic fantasy and vivid battle-description).

9. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Peppermint Stick generally, and Rum Raisin when he’s feeling indulgent.

10. Favorite season of the year?
He likes all of the seasons, but especially spring: there is something about the freshness in the air and the newness of life that resonates with him each year.

11. How old is he/she?

12. What does he/she do in his/her spare time?
If the weather is fine, he takes long walks or goes into town, usually with his friends. On wet days he reads, watches telly, or plays board games with his sister (he generally loses).

13. Is he/she see the big picture, or live in the moment?
Merry isn’t much of an idealist or dreamer in that way; he tends to take life as it comes, alert and tuned to every nuance around him.

14. Is he/she a perfectionist?
No, he isn’t, though he does like things to be done right if they have to do with something he cares about.

15. What does his/her handwriting look like? (round, slanted, curly, skinny, sloppy, neat, decorative, etc)
His handwriting is very readable, except when he is in a hurry; it is a cursive style, but not overly ornate.

16. Favorite animal?
Monkeys. He likes monkeys because they are ridiculously entertaining.

17. Does he/she have any pets?
No, since he lives in a “no-pets-allowed” flat. It is a sore subject with his sister.

18. Does he/she have any siblings, how many, and where does he/she fit in?
He has one younger sister, Clarissa. The two of them have grown very close since the death of their parents.

19. Does he/she have a "life verse" and if so what is it?
Though he’s never deliberately chosen a verse for himself, the one that comes to his mind most often (and proves peculiarly comforting in his circumstances) is Psalm 91: 5-6. “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”

20. Favorite writing utensil?
His laptop. For the times when he prefers to “scribble”,  he uses a felt-tip pen.

7.4.11 | By: Megan Langham

Breezes of Poesy

...so, it would seem that today is Poetry Day. Unofficially so, I believe, but that's no reason not to join in. I am very fond of poetry (not all poetry, of course, just as a genre) and my mind has been too dazed and confused lately for a long and thoughtful post, so why not? My very dear friend Abigail inconsiderately used my first choice in her posting today, so I have been forced to choose two other poems that I adore.

This first one is by John Milton. I confess I have never made it all the way through Paradise Lost, but does it count that I memorized this? Though the whole poem is bursting with truth and beauty, the first verse is my favorite.

Is It True?

Is it true, O Christ in Heaven,
That the highest suffer the most?
That the strongest wander furthest
And more helplessly are lost?
That the mark of rank in nature
Is capacity for pain?
That the anguish of the singer
Makes the sweetness of the strain?

Is it true, O Christ in Heaven,
That whichever way we go
Walls of darkness must surround us,
Things we would but cannot know?
That the infinite must bound us
Like a temple veil untent,
Whilst the finite ever wearies,
So that none therein's content?

Is it true, O Christ in Heaven,
That the fullness yet to come
Is so glorious and so perfect
That to know would strike us dumb?
That if ever for a moment
We could pierce beyond the sky
With these poor dim eyes of mortals
We should just see God and die?

--John Milton

My second poem is really only an excerpt, as I haven't got the heart or the time to give you all of "In Memoriam". Well, it's two excerpts. Well -- no, I'll stop myself. Two excerpts:

From "In Memoriam"

“More than my brothers are to me,”—
Let not this vex thee, noble heart!
I know thee of what force thou art
To hold the costliest love in fee.

But thou and I are one in kind,
As moulded like in Nature’s mint;
And hill and wood and field did print
The same sweet forms in either mind.

For us the same cold streamlet curl’d
Thro’ all his eddying coves, the same
All winds that roam the twilight came
In whispers of the beauteous world.

And so my wealth resembles thine,
But he was rich where I was poor,
And he supplied my want the more
As his unlikeness fitted mine.


Dear friend, far off, my lost desire,
So far, so near in woe and weal,
O loved the most, when most I feel
There is a lower and a higher;

Known and unknown, human, divine;
Sweet human hand and lips and eye;
Dear heavenly friend that canst not die,
Mine, mine, for ever, ever mine;

Strange friend, past, present, and to be;
Loved deeplier, darklier understood;
Behold, I dream a dream of good,
And mingle all the world with thee.

--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Perhaps it is a depressing poem -- and indeed, it must be, since it is drenched in the anguish of death -- but at the end there is hope and even a sort of painful joy. Tennyson here does not gloss over grief; he lets the pain take him to the lowest level of despair and then back again to the light of understanding and acceptance.