Archive for February 15th, 2015





Who can tell me when the sun is most beautiful, at rising, or at setting? Who can tell me whether of the Olive or the Almond is the most beautiful of trees? Who can tell me whether Andalusia or Valencia sends forth the bravest knight? What man can tell me who is the fairest of women? I will tell you who is the fairest of women. She is Aurora de Vargas, the Pearl of Toledo.


Swarthy Tuzani has called for his lance, he has called for his buckler; his lance he grasps in his strong right hand; his buckler hangs from his neck. He goes down to his stable, and considers well his forty good steeds; in due order he considers them all, and he says:


“Berja is the fleetest and trustiest of all. On her strong back will I carry away the Pearl of Toledo, as mine will I bear her away, or by Allah, Cordova shall see me no more.”


So he sets forth and he rides on his way, till at length he reaches Toledo, and he meets an old man hard by Zucatin.


“Old man, with the snowy beard, carry this letter to Don Guttiera, to Don Guttiera de Saldaña. If he is a man he will come and meet me in a single combat, near to the fountain of Almami. The Pearl of Toledo must belong to one of us.”


The old man has taken the letter, he has taken and carried it to the Count de Saldaña, as he sat playing chess with the Pearl of Toledo. The Count has read the letter, he has read the parchment, and with his closed fist does he smite the table so mightily that all the chessmen have fallen to the ground. Then he rises and calls for his lance and his good steed, and all trembling does the Pearl of Toledo arise, for she has perceived and understood that he is going forth to combat.


“My Lord Guttiera de Saldaña, go not hence I pray, go not hence, but play still this game with me.”


“No longer will I play at chess; I will play at the game of lances by the fountain of Almami.”


And the tears of Aurora availed not to stay him; for naught stays a knight who goes forth to combat. Then the Pearl of Toledo took her mantle, and mounting upon her mule she went her way to the fountain of Almami.


All about the fountain is the grass crimson, crimson too the waters of the fountain; but it is not the blood of a Christian that stains the green sward, that stains the waters of the fountain. The swarthy Tuzani lies there with his face to the sky. The lance of Don Guttiera is splintered in his breast: all his life blood spends itself drop by drop. His faithful steed, Berja, looks down upon him weeping, for she cannot heal the wound of her master.


The Pearl of Toledo alights from her mule. “Take heart, good sir, for you will live yet to wed some poor Moorish maiden; my hand has cunning to heal the wound made by my knight.”


“O Pearl so white, O Pearl so fair, draw forth from my breast the splinter of lance which rends it. The cold of the steel chills me and freezes my heart.”


In all confidence she approached him, but he gathered his strength, and with his sabre’s blade, gashes her beautiful face.

(Transcribed and adapted from The Works of Prosper Mérimée. Vol. 3. Trans Emily Mary Waller and Mary Helena Dey. New York: Frank S. Holby, 1906. For educational use only. )

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On Feb.9 article in C/Net was this headline:

Gravity in space produces a cosmic grin

Hubble has taken a photo of what seems to be a smiling cartoon face in the depths of space, which the writer explains as an effect produced by a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. How do we explain a Smiley in the abyss? The two dots are galaxies and for a grin we see light curved to give us an impression of a goofy grin. To complete the picture there is a ring around suggesting the head. It is light bending by gravitational field exerting its force on it. This is called Einsteins ring.

Astronomers know the existence of distortion of light by gravity and must correct gravitational lensing in order to understand what they are looking at it.

It is not what it seems to us who are conditioned to look at images with a certain mind set.

Like those snapshots in the snow one points out to Christ or as imprinted on Turin shroud, there are certain forces that prompt us to identify with our natural world. But if we give any value to soul we need to look beyond such casual impressions.

Certain circumstances in my childhood made a deep impression in me. At young age leaving my family to live away in strange surroundings created much anxiety and left me with no moorings. Then spending several years in a boarding school I came to think of home as wherever I found myself in at any moment. But now looking back whatever deprived me in my infancy proved to be a blessing. Whether India or the Netherlands I could live content.

When certain incidents in life offers compensation for later use one would say these negative life experience was in deed the key to victories in later period.

Analogy of gravitational lensing holds true in our life experience as well. If your idealism is such you want to make a honest buck by your merits you find so many things going against it. Gravitational field of human interactions cannot be dismissed. Suppose you want to write a book that is straight from your heart and if you approach a publisher you shall see that there are no takers. ‘Taste’ of general reading is weighed in favor of books like ’50 Shades of Grey’ or ‘Hunger Games.’ Those who want money and fame soon succumb to the general trend. Forces that work in deep space is no different than what works unseen by casual eye in our own times. This gravitational lensing skews up human moral readings and it must be corrected by each individual so he or she does not lose moral compass. Nothing of this world can be as precious as the worth of your soul.

ack: C/Net reported by michelle Starr)


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