The Poetry of the Planets in Second Life

Poetry of the Planets: Uranus – The Magician

Gustav Holst’s The Planets is perhaps one of the best-known suites of classical music; I doubt there are many reading these words who have not heard it at least in part. Notably, perhaps, thanks to Mars: Bringer of War and Jupiter: Bringer of Jollity (a movement from which is often used – possibly with Holst’s own posthumous disapproval – as the music for I Vow To Thee My Country).

Written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of the suite is named after one of the seven major planets of the Solar System beyond Earth, and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst. The pieces are richly evocative and emotive – hence their popularity in modern western culture, and perfect for interpretation through many mediums – dance, theatre, film and musical re-arrangement.

Poetry of the Planets: the Teleport Temple

Holst’s Suite forms the focus for Caledonia Skytower’s Poetry of the Planets, which opened on Sunday, April 2nd, and runs through until the end of May. It offers a unique means ffor further interpreting Holst’s music – through the designs built by Caledonia, the music and our own words.

“Legend has it that the Ancient Gods of the Greeks have abandoned this realm, but evidence of their existence can be found above, in celestial spheres,” Cale explains. “These signs and symbols, both direct and abstract, are also reflected in Gustav Holst’s 1918 orchestral suite, The Planets, Op 32.”

Poetry of the Planets: Venus – Bringer of Peace

And thus, we are invited to take the teleport boards from Olympus Island, where a visit begins, and travel the spheres of Holst’s suite (Bringer of War and Bringer of Jollity – to use the original titles for each piece in the suite before the names of the planets were appended in 1918 – have yet to be added).

Within the spheres, scenes have been set which elegantly reflect the central theme of each piece, while a web link allows visitors to hear the associated piece from Holst’s suite via YouTube. Uranus, for example, offers a world of light and symbols, circles turn, runes glow, stars are born and fade mist hides and reveals – all emblematic of the arcane science of magic.

Meanwhile, Saturn offers a long winding patch that twists ever upward, passing windows in which a candle slowly burns. Steps along this winding path are in keeping with the doleful beat to The Bringer of Old Age, while the windows and the candle remind us of the passing of years, the slowness of progress up the hill a physical reminder of growing age until we reach the top – and?

Poetry of the Planets

As you explore these spheres and allow their mystique and the beauty of Holst’s music infuse you, you may well be moved to words and poetry – which is precisely the aim.

“Let your exploration of one or all of the planets inspire you to write a poem, Cale explains. “You need not be an experienced poet – all poems are welcome. You are even welcome to write a poem about Olympus Island itself.

“One poem a day will be featured here on the project blog,  In May, at the end of the project, there will be a reading event to share selections from the featured project poems.”

Poetry of the Planets: Neptune the Mystic

Dropboxes for poems can be found within each of the spheres, close to the landing point in each (where a blue sphere also offers a teleport back to the temple at ground level), and Cale points out that all rights to the poems submitted are retained by the poem’s author.

Poetry of the Planets is an inspired idea, bringing together fable, mysticism, music and words – and a wonderful means by which we can immerse ourselves in Holst’s suite. I look forward to a return visit to witness Bringer of War and Bringer of Jollity – and to trying my hand at writing a poem or two.

Poetry of the Planets will be open through until the end of May, as noted – and don’t forget to visit the resource centre while there.

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Mystery and magic with a twist of Chekhov at Seanchai Library

It’s time to kick-off another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, April 3rd 19:00: Enemy Mine

Gyro Muggins continues reading Barry B. Longyear’s novella which first appeared in a 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, before becoming the basis of the of the 20th Century Fox film of the same name, starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. This led to Longyear producing an expanded version of the story, written with David Gerrold.

In the midst of an interstellar war between humans and Dracs (a race of humanoid reptilians), Willis Davidge, a human fighter pilot, crashes on a hostile planet after a dogfight with a Drac – who is also forced down on the same planet.

The two initially continue their hostilities towards one another. But the planet proves so hostile that Davidge and the Drac, Jeriba Shigan (whom Davidge nicknames “Jerry”), are forced to join forces in order to ensure their survival. Then Davidge learns Jeriba is pregnant – Drac being entirely asexual …

Tuesday, April 4th 19:00: Of Mice and Magic

Faerie Maven-Pralou reads the first in the Ravenspell series by David Farland

More than anything, Benjamin Ravenspell wants a pet. But when he buys a mouse named Amber, he gets more than he bargained for. No sooner does Ben take her home, than Amber turns him into a mouse too.

You see, Amber has magical abilities, and it so happens that Ben is a familiar, a creature that stores magical energy. Together they each form half of a powerful wizard. Alone, they’re just vermin.

Soon Ben and Amber find themselves pitted in an epic battle against a magical enemy who is as crazed as he is evil, and the fate of the world will rest on them learning to work together.

Wednesday, April 5th

13:30: Hypergrid Safari visits EXPLORE Anton Chekhov & the Absurd

A special tour of Seanchai’s Explore the Arts installation focus on Anton Chekhov in Kitely

19:00: The Atrocity Archives Part 2

atrocity-archivesBob Howard is a low-level techie working for The Laundry, a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob’s under a desk restoring lost data. None of them receive any thanks for the jobs they do, but at least a techie doesn’t risk getting shot or eaten in the line of duty. Bob’s world is dull but safe, and that’s the way it should have stayed; but then he went and got Noticed.

Now, Bob Howard is up to his neck in spycraft, alternative universes, dimension-hopping Nazis, Middle Eastern terrorists, damsels in distress, ancient Lovecraftian horror and the end of the world.

Only one thing is certain: it will take more than control-alt-delete to sort this mess out…

Join Corwyn Allen as he resumes relating stories involving Charles Stross’ unlikely hero, Bob Howard.

Thursday, April 6th

19:00: The X-FILES – Trust No On

With Shandon Loring  and Caledonia Skytower (also presented in Kitely).

21:00 Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.

Please check with the Seanchai Library’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for March April is Project Children, building peace in Ireland one child at a time.