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LJ Idol IX – 9. Keep Calm and End This Meme

Keep Calm and Carry On is a British motivational poster printed in 1939 before the beginning of WWII. In 2000, it was rediscovered and exhibited in a bookshop, attracting a lot of attention and becoming viral. Now, there exist countless variations of the slogan printed on numerous merchandise and traveling the internet. Create your own.

Meme (from Greek mimema, that which is imitated) is an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation; a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

We feel it in the air: odd lightnings cleave the sky,
Sunlight paints us warnings on the fields of rye.
Boiling bogs in meadows, strange hauntings in the woods
All are clear signs: newcomers are no good.
         They live among our children, pretend to be wise men
         But dare they claim Kinship and should the Earth bear them?
         They call up undead servants, they use unholy light,
         Their homes raise too quickly, what builds them overnight?
Oh, brothers, sisters and cousins, ye dwellers of the Deep,
Newcomers, strange travelers, we chase away or we keep?

         Guardians of the forest, keepers of the hearth,
         You know aught about them? Pray, do speak ye forth.
         - They pretend to know us, hide behind the lore,
         Yet they are uprooted seedlings not grounded in the Before.
         - From our two-legged children smaller cubs are born,
         These adult-born hatchlings, they are far from home.
Merry imps of fire, free spirits of the air
You who haunt their dwellings, what have seen you there?
- Their music is too quiet, they only think in prose,
Their song is but a whisper, and what, pray, could be worse?
- Do not be hasty, don’t pass a judgment rough,
We, spirits of the fire, shall speak on their behalf.
         'Tis true what you have spoken, our guests have no roots,
         They are indeed too silent, their pretend knowledge, rude.
         Yet they are no changelings, they do not raise the dead:
         Eternal Fire burning in them stands not for that.
         They come from a great distance, may flee a troubled home.
         Are we refusing succor to younglings forlorn?
Should we not throw a veil atop of their head,
Entice them ever closer, provide a leading thread?
Should we not teach them substance, encourage their song,
And weave them into legend, and make them our own?

         None of above was spoken in words of men or beasts,
         Yet this is why some Travelers remain in our midst.
         For they were found worthy to try and grow new roots
         And some since became solid, and their song resolute.

[1. Mythological references]
         The poem references mythical creatures and legendary happenings that I change to fit this world.
         Many of Russian fairy tales speak of the adventures of Warrior Heroes (Bogatyrs). There is a famous Trio of them, and also a family of 33 Bogatyrs. And then there is an ancient Bogatyr Svyatogor, who was so strong and heavy that Earth could not bear him any longer, so he, and his horse, slowly sunk into it, and what was left of them became stone.
         "Guardians" of the forest are leshiys, Russian folklore creatures that live in the deepest and darkest forests and make people lost if forgotten about or disrespected. (You get lost in the woods, you say, “Leshiy has been leading me around in circles.”) There are also kikimoras, who dwell in swamps and may lead you there to drawn, and giggle nastily while that is happening.
         "Keepers of the hearth", domovoys, are spirits that live in every inhabited dwelling. They are generally harmless if you love your home and thus respect them, and help with chores. If you don’t though, prepare for unusual or creepy happenings. (If you keep loosing socks to the washing machine, that’s your domovoy’s doing.)
         There are no real imps of fire in our fairy tales as such, but imps are Satan’s helpers and come from fiery Hell, so here they are. Same with “spirits of the air”. There are genies of course, and “real ghosts” as opposed to the "strange hauntings", but they are also generic.
         There is no real connection between all these spirits, nor has there ever been such a discussion between them.
         The throwing of veil is a symbolic sign of protection (during times of trouble, Our Lady has thrown her veil over some besieged towns and the attackers could not take them even though they exceeded the defenders manifold).

         Leading thread is present in many fairy tales, not just the Ariadne myth. In fact, Baba Yagas, our wise women – witches, often give clews of leading thread to adventures who manage to persuade them to help.

[2. More stories set in this world]

Keep Calm and End This Meme is, chronologically, the first installment, and has been happening for years before the others took place. There was no council in the literal sense of the word, no meetings. Winds, and fires, and rivers carried the song around.
In Another Castle, or the arrival of a Traveler.
Snake, or the story of one of the children.
Not of Your World, or a day in life of the Traveler 8 years after arrival.

Beta-read by kickthehobbit.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2014 08:05 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.
May. 19th, 2014 01:47 am (UTC)
Different. I'm not sure what to think, honestly.
May. 22nd, 2014 12:50 pm (UTC)
I know, I felt weird writing it as well, but it needed to get out.

Thank you for commenting even though you don't know what to think :)
May. 19th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand it all, but I like seeing all the poetry this season. Isn't this about how. Change is difficult? AW
May. 22nd, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
It's about change being difficult yes, and it is also a mockery of memes, because this 'conversation' happened very very slowly.

Thank you for reading, and taking time to comment.
May. 20th, 2014 06:17 am (UTC)
No title
User kickthehobbit referenced to your post from No title saying: [...] Obligatory disclaimer: I beta'd this, so obviously I'm biased. ;) Poetry, rooted in mythology [...]
May. 20th, 2014 01:31 pm (UTC)
All are clear signs: newcomers are no good.

oooh, shiver

I can't say I quite understood all of the mythological references, but I loved the rhythm of the piece, and the underlying message of, what, succour to refugees? is strong.

Thank you!
May. 22nd, 2014 01:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, that, and also that sometimes all it takes is one person speaking up against the crowd (I have recently watched three versions of Twelve Angry men).

Thank you!
May. 21st, 2014 08:07 am (UTC)
The question remains, are we in their world, or are they in ours?
May. 22nd, 2014 02:10 pm (UTC)
I think we started in theirs but as ours developed in what is is, they felt silent and they are more asleep than awake now. But they may still waken.

Thank you :)
May. 21st, 2014 02:37 pm (UTC)
I found it interesting esp with the explanation that followed..maybe the connection isn't clear..the poem does give a sense of folklore.
May. 22nd, 2014 02:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I feared it was too symbolic and strange, but that's as clear as I could make it within the constraints of writing from "their" point of view.

I am glad that the explanation helped. And thank you for reading :)
May. 21st, 2014 04:54 pm (UTC)
When I read this a second time it struck me emotionally -- definitely one to keep re-reading, I think! It's one of those poems that has so many layers, that teenagers need English classes to study (and that's without knowing any of the mythology). I really didn't get it the first reading, but you've painted such a picture here, and then the questions I'm left with -- is it aliens? are people welcoming them? or is the forrest making a new home for the people who wind up there? If I were going to take English classes again, I'd want to study this, with commentaries and guided questions and discussion groups. I feel like there's still SO much more to get out of this! Well done!
May. 21st, 2014 06:27 pm (UTC)
Really interesting - I feel like I don't get it all on a first read, and perhaps that's due to it being part of a larger world you've created? Nice structure, though, and I can tell you've put a lot of thought into it.
May. 22nd, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, this is part of a larger world, and also the first installment from the "other" point of view. I did put a lot of though into it, hoping for it to make sense, and I am glad it sort of worked.

Thank you :)
May. 21st, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
I'm very impressed; I will totally admit to not being real into poetry, and this hooked me. It's lyrical in the sense of being rhythmic to read and also has great word choices. Good job!
May. 22nd, 2014 10:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3.

I am glad the word choices worked, because using partly outdated language was an experiment.
May. 23rd, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
That's a big part of what I liked; which could be a very personal preference, but I like words and the more creative a writer gets with words, the better. Within the realm of something still being understandable, that is... I can't stand it when someone out-clevers themselves and as a reader I have to muddle through and try to guess at whatever high-falutin' existential concept is being presented.
May. 22nd, 2014 06:07 am (UTC)
Much like some of the other readers, I don't fully understand what's happening here, but I love the feel of it and the style and flow and the hints of something dangerous under an enticing, pretty surface.
May. 22nd, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

It is true that a lot is going on, but I am glad that the piece makes some kind of sense :)
May. 22nd, 2014 12:48 pm (UTC)
I'm really impressed at your brilliance. A wonderful effort!

Poetry both hides and reveals - and your message about those that are different, those that move from one place and try to make a home in a new community, one that doesn't like them, hits a chord with me.
May. 22nd, 2014 09:54 pm (UTC)
I really tried to be very symbolic this week and it is interesting how everyone saw something different in the result.

It was also kind of dangerous, because I know where this piece fits with the others, but my readers do not. It's gratifying that it works as it is.

Thank you. :)
May. 22nd, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)
Your use of both archaic and casual turns of phrase gave this an interesting feel. This was a refreshingly different take on the topic, which I enjoyed!
May. 22nd, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC)
I am glad that you said this, and hope all of those worked, because the use archaic turns was an experiment that seemed fitting for this.

Thank you :)
May. 22nd, 2014 11:37 pm (UTC)
I like this -- both the poem, and the formatting. :)
May. 23rd, 2014 12:33 am (UTC)
This is very pretty in an odd way.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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