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Poems -- Homecoming and The Lost

Staying on the subject of the poems that open each book, I'll take Homecoming and The Lost together, as they're both poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Homecoming is opened by a very short one that became something of an anthem for the Jazz Age after its publication in 1920, expressing the sentiments of the Lost Generation.

My candle burns at both ends. It will not last the night.
But oh my foes and oh my friends! It makes a lovely light!

My coauthor, Amy Griswold, chose the one for The Lost. I've bolded the lines that open The Lost.

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go: but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,-
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Both of these are for John Sheppard.

One of the things we see early in season one of Stargate Atlantis is that John Sheppard does not intend to live long. From day one he's willing to die. No, resigned to die, which is more interesting. Why? Why is he burning the candle at both ends, putting everything into a brief and amazing push? In The Storm and The Eye he's so bright and so doomed. What's happened to get him to this point? We don't really get much of a clue until season three's Phantoms. This is about the people he has failed, about the friends he's lost. He's living on borrowed time.

That's one of the main plot arcs of the Legacy series -- John as marked man, and how he will either meet his fate or bypass it forever. And so Homecoming opens with John, that bright flame burning more dimly than it did in season one, but still prepared to lose it all and do so willingly.

In The Lost, things have moved a bit. He is not resigned. Nor is Ronon, who is the one who literally descends to the grave in The Lost, and who is decidedly not willing to surrender. Yes, there is loss. There is overwhelming loss. But he's also no longer willing to just fight until he dies. There ought to be something beyond. He can't see what it is yet, but surely there is something beyond, something better than taking Todd out in a suicide attack.

The Lost is about coming back to life -- John's process, Ronon's process, and the literal return of The Avenger, the Ancient warship that comes to life under John's hands, waking like Sleeping Beauty.

Sometimes the things you think are dead are only sleeping.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sue Rann
Mar. 6th, 2012 05:50 pm (UTC)
Poems for Shep
Jo - what a fantastic choice, for both books. The hairs stand up on my arms when I read the second one (is it 'Dirge Without Music'?).
I think you have it right about John - the roots of his self-destructive drive are different from Jack O'Neill's, less easily fixed, partly because of what the roots are, partly because they're very different men.
I've just finished reading "Allegiance" on my Kindle and am Jonesing majorly for the next instalment - is it really called "The Avengers"? That title reminds me irresistibly of the 1960s TV series here in the UK - Steed and Mrs Emma Peel, kinky boots, guns, bowler hats and spy capers. However much I enjoy the vintage TV cheese, I deeply hope you haven't jinked off into some weird crossover thing here... ;P
But do tell me, 'cos I'm desperate to know: who wrote Todd/Guide's scenes in the different books? I loved Todd already, but reading the Legacy series has really sparked something off for me. I'm writing a fanfic, which I've never done before... smitten, that's what it is. Smitten Wraith kitten. And there's yet another sentence I never expected to see myself typing...
Sue (Kinetikat)
Mar. 7th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Poems for Shep
It is Dirge Without Music, yes!

Yes, the next book is called The Avengers, no connection to John Steed and Mrs. Peel! As to who the avengers are, you'll have to wait and see. (Also not superheroes!)

Different people have written Todd/Guide at different places. Melissa wrote his main scenes in Homecoming and Allegiance, while Amy and I split them in The Lost. Most of the Wraith in The Lost were written by me and most of them in Allegiance were written by Melissa.

Smitten Wraith kitten! That is wonderful to hear! I love the Wraith and I'm glad to know we're spreading the Wraith love! Seriously, we wanted to develop them far beyond comic book villains, and I'm glad that's working for you.
Mar. 9th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Poems for Shep
I've always love the Wraith. It was the glimpses of the world-building in SGA than made me love the character. I also totally ship Todd\John but that's another story!

I love Todd. I want to draw sparkly hearts around him. Er. Okay...maybe not sparkly.
Mar. 11th, 2012 02:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Poems for Shep
Todd is definitely getting his fair share of sparkly hearts drawn around him! :)
Mar. 9th, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
Re: Poems for Shep
If your aim was to develop the Wraith far beyond comic book villains, trust me, you've succeeded! I felt the movement during the run of Atlantis of the Wraith from unstoppable-evil-creepy-life-sucking-nemesis via Michael and the deep ethical dubiousness of what was done to him, to Todd's appearance in 'Common Ground' and all the moral questions that raised, to the baroque magnificence of 'The Queen' (I just canNOT get enough of that priceless moment when Teyla shoves Todd to his knees and gets her knife at his throat - talk about tension, of all sorts!) and all the resulting nuance and scope all that potentially implied... (and I've just realised this was all one long, blethery sentence, sorry) ...I felt that the series ended just as it was truly beginning to get its feet under it, thematically speaking.

Much as I hate the fact that Atlantis was cancelled, well, that's the nature of the TV business (Firefly, anyone?), and the quality of some of the books that have resulted is just outstanding - and as we well know, books can go places and show things that no TV series, however fantastic, could manage. Books are a deeper medium altogether, I think, and the Atlantis universe can expand so much further now, above and below the water, so to speak. Exciting times!

Nice work on Quicksilver/Rodney in 'The Lost', incidentally; almost unbearable pathos and a real sense of how Wraith society works in the hive. Also lovely detail work on the clothes, claws and colour perception etc. Very nice.

Now go hassle MGM to give you 'The Avengers' back for publication, for pity's sake - my fanfic will be novel-length at this rate before I get my next Legacy 'fix'!
Mar. 9th, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Poems for Shep
I'm terribly pleased that you think so! It's a real privilege for us to be able to expand the world of Atlantis, as we love it so much as fans. I love that moment when Teyla shoves Todd to his knees -- there is more of Teyla as Queen Steelflower coming up in The Avengers.

Thank you for the compliment about the Wraith in The Lost! Those were my scenes and I appreciate it. It was very challenging to put things that we've seen in a purely visual medium into words.
Mar. 9th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
livejournal names!
Oops, sorry, I sent the last message from my brand-new LiveJournal account - I sent the first one by linking in from my Facebook account... gah, confusing!
So just to avert confusion: Sue Rann and Kinetikat are one and the same.
Mar. 9th, 2012 03:53 pm (UTC)
Re: livejournal names!
I figured that out! Cool.
Mar. 11th, 2012 10:49 am (UTC)
Not poems...
It seemed simplest to put this here as we've been nattering back and forth in this thread.
I hope you don't mind - I just updated my fanfic on www.fanfiction.net, and added a rider at the top of chapter 1 to the effect that I don't own the characters, MGM does, etc etc - but I also cited you, Melissa and Amy by name as the authors of the Legacy series, because your work is what inspired me to start writing this thing! Is that OK, or would you rather I took down the mention of your names?
Cheers me dears,
Mar. 11th, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Not poems...
Wow, thank you! There is no more sincere flattery than to inspire other stories! It's absolutely ok to use my name! I'm glad you enjoy Legacy so much!
Mar. 11th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Not poems...
Thanks in turn - I thought I'd better trot it past you since I wasn't sure if the copyright in the Legacy books was by you or by the publisher. Will the other authors be OK with it too?

Really looking forward to reading 'The Avengers' when it comes out. Fangirl squeals when I read that extract with Teyla and Eva and realised Teyla was Steelflower again! As you know, 'The Queen' is one of my all-time favourite episodes of SGA, so you can imagine how excited I'm getting now...

Re: the fanfic - I'll do my level best not to disgrace your work with mine! ;P
Mar. 12th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Not poems...
Amy and Melissa will be delighted! Melissa's always had an open door policy about fanfic with her original novels, for more than 20 years.

Oh yes, that's Teyla as Steelflower! I think The Queen is one of my favorites too, along with Submersion and Phantoms. Hummm. That tells you something right there, doesn't it?
Mar. 12th, 2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
Awesome episodes
The Queen, Submersion and Phantoms, eh?
Phantoms was SOOO creepy, the way it played with your perceptions of who was and wasn't there, what was and wasn't actually happening, and so on.
Submersion - creepy again, in a way that seemed familiar to me from being terrified by 'Dr Who and the Sea Devils' as a kid - there's something about the thought of being trapped in an echoey deserted underwater structure with an alien who's out to deal you a horrible death that is very unsettling!
And then there's all the Queen/Teyla interaction as well. Great stuff.
So: creepy, unpredictable, unsettling, offbeat, psychologically complex... yep, that does tell me something about you! LOL
Mar. 15th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Awesome episodes
Phantoms was incredibly creepy. And interesting that Teyla's not affected at all, even when the machine is malfunctioning and turned up all the way. Which is very important for Legacy! Why that was the case is a really important plot point in The Avengers and Secrets.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )