Introduction to the Final Writings of I. Hayes-Reyna:

In the aftermath of Isabel Hayes-Reyna’s tragic disappearance, my colleagues and I have chosen to publish the following selections from her journal, in the hope that subsequent scholarship will conduct the necessary work of separating her fanciful recollections from her more meaningful insights.[1]

Hayes-Reyna’s contributions to the field of Lanthornese Studies are well known. Trained from an early age by her grandfather, the great Lanthornist Francis Hayes, she is widely recognized for applying a new critical lens (namely, an unusual reliance upon Lanthornese folklore and oral traditions) to the Elegy of the Lantern Poet, and her efforts have reshaped scholarly conversation about this most important text.

Hayes-Reyna’s journal may come across as an odd specimen to some. It contains notes pertaining to her research as well as her daily activities, interweaving the Lantern Poet’s prose and verse with her own personal reminiscence. She even reenacts, after a fashion, the Lantern Poet’s obsession with the beautiful Damma Lundzolin, also known as Lady Firefly.

We have attempted to provide sufficient commentary to separate fact from fabrication (or, I ought perhaps to say, memory from the embroideries of imagination). Nevertheless, we hope that the reader will remain vigilant while sorting through Hayes-Reyna’s past. One may easily wander astray—just as, it would seem, Hayes-Reyna did herself.


Septimana I, dies iv:

It is now twenty-five years to the day since my grandfather gave me my locket. And so I have been thinking of lantern jewels.

Once, these glass ornaments—shaped like butterflies, blossoms, songbirds—decorated necks and wrists and glowed throughout Lanthorna. I always think of one of the Lantern Poet’s earlier descriptions of Damma Lundzolin’s lantern jewel, shaped like a firefly:

A firefly of glass shimmers and flies,

Hovering sweetly by my lady’s throat.

It shines in the glow cast by her eyes—

And I envy this jewel its fair host.[2]

(Ballad III.1-4)

I was very young when I first visited Damma Lundzolin’s sepulcher and heard the story of the Lantern Poet’s love for her and how he penned the Elegy in her honor. Perhaps I wanted to be like her, back then—or like the Lantern Poet, who worshipped her. I gathered flowers in my grandfather’s garden and pretended they were made of crystal and full of brilliance. I begged for a lantern jewel of my own: a glass rose.

My grandfather told me there were no more lantern jewels. “But here is the next best thing,” he said, and he gave me a locket containing a couple of oblong shards of old Lanthornese glass, so gray and translucent they resembled solidified fog. [3]

I remember disappointment. The locket and its dull gray sheen seemed too unlike the glowing flower I had asked for. But over the years I have become fond of this gift, and I have rarely taken it off since my childhood. This locket marked me as a budding Lanthornist at a very early age. It is to blame, at least in part, for all the time I have spent chasing the light of Damma Lundzolin, the radiant Lady Firefly.

S. II, d. v:

Somehow, it always rains whenever I return to the Lantern Isle—or a fog fills the air that feels rather like rain, as pinpricks of moisture brush against my skin. My grandfather has proposed that the heady kind of glitter that fills the space between the sunlight and mist may have had something to do with the multitude of mystical visions once so commonly reported throughout Lanthorna.[4]

Whenever I come back to the Lantern Isle, I often have the impression that I am walking among ghosts of my past. When I pass by my reflection in a window, I glimpse myself as a child, chasing fireflies in the bosquets after dusk. When I wander through the old market square, where the fountain full of cavorting dolphins and gods in bronze gurgles, I half-see a rippled image of myself as an adolescent, perched upon the fountain’s rim while my grandfather leans nearby; he points out a covert caricature of the sculptor’s stingy patron in a dolphin’s snarl. I can almost hear our laughter echoing through the water.[5]

Not so much has changed. He still tends to direct my attention in much the same way. This has always pleased me—having such unique access to the most secret corners of his knowledge.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing him again.

As I arrive at his home, the gardener is trying to tame his yard, singing an old Lanthornese lullaby to the weeds. I nod to her and enter the house. It is dark and always smells faintly of petrichor, no matter the weather. My grandfather ushers me into the living room, where he has arranged a plate of bread, cheese, marmalade. There is a bottle of Muscadet on the table beside two ornate glasses, imitations of old Lanthornese goblets: globes of crystal cut in half, cradled in calyxes of silver.

We chat for a little while. I begin to talk about my new project. I am working on the Elegy’s unique treatment of time and memory, the Lantern Poet’s manner of gathering fragments of his past. (Sometimes I think of the Lantern Poet as a child gathering sea glass on the beach, dropping different pieces of vitreous memory into a jar.) I have become more curious lately about the muddled chronology of his recollections of Lady Firefly.

My grandfather asks if I have started writing anything down.

“Yes,” I say, and I pull some of my notes out of my bag and hand them to him. He puts on his glasses and balances my papers on his knee, frowning.



He takes his time, peels aside one leaf after another. I wait. And then, once he has turned the final page, he shrugs. “Seems a little lackluster,” he says. “There are more compelling questions in Lanthornese Studies, I think. You can do better than this.”

Do better? I am striving after something—I am trying to find a woman who has been swallowed up, obscured by the folds of the Elegy. When your mission is to exhume someone, can you do so well or poorly? I would think that either you succeed or you do not.

But if he thinks I can do better, perhaps I can.

“...if it were me, contemplating traces of Damma Lundzolin, I would look elsewhere. I would not attempt to tease some sense of her biographical reality out of the Elegy. Rather, I would look for remnants of her in Lanthornese glass.”[6]

While my grandfather speaks, I hear faraway music. The gardener’s song, drifting in through the open window.


He repeats himself, referring to the problems that have preoccupied him most throughout his career as a Lanthornist. I usually like this part; I like picking up puzzles that retirement has forced my grandfather to abandon.

But something about that song outside is making it more difficult than usual to concentrate on the pieces he is trying to hand to me.

My grandfather arranges a pile of books and papers and entrusts them to my open arms. He hopes these things will help me.

As I leave, I pass by the gardener; she is singing as she weeds. I recognize her tune now: an old Lanthornese lullaby about a lazy bee who neglects to prepare honey for his hive. Come winter, he is starving. But then he happens across a reflection of a flower, a memory of summertime imprinted upon ice. He is able to light upon the blossom and bring nectar back to the hive, and so he manages to acquire “yesterday’s forgotten honey”: ”miaegl deyer oblaed,” sings the gardener.

My thought flickers back to the windows, the fountain full of my past.


Hayes-Reyna on Lanthornese Lullabies:

Shortly after penning the above journal entry, Hayes-Reyna presented and went on to publish her now famous (or infamous) paper concerning Lanthornese light and lullabies. One of the more frequently cited sections presents an unusual argument:

We are all, of course, ultimately reliant upon the changing light as a means of tracking time’s passage. What does one do, then, in a place surrounded by water, full of glass and metals, consequently dotted by flakes of dancing light and luminous shadows? Well, it would appear that one develops rather peculiar theories concerning the link between light and time. Throughout the Lantern Isle, it is widely believed that just as one can refract and reflect light, one can likewise preserve pieces of the past in a reflection. And so lanterns and lantern jewels continue to reflect the sun well after it has set. And likewise, the bee in the lullaby is able to collect nectar from a reflected flower, a remnant of summer that lingers in water and light.

We ought to recall that the Lantern Poet often represents himself as a bee. And like the bee in the lullaby, he occupies himself collecting fragments of lost time.[7]

The phenomenon that Hayes-Reyna describes is not unlike the principle underpinning pilgrim mirrors, a development of Gutenberg’s over a century after the Lantern Poet’s life. Mirrors were sold to pilgrims on their routes to holy sites, which they would bring into shrines in an effort to capture the light of a given altarpiece or relic to take back home with them. (Whether or not Gutenberg would have encountered any Lanthornese glass in the course of developing this project remains unknown.) Some have complained that Hayes-Reyna’s research renders phenomena associated with sacred art and light too mundane and quotidian. All the people of Lanthorna thus become like pilgrims, and the light of an earthly woman like Damma Lundzolin vies with that of saints.[8] Hayes-Reyna, however, seems not to have viewed such conflation as problematic.

She evidently considered this research a preparatory kind of labor, a tool that would help her to unlock a window into the historicity of Damma Lundzolin.


S. VII, d. iv:

My grandfather has spoken before about likenesses between Lanthorna—both the island and the city—and the Lantern Poet’s own verses; all have been compared to broken glass.[9] The city contains its own shards of the Elegy: the Lantern Poet’s memories and traces of his verses, scattered in various places, preserved in glass and stone. That is something I have always loved about Lanthornese Studies: that it is impossible to stay restricted to the archives; you have to roam Lanthorna.

And so I have decided to hunt down pieces of Lanthornese glass, aided by Silber’s catalogue. I already know of a handful of chapels, less impressive today than they once were. Their exteriors are all covered up by scaffolding to protect what remains of their windows.[10] They shine with the remains of the morning rain, and the occasional tarp shivers forlornly in the wind.

I go inside one ruined chapel after another, and a chill washes around me. Everything is silent, save for the vague echo of my footfalls. Glittering teeth—the edges of old windows—wink through the dark. All gray and gold.

When I was a girl, I chased fireflies among the trees between these chapels. When the Lantern Poet was alive, he chased the light of his own Firefly. Perhaps the glass contains some hint, some memory, of his search, and I can shadow his footsteps again—find him finding her.

I do not know how else to begin, so I start by hunting down bees, etched into the corners of a few scattered windows. I read these little symbols in the glass as the Lantern Poet’s signature, signs of his one-time presence. I happen upon one, then another. A trail of glass breadcrumbs. I follow—from chapel to chapel, window to window.

S. VIII, d. ii:

I have passed days like this, following and losing the trail of glass bees. This may sound a tedious kind of labor, but in truth I am enjoying it. I am channeling my girlhood self, chasing fireflies, tantalized by the tell-tale golden flicker as the waning sunlight strikes against silver stain.

Then—the pattern breaks. I find something new.

A shadow falls across the window I am studying. And I think I glimpse—though later I will trust myself less; that is why I must write this down—a robed figure reflected across the shining panes, his shadow interrupting the light.[11] He holds up a length of cloth—a veil?—covering something.

I have been waiting for something like this—a glimpse of the reflected Poet like a bee’s image preserved in water.

And yet—something about this apparition unnerves me. I start backwards. When I approach the window again, the man, the veil—they vanish. I cannot tell whether the Poet’s shade means to give me a clue or hide something from me. But whatever his intentions, the window does yield up a clue after all.

As I come closer, I glimpse a hole in the glass, shaped rather like an insect with outstretched wings.

Various such tiny images have been knocked out of the old windows by thieves over the years. At first I take the gap that faces me for the absence left by yet another stolen glass bee, but the glow that radiates through the surrounding glass is different. A greenish-yellow, unearthly light.

My pulse hiccups. As I trace the gap, my fingertips waver.

I open my locket, hold it up near the hole in the window, and its misty gray glass winks back at me. The dimensions match perfectly. I have never before recognized my pieces of old Lanthorna as glass wings, fallen from Damma Lundzolin’s own icon.[12] A portrait of a sort. This new knowledge thrills through me—I have had a sort of firefly jewel with me this whole time. It has been with me nearly all my life.

S. VIII, d. iii:

I remember the draft of an article my grandfather gave me on the stained glass of old Lanthorna. I rifle through its pages in my apartment as a storm begins to clot the air outside with humid shadows.[13]

The Lantern Poet’s descriptions of Lanthorna’s stained glass windows in grisaille are striking; all through the night one could detect “an amber blush upon a maiden’s cheek / a honeyed hint of gold in her shadow” (Ballad X.2-3). He describes such windows, all silver and gold, as full of storms and sunlight. Throughout the Elegy, contemplating such glass grants the Lantern Poet a unique insight into the world around him...

A murmur of thunder interrupts my reading. The raindrops against the windowpane sound like a hand, tapping upon the glass, calling me to attention. There is something important here.

...I would disagree with Silber’s claim that the windows served as “spectacles” of a sort, informing the Lantern Poet’s vision. We must recall that corrective lenses were hardly a common commodity during this period. Scribes could rely upon quartz reading stones, but such glass as one could find in old Lanthorna would generally have had a tendency to distort rather than clarify. That is, Lanthornese metal and glass became a window for the Lantern Poet into a new world of shifting light, rather than a means of understanding the world as we know it...

Lenses. Windows. I open my locket. The two fragments of gray glass slotted into each compartment gleam in the dim.

I have a theory. After Lanthornese glass died out, I think we lost the trick for using reflections to see through history. We catch wayward glimpses, since all the air of the Lantern Isle is redolent with fragments of memory—the past flitting through its fountains, its morning fog. But Lanthornese glass is particularly adept at capturing these whispers of time, and it takes extensive acquaintance with these unique filters to be able to see through Lanthorna properly.

And I have a pair of glass wings. I have always worn them close to my heart, and I have spent ample time gazing into them. Indeed, for years and years these pieces of old Lanthorna have come to infect my vision, without my even realizing it.

I go to the window, glass wings in hand. The dark silhouettes of trees tremble as the wind picks up. Masses of ashen cloud veil the once-pale sky.[14]

A flash of lightning scars the air, and in that moment of eerie light, there are phantom figures in clothes that do not belong to this era, wandering the streets below.

A glimmer of Lanthorna’s past.

And I can see the vague shadow or reflection—of a robed figure whom I now recognize—down in the street below. He is holding a basketful of luminous blossoms. He is hurrying along furtively, glancing over his shoulder. And he stops before a doorway, lays his basket down, then kneels with reverence, as though offering a gift to a saint or idol.


Hayes-Reyna’s Commentary upon the Elegy:

The subsequent pages in Hayes-Reyna’s journal contain transcriptions of three selections from the Elegy (two prose passages and a fragment of a ballad) as well as her annotations. Her own remarks are strange but may be of potential scholarly interest (hence our decision to publish them here), as they speak to Hayes-Reyna’s ever-evolving understanding of the bee as the Lantern Poet’s symbol.

The first passage concerns the Lantern Poet’s attempt to win Damma Lundzolin’s favor by offering lantern jewels to her:

I cannot sleep; my dreams are always full of fireflies, and their light awakens me. Since I cannot sleep, I have gone looking for gifts for my lady. I have been to the markets, found the finest glass, the finest lantern jewels the city has to offer: glass lavender, glass orange blossoms, glass sunflowers. All these brittle blooms have such a delicate pallor, as though crafted from moonlight. I will leave them in a basket before her door, and I know that when she sees them, she will understand that they are a gift from me.

I have passed by countless times. My basket of glass flowers is still there.

I have passed by again and found a broken crystal petal lying upon the earth, its light dying.

(Prose XLIX. 1-8)

Hayes-Reyna’s marginal notes around these excerpts reflect a shift in her assessment of the significance of the bee and his preserved flowers. In this case, she appears to read the Lantern Poet’s manipulation of these symbols as an effort to ensnare the attention of Lady Firefly; for example, see the following comments upon the trio of flowers: “lavender, orange blossoms, sunflowers”:

Common around apiaries. (In the lullaby it’s usually a sunflower, though some variants include orange blossoms.) The bee brings his mistress an offering that will one day yield honey, in the hope of enticing her.

But it doesn’t work.

In the next passage that Hayes-Reyna excerpts from the Elegy, the Lantern Poet recounts a dreamed encounter with a more compliant Damma Lundzolin:

Just as I have given up all hope, she graces me with a vision:

She appears before me, and she is made of glass but full of fire, just like the jewels I once acquired for her. Shining crystal wings extend from her shoulders—the wings of a firefly. Taller than me by a head, she leans down, wings full of light, and she whispers:

“If you wish to be my servant, you must write of my beauty. You must try to capture my light.”

“But that is impossible,” I answer.

She frowns and says, “You must try. Capture my light, before it goes out.”

(Prose LX. 1-7)

The connection between this passage and the previous one is not immediately clear, but the link in Hayes-Reyna’s mind seems to lie in a certain “stickiness” (for lack of a better word) to the Lantern Poet’s language—i.e., his recurring interest in images stuck in viscous time: preserved flowers, honey as a kind of snare, his efforts to “capture” the light of Lady Firefly. In her commentary on the following page, Hayes-Reyna critiques her own prior readings of the text:

Something is changing.

When I first began to delve into Lanthornese Studies I loved this part; I related to the Lantern Poet’s sehnsucht, epitomized by his visions of Damma Lundzolin, his Lady Firefly. But now, reading this episode again makes me—I don’t know how else to describe this—faintly dizzy. Ill. Teetering at the edge of something alluring, or is it awful? I cannot help but think about the veil I glimpsed upon the window. Was he—is he—hiding something from me?

I think the Lantern Poet is hiding a clue from me, a secret. But what? I cannot read the text in the way I used to, as Damma Lundzolin’s command to her servant to pen the Elegy in her honor. I can hear the Lantern Poet’s own voice echoing in the background, distorting his Firefly’s message. Making her say what he wants her to say.

Finally, Hayes-Reyna includes a fragment from one of the Lantern Poet’s mourning ballads, penned shortly after Damma Lundzolin’s death:

Although the storm has left, erased by dawn,

I cannot see the rising light of day.

My light is lost, my darling beacon gone,

Her windows are dark, her lanterns away.

I must appease her shade without delay;

All my dreams resound with her desire:

“Capture my light,” she prays, and I obey.

And so shall I ever guard her fire.

(Ballad LXX. 1-7)

This fragment of poetry is unadorned by Hayes-Reyna’s marginal commentary save for one isolated question that lies at the bottom of the page:

Oh Lord—what did you do?


S. IX, d. i:

I visit my grandfather again. We talk about my reading. We talk about lantern jewels. I reminisce about the glass roses I craved as a young girl.

I pull my locket out from beneath my collar.

“May I ask—why did you give this to me?”

My grandfather pauses, considering. He reaches for a jar of honey on the table.

“A gift from one Lanthornist in the family to the next,” he says. “You know that. The pieces of glass in that locket are authentic remnants of—”

“You realize it has—” I stop.

“It has what?”

“The same properties that once made Lanthornese glass famous,” I mutter.

My grandfather stirs his tea for a moment, then rambles about various theories concerning the legendary brilliance of old Lanthorna: bioluminescent materials washed up from the sea, radiant crystals extracted from alchemical experiments gone awry, highly reflective gilding.

In short, he refuses to acknowledge that he gave me this gift, this unique insight into Lanthorna, intentionally. So that I would see things that none other had. Including him.

I study him. Time has etched such a fine network of lines across his face that he half-reminds me of a pane of scratched glass. I can almost imagine the Lantern Poet engraving upon him with a diamond burr, rewriting him. I do not like being able to see time wear away someone who has shaped so much of me, who has engraved my features and life in turn, passing on to me the same signs of weariness.

When I rise to depart, my grandfather says, “You have always had the potential to be brilliant, my child. Just be careful not to get lost in daydreams or sentiment. These things are the greatest miaegl-dol[15] of them all.”

I promise my grandfather that I will not let any such miaegl, any honey, distract me from my research. And as I leave, I hope that he will forgive me for not keeping my promise.

S. IX, d. iii:

Equipped with my wings of stained glass, I go to the Archives, hunting for gaps in the text, erasures the Lantern Poet may not have wanted his readers to peer past. My blood trembles at my wrist and throat—always a signal that the trail I’m on is a meaningful one; I am getting close.

I have ordered the oldest manuscript (an autograph copy, many suppose, given its age and the scribe’s untidy hand[16]) so that I can study the end of the Elegy—the bane of every Lanthornist’s existence, with its missing chunks of text. Perhaps, with the help of my glass, I can discern whatever the Lantern Poet sought fit to excise from this very parchment.

A couple of lines from Colfox’s translation come to me, unbidden: “These words are... / My lonely penance, my lovely fetters / Learn from me, reader, and be my better.”

While I agree with many of my colleagues that “fetters” is a poor rendering of miaegl-dol—“poisonous honey,” to lure and kill pests—I am taken with the mistranslation. That is not to say I think “fetters” a better description of the Poet’s own feeling of bittersweet entrapment. Rather, I think of the reader. As my grandfather once argued, the suppressed text leaves the reader feeling trapped as well; its erasures become oppressive.[17]

But something in the text resists me. It is as though the Lantern Poet is reaching out to push me away. Does something of his spirit cling to the reflective remnants of gilding?

I nearly drop the manuscript. A stray breeze wanders through the library, although all the windows are closed, as always, and the folios before me flutter, taking me away from the broken ending. I hold down the section I need with weights. The quivering pulse at my wrist makes me feel for a moment as though there is an insect trapped beneath my skin, its wings trembling as it struggles to find a way out. I do not pick up my magnifying glass to inspect the text’s erasures, as so many scholars have before me to no avail. Instead, I click the catch of my locket and let it fall open.

My glass wings hover above the book while I pretend to study an initial.

Though I do not imagine that anything I have done will prove remarkable to other patrons, I glance around the library, at rows and rows of serene and weary readers at their desks; they are all poring over vast tomes, compact books of hours, folders full of charters—distracted by their own work, as always.

I sit back down and peer into my locket. And I find a few lost, erased words, sealed in reflected light:

Oustrent mindamm’almang nismorg.[18]

Where my lady lies her soul never dies.

S. IX, d. iv:

And so I return to Damma Lundzolin’s sepulcher, a space I used to love as a girl, when I felt drawn by the romance of her death.

The exterior is covered in colorful mosaics—largely chipped away by time, but one can still see broken glass patterns embedded in its walls: colorful tesserae, whorls of petal and leaf, the occasional golden bee or firefly fluttering from one full blossom to the next. The mosaics continue inside, where they glitter more darkly.

The shadows and quiet weigh upon me.

A stone slab sits in the center of the room. The faint profile of a sleeping woman carved on top of it suggests a vague portrait of Lady Firefly. A sculpted hound lies curled up at her feet, defending her.

One lone light illuminates these things: a lantern, one of a very few remaining examples of the old lanterns, full of the dim reminiscence of a lost era’s sun. It is a pretty object, wrapped in acanthus fronds of iron, and across its panes of glass calligraphic lines of mercury—reflective as mirrors—spell out lines from the Elegy.

I search all around—hoping to find, I don’t know what. I open up my locket and stare at my pieces of old Lanthorna, training my gaze through glass wings so that I will see properly. Then I contemplate the sepulcher anew.

“Where are you?” I ask.

A light pulses in response from the lantern. It hurts a little, prickles and burns against my eyes. For a moment, I have to look away.

Then I stare upward. And there seems to be a firefly dancing and blinking inside the lantern. The creature comes to a stop, perches against a pane of glass, and then the whole sepulcher brightens—and I see a strange radiance, a woman’s luminous eyes glowing through the glass, framed by the shimmer of script.[19]

I should be thrilled. This should be thrilling.

But instead, there is pain. It’s like a contained scream, building up, filling everything—my head, the space around me—and the dark is full of the tremor of contained sound, stifled. I don’t know whether the unuttered scream is hers or mine.

The fetters—the miaegl-dol—what did the Lantern Poet mean? Did he mean that he had been ensnared by poisonous honey himself? Or did he try to capture someone else—to preserve a memory of her, his Lady Firefly?

The contained scream still hums around me.

I hold out my locket for her, offering her a doorway out of the lantern, into me. I can feel her peering down, considering my offering. Better to move from one trap to another than to stay trapped in the lantern forever.

And so I become a bee myself, like the one in the lullaby. This is how I gather up Damma Lundzolin’s light, her soul, like nectar to return to the hive.

As she flutters against my chest, near my heart, inscribed in the panes of glass within my locket, I can hear her. Her voice resounds through me. That eases the pain a little. Some small release.

She has come home. Now she inhabits a portrait of her own wings.

S. XII, d. v:

A voice that has existed so long in absence will tend to grow very heavy. I have written this down in an effort to alleviate my burden, offering her—I don’t know—an escape, or a mouthpiece. But I am not sure that paper and ink are enough for her, a sufficient means of emerging.

The locket is heavy. Her light is too bright. Is this the puzzle my grandfather feared I would become stuck in? Have I become caught in the quicksilver honey that snagged Lady Firefly out of time?

Whoever you are, if anyone ever reads this—I wonder, would you take her? At least try, for a little while?

Sometimes I am afraid—that soon, she will become too much for me to handle alone.


Deciphering Hayes-Reyna’s Final Remarks:

We are not certain what to make of the final pages of Hayes-Reyna’s journal, which contain several crossed-out passages written in a strange voice that drifts in and out of Old Lanthornese. But a frequent refrain is often legible: lusza-me, lusza-me. “Let me out, let me out.” We have attempted to edit one of the more intelligible sections:

The burning sickness ate her alive for days and days, made her feel as though her skin ought to glow like a livid coal as the fever burned through her blood.

And then the strange Poet forced his way into her chambers, stood beside her deathbed.

He said he could save her, could capture at the very least some piece of her. He held a lantern, held it aloft like a misplaced sun lighting the dark and said he could preserve her soul in light and poetry as though in amber, said he could put her into shining lines of verse, inscribe her into the lantern.

And she considered it. She knew she shouldn’t but she did. But then she said no no no. She wanted the burning to go away; she did not want her light to be preserved, to never end.

He did not listen.

Now you must listen, as I am listening. I can hear her, and she is screaming:

I beg of you listen help me hear me

let me out.


[1] We are referring to the volume in question as a “journal” for lack of a better term, as Hayes-Reyna seems to have been preparing this text for some manner of publication. Near the end of the document, she addresses an unknown reader. Certain critics have suggested that this text may in fact have been intended as a rewriting of the Elegy of the Lantern Poet for a current audience. In particular, see Choucaz, C., “Isabel Hayes-Reyna’s Autofictions,” in The Firefly’s Reception (New Delft: Clepsydra Impr., ann. cxi), 72-105. Choucaz points out that the journal may have been written in the present tense in an effort to imitate the Elegy and the “temporal slipperiness” of the Lantern Poet’s use of present tense constructions to describe past events (104-5).

[2] In the interest of accessibility to a general audience, we have chosen to replace the text of Hayes-Reyna’s excerpts from the Elegy with Everett Colfox’s translation; for all of its admittedly numerous flaws, it remains the standard in the field. Any curious readers who wish to study the Elegy’s original language are encouraged to consult Francis Hayes’s edition. (Though our field has endured its share of derision—due, in large part, to Rabelais’s mockery of the lovely language of the Lantern Isle—we assure the reader that the text’s original language is a treasure indeed.)

[3] Hayes-Reyna apparently considered this locket, given to her by her grandfather, the great Lanthornist Francis Hayes, an object of considerable symbolic import. She conflates it somewhat with lantern jewels of old. While her conviction that the locket contains genuine fragments of old Lanthornese glass is intriguing, it seems likelier that her grandfather made such fanciful claims only as a means of encouraging her interest in Lanthorna’s past. For a comprehensive catalogue of all surviving pieces of Lanthornese glass currently recognized, see Silber, G., Glassware of the Lantern Isle (New Delft: Clepsydra Impr., ann. xc).

[4] Hayes-Reyna would in fact go on to write a rebuttal to the famous article of her grandfather’s in question. See Hayes, F., “The Lanthornese Mystics and ‘Visions’ in Fog,” Tesserae 28, no. 2 (ann. lxxix): 13-23; and Hayes-Reyna, I., “Visions in Glass and Silver: Lanthornese Artisans and Mystical Craftsmanship,” act. XXIIIe colloque intl. du Corp. lithostrot., ed. L. Gallé (ann. cii): 37-45. In this article, Hayes-Reyna proposes that rather than explaining away mystical phenomena as the product of the island’s natural weather patterns, Lanthornists ought to pay more attention to local glass and metalwork and the demonstrable Lanthornese effort to “manufacture” the stuff of visions.

[5] In this entry, Hayes-Reyna appears to slip between metaphor and dream. Whether she actually means for her reader to trust in the truth of these “visions” remains unclear. My colleagues and I believe that this passage ought to be read as an idiosyncratic example of Hayes-Reyna’s habit of projecting her own reminiscence onto Lanthorna itself. (We note that the Lantern Poet demonstrates a more extreme version of the same tendency, often perceiving reflections of Damma Lundzolin in water and glass, years after her death.)

[6] Hayes likely refers to a stained glass “portrait” of Damma Lundzolin, which the Lantern Poet mentions frequently throughout the Elegy. Rather than a literal likeness of her, it is generally presumed to have been a depiction of a maiden in a stained glass window, which the Lantern Poet may have treated as a sort of proxy for his lady love. Worshipping the picture in glass would have become a means of pretending closeness with his Lady Firefly. However, scholars have been unable to identify the precise window and image in question.

[7] For the full text of this paper, see Hayes-Reyna, I., “The Bee and the Flower: Lanthornese Lullabies and the Lantern Poet’s Apian Avatar,” in Proc. Thirty-Second Intl. Cong. Lanthornese Stud., ed. C Choucaz (Lanthorna: UniLanth Press, ann. ci), 117-34.

[8] In particular, see Lenz, A., “Sacred and Mundane Light: Correcting Against the (de)Sacralization of the Past in Lanthornese Studies,” in Proc. Forty-Third Intl. Cong. Lanthornese Stud., ed. C. Choucaz (Lanthorna: UniLanth Press, ann. cxii), 93-107. Lenz goes so far as to declare Hayes-Reyna’s disappearance an elaborate stunt, a part of her ongoing effort to “sacralize” and rewrite both herself and Damma Lundzolin as “martyrs” (106).

[9] Hayes-Reyna is likely referring to the following remarks in Hayes, F., The Lantern Poet and His Isle (New Delft: Clepsydra Impr., ann. lxxii), 14: “That we have named him after his Isle is not inappropriate; there are ways in which the Lantern Poet’s poetry resembles his home. Lanthorna is an ostentatious tangle. From above, one would think some lackadaisical god had thrown a stone at a pane of glass and then modeled the city’s streets after the resultant cobweb of cracks. So, too, is the Lantern Poet’s oeuvre chipped and fractured all over. There is a fragmentary quality, even to the Lantern Poet’s most complete verses, which seem to break as one reads them—as though he has mishandled them, dropped them while composing.”

[10] Several of the old windows have been lost between wars, revolutions, disasters, and a most unfortunate increasing tendency toward hooliganism and defacement of national treasures throughout Lanthorna.

[11] Many of these ruined chapels and pavilions lie in bosquets at the edge of the city and are surrounded by old trees and ivy. Hayes-Reyna may be rather creatively re-imagining the shadow cast by a willow upon one of the more notable chapels. Fronds wavering across glass, producing shadows and dappled light, might create the visual effect Hayes-Reyna describes.

[12] The insect-shaped gap in the glass that Hayes-Reyna mentions is indeed documented in Silber’s catalogue (see p. 112). However, it matches a glass bee currently in the keeping of the Archives. As Hayes-Reyna herself notes, such glass bees are quite numerous throughout Lanthorna.

[13] Francis Hayes was in fact preparing these papers for publication (in a volume that would have been entitled The Book of Crystal: Representations of Stained Glass in the Lantern Poet’s Oeuvre). He ultimately abandoned the project during the years following his granddaughter’s disappearance.

[14] Hayes-Reyna’s fanciful description of this storm evinces some conflation with one of the Lantern Poet’s visions in Ballad XCII, in which he recalls his first glimpse of Damma Lundzolin:

The clouds above grew treacherous that night

And made the sky into a blackened veil

Upon the moon’s fair and shimmering sight.

I saw nothing, no trace of life or light,

Until her beacon breached the fog and hail.


(Note Hayes-Reyna’s effort to incorporate the Lantern Poet’s portrayal of the storm as “veil.”)

[15] Old Lanthornese for “poisonous honey” or a “sweet illusion” (the term dol is frequently used to describe a visual trick, or mirage in the mist, throughout Lanthorna). This particular compound is a hapax in the Elegy, appearing only in the final Ballad. Its significance in this context is not entirely clear, as the end of the Elegy remains highly fragmentary, in spite of various scholarly efforts to reconstruct it. Critics have consequently referred to the final Ballad as a miaegl-dol in its own right, given its tendency to distract and madden scholars with its gaps.

[16] Francis Hayes has proposed that MS. Lant. 1 may in fact represent an early draft of the Elegy. Many of the text’s more jarring lacunas are smoothed over in later manuscripts. However, Hayes’s theory does not explain the manuscript’s ornamental flourishes (such as the gold leaf Hayes-Reyna alludes to in this entry). See Hayes, F., “Erasure Aestheticized in The Elegy of the Lantern Poet,” The Lanthornese Review 15, no. 4 (ann. lxxxiii): 42-60.

[17] Ibid.

[18] This verse in accurate Old Lanthornese follows the appropriate octosyllabic meter and corresponds to the balladic rhyme scheme of the surrounding text. However, no scholar has been able to find a trace of this line in MS. Lant. 1. Accordingly, we conclude that this verse, and the experience of discovering it, are creative fabrications of Hayes-Reyna’s.

[19] A number of mystics have remarked upon “glimpses” of fireflies in the sepulcher; local legend has it that the space is haunted by Damma Lundzolin. Hayes-Reyna likely absorbed such tales during her childhood. As she herself notes, there are pictures of bees and fireflies among the mosaics, and it is quite plausible that such glittering artworks could confuse visitors into believing themselves recipients of such “visions.”


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M.E. Bronstein is a PhD student in Comparative Literature based in northern California. Her work is forthcoming or has been published in Gallery of Curiosities, Metaphorosis (including Metaphorosis: Best of 2016 and 2017), and Literary Orphans (she goes by Molly Etta on occasion). She is also a graduate of Clarion UCSD and the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

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