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The Lion and The Unicorn

tapestry series



The Lion and the Unicorn Tapestry website invites you to a feast of the fantastical by postmodern poet Emily Isaacson. Lean into the lush gardens of literature, the castles of the mind, medieval wanings of the internet realms, or domains and portals to the hearts of humankind.

In all her poetic words, kind deeds, and vivid tapestries of multimedia art, Emily Isaacson portrays a celestial realm to which we travel on the Clay Road. The Clay Road has been our imminent theme until now, but we return to our roots and to the beginnings of Emily Isaacson's work with the lustrous Lion and Unicorn and their titular influence.

Also join with the mystical rambles of Emily Isaacson as she writes her medieval blog highlighting the makings of a poet and her career as a writer. She is a mythic soul, a solitary unicorn.

Weep, dance, cry here in the throes of an ancient universe as it draws near with riveting crash of cymbals. Be a stone groaning in the dark, see from nearer perspective whether she missed her mark. She is a hunter of visions and supernal influences.

Some people can just see in the dark, and they travel at the speed of light with luminous splendour. It is a miracle that makes a poem; it is an epiphany moment.


Traditionally the lion represents England, and the unicorn, Scotland. Also, the unicorn is opposite the lion in the Canadian coat of arms. These two have similar natures, but one is proud and bold and one is reticent and reclusive. When you get near to lions they roar; when you get too close to unicorns they hide. Unicorns are generators of the spirit world; they generate ideas and sell dreams.

Is poetry a language that makes Canada a sublime country?

The poets will ask, they will respond in verse, if I know them well . . .

[Photo: Castle reflected in the water is an image of postmodernism]


In This Time . . . Quotes

In this troubled time, we are all looking for brilliant, beautiful and insightful poetry.

–Ayesha Chatterjee 

Feminist Caucus Chair and Past President of the League of Canadian Poets 

When poets become buildings, they would be grand and intricate edifices, with rooms containing carved benches and small, locked cupboards.

–Onjana Yawnghwe, from When Poems Are Rooms 

The world is eager for poets. In 2016, more people spent their hard earned money on poetry books than any other year on record. When times are dark, the world always turns to poets for empathy, for answers, for words, bucking and new. 

–Palette Poetry

When asked about the keys to a productive creative life, many writers point to the importance of a strong community. The lonely work of writing is best balanced with active participation in writing groups and readings, connection with readers, and support for fellow writers.

–Poets & Writers

Our society is grappling with a soul-sickness that is ultimately an infection of our imagination. An election may address symptoms, but how do we treat the underlying disease? How to heal the imagination? Perhaps this is what the arts are for...Grabbing hold of us by the senses, artworks have a unique capacity to shape our attunement, our feel for the world. The question isn't whether the arts will shape us, but which.

—from "Healing the Imagination: Art Lessons from James Baldwin," James K.A. Smith's editorial, issue 107

An image is an inner representation of your experience or your fantasies – a way your mind codes, stores, and expresses information. Imagery is the currency of dreams and daydreams . .  It is the language of the arts, the emotions, and most important, of the deeper self.

Imagery is a window on your inner world . . .

Imagination, in this sense, is not sufficiently valued in our culture. The imaginary is equated with the fanciful, the unreal, and the impractical . . . but imagination nurtures human reality as a river brings life to a desert.

—Martin L. Rossman M.D.

Art has been said to be ‘an expression of both hope and despair,’ which embodies all facets of the human condition. The awe inspiring cathedrals of Europe rose from the ashes of plague, cruelty and despair. After which, the forward thinking artists of the Renaissance era emerged in times of religious persecution and political chaos…

—Lori McKnee

Poetry and literature and painting are a glossolalia that the imagination hears in its own language. And in our imagining, we may learn how to be human again... learn how to be empathetic and live with one another, just to the extent that we see one another again, in all our fractured complexity and mixed motives and dogged hopes.

—Image editor in chief James K.A. Smith, The Christian Century

Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges. Trauma bleeds. Out of wounds and across boundaries.

—Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exam

In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love ...

—Frank O’Hara, from poem “To the Film Industry in Crisis”

I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.

—Keith Haring

Our guilt is denied, our sense of personal responsibility is numbed, to the degree that we perceive the sacrificed lives as statistical abstractions and our personal comforts as more real. By such choices we are revealed to ourselves. Where our treasure is, there is our heart. By and large, in the once-Christian democracies of the West we have been measured in the scales and found wanting.

—Micheal O’Brien, The Family & the New Totalitarianism (2019)

There is a demeaning and even violent assumption that everyone needs to think in one particular way, and if they don't they are wrong, savage, barbaric—all those words that were used to justify the alienation and extermination of people. Listen: the contents, discontents, and complexities of woman-being in our many worlds, the ways of "feminisms," are numerous. The world is pluriversal. It is multipolar. And isn't that also its beauty?

A God Who Wails and Dances: A Conversation with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

     Image Journal, No. 109

I resolutely reject the nostalgic bent of so much "art & faith" paradigms that posit a false dichotomy between faith and contemporary art, or tend to reify some past era as the "golden age" of faithful making. To believe in the call of creativity is to be waiting to see what we'll make next, because what the worlds needs is ever-unfolding.

—James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal. "For the Sake of the World."

How human awareness works is also an undecided question, and not only because the price we often pay for consciousness is inattention. Since that encounter in Mozambique, I’ve found myself wondering: What happens when creatures from separate species become aware of each other? Is there something there, something shared or shaped between them? Or do their sensoriums simply overlap—like car alarms setting each other off—in isolation, without reciprocity?

—Klinkenborg, Requiem for a Heavyweight

In the best spirit of Oscar Wilde's critic-as-artist, Klinkenborg takes Giggs's own remarkable prose as both provocation and invitation. The reviewer rivals the author's creativity and in the twining of the two, it's hard to tell whether this is a duel or a dance. In either case, the result is a kind of literary spectacle . . .

—James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal

For it is in our choices that we experience the limits of our self-understanding and the pressures of our unchosen circumstances. We are forced to make our decisions within the liminal space between the generality of what we know and want and the particular demands of our circumstances. It is a shadowy realm, between the possible and actual, and it is here that human freedom becomes both real and burdensome. It is the place where we feel most deeply our helplessness—and our need for outside illumination or aid.

—Jennifer Frey, Image Journal  Issue 109, Recording Angels: New Fiction by Phil Klay and Christopher Beha

[W]e strive to deliver diamonds, not coal, this holiday season. 

—David Frankel, CEO

Victoria Trading Company 

Truly we’re boxed in an annex

Of the mansion

                           of your text.


—“Plague Psalm 90”  Philip Metres

      Image Journal, Issue 110

Getting your work online and marketing it well is no longer optional, it's imperative.

And, for many creatives, healers, and solopreneurs it doesn't come naturally. It can be overwhelming. It can stir up shame, fear, frustration, an impulse to hide . . .

—Room Magazine Newsletter, Nov 2021

‘Human sin. Broken relationships. Loneliness. Take the most agonizing question of your life—that's the question Jesus came into and walked.' Which seemed a good way to think about what drove men like Dismas and Anthony-Maria to become monks. An agonizing question for which there were no apparent answers, a yearning without apparent remedy.

—from "The Underground Life of Prayer"

2022 Glen Workshop instructor Fred Bahnson in Image issue 77

I was asked to consider what Taylor describes, in Sources of the Self, as the postmodern denial of "strong evaluations"—our late modern allergy to "thick" versions of meaning and goodness. I suggest that those denials are mostly repressions that keep coming back in other forms.

—James K.A. Smith, Editor of Image Journal, "Contemporary fiction can't quit religion"

Lewis, while admitting "in the filth of war, the baresark shout / Of battle, [the spirit of man ] is vexed" (SB,7), affirms that the human spirit will not be crushed, a theme he retunrs to later in "De Profundis." In fact, the poem ends with an affirmation negating much of the poem's earlier morose tone: "Though often bruised, oft broken by the rod, / yet, like the pheonix, from each fiery bed / Higher the stricken spirit lifts its head / And higher—till the beast become a god"(8).

 —Don King, C. S Lewis, Poet (Pub 2001)

thank you for our argument that ends,

thank you for my deafness, Lord, such fire


from a match you never lit.

 —Ilya Kaminsky

     "In Our Time"  issue 55 (From Newsletter Art is Gratuitous).

To add a quote: email us.


What is an online tapestry?

An online tapestry is a series of websites designed by one artist. The web is used as a powerful medium. In multimedia art, more than one medium is used together, and this creates a visual stimulus to inspire viewers and in turn help other artists create more and different art than before. New art inspires artists of all mediums to create something in response, in their art form. This generation of power and ideas is a form of intellectual conversation. People talk back and forth in the art field in various mediums and modes of communication, at time practicing different ideologies, such as Zen, Romanticism, or Transcendentalism. The tapestry is postmodern, rising out of minimalism. The artist notes that it is a maximalist creation, depicting lavish colours, ideas, and an over-stated richness.

Emily: “Could the effect of long-term minimalism be maximalism?”  Read more . . .


The Apothecary's Daughter

At the apothecary shop

is the crossroads of medieval medicine,

where change is of the essence,

and time stands alone.


She is young, she is strong with laughter,

and her will is steady;

her hazel eyes speak of healing

her lips are a rose, speaking in the wind,

her hands are as skillful as the land,

the tonic bends beneath her hands,

vials and ointments

are scepters extended to the poor and ill:

she is the apothecary’s daughter.



her face is flax damask,

as she travels with a cowl over her head

through the cloister’s silence dead,

she carries the crude anthracite

to her father’s benefactor’s rite.

The children play in burgundy knickers

around the fountain,

but she is as silent as dawn

and threading doves,

as the far-away gallop of hooves

on a crusade.


“I can turn a thistle to a daffodil in a day,”

said the passing alchemist 

with a wry smile,

“and the rain becomes

crystals beneath my hand.

My skull is made of wood, not clay.”


“What creates the connection

between the roses

are the thorns,”

said the apothecary’s daughter.

“For you are an illusionist,

and I am Carnelian,

the thorn of perdition.”


“Hold it to your lantern glass,

for you are a rose—

(I do not want the roses to be without

stems or leaves or thorns . . . )”

said the alchemist.

“Through the glass is a light,

and beneath my heart

there is a country—

you have found the Door!”


“Alas,” she paused,

“if there is a country within you,

there is an empire

within me—”


“What empire? Apothecary’s daughter,”

he asked with a jeer,

“What empire protects you?”


“Why it is the empire of the royal rose,”

she stood her ground.

He looked through his spectacle at her closely:

“The royal rose that entwines the golden arbour—

is that the empire of which you speak?”


“It is an aged rose

from which steeps

the sweet perfume of roses’ oil,

as I would know,”

she answered.

“Then be assured

that I not only

know the secret of the rose,

but the place from which it sprang—

that would make a maiden weep.”


“I weep as surely

as I live, if I do not know

the medicine of the gorse, the heather,

and of the rose:

it springs from

the rose hip, 

and is a woman’s remedy.

Now, I must be off,

for my smokeless coal

is growing dim

before my eyes—” she said.

Aha! thought the alchemist—

the lady did not know that

we would meet,

for until now I could only dream

of her medicine

to make a woman sweet.


The arched passage rang

with his voice,

for he scarce cared to lower it.

“Your father knows both

his friends and benefactors,”

he said, “but does he know his enemies?”


“Pray tell, who is his enemy?”

she asked. “There is a robin perched

on his chestnut bud.”

“Why his enemy is anyone who,

with skill, is cunning

and works to undermine him,” he said.

“What is within the human heart, will

eventually flower after its own kind,

for it cannot stay hidden very long.


“If, a dance,” he said, taking her hand,

“it must be worked out

as a sequence of steps,

while dripping with sweat.”


“The life without it, though,

is passionless,” she said.


“Toil in the valleys

of the human heart

for happiness is hard to find,

and when we find it

we let go all too soon.


“We breathe and spin

and leap—our faith in our mouths,

our life lived with one last

mournful cry,” he said.


They had met at last—

a chance meeting:

“And what is your name?” she asked.

“Waterford,” he answered.


“Waterford, the son of crusaders?” she asked.

“Yes, and keeper of the Waterford Journal—

for I can write,” he said.

“You may not remember me,

but I was in your benefactor’s school

as a child. Do you remember I sent you a note?”


“Aye,” said Carnelian, “but I could not read it.”

“I will tell you what it said,” he answered.


“Do not despise thou love, nor rue its share,

the shelter it provides is providence,

the elegance of home is free from cares,

and thine bent head in prayer is evidence.

I have many flowers in my garden,

each smells so sweetly of the summer’s air,

envelopes of colour, secret wardens,

for all the trust that heav’n keeps guarded there.

If ever I should give my heart to one,

I would find her ’neath an arbour waiting;

my intimations second to her none,

there’d be one song in my mouth abating:

I would give thee my youth’s flattery now

that I may not prove false upon thy vow.”


“I remember now,” said Carnelian.

“Then you were last to read it,” he said.


“Last was I to read your cream folded note,

when I was still quite young, I would not laugh

at your sincerity, and my wood staff.

My reputation was my ivory throat.

I would take you at your word, upon sea

I float: saline is my buffer, salt pure

that reaches deep into my wounds, censured

as crystalline mine salt, deep in the green,

we move, we float, licensed liquidity.

And now the years have almost passed me by,

I remember you, the boy that once kythed

in books and music, gardens’ flow’r to me.

Do not let me forget the passing age,

that once held me, a player, on the stage.”

            --Emily Isaacson, Hallmark

Medieval clothing photos courtesy of Armstreet Clothing Co.