Every puzzle needs a key. The part of it that literally and figuratively unlocks the answer. Masquerade had the Sir Isaac Newton painting, A Treasure Trove had the polybius, and The Secret has the Litany. The problem is that the Litany has still only been half solved.
So why is The Litany of the Jewels the key?
On page 47, we're given our task:
To sing a happy treasure song To have a casque to you belong Wed one picture With one verse For Fair Folk's peace Goodness first.
If we're following the book from start to finish, by pg 47 we will have read "The Tale, Simply Told", "The Passage to the New World", "The Litany of the Jewels", "The Vanishing", and have seen all of the pictures. We have not yet seen the verses.
As we turn to the verses, we see a familiar icon.
Where did we see that again? Right, that was on page 19. And 20. And 21. It's on the bottom of every page of the section called The Litany of the Jewels and it’s right next to every single verse.
This kind of clear visual connection is similar to how Masquerade used a bee and bees around a honeycomb to denote related elements of the puzzle. In our context here, it’s telling us that the Verses and the Litany go together. To be able to "wed one picture, with one verse", we need to use both of these puzzle elements in some way.
Reading through the Litany, we learn of the Thirteen Nations of the Fair People and their love of gemstones. We’re told which gemstone is treasured by each nation. Since we know that each Picture has a gemstone, we now have the means to connect each nation of the Fair People (and each couplet of the Litany) to each Picture.
In some cases this connection is very clear, gems like pearl, emerald, and ruby are easily identified. Others such a turquoise and aquamarine are not as clear. For this reason, the pictures also depict the flower that corresponds to the gemstone’s birth month. As a final confirmation, this birth month is also found in some images in the form of clocks, where the hour depicted on the clock is the number of the month in the year (e.g. 1 for January, 6 for June, etc).
Using the gems (and flowers/clock) in each Picture, we conclusively tie the Picture to a couplet in the Litany. The law of transitivity then ties each Picture to one of twelve fairy nations.
Tying each Fairy group to each Picture is important because it also ties each Fairy to anything else in that Picture, for example, longitude and latitude (or roughly a city). It also means that anything in the first half of the book that mentions a Fairy nation also connects to the Picture. What we're left with is a large web of interconnected data points.
The next part of the puzzle is to connect a verse to something within that web of data points. If we can find a connection in one of the verses to: a city; a birth month/stone/flower; or fairy nation (including anything that mentions them in the immigration story part of the book or their meeting with the Native Americans), then we have a means through which to connect the verse to a Picture.
Here’s a concrete example:
Verse 9 has a first letter acrostic in the last 5 lines, it spells SELOY. Seloy was a Chief of the Timucua people who lived in the St. Augustine area. In “The Vanishing”, on page 22, we learn that it was the Iberian Hadas who were greeted by the Timuca [sic] on the southern shores.
Iberian Hadas > Sapphire (September / Aster) > Picture 6
Iberian Hadas > meet the Timucua > Chief Seloy > Verse 9 (SELOY acrostic)
Following only the clues in the book and using transitive logic, we are able to deduce that Picture 6 (September) goes with Verse 9. There should be no question of any pairing other than Picture 6 and Verse 9.
Next, I’ll do individual posts that deep dive into each Fairy group and the many connections within the book that conclusively pair each Picture with each Verse.
Thanks to Phil Abbott for thoughtful review of an earlier draft (and the sweet JJP meme)