Though many were the men that filled the fort,
they troubled not the walkers on their way.
No man could cause the wizard stop or stay,
and Merlin’s face was known throughout the court.
Within the little field that topped the hill,
a keep to hold a warlike corps there stood;
no graven image grim, nor work of wood
bedecked this powerful tower of warlike will.
No place to welcome Arthur’s kith and kin
was this, but Logres’ last and lofty lair.
Inside a few small rooms, a place for prayer;
Arthur Pendragon welcomed Merlin in.
“Hail, Arthur! I am come from Dyfed’s vales,
where sadly Satan’s subtlety is shown;
he now demands a tithe of those not grown
from sundry tribes of wild and windy Wales.
The famine has o’ercome their mem’ry short
of all that God has done through Logres’ king,
whose name they seven summers sought to sing;
and now to evil rites they all resort.
This boy, mere days ago, I had to save
from being made a human sacrifice.
Sooner than try again, they’ll now think twice;
for there I burnt the leading priestly knave.
The time has come to seek the summer out,
or Logres’ faith will end, there is no doubt.”
“Already I have pondered and prepared.
Tomorrow, of my best and not the least
set out through Logres, north, south, west and east,
till every far flung corner they have dared.
The truth of this sad matter shall be bared;
wherever summer’s hid, no man nor beast
shall cause her any more to foil our feast,
and neither cost nor care shall now be spared.
Four parties shall I send to ride on horse,
well armed and led by men of godly souls,
who swore that they would search until they die.
My quest will be to fast and make remorse;
if I have strayed from God to earthly goals,
it is with me the matter then would lie.”
“Although no man is better than his master,
with Adam did begin the fatal fall,
and in that net ensnared are one and all;
each generation shares that sad disaster.
Lost kings for many lives before us went;
they fathered sons to helplessly repeat
their errant ways, now trod by eager feet
of those who know not what they must repent.
The subtle sins of fathers now long gone
have caused the many errors of our ways.
It’s just a folly, fasting many days;
your reign has better paths to journey on.
Seek in your heart where Uther would have sinned;
or else your words of prayer are empty wind.”
“ ‘No man is than his master better’, aye;
and thus I must be Paragon to all;
upon my conduct each shall stand or fall;
the word of God shall not be found a lie!
If I should pass some secret matter by,
the kind ignored by former kings like Saul,
this land would be without a castle wall,
and such a plan this king will never try!
I do not know where summer may have gone;
but God, as long as Uther’s son is king,
shall be the one to whom I trust my ways.
His justice is the cause my mind is on;
until the people all rejoice and sing,
my penitence is called for many days.”
“No king did ever seek the Lord so hard;
and as I cannot better make my case,
God bless you, as you pray for Britain’s race,
and may your pious acts instruct some bard!
I recommend this boy to act as squire;
he’s shown great skill in tending noble beasts,
and finding in the wild surprising feasts;
no better servant any knight could hire.
He does not know the land, so in your plan
include him with the party riding north.
On my account fear not to send him forth,
although he be as yet more boy than man.
Though you may think that Merlin’s ways are odd,
I tell you that this purpose is of God.”
This boon the weary king did gladly give,
and overnight young Trefor scarce could sleep;
the very thought would cause his heart to leap,
that ever as Sir Trefor might he live.