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In the forest

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The Fairy Hunt

As though he falls alone through unseen water,
his spirit passes into waking dreams,
and sees the forest other than it seems;
the fairy forces all prepare for slaughter.
Its cohorts march in ranks beneath the trees,
with gleaming spears and shields all burnished bright;
they glint from light within as falls the night,
and Trefor’s heart is suddenly at ease.
A glimm’ring figure far below doth flit,
and rises, sparkling, upward through the air;
he never saw before a form so fair,
as that which glides beside his shade to sit.
The Forest Queen now dominates the night,
and every scrap of fear is put to flight.

“You found within this wood the sons of doubt,”
she told him, with a voice of liquid silk;
“We will not tolerate their wretched ilk,
when someone calls on God to seek them out.
Within this fertile forest draw their breath
ideas that flourish deep in minds of men;
they send against you ever and again
the thought of hungry, lonely, weary death.
We tracked you as you wandered in the gloom,
and waited for the moment you would call
on God we love to serve, the One and All,
and now you ask His aid, we bring His doom.
We’ll fight the fears that whispered by your side;
this night, the sons of doubt will all have died.”

“I dream,” sighed Trefor. “Surely there below
my body lies in death, and I am dead;
the things I see, last visions in my head,
before in moments vanishes life’s glow.”
“You dream indeed!” the Forest Queen laughed loud;
“You dream your life a vision every day!
You think the power of man holds earthly sway,
but all before your eyes there lies a cloud.
If this should lift, God’s glory you would see,
and like a moth is drawn toward a flame,
your lives would perish, thief and priest the same;
and thus it’s best that things are as they be.
Yet those of us who live in light seek ways
to help you struggle blindly through your days.”

“The Lord who made the world that we adore,
has formed us for a purpose and a plan -
to bring sweet freedom’s choice to every man,
where long dark night had reigned unfought before.
We seek to leave a memory of cheer;
the evil leering goblin, ghost and ghoul
that forced the fearful folk to flee their rule,
and made the wild and night the haunt of fear,
must now depart from all the lands they blight;
and when we win our victory over sin,
we’ll leave these lands we loved to frolic in,
and vanish both from memory and sight.
We’re just the twinkling fairy folk to you;
in heav’n, our true exalted forms you’ll view.”

There being nothing Trefor can essay
to change his body’s fate, he shrugs and sighs;
his life in other hands now clearly lies,
and he must let them help him as they may.
The distant sound of huntsmen fills the night;
a rustling in the endless ranks of trees
reveals the sons of darkness on their knees;
the spears of heaven’s helpers bitter bite.
The hornéd moon climbs upward through the airs;
dim stars come out to greet it one by one.
The hunt is heard till frost has come and gone,
then all the hosts of heav’n return in pairs.
They carry slaughtered fears on poles, and pile
in ugly heaps their vanquished foemen vile.

The Forest Queen then took young Trefor’s arm,
and off the bough flew down among the throng;
he saw his body there, attended long
by those whose hands were skilled with healing balm.
His spirit floated by her on the breeze,
no cumbrance to her swift and easy flight;
the dawn as yet had brought no early light,
and in the moonlit grass he took his ease.
The fire burned low; no Elf was on the wing.
A fragrant scent arose around the sprites.
Elf-Maidens sprang to dance with fairy knights,
then all bowed low before their coming king.
To him was Trefor’s living spirit led;
no longer did he fear that he was dead.

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