Vaulted, vast and vivid halls,
richly decorated walls;
these are seen by one who calls
upon Sir Robert’s citadel.
Within his courts are gardens fair,
inside his keep is many a stair
which leads through pretty towers there
that beautifully grasp the air –
but these are still the halls of hell.
Richness flows through every field;
harvests five each year they yield
in this land, alone, concealed
by forest deep and currents cruel.
A little fiefdom by the sea
whose people groan on bended knee;
trapped on an isle within is she
who grew the wheat and blessed the tree,
in bitter dreams, an Elvish jewel.
Guardsmen keep the land in thrall;
forest, sea and castle wall
boundaries kept against the call
of peasantry who would be free.
Though Arthur’s name has here been heard,
of Robert’s country not a word
could e’er be carried but by bird;
the silent seamen long deterred
by threats towards their family.
For when they sail, they leave in chains
their hostage children. This explains
why each one watches none complains
of Robert when at ports they call.
So sail they seas in ships to shores
where wheat is scarce because of wars,
and trade their trove for gilt and gauze.
Their creaking timbers fill with stores
from Orkney’s shores, or distant Gaul.
Far from the heart of Robert's land,
terror seeps like an unseen hand;
everything runs to one command,
where violence stifles like a gag.
But profit Robert does not ever;
cursed is he who sleepeth never.
Sorcerers make long endeavour,
but their spells are not so clever
yet as hell’s departed hag.
Evenings long enthroned he sits,
bed abandoned; none befits.
Fumbling feebly through the writs
with which he would perfect his powers,
his waking world goes ever on.
All gladness from his life has gone.
Cursed is the throne he sits upon.
His back is sagged, his aspect wan,
and on his wretched Fool he glowers.