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The powerless

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The boy looks longingly towards the isle –
a dreamy world away, where lies his fate.
Three steely locks hold hard the hated gate;
young Trefor tries to break the chains a while.
He sees beyond his reach the stony stair
that winds around and down below the earth,
and underneath the water’s merry mirth
leads out, then rises up to island fair.
But Fairy Sight, not Fairy Strength, has he;
and soon, despondent, finds that force must fail;
the sky’s delight remains in dreams, her jail,
and so it seems that he must seek the key.
Although he is the one that Merlin chose,
deep down, he’s just a boy, Sir Trefor knows.

The forest seems to laugh with leafy breath;
no way remains behind for his return.
Already he has lost one life to learn
without the help of Fay, that path means death.
Beyond the road before him is the sea,
but as the Fool advised, no hope can lie
in seeking on Sir Robert’s ships to fly -
and so he has to fight; he cannot flee.
One thing it is to face a martyr’s fate,
when faith requires you hold, and won’t go back;
another still to scale, when plans you lack,
the halls of hell that laugh at you in hate.
With trembling heart he casts on God his load
before he dares to face the castle road.

But as he turns to face the way of fear,
in mild surprise, his eyes behold instead
two lovers lost in worlds of words unsaid;
the Fool, and one who smiles whilst others sneer.
For young Columba comes to watch the water;
her robes of brightest blue, a precious dye;
a flower in the field reflects the sky,
the dove cote keeper’s precious only daughter.
Like others, pressed incessantly to reaping,
her long hair, brown, unbound, smells like the hay
in which the Fool desires to lie all day,
and have her little life within his keeping.
But hope for them is lost; the whole land weeps;
droit de seigneur, Sir Robert claims and keeps.

“Pretty flower,
sweet the hour;
colours clear
dress my dear!
Walk a while
as we smile –
be thou mine,

“Dearest Fool,
Robert’s rule
now denies
lovers’ sighs.
You know well
merry hell
dulls our light;
Robert’s right.”

“Then may we
cherish love,
precious dove?
If foul law
bars us more,
marry not -
passions, plot!”

“Rather we
ought to flee
Robert’s hand.
Arthur’s land
is our hope;
let’s elope!
Run with me,
and be free!”

“But I fear,
sweetest dear,
this my pain;
flight is vain.
Forests deep
round us creep;
guarded ships
hope eclipse.”

“Live a lie?
Sooner, die!
Don’t give up,
God will come,
sugar plum;
still adore;
hope the more!”

“Maiden fair,
I despair.
You are right
in God’s sight.
I know not
any plot;
still be mine,

Columba turns, and sees the boy’s disguise;
alone within the forest she would walk,
and with the Fay had lingered long to talk;
their pretty visions do not fool her eyes.
She sees in him small doubt, but great confusion,
within a fairy folly like a knight;
and though he’d never shirk to fight faith’s fight,
he’s still a lonely boy who fears delusion.
Then suddenly she sees he is the one
that Lionel’s land have hoped for many years,
that none had dared to be for all their fears;
the one their God now rests his hopes upon.
Cacophony of feelings fills her breast;
at once exultant, baffled, and distressed.

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