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Freedom and flight

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The tower of Summer

Sir Trefor wept a while; though sore his plight,
he mourned Columba’s sudden, senseless death.
He swore he’d fight as long as he had breath
all tyrants who abused their earthly might.
At last with gasps and gulping calmed he down,
and wondered what the world was like outside;
if Merlin or the Forest King had lied,
and how had fared King Giles, Sir Robert’s clown.
But strangely he could never quite give in.
So listlessly he looked out o’er the fields,
and thought of all the power nature wields,
and how the doubt he struggled with was sin.
To east, he watched the darkening sky a while;
to west, the setting sun; and south, the isle.

Deep Durrinelm flows eastward for the most,
a-wandering through the meadows of the land
down to the willow margins by the strand
where crash the waves along the craggy coast.
To northward did Sir Robert’s fortress lie,
looking towards the isle and river mouth
through window slits that faced east, west, and south,
set in this tall white tower that clutched the sky.
Only on this, Midsummer’s Day, do rays
fall on the waters northward of the isle;
a last caress of light to tint a while
the little river’s arm with sunset’s gaze.
Seeing the isle in light unique each year,
Sir Trefor sees its secret weakness clear.

Whilst evening’s light on water flashed and played
with glancing glint as final sunshine flees,
unhindered by the island’s shady trees,
he sees a bridge beneath the water laid.
The tunnel ran above the river bed,
all covered over with a tarry roof,
rising inside the isle on which no hoof
nor foot except Sir Robert’s came to tread.
Now Trefor’s heart thumps fast as he perceives
a plan by which the Fay Aurorielle might
be reached, and on the island he’d alight
where ever in her presence nature grieves.
Only at this distinctive place and time
could he conceive of ending Robert’s crime.

“Keys I shall need not, for God lights the way;
how happy I came here on Midsummer’s Day!
For the light of the last of the rays of the sun
has revealed to me plain how my task shall be done!

Father, I thank you; the fears of this hour
had quite overcome me since locked in this tower!
Though I know not the way that you’ll finish my quest,
I repent that I doubted, and put you to test.

Now all I need is a way to climb down;
the guards and the garrison leave for the town!
An accomplice to show me the place where was led
Sir Gaheris' great horse to be stabled and fed!”

He laughed; to ask these things was quite absurd.
Then looked around the room, but could not see
anything that could help to set him free;
he stood beside the slit without a word.
Then rumbling echoes filled the moat below;
the fearsome castle’s entrance opened wide,
allowing Robert’s mounted knights to ride,
and startled, Trefor saw them outward go.
By last pink wisps of fading light he sees
the savage guardsmen split in groups of four,
then hurry into darkness to explore
the land that they had beaten to its knees.
Their lines ride rapid off through early dusk
with horse’s snorts, and orders shouted brusque.

“Lord, is there nothing that you cannot do?
My problems reduce now from three unto two!
And yet fear tries to tell me that none shall, in time,
show me method or means down this tower to climb!”

He looked right down the tower; that way lay doom.
The moat was fully forty feet below.
He felt as if it challenged him to go;
a fatal game. He turned to view the room.
Its furnishings were rich and fair - set out
to keep a fellow knight at Robert’s ease,
until his fam’ly do as he should please,
and send a ransom – as they would, no doubt,
if he were any knight who ever sat
in noble tower his own, or jousting downed
his peers and equals from the Table Round;
but Trefor had not any hope of that.
Even if wealth he had, his hopes would falter;
his father had disowned him on the altar.

By fading light, the Fairy Knight saw more;
a glint of yellow metal graced the wall,
where deep and neatly graved were letters tall,
no doubt recording Robert’s lying lore
of how he was a pure and pious knight,
who raised up by his great and gracious powers
his keep, and its four beautiful white towers.
But Trefor could not read, though fine his sight.
He looked along the letters grave and grim,
and wondered then if anyone had taught
him letters, if the effort were for naught,
or if the words would merely anger him.
A gentle voice said low, “This noble seat
the Tower of Summer now doth make complete.”

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