In which the king rescues a boy from the Vale of Thry to be put into his service.
Within a vale of green, upon a hill
Both small and rich, where chickens ranged about,
Where men and women lived, and had good will,
And where the sky did smile on all things out,
There lived a faml’yd boy of modest birth
Beguiled and read of books of fantasy,
Of gods and heroes from around the earth,
Of bonzelike mages working magically.
No stupid boy was he, although a brain
Of genius stature possesséd he not.
He tended crops, bewailed the pouring rain,
Sat down to read, and ran when Sun came out.
And none of them that lived in town did guess
That he would grow to save their happiness.
In dripping caves where dankness’s looming breath
Unluminates an atmosphere of gloom
The Rebels gathered round to talk of death
To everyone who lived outside that room.
Like men seemed they, though gruesome and defiled.
Their horrid hides hid haunting organisms
With eyes that blazed with knowledge fell and wild
And noses smelling power through nose-spasms.
Of plots they spoke: of building living cranes
By which they’d dangle humans over knolls
Of poison-flower covered quicksand plains
And thus increase their deadly, hellish tolls.
No goal had they. Plots gave their lives no spice.
They hated their own King and wished malice.
The centerpiece, the Rome of this fair land
Where peasants dwelt while Rebels peril brewed,
Was filled with all its ruler’s many hands
And eyes and mouths by which his land was ruled.
Benign was he, this ruler of the realm
Who dwelt in house of gold, not built by slaves
But by his many subtle powers alone.
Far-great was he, deserving of all praise.
And on this day, when whispers of “the plot”
Imbued the merry air with grayish tint,
He called his min’sters all, to test the blot
And see what could be done in spite of it.
And they all formed a council wondrous wise
Who’d meet the deadly plot with live surprise.
Upon his left sat his most trusted aide
Like man he seemed, although of wav’ring sort
With skin that did with armor plating trade
Its look, its notion, and warlike comport.
And then there sat a man who fused with fish
Seeméd to be, though one could not describe
Just where discerned there was to be this fish.
And in his hand he held some healthy dyes.
Across the row from King, there sat a man
Who seeméd stretched, like cords of telephone
Across the silent space of sky and land
And yet, he seeméd more than skin and bones.
And on the right hand of this glorious king,
There sat his Great Queen, loved above all things.
“Your worship,” said the head, the warlike one,
“You know The Rebels, who denied your rule
So many moons ago, ‘fore years did run,
Are once again fermenting malice cruel.”
“Prosperity” the fishlike healer said
“Although an august landlord, is not a king
Who plans for all his subjects well ahead.
From their excess is where this fester rings.”
“Indeed, I sat within their walls of cave
(Within, and not betwixt, the walls was I)
I heard them plot and rant and plot and rave
Do burn the town most pure in Vale of Thry.”
(These words were spoken by the third great lord
In order that dark secrets might be heard.)
“As wielder of your pow’r, I beg to speak”
The warlike one revealed, “If by your leave
I ventured to the vile cave, your strength
Which all do know is limitless, would cleave
The evil end from end.” With laughter glowed
The golden room like fertile unfarmed sheaves
Do fill a silo when the stomach’s whole
The laughter of the King! “We thank you, sir.
The realm is mine, and all who dwell within.
These problems serve as tests where they may turn
To better things unknown. And only sin
Makes most great change into honor and love
Therefore, help’s of themselves, and not above.”
Upon a day within the Vale of Thry,
The boy, in feyful mood that’s caused by books,
Did step out into lawn and ground and sky,
In search for something magical. He shook!
For every day of every year he’d moped
That he could not, by drinking potion rare
Or chanting words, move even his light cloak.
Yet when his hope was least, its goal was there!
Uncurling like a watchly-pendulum
As languid and as quick as op’ning bud
A deadly nightshade plant popped from the scrum
And grew to full-grown size like oozing blood.
And then he saw that every day for weeks
It had approached his house like this, like feet.
All awestruck by this obvious conjure
The child, hardly daring to approach
For fear of poison’ng powers long abjured
By everyone, on encroacher did encroach.
And then a rattle of unfitting wind
Did overturn the sensual leaf. Revealed
Upon the side that closer lives to sin:
Downside leaves of night with stars a-pearled.
His eyes did see this velvet blue but more
In that small fateful moment held the leaf.
A full-black shape, a groping hand of war
Did flow from it, OUT of the thrice-thin leaf.
Upon the foot of child the hand did start
Then, groping up, sans wrist, it felt his heart.
And then, a spot of wet was by them felt
Like cleansing rain, although from bush, not mist
And the hand fell, like newly curéd welt
And went away. And as it went, it hissed.
The bush then shook. The boy approached, of course
And, parting branches, saw a silken shoe
Perform a loop. He saw invis’ble force
Was flipping a strange man, just out of view.
What sort of magician would flip himself?
Or cause another to be thus so flipped?
And why did he not want it to be smelt
By anyone who through the grove did trip?
He parted branches, then he saw The Feet
Soft walking on the grass, yet floating o’er it!
There weren’t just feet this time, but also legs
Attachéd to a thin, but full grown, man.
“O child, know ’twas I who cast the dreg
That rescued you,” he said “from phantom hand.”
“’Twas you who flipped as well?” the child asked.
The man’s thin face turned down in light disgust.
“Ah yes it was. ‘Twas not my power tasked
But rather that of King, a distant gust.
To me he has just given commission
To find and bring you to his distant school
Where you’ll be taught his legal cantations.”
“That’s great!” the child said. “Not cool?
I like it. You omit that cliched word
But soon you must depart your home and world.”
And so into the child’s house they stepped
To say goodbye unto his mother fair.
And premonition on the child crept
That he’d not see her there, or anywhere.
But then her smile, like glaze upon her face
That has its shape, yet shows what’s under through,
Betrayed her worry that they’d be erased
But also showed her joy at what he’d do.
“My son,” she spoke with tones of ancient grace
Crafted with labor, like a violin,
That makes a home a soaring, joyful place.
She spoke no more, but merely embraced him.
And lest it seem their parting was too fast
The messenger, he would not let it last.
For all at once, the roof did burst apart
And flaming dogs, like hailstones, blasted through
Assaulting the sad scene of broken hearts
But not the third one. He knew what to do.
Invoking mysteries on a nearby pot,
He then o’er turned it. Furious and fay,
The frothy flow extinguished the dogs hot
Then grabbéd he the child’s arm. Away!
They ran, while Zeus’s lightning bolts
Imploded walls. Construction in reverse
Collapsed the house as quick as earthquake jolts
Cause colonies of fleas to be dispersed.
The two, fleeing the chaos, did not rest
Until they reached the nearby green forest.
“My mother!” sobbed the boy from calmer wood,
“I fear you die!” but then the master said
“I would not fear for her, they’re after you!
The selects of the king are often dead.”
He built a fire from some nearby sticks
And threw upon it powder smelling sweet
“Such pantomimic deadlies will end quick
For they will flee this fire on fleet feet”
“Who are these they, and why do they want me?”
The boy inquired, worried but intrigued.
The master spoke: “They are an enemy
Who keeps you from the service of the king.
But now the time comes, now it is the age
For your first lesson as the King’s new page.
When light was newly made and stars were young,
And one fell Power ruled the world
As absolute as lightning’s whiteness flung
Upon the darkened sky, it then was heard
That thrown against this ordered, whirling state
Opposing all its per’lous perfect poise
One sole ambitious mind, both free and great,
Did seek to make orig’nal things and toys.
And so in search of equal majesty
Where monarchs none there were to take and tax
Those things that seeméd not to be their fee
This spirit shook the kingdom ruled. His back
Denied accustomed load, did straighten out
Never again to bend or bow or pout.
He poised himself in midst of lily-pond
And with his power, with dreamy, curling grace,
Did spike some lilies that grew quite close around
With hollow, brilliant jewels. And then effaced
The lilies were: like lotus they became.
Arrived then the allies of the first,
With sweet and sinuous wounding words they came
To dwell within the lotuses new-birthed.
All burn within that dry and freezing pond
Where nothing dwells, except alluring flowers
That fade away when touched, mere dreams bedrawn
From heartless passion, inf’nite-licensed powers,
And weightless stones of might. Then comes a knife
That cuts aside the beauty of false life.
This tale is not a thing on how to rhyme,
But works on our minds all subconsciously.
The jewels, my son, prefigure…” Then, a vine
Curled up into a cobra strikingly.
The tale’s decode was ended as the wood
Broke into tree-ish ranks of phalanxes
That aimed their spears upon the master good
Too many to be cowed by woodsman’s axes.
Tell, poet, of the running that ensued:
Bark flying like the bullets of the gun
Thry’s boy with his old master good
By speed alone did they the chaos shun.
There are some who lament a forest fire
But more than burning, THIS made the trees tire.
When night was come, and all the air was dark
And tightly wound around the tensile spring
Of danger and adventure, Lo! A spark!
And with a wooden brand concealed, burning
And lighting stones with eerie orange glow
They lightly ran along the quiet path
The humid air about them. All its flow
Embraced them like impending peril’s waft.
They ran all of the night until their bones
Did turn from structurals to drums a-beat
Of tired agony unfit for stones
For both their lives depended on their feet;
Then cast themselves upon savannah space;
Then rose they with the moon, again to pace.
Then when the boy from Thry could go no more
And tripping on the very air he fell
The two looked up (the man had bent to floor
To help him nicely as he could). The swell
Of beats of fainting, tired hearts increased
To frantic pace as fin’lly they beheld
Their palace-goal, with all its floors of fleece.
Its walls were thick, and sweetly flowed its well.
Then realized they that danger now was past
And, slowing their exhausted step, they strode
With regal beat the journey’s paces last.
Behind them, strong kind gates were slowly closed
And with them closed the days of Thry’s small vale.
A strange new life would this great change entail.