A king there was in days of old:
When earth's own magic waxed and flowed.
His power was sourced midst forest shade,
His strength he drew from glen and glade.
His sword was sharp, and high his helm, 5
The king of beech and oak and elm.
His shields were shining as the moon,
His lances keen of ash were hewn,
Of silver-grey his crown was wrought,
The starlight in his banners caught; 10
And silver thrilled his trumpets long
Beneath the stars in challenge strong.
Enchantment did his realm enfold,
Where might and glory, wealth untold,
He wielded from his ivory throne 15
In many-pillared halls of stone.
A queen there was in th' dawn of days:
Her golden crown did brightly blaze
With ruby red and crystal clear;
Her strength she drew from lake and mere. 20
Her robes of silk, her ivory throne
In ancient halls of arch'd stone,
And wine and music lavished free,
And thirty minstrels played with glee.
Their music merry, strong and clear, 25
Delighted all: more fair than ear
Of man at feast hath e'er since heard,
And fairer than the song of bird.
There beryl, pearl, and opal pale,
And metal wrought like fishes' mail, 30
Circlet and corslet, goblet and gourd,
And gleaming jewels were laid in hoard.
There bow was bent and shaft was sped,
The fallow deer as phantoms fled,
And horses proud with braided mane, 35
With shining bit and silver rein,
Went fleeting by on moonlit night,
As swallows arrow-swift in flight;
A blowing horn and sound of bells,
A hidden hunt through hidden dells, 40
Whose brooding boughs with magic hung
Were ancient when the world was young.
The king and queen ruled wise and fair,
Their subjects loved them for their care.
All this they had and heeded not, 45
Beside a child conceived in magic grot:
Their daughter dear, a maiden bright,
Whose power waxed strong as morning light.
Such lissom limbs as neĠer did run,
On the green earth beneath the sun; 50
So fair a maid as neĠer shall be
From dawn to dusk, from sun to sea.
Her robe was blue as summer skies,
But grey as evening were her eyes;
'Twas sewn with golden lilies fair, 55
But dark as shadow was her hair.
Her feet were light as bird on wing,
Her laughter lighter than the spring;
The slender willow, the bowing reed,
The fragrance of a flowering mead, 60
The light upon the leaves of trees,
The voice of water, more than these
Her beauty was and blissfulness,
Her glory and her loveliness;
And her the king and queen did prize 65
More dear than heart or light of eyes.
In her did run their magics both,
The king of wood, and stone and growth,
The queen of air, and water pure.
In her their power would endure. 70
And when of age, they planned to teach
Her knowledge hid from mortal reach.
But to that age she never came,
To her birthright and her fame.
For in the fifteenth of her years 75
The darkest of her parents' fears:
The monstrous lord of th' northern land,
Did send a herald to ask her hand.
In th' North there lay the Land of Dread,
Whence only evil pathways led 80
O'er hills of shadow bleak and cold
To th' dread lord's bitter, haunted hold.
Where deadly nightshade lurked and lay
And never shone nor moon nor day.
Deep in the North, 'pon hill of stone, 85
'Twixt towers black there stood his throne,
By fires illumined in skulls of foes
That winds of ice with moaning throes
Made flare and flicker in dark smoke;
The wavering bitter coils did choke 90
The sunless airs of dungeons deep
Where evil things did crouch and creep.
There sat a king: no human race
Nor mortal blood, nor kindly grace
Of earth or heaven might he own, 95
Far older, stronger than the stone
The world is built of, than the fire
That burns within more fierce and dire;
And thoughts profound were in his heart,
An evil power that dwelt apart. 100