Monday, March 17, 2008

The Steward's Lament

Recently I wrote a poem inspired, oddly enough, by the fictional fantasy epic I'm working on. It's a lament from the perspective of the king's steward, now a slave in exile with the last remnant of his people. It begins with him looking back at the catastrophic invasion of his country and then addressing his remaining friends with words of hope. (And by way of a formal note, since the work is my own creation, the story and the proper names are copyrighted to me). I hope you enjoy it.

From black and vacant, endless depths,

From ancient shores they ride—

The lands which tombed our fathers’ bones

Today would bid us die.

A tribe made savage by their wealth,

By violence and lust,

Now comes to vanquish Ferran’s sons;

But we survive—we must!

O Great and Good, will you forget?

Will you ignore our cries?

Will vice o’erwelm your virtues’ sons

And truth be drowned by lies?

Dark is the world that meets my gaze

And dark this day has dawned.

Friends, we are lost to all we love,

And lost to fair and fond.

Remember now, and count my tears

As wailingly they fall;

So come, my broken, homeless friends,

Come now, and weep for all.

Like every horror of the sea,

This hurricane of wrath

Broke fierce against our peaceful shores

And found us in its path.

Fair Antaré, our brightest jewel,

Was bathed in smoke and blood,

Its walls surrendered to the flame,

Its bridges to the flood.

Then up the gentle Tua’la,

The river of our faith,

These men of death consumed our hope,

These twisted rogues and wraiths.

Our great, green land was black with soot

And red with outspilled life;

What once was blossoming with joy

Now wilted in our strife.

Like death itself they stalked our roads

And one day they did bring

Their blackest, foulest deed against

Our city, crown, and king.

There in the very womb of life

Their blades have cut us down;

We die, we die in every street,

We die in every town.

My eyes have seen our children slain;

I had no strength to save…

Oh, would that I had died for them

And rested in their grave!

No hero rose to save us then,

No Warlent did arise;

Our God has let us perish there,

And he has closed his eyes.

Now dies the king, dies Warlent’s heir

Against the mocking throng—

The warlord’s blade has cut him down

Amid their bloody song.

But friends, we live—we exiles few,

Cut down but not devoured—

Our hearts would bid us die as well,

But we must face this hour.

Our God has closed his eyes to us,

But he does not ignore;

It’s sorrow turns his face away,

But he will look once more.

We’ve lost the river and the plain,

But have the desert here,

And every land shall be our land,

Whether far or near.

We’ve lost our loves, dear friends of mine,

But have each other still;

And hope and faith have failed us not,

And no, they never will.

I hold a child within my arms,

And he will be our peace,

To lead us out again one day

When slavery will cease.

Behind our woe there lurks a hope

That fate can never kill—

That God will make these wrongs come right—

He said, and so he will.

And so we wait, we trust, we mourn,

Believing all the while

That far beyond this rush of tears

Someday will dawn a smile.

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