All very rough.
Tristan and Iseult
A poison sweet like honey,
bitter to the soul, spreads swiftly,
fire-violent, through the veins,
bewitching mind and body
with wondrous wode and witching.
But potion becomes temptation,
witchery's made treachery,
sweet made acid; the bud withers,
the blossoms fail in blight.
What joy, O lovers, in joy that dies?
What glory in love that spoils?
Only rot remains, and grave ghosts.
Can hope be reclaimed, redrawn?
No. Bitter winds drive hard bargains,
black sails bring suicide.
I sat upon the wayside and thought
of long years and great ideas, and loves,
of hopes and hearts in darkness caught,
of the topics handled with kid gloves
by men who never think save on their meals,
by minds that know no truths but only feel,
who never have the maiden Wisdom sought.
Through all my many days of cloud --
the days are many, tho' the years be few --
of this I was most often proud,
that I knew and saw more than others do;
but minds are mirrors wavy and unwise,
prone to malice, and mischievous with lies.
When I saw the world, I saw it wasn't true.
Or perhaps it was, but in a different way;
for many are the threads that God can spin
upon the loom of life, and in the day
one pure white refracts through many men,
yet is not less a white for playing on the face
of crystal hearts before it turns to race
and dazzle mind and eye with plural ray.
A rabbit stole the sun; it, fearless, rose
and snatched a piece away, a shattered shard
that broke into the stars that nightly glow.
Perhaps a god inspired the lonely bard
who told that tale, that we might come to see
that rays of light refract through you and me
to be caught again by all the pure of heart.
For truth, they say, is simple, one, and whole;
it stays as it ever stays, unbroken and most pure;
when the titan for our sake the glory stole,
it shattered for only God could it endure
to adorn and dress; as flint on steel,
the sparks flew out to set our minds to reel,
incendiary visions lodged in earthen souls.
A Rumor's Rumor
A young man journeyed far
beneath both sun and star,
over mount and mead,
driven by a need,
aching with a passion,
that, like a sprouting seed,
pushed up and up, not to be denied;
he sought Truth; Truth did hide.
Many long and sleepless nights he sought,
walking, running, keeping watch,
nights and days, weeks and years,
through thorn and river, sweat and tears,
for a rumor's rumor, which had told
that Truth was lovely and dressed in gold.
At last on a cold grey mountain
he came upon a garden
within which sprang a fountain
so cold no man could taste;
and a woman old and hardened,
stringy-haired and broken smile,
by the prickly thorn and holly,
croaked a song and broke his haste.
Struck by a sudden patience,
he stopped to ask her name;
and the ugly hag and ancient,
from age to age the same,
told him she was Truth.
How hardly hopes are shattered!
Almost he departed,
but the he softly sighed.
"For years I have been seeking,
for Truth alone been aching;
shall my youthful pride
bring all to nought, as folly?"
And by the sprouting holly,
accepting his defeat,
he gave up all his journeys
to sit at an old hag's feet.
For years he sat and pondered
at her feet with thought and wonder,
and although Truth was ugly,
he grew old, and well, and wise,
his mind farther and farther reached.
Then the hag Truth came to him
on a twinkling twilight dim,
to say she had no more to teach.
"But all my lore must be repaid;
my pay is this: for all your days,
when people ask you of Truth's face,
do not say she is foul and old,
but that she is lovely, bright,
full of glory and of light,
clothed not in rags but gold."