What wantless seeds attest to willing soil,
Each rooted finger delving to earth's core
In counterweight, as newborn limbs recoil
Up from the grave, to rise, to lift, to soar;
To marry gold above with gold below
As petaled faces bask in fiery glow.
In each low nook, on each high rising hill,
By narrow streams wending like living trails
Down through deep harbored vales where winds lay still,
Where night and shadows meet in mingled veils,
All sacred spots that nature calls her own
Know bounty of pure beauty fully grown.
Heaven to some, to some Arcadia;
Her lands enriched not by cold ore struck gold,
But by a blessed cornucopia
That wise men seek, but few will yet behold:
Into this realm a weary hunter treads,
As silent as a widow in silk threads.
His hooded face as weathered as a storm,
Dark eyes, a crooked nose, a fearsome chin;
Worn leather garb clung to his sinewed form,
Drab long cloak loosely clasped by silvered pin;
Old sword and dagger hung from side to side,
Short bow and quiver tarry not his stride.
The vestige trace long lost to eyes unskilled
Takes umbrage at his oft' requited glance,
And twisting like a ****** darkly quilled
To gift the puzzled reader bare a chance,
Turns this and that but all to no avail:
The hunter ever watchful of the trail.
Through field and copse, down to a steep ravine,
Plumbing the darkly deepness of a cave
That writhes through earthly riches like a stream,
Rising to spring like buds from winters grave:
Emerging into light as one exhumed,
The hunter pushes on, the hunt resumed.
For mile to broken mile the land retreats
To greet the rouse and sleeping of the sun;
As day and night dance gaily round their seats,
Taking a turn to sit on either one;
By light of sun, or moon, or stars, the prey
Sets firmer tracks each passing of the day.
Until a dawn awakes to shrieks of mourning,
One golden speck cries foul at visions edge;
Espying of the hunter's cruel adorning
She flits away towards a mountain ridge:
The hunter leaps, pursuing at a pace,
His prey is found, his hunt becomes a chase!
Arcadia delights in summer faire,
Yet all departed seasons lie within;
Protected from the ravage of time's stare,
They wander here or there upon a whim;
And to her borders, winter is inclined,
So comes the chill as summer falls behind.
Soft fertile plains give way to rocky climbs,
And mountain shadows mock sun's feeble stare;
Ice clung to stone, to sting all clinging limbs,
The hunter's eyes blinded by frigid glare;
His prey nearby, she clambers up the *****,
Her racing heart surged by false glinted hope.
Arcadia bade mountains rise up steep,
To keep her borders free of dint or breach,
And rising heavenward, each snow-capped peak,
An endless climb beyond all skillful reach:
The hunter clambers swift to shrink the gap,
And in a breath she falls into his trap.
A foxhole late encumbered with deep snow
Becomes her prison hemmed by harsh cold rock,
The hunter stands above, inclines his bow,
With silken string depressed by feathered nock;
One pause to blink before she pays his toll:
He stalls, steps back, and stumbles from the hole.
"Cold winds chill numb the hands, freeze not the mind!
What trick of sight gives light to such deceit?
Dare I to look once more? Pray will I find
My prey's own claws or tender dainty feet?
Treacherous snow lies deep, my eyes misled!
A beast I sought, a maiden found instead!"
"Kind sir, I find myself at your command!
Pray lend me arms no smith nor fletcher made,
But as my own formed of the sculptors sand
To shape the flesh into the mould he bade:
Pray open up your heart, come set me free,
For I would spy which hunter bested me!"
"Afore I gift my fingers to your plight,
Would you attest to count them fore and aft?
And pledge no claws will scratch nor teeth will bite?
And offer up the scheming of your craft?
A beast I hunt, yet here I catch no beast,
Be swift of tongue, the swifter then released!"
"Upon the sky that houses sun and moon,
The trembling mountains tamed by winters shiver,
The hills, trees, shrubs, vales, Arcadia's bloom,
The living streams, flowers like natures mirror:
Upon all things of worth if word be aught,
I gift my word, my ill to you is naught!"
Her slender form, as light as sleight of white,
He lifts up to assuage her troubled snare;
And looking then upon her wondrous sight,
With darting eyes for fear the sirens glare;
He feels a hammer strike a pillowed blow:
His lifeless limbs collapse into the snow.
"Fear not for words I gift are duty bound,
And bind me as a branch unto a tree;
Would I were fool to feast upon my hound,
My bonded words so too would feast on me:
But listen now, this nymph has had her fun,
The chase is run, the quest is just begun!
Arcadia opens up her vaulted gate
To fallen souls with honor on their name;
Not that bestowed where mongers congregate,
By kings rewarding those who **** and maim;
But those revered for kindly word and deed
Are born again through Arcadia's seed.
Live free to roam in Arcadia's haven,
Fish, hunt, give chase, for sport and for the thrill;
But heed me well, my bonded words are graven,
Open no doors to death, nor test his skill:
Death hunts you like the beast you thought to best,
Though chase be long, be sure he will not rest.
*Arcadia has but one proposition,
Be glad of heart, her realm cannot be broken;
But of your hand she makes a supposition,
You wear it still, a lovers gifted token:
All bonded vows should break upon her border,
That yours did not has brought her some disorder!
Though day and night swing endless through the sky,
No time shall pass within this hallowed glade;
Where once you stood, forever shall you lie,
One breath between a life and bitter shade:
Arcadia can open up her door
And with a breath, release you evermore!
Return to life, return to love's embrace,
Return to sickness, death and poverty;
Go now and lose all knowledge of this place,
Be troubled not by wistful memory;
This path once trod can never be unstarted.
Be warned: no path returns here once departed!
Here then your quest continues with a choice,
Remain within Arcadia's golden land;
Or live a mortal life and then rejoice
To greet your death when taken by his hand:
One breath to choose, one solitary breath,
Immortal life or yet a mortal death."
Being the fourth ...