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       Eliza's Fancy (A Faery Romance Part One), p.1
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           Zachary Harper
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Eliza's Fancy (A Faery Romance Part One)
Eliza's Fancy

  a faery romance

  Part One

  Zachary Harper

  Published by Zachary Harper

  Copyright 2011 Zachary Harper

  Discover other titles by Zachary Harper at

  Cover art by Fifi Albatche

  To Eliza,

  May you find the love you have gone so long without.

  To My Mother,

  Thank you for teaching me all that love is truly about.

  On Poetry

  Dearest Reader,

  There was once a time in history when poetry filled so many vast and endless pages of books that one couldn't step into a family library without the very ink singing in meter and stomping in beat. But those days have long faded, and the rhythm of the song-stories is no longer easy to distinguish, as our ears have grown accustomed to the crashing marches and brass pitches of the ever forward-moving novel. The average book talks, whispers, and occasionally gives a nearly unidentifiable yelp that startles you into confusion, but it rarely flutters its voice in sweet-spun melody. Even modern poetry has exchanged form for freedom, and thus lost that which made it poetry in the first place while still grasping pointlessly on to the word whose meaning it has rejected. Yet because both the novel and the modern poem can be done with such outstanding talent and gripping emotion, they have often brought with them a deriding sneer towards the very literature that paved the way for their rise. For the very first stories that shook the artistic world were poems, set to song, and accompanied with a tapping foot. And when one loses the ability to read music, it seems like a droll mess instead of the framework for a symphony.

  It has been to many peoples surprise when I explain that the book herein is written with some semblance of meter, and that I try and use rhythm as a musician would use it. There are verses, choruses, bridges, introductions, codas, and every other structural support found in music both on the radio and in the concert hall. And while I make no assurance that such things are written particularly well or sung with a particularly smooth tone, they are nonetheless composed with a particularly meticulous plan: to make the poetry as natural as possible to a completely untrained reader.

  It is my hope, and here is where all criticism of my form should rest, that the beat will flow as naturally as speech while still imparting that sense of structure. To those of you who have not touched poetry since you were forced to stand in class and recite a Shakespearean speech in a manner that would have saddened even Shakespeare, do not try and read this with any forced timing or dramatic bravado (ah, how the ill-trained have ruined the greatest of the Bard's monologues with the dreary pseudo-beat taught in schools). Such an attempt will only make you lose your interest, as well as your place in the story. Instead, read it as you would a speech: pause where the sentences demand a pause, stress where the words want the stress, and inflect as the emotion imposes inflection.

  Though it may take some small amount of practice, know that learning to read as you sing will open up an entirely new world itself filled with a thousand worlds. The greatest fictional works in history have all mixed the quick wit and sharp tongue of a storyteller with the practiced ability to use word-harmonies as they would a piano, striking notes with rhyme and chords with structure. While I am the least of these, I hope my own simplicity of form will aid in training your mind to work with your ear in singing songs to your soul.


  P.S. The only time you may need to speak unnaturally is in the rare cases that -ed endings must be pronounced to maintain the beat. I avoid this as often as I can, but on occasion it becomes a necessary sacrifice to the tidal movement of the song. These will be written with a dash, as in 'blame-ed', and are to be pronounced with the -ed as an extra syllable (blame/id).

  Eliza's Fancy

  Part One

  Chapter I

  Dearest Eliza!

  How your thoughts did drift

  from the book you read

  (a romance no doubt)

  to the sunlit trees

  to the low-laying clouds

  whose ruffled outlines did seem

  to take the forms, like a dream,

  of knights and dragons and queens

  across a blue-tinged field

  where angels flit

  in glorious golden day-light

  shedding ruffled feathers that fluttered down

  to tickle your delighted fancy.

  As the sun couched itself

  in its rosy-red bed,

  lovely Eliza dreamed,

  lost in thoughts of he, who,

  but hours ago she peeked

  from across the park

  where she sat, nearing dark,

  conjuring some means

  to, by happen-stance meet,

  as if in one of her lovely stories.

  While hopes and wishes drift about,

  Eliza heard a foreign sound

  from a grove of trees that did not seem

  to have stood there a short time before;

  even stranger was the clump of clouds

  which had fallen from the sky above

  and settled down thick as smoke

  clothing it in loose-grey gowns

  capped with half the sun for a crown

  and the fiery sunset a royal cloak.

  “How lovely!" declared Eliza,

  “How delightful!” she said,

  forgetting how queer it had appeared,

  gathered up her book and pen

  and headed for the enchanted woods

  where the unknown sound rang.

  Entering, time seemed to yawn

  and take a break from its forward march;

  in perpetual twilight, the sky glowed,

  illuminating branches like a thousand arches;

  nature's canopy did breathe and flow

  to the beat of the gently blowing wind

  which carried the sound of horses hooves

  to our Eliza’s ears.

  “How strange,” said she

  (with no small amount of glee)

  “I would love to see the horse,

  and pet it, should the rider let me.”

  Eliza stepped through mud and leaves

  that littered the soft autumnal ground,

  until she found a barren clearing

  with a stately horse boldly standing;

  a giant black beast

  that made the trees tremble

  and wave wildly about

  as if to touch him with their near-naked branches

  would cause their few remaining leaves to rout.

  But Eliza noticed not the Nightmare,

  for saddled atop was a gallant man

  with piercing eyes ‘neath matted hair

  as thick as the stallion's mane;

  his gaunt cheeks and sharp chin

  did draw and trap Eliza’s eyes,

  her stare unable to find a way out;

  so silently she watched.

  He studied the forest

  as if reading a book,

  chasing some distant animal's tracks

  to where they crossed a bubbling brook;

  on his face lay a deep, concerned look

  as if the prey had escaped,

  or some sign in the woods he had mistook.

  Then the rider reared

  and turned about,

  speeding toward the distant sky

  that peered from o’er the crisscrossed trees;

  Eliza gasped, startled from pure delight,

  and ran after quick as a mouse;

  but how fast did the Nightmare fly!

  The gloam already swallowed whole

the figure dark as midnight.

  “What a terrible day,” cried Eliza,

  “To show me a prince, then take him away!

  I will search this forest tree to tree,

  go underground or far up high

  just to catch a glimpse of him

  so my heart can, with beauty, sigh

  and wrap me in love's lovely dream!”

  So Eliza, with starry-eyes,

  set off after the Black Knight;

  pulled by a wild, swirling need

  to capture him once more in her sight.

  Let fate toss and turn

  and clash the hopeless ‘gainst the shore,

  Eliza will fill this romantic yearn;

  and though she knows not where to go,

  she will travel till tired and sore.

  So straight ahead!

  Follow your fancy, Eliza dear,

  you’ll find your flame, have no fear!

  Chapter II

  The sky was brightening

  quicker than e'er before,

  as if the sun had seen Eliza’s woes

  and rushed out to pour

  his golden rays from o’erhead

  to lighten her lips

  and bring out her smile instead.

  She walked along the forest floor

  seeing phantoms and faeries

  both beautiful and scary

  darting from trunk to trunk

  and peeping out

  scurrying around,

  giggling here and there,

  their laughs a delightfully playful sound.

  So strange they seemed!

  Long-limbed, stout yet petite,

  running like the wind on steady, bare feet.

  Some were as green as the leaves

  that fluttered about;

  some blue as the sky;

  some as pink as a child's cheek

  in the midst of a long pout;

  there were faeries that flew,

  nymphs nude yet not lewd,

  gnomes with tomes and bottles in hand,

  goblins grinning and digging up the land,

  and all would stare as Eliza passed by

  then return to their follies,

  neither bold nor shy.

  She saw a field of flowers

  pulled straight out of a dream

  as if heaven had peeked into a painting

  and created exactly what it had seen:

  a thousand tiger-lilies

  dancing together in proper form,

  leaves linked and petals tilted

  moving in a celebratory swarm.

  The trees waved o'er the faeries Eliza spied,

  and the grass sang a long-lost song

  as the wind whistled airily along;

  sun-flowers bloomed then hid underground,

  popping up, now down, now up, now down,

  as vines crawled, creeping stealthily around,

  occasionally darting out to tickle her feet

  or turn her path away from some dark-looking peat.

  When the forest dispersed,

  replaced by fields of tall wheat,

  Eliza found a road some time beat

  by the feet of both fay and man

  cutting through the rolling grassland;

  off far, far in the distant land

  was a tower, tall and grand,

  that shone white as the clouds

  that seemed to abound

  in the air above the castle grounds.

  “Surely he must have come this way;

  this is the only path that I have found

  and the only castle I see for days around!

  Perhaps if I do reach

  that far off spire I could beseech

  the villagers to tell me where

  my Black Knight did ride his Nightmare!”

  Her spirits soared with thoughts like these

  and the breeze swirled and whirled her hair about,

  cold enough to redden her cheeks;

  but the sun would kiss those rosy peaks

  with a touch just warm enough

  (the heat was neither tough nor rough)

  to stir her blood and lighten her heart

  from the heavy load of love's dragging weight

  (how could she bear the Knight being apart?);

  so onward she danced through the bright sun's ray.

  As Eliza walked, a sound did float

  from a hill topped by a weeping willow

  in a sea of grass high as her throat;

  a whimper (how it burned her heart!)

  a sob (how it tore her apart!)

  a cry that pierced her chest,

  a song so sad; so sad.

  She stepped lightly off the path

  walking softly through the grass

  that pushed at her white dress

  leaving green and brown stains

  where’ere they pressed;

  when she emerged at the willow’s grove,

  leaning against its skinny trunk

  was a de-formed man,

  short and hunchbacked,

  who by a deep sadness was pitifully wracked.

  Chapter III

  “Dear friend, dear friend,

  why do you cry so!” asked Eliza

  in a voice steeped in grief

  and empathy for one in such need.

  “Woe am I! Woe am I!

  I cry for I’ve seen

  that which I had never hoped to have!

  Love did quietly come

  then so softly flee

  all before I could even react!

  A Nymph! A Nymph! She kissed my cheek

  and ran away, calling ‘Chase me! Chase me!’

  But I! I can’t run!

  A misformed man, my love undone!

  My love undone, betrayed by my body,

  no hope to catch the faery-maiden.

  If only I were a hero from lore,

  strong as a troll,

  fast as a centaur,

  I’d track her back to the spring whence she came

  and, with her kiss as my claim,

  demand to marry her straight away!

  For once caught, they can’t escape,

  and only those kissed can see their face

  when they fade into their mother’s grove

  to hide from our mundane race.

  To have never seen her!

  To free my soul from this wakened desire,

  stirred from its slumber by a thief in the night,

  now too roused to rest its head

  after seeing so wond’rous of sight!

  How my heart does beat anew,

  how my blood does burn and brew!

  To have never seen her!

  To have never seen her!

  To but remove this cheek-tattoo!

  Woe am I! Woe am I!

  I cry for I have seen

  that which I had never hoped to have!”

  Eliza stooped and touched

  his shoulder (though it was horribly hunched)

  and spoke with such calm;

  her words were a holy, healing balm.

  “Sad friend, sad friend,

  I too have lost

  a love that lasted for but a minute,

  a Black Knight who stole my heart

  and tore my sad soul apart;

  yet even beauty’s briefest visits

  are worth this melancholy cost!

  Wish it not away,

  but come search with me

  and, though we be forlorn and star-crossed,

  perhaps fate will treat us happily.

  My name is Eliza, if you please,

  and though I am new to this land

  (what strange and wond’rous sights!),

  I cannot stop until I find

  he who my thoughts ignite!

  I walk to the tower

  that rises so radiantly

  like a white mountain underneath

  a crown of clou

  far, far in the distance.

  Come with me, dear creature,

  and let us together find our fancies!”

  The dwarf sighed and smiled,

  soothed by her soft suggestion,

  and struggling to rise on his stunted leg,

  he reminded Eliza of the goblins she'd seen;

  a hideous man, to be sure,

  but with eyes that sparkled divine,

  and his voice was strong and musical

  with a beauty of its own design.

  “They say a wizard lived there once,

  powerful and grand,

  and that his generosity was matched

  only by his benevolence.

  But some evil spirit became manifest

  in the midst of the wizard's court

  and made a seemingly innocent request

  with purpose to virtue thwart.

  No one knows why the wizard failed

  to take note of the evil plan,

  but soon after the castle was veiled

  by the fog and clouds

  that now do the walls span.

  For twenty years at the very least

  only specters have been seen

  walking the parapets by light of day,

  and by moon guarding the daunting gate.

  Magic still resides, for sure,

  at the pale castle for which you head,

  perhaps he will know how to lure

  my faery-maiden from her glade!

  For I, Quenton Breigh,

  cannot sit while my Nymph's away!

  Lead on, Eliza dear!

  We’ll search all day,

  all month, all year!”

  Chapter IV

  Thus the pair fast befriended,

  united by their broken hearts,

  that hoped together to find repair,

  though the way was hid in shadow

  and the path sharply turned and wended

  through mountain, valley,

  plain and meadow.

  From the field the land turned to hills

  where pixies lived in tunneled homes;

  they would, like prairie-dogs, peek

  from beneath the green underbrush along the road.

  The pixies were slender and sleek,

  their hair as white as snow,

  and as Eliza passed the pixies would greet

  the strange-paired travelers with a thin 'Hullo!'

  How tickled was Eliza!

  How wonderful they were!

  To see and hear a fay-blooded being

  as tiny, yet as noble as a dove!

  The pixies would bow or tip their sunflower hats

  and wave their fox-fur gloves,

  while Eliza would laugh and blow a kiss,

  then smother Quenton with a hug.

  They walked and talked of many things,

  and Quenton slowly but happily explained

  that though hunched of back

  and slow of walk,

  his strength was great

  and his courage never balked;

  he would often wander the countryside

  as a juggler or illusionist for children or brides

  or at festivals where the mass would gather

  and welcome the whimsical trade he plied.

  So though his face was poorly wrought

  and his body was in a sad lot,

  to the world much happiness he brought

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