Elizas fancy (a faery ro.., p.1
a faery romance
Published by Zachary Harper
Copyright 2011 Zachary Harper
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Cover art by Fifi Albatche
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.
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).
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
“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!
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
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.
“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!”
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
Eliza's Fancy (A Faery Romance Part One) by Zachary Harper / Fantasy / Romance & Love have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on18 votes