The Tale

The Tale
Photo by Héctor J. Rivas / Unsplash

In winter’s cold the room was warmed
by fire in hearth that roared
They all sat merry behind oaken door
the servants, the kin, and their lord

Merry were they in family embrace
with table well served on covering of lace

They knew not the privation of need
All that was given them from the earth
From grain to meat
From fruit to seed
With no labor to show their worth

For their indulgence had made them slight
And turned them ice to other’s plight

“Hear ye servants the knock on the wood”
“Who at this hour might think they should”
“What manner of person would trouble us so?
would wish us to open to frigid night air?”
“Go open the door and let us know
what class would show such ill thought care”

Came he in a tattered man
On from birth lost father, mother, all his clan
And stood he bold in the warm soft room
But the sparkle in his eye gave none to gloom

His manner and baring were stout and true
Though his face be withered with ancient crags
With smile so fetching of very few
that melted the heart to dusty rags
And stood he bold in the warm soft room
with sparkle of eye that banished all gloom

The lord’s gaze narrowed as he took him in
“Why come you here, you pitiless soul?
Can you not see our feast for friend and kin
the table well laid and hearth with coal?”
“Be away with you, our supper grows cold!
We have not time nor heart for those
who would have our joy be sold?
for false grief and ragged cloths”

“Great lord” spoke he, his eyes so steady, so clear
“I come not begging charity so guard you from that fear”
“For whatever crust of bread, you place upon my hand
I give to all what nourishes mind,
a plate of thought both subtle and grand
a tale to touch all humankind”

“Let my words caress your mortal heart
Let my whit touch this merry room
And if my tale does not cause tears to part
may your maid trounce me with old sparse broom”

“Beggar man!” spoke the lord, fire in his eye
Lay your history before us and be sure
my maid’s broom would be first to fly
and me behind with sharpened skewer”

At first it was but folly and have hearing all
But this changed as his voice rang through the hall
His words flowed and whirled
A story that touched both heart and mind
With drama and adventure unfurled

His story painted a picture in each mind
Of wars and intrigue that unlike any kind
That they had heard before

This beggarly man weaved the phrases
Like so many birds on the wing
That took all through a myriad of mazes
With both familiar and whimsical ring

As he spoke his appearance transmuted
From mendicant rags to shining armor well suited
And his words were like the waves
And his words were like the sun
And he spoke of kings and slaves
And villains on the run

He spoke of brave warriors marching to battle
Of poor ones traded as so much chattel
Of fair beauty in loving embrace
Of elegant queens in royal grace
All in the hall were lost in his story world
The food was cold, the embers to coal
With each breath the sounds that hurled
Robbed each of their very soul

Their hearts reached out crying
With each account of valiant dying
Of each love that was lost
For the hero to pay the cost

Of sacrifice of all that was dear
And all that was held so near

His words trailed off leaving them hollow
Wishing with all desire what was to follow
But he had ended the tale with deep repose
And again, before them stood he in ragged cloths

Those of the hall awoke from that intense dream
That the beggar had woven with not needle nor seam
Each felt his touch in their own way
The greatness of the touch on feelings did play

The lord, after a time, his voice he did find
“You oh beggar man, did interrupt our meal
And took us on a journey unlike any other kind”

“You touched our hearts with sacred seal
With your words our souls you did steal
Please stay with us and merry our hearts so pale
For you have given us, the greatest tale”