By firelight, he sat, a book upon his knee, a hand
that stroked his beard. Low-pitched, his voice did rise
and fall, like waves upon the sand, and spoke
of warrior’s wyrd, of wizards wise and maidens fair.
Friends and strangers gathered round, to hear the tale
so stoutly sung, a tale of hearts so torn and wrung,
of weeping women’s wail, of sundry melancholy parts
all wove together in a gleaming battle-shroud.
Or perhaps a sprightly tale; he told those too, and see —
the children laugh at dragon’s antics, cheer the hero
who can command grim death to flee, cheer the maid
who has no fear of what lays beyond the lee, but strides forth…
They have no fear, these warriors of days long past;
they know what lasts, beyond the grave, beyond the tear.
So much more than life, oh, save your tears for lesser folk;
this bier is but a passing thing, a momentary strife,
and after, who can say? Yet surely something wondrous
does await, beyond that gate, and shall we weigh our hero down,
with calls and lamentations? Nay, let us rejoice instead,
and send him forth with all our hope, a brave panoply
to clothe his sturdy bones. For he was surely more
than a simple chronicler of the tale; his breath was too large,
for his frail body to enclose. Mix in this grief some mirth.
Despite his human failings, he was more than just a man;
through him deeper music sang,
and for a little while,
a giant once more walked this earth.
October 25, 1997
(for Paul Edwin Zimmer)