Sunday, May 30, 2010

With a deep bow of respect to the Fairy Queen



For all who wander, lost or misplaced, for those who do not know their own hearts or their own truths, for the dead, for the living, a wish and a hope that you are guided to, or stumble upon, the third road. May it be so.

THOMAS THE RHYMER

True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank,
A marvel with his eye spied he.
There he saw a lady bright
Come riding by the Eildon Tree.

Her skirt was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantle of the velvet fine,
At every lock of her horse's mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine.

True Thomas he pulled off his cap
And bowed down to his knee:
"All hail, thou Queen of Heaven!
For thy peer on earth I never did see."

"O no, O no, Thomas," she said,
"That name does not belong to me;
I am but the queen of fair Elfland
That am hither come to visit thee."

"Sing and play, Thomas," she said
"Sing and play along with me,
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Sure of your body I will be."

"Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That fate shall never frighten me."
And he has kissed her rosy lips,
All under the Eildon Tree.

"Now ye must go with me," she said,
"True Thomas, ye must go with me,
And ye must serve me seven years,
Through weal and woe, as chance may be."

She mounted on her milk-white steed,
She's taken True Thomas up behind,
And every time her bridle rung
The steed flew faster than the wind.

O they rode on, and farther on,
The steed went swifter than the wind;
Until they reached a desert wide,
And living land was left behind.

"Lie down, lie down now, True Thomas,
And rest your head upon my knee;
Abide and rest a little space,
And I will show you wonders three."

"O see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briars?
That is the path of righteousness,
Though after it but few enquire."

"And see ye not that broad, broad road
That lies across the lily leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Though some call it the road to heaven."

"And see ye not that lovely road,
That winds about the fern'd hillside?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night must ride."

"But Thomas, you must hold your tongue,
Whatever you might hear or see,
For if you speak in fair Elfland,
You'll never get back to your own country."

Soon they came to a garden green,
And she pulled an apple from a tree;
"Take this for thy wages, True Thomas,
It will give ye the tongue than can never lie."

"My tongue is my own," True Thomas said,
"A goodly gift ye would give to me!
I'd neither dare to buy or sell,
At fair or tryst where I may be."

"I dare neither speak to prince or lord
Or ask favor from fair lady -"
"Now hold thy peace," the Lady said,
"For as I say, so must it be!"

He has gotten a coat of velvet cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years were gone and past
True Thomas on earth was never seen.


11 comments:

lakeviewer said...

Gosh, what a choice he had! He knew enough to hush up and follow her in bliss.

What wonderment you must be in, Fair Reya, on such spring day, to concoct such a tale and make it sing and dance on such a day.

I'm happy for you.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Rosaria! You know I didn't write Thomas the Rhymer - it's an old English ballad from the wayback machine.

Whenever I visit Annapolis, as I did yesterday, I feel like I've been to Fairyland.

steven said...

hey reya - so the protagonist of this beautiful rhyming story was a real person - thomas learmonth - if you wiki thomas the rhymer you'll find that he was a really interesting guy. i love the three choices part of this whole piece the most. steven

John Hayes said...

One of my all-time favorite poems, & I love the concept of the third road. Thanks for posting this!

Ronda Laveen said...

That poem is like a teleporter. Back to an olden age.

Barry said...

One of Scotland's great and quirky heroes. Great to bump into him again, Reya.

Kerry said...

Beware, True Thomas, beware; the paths are tricky indeed.

Reya Mellicker said...

I know probably more than I need to about true Thomas. This was the theme for a particularly insane witch camp, once upon a time. All of us: campers, teachers, camp staff - we all went to Fairyland. Whoa.

After camp, the teachers decided to walk into the village to have lunch at the pub. We tried a shortcut from camp during which we got caught in a thorny underbrush and narrow path ... later on the street opened up wide and bonny as it were. Finally we got to the pub and it was closed. On the way back, passing through the quaint 15th century thatched roofed houses of Dumdon, we felt like we'd found the third road.

So much magic in Somerset County. Wow.

tut-tut said...

The third road. An exciting concept.

northlighthero said...

What a lovely rendition of Thomas's tale.

I recall a different Witch Camp based on Thomas the Rhymer, in the wilds of West Virginia ... with a somewhat gentler experience of the third road.

When I first visited Annapolis I felt I'd found Fairyland ... and a Path of Learning ... and after a difficult freshman year and a beautiful young man, I left Annapolis much chastened.

The times I've been back, though, that feeling of Fairyland persists. Especially in Springtime. Glad to know you see it, too.

northlighthero said...

What a lovely rendition of Thomas's tale.

I recall a different Witch Camp based on Thomas the Rhymer, in the wilds of West Virginia ... with a somewhat gentler experience of the third road.

When I first visited Annapolis I felt I'd found Fairyland ... and a Path of Learning ... and after a difficult freshman year and a beautiful young man, I left Annapolis much chastened.

The times I've been back, though, that feeling of Fairyland persists. Especially in Springtime. Glad to know you see it, too.