Friday, August 12, 2005

Performance

Elizia borrows a dress


I do not wish to impede the progress of the group, so I am ready to preform. I wrote this, but I do not sing. At least . . . when I do sing, someone usually tells me to stop.

I walked down into the Gypsy camp when it was almost morning, when the last wisps of white smoke from the campfires had dissolved like spun sugar into the tangled green of the overhanging trees and the blackness of night began to pale to pearls of grey. I found him sitting with his back against a tree playing a Bach concerto on a piccolo. He stopped and looked at me.
“I’m looking for a harpist,” I said.
He raised an eyebrow. “Do I look like a harpist?”
“Yes.”

He wore unrelieved black; black breaches, tall black boots, a black poets shirt. His long black hair was pulled back with a length of thin black leather.
“And what is it you want with a harpist?”
“I need someone to play and sing a Ballad while I dance. A performance with a fairly large audience.”
He raised the other eye brow. “You’re a dancer, are you?”
I narrowed my eyes. The piccolo flew out of his fingers and up into the tree. But not before it had rapped him sharply across the forehead.
“I am.”

His hand went to his head, his eyes following the small silver sphere as it hurled up through the branches and out of sight. He looked at me again, his own eyes narrowed. “Yes, indeed,” he said softly, “I can see that. I suppose you wrote this Ballad yourself? The one you want sung?”
“I did.”
He pursed his lips for a moment, considering. “How bad is it?”
“It’s actually quite good, but it’s very long.”
He nodded slowly. “I have no problem with that, my memory is excellent regardless of . . . regardless. The problem would be that I haven’t a harp. My last one somehow found it’s way into the hands of a wine merchant.”
“I have a harp,” I told him shortly, “small. Celtic. A knee harp. You sing for me and play well and I’ll let you keep it.”
Both eyebrows went up together. “That is quite an offer. I sing one night and get to keep the harp?”
We will have to rehearse, of course,” I said, “and” I added flatly, “I said, play well.
He smiled, showing white even teeth beneath a clipped black mustache. “That you needn’t worry about. I always play well regardless of . . . regardless.”
“Fine.”
“He glanced up into the tree. “What about my . . .” He was struck squarely in the center of the head by a falling piccolo. He caught it on the second bounce, laughing silently.

He unfolded like a cat stretching, coming easily to his feet and executing a deep bow from the waist all in one smooth movement. The piccolo remained clenched in his fist. “Very well, my Lady. You have a harpist. I am Alejandro.”
“I know.”
He nodded, a smile playing around his lips. “Of course you do. And you are?”
I smiled. “The Ballad is in first person feminine. Do you have a problem with that?”
He thought for a moment. “No. I will merely be a sounding board for what you are doing.”
“Exactly.”
Another eyebrow went up and he smiled slowly. “No problem at all. I can sing anything, regardless of . . . regardless.”

The Gateway to Tir na Og






A Ballad of the Sidhe


I went up from the Derbane Dales
When the green had just begun
As sweet, young Spring unrolled herself
I walked into the rising sun

A path I found through the Dryadwood
Beneath the sound of birds
My journey out into the wide world
Questing for radiant words

Searching for words like thin rare glass
So a touch would make them ring
Seeking for new ways to weave them
Into plaits that will sparkle and sing

I carry the tools for this gathering
At my side in a small velvet sack
An empty book hungry for markings,
My harp in its case at my back

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

I followed my footsteps pattern
Though the paths that I knew disappeared
I left behind the well known wood
And began up the Mountain of Wyrd

Looks are black toward this mountain
From the folk of the lush Derbane land
Mistrust, fear and suspicion
For something they don’t understand

For ‘things happen’ up here on the mountain
Where forces unknown hold sway
So they spit on their fingers and turn them
To keep the Wyrd of Wyrd Mountain away

Yet here’s where my foot steps led me
And I followed, my mind flying blind
Knowing that what I would find here
Was exactly what I would find

Knowing that what I might take here
Would be several kinds of chance
Knowing I’d take all that followed
Searching for words that would dance

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

I came to a hushed bright hollow
Where I stood silent and very aware
There was enchantment in every rustle
A witchery in the bright air

I held my hands up to the sunshine
No, not witchery per se
I took a breath of the trembling air
What I tasted was something fey

I saw nothing move in the brightness
I heard not a sound on the breeze
Except for the drowsy droning
Of butterflies, sunshine and bees

But that sunshine was thick with magic
The air had a sharp smell and taste
I knew I had come to a turning
That the Children of Dana had graced

Like being at once in two places
I gazed at an old, sleepy tree
I smiled and said to no one
“Ah! A gate to the land of the Sidhe!”

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

One doesn’t trifle with Tir Na Og
Or find these portals for free
The clearing spun; a kaleidoscope,
Or a rainbow on some drunken spree

Colors flew and sang and filled
My ears with a insane buzz
And I found myself facing a yellow moth
Somewhat bigger than I was

He flew into the whirling colors
And when at last I coulds look around
I found only about three inches
From my head to the loam covered ground

Beside me the tree soared skyward
And I saw what had been there before
As a tiny crack at the tree’s base
Was a vaulted and towering door

And standing in the dark opening
All smiling and serene
Was a beautiful red haired woman
Dressed in wide silks of green

Her voice was like cream on moonbeams
Like stars on sweet sea foam
“Welcome,” she said, “to our dwelling
Our Home Away from Home

So glad we are that you’ve joined us
We hardly know where to begin . . .
A feast is prepared in the dwelling
Come in, my dear, come in

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

I knew it was never this easy
Soft words to entangle, entwine
But I’d known all along what I found here
Would be precisely what I would find

So I smiled at the beautiful lady
And I entered the darkened doorway
To find a hall so majestic
That my breath was fair taken away

The walls were covered with carvings
Of stars and beasts and flowers
Which glowed from inside with the soft light
Of golden kissed moonbeam showers

A feast was laid there on trestles
Full marvelous to behold
Vines twined ‘round plates of silver
And goblets of wine made of gold

“Come break your fast!” said the clear voice
“Here’s all that a mortal desires
Bread soft as heaven, and sweetmeats
Mulled wine come just from the fires”

I smiled as I looked at the trestles
And I said, “What a feast here for free!
But I’ve heard it’s unwise to unthinking
Partake in the food of the Sidhe”

Here smile only deepened
She looked down at the carved wooden floor
She said, “you might as well eat, dear,
Your mistake was to walk through the door”

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

I turned back to the dark doorway
To find it had quite disappeared
The walls were all covered with carvings
Of the towering Mountain of Wyrd

“A mortal who walks through that portal
Returns not to Valley or Dale
You’ve crossed over into a new land
You’ve walked through Tir Na Og’s veil”

I smiled at the beautiful Lady
“I did recognize your veiled portal
But I'm not really sorry to tell you
You’ve captured a . . . not quite a mortal”

One delicate eyebrow raised
Said I, “I hope this explains . . .”
And I held out my open hand to her
‘neath a tracing of bright green veins

She threw back her head in laughter
And took my outstretched hand
She laughed, “This is so delightful!
The best trick I ever planned!

Look just what I’ve done here!
Unheard in the tales of the Shide!
By my well woven ruses and wiles
I’ve a Dryad trapped in a tree!”

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

Our eyes were both full of laughter
As we stood there holding hands
Then she laughed, “your not off the hook yet,
I’ve still got a few demands

You have walked into my portal
Now you must give something back
And if I am not mistaken
That’s a harp there at your back.”

“It is,” said I, still laughing
“Though that guessing isn’t hard
Though I am Dryad of the Woodland
I am also a wandering Bard

Are you telling me I can win freedom
For the price of a well turned song?
That is surely something worth doing
I don’t see how I could go wrong”

“We’ll make a barter pact,” said she
What is it you most require?
What would you ask of the Fair Folk
If you had your fondest desire?”

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

“I can give you a tune as soul soaring
As the song of the rarest of birds . . .
And what would I ask in return?
What I seek are enchanted words”

The smile fell from her face
And she dropped my hand
“Though you may come as a friend here
There is something you must understand

The secrets of Tuatha De Danaan
Are never to be bought for a song
We’ll give no magic away here
To someone who doesn’t belong”

I smiled and shook my head
“I seek for no such chance
The enchanted words I am questing
Are the kind that make poetry dance”

“Ah! That is a different story”
She looked at me in thought
“That kind of enchantment we could share
Though its something that couldn’t be bought

So, I’ll make a trade with a Dryad
If you will take this final chance
Besides your song, you must feast here
And beside me you must come and dance”

I laughed and I said, “I agree then
I’ll accept your ‘final chance’
I looked down at my traveling clothes
“Though I’m not dressed at all to dance.”

She laughed, stars sparkling on sunset,
And said, “this is no distress
It seems you’re as small as I am
I’m sure you can borrow a dress!”

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

So we feasted into the starlight
And I played them my sweetest tune
And in a borrowed gown of lilac
I danced ‘neath the light of the moon

Beside the beautiful lady
Of the Tuatha De Danaan I danced
I Never have spent such charmed hours
Enchanted, enthralled and entranced

I was, in truth, unsure of the outcome
Though ‘chance’ was the way that I chose
But I awoke in the morning
Clutching a blood red rose

Leaning against the trees trunk
Just the right size I should be
With nothing else at all to show
I’d spent the night with the Sidhe

‘Til I opened my sack, and opened my book
To find bright dancing words there penned
And at the end, in life-green ink
‘From Roisin, your friend’

Sing for the words that are wakening
Sing wild for a bright game of chance
Sing for the turn it is taking
Sing hey, For the Dance, For the Dance!

Roisin, Daughter of Dana



©Edwina Peterson Cross

7 Comments:

At 8:59 PM, Blogger AshleyShea said...

Your ballad, and your dress, are exquisite!

 
At 11:24 PM, Blogger le Enchanteur said...

This is breathtaking Winnie. I do believe I have met or know Alejandro. You make a particularly lovely couple.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger Imogen Crest said...

A masterpiece. A fusion. The most beautiful presentations of the spirits....how lovely...I will never forget this tale, ever, Hermit.

 
At 3:09 AM, Blogger faucon of Sakin'el said...

Your ballad, known before, is exquisite. This new setting with Alejandro becomes a symphony -- a pending book perhaps??

 
At 3:13 AM, Blogger Imogen Crest said...

Welcome, welcome too, with such a grand entrance...hope you find the Hermitage a place to come back to whenever you need to, Hermit.

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger Megan Warren said...

An entrance to the Hermitage like only you know how. I love the ballad and the pictures.

 
At 4:16 AM, Blogger michellev said...

This is captivating, whimsical and a delight to discover. Thank you for sharing your magical moments.

 

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