Wrapped in her castle of stone and bristling thorn
One fortunate girl slept through the dark till dawn
Brought love, a noble lover and a waking kiss,
Company, talk, and better far than this.
Her sister’s tale, sadder, real and grey,
Is never sung, though lived through every day;
No wish nor chance, of sleep, no star to guide
Or steed to bear her whither she would ride.
Lightless, restless, the whittling knife, her friend,
Counselled fierce combat or a tragedy’s end.
A flesh-fly, just breakfasted, looked over from his leaf,
And, knowing the world, took pity on her grief.
“Lady”, he said, “though you must pass these hours alone
Awake, aware, fearful, dull to the very bone
Think not but that your lover, though no lord,
Loves you as much as soul can well afford,
And will cut his way through these dark bowers,
To bring you both much lighter, happier hours.”
“Oh fly”, she said, “you know not how I long!”
“Oh Lady”, he replied, “plate glass is strong,
And hours have I spent, vainly striving
To be out again, winging and wiving,
Beating my head against its glacial wall
And hearing close by dear Musca’s plaintive call,
Seeing her trembling limbs, her gleaming wings
And in her rainbow eyes a million things,
The sky, the flowers, a rotting dump of dung,
And on the butcher’s slab a fresh-cut lung.
Oh tell me not of crueller, sharper pangs
Than pining for blood and lacking for diamond fangs.”
He paused, and shuffled his many shoeless feet,
She smiled, and thought of other cuts of meat.
So fly and lady talked the hours away
And talk so still, and must until the day
When Clod shall come at last with map and horse
Love in his heart, and a clear, fixed course.