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Overmuch Magic

Published at 15:49:17-0800
Tags: poetry, elfland, semifound

This is the fourth, final, and longest of my semi-found poems inspired by choice phrases from The King of Elfland's Daughter.

The men of the parliament gathered again to take counsel.
Threl had witnessed their lord of an evening, alone on the downs,
Totally motionless, list'ning to soundings from Elfland,
With his eyes to the East as he listened — yet no sound was there.

"We sought magic for Erl from his father, and magic is here —
We have more than enough," stated Threl, voicing fears for them all.
"Let him follow no more after witchery," someone replied.
"Let us go to his chamber —" Threl stopped him. "Too late for that now."

Then Guhic rose slowly and stood by himself at the table,
As trolls gibbered like bats in the loft, and shapes prowled in the dark.
"If the eyes of Orion, our lord, are now turnéd to Elfland,
Let our parliament go to Ziroonderel, up on the hill,
And beseech her to cast us a spell against overmuch magic."

At the name of Ziroonderel — nary a troll in the night
Nor a will-o-wisp lacked for a fear of her magical broom —
All twelve men were enheartened. Tomorrow, they'd wear holy clothes,
And they'd end their work early, to visit the witch before nightfall.

When the parliament came to her door, she was sitting outside it,
Looking nowise the older for all of the coming of years.
"Mother Witch," began Narl, "we are met here to pray you to give us
Some good spell for a charm against magic, that no more will come
To the valley of Erl, where the magic is now overmuch."

"Overmuch magic! You speak as though magic were not
All the spice and the essence and ornamentation of life.
By my broom," said the witch, "I will give you no spell against magic."

And they thought of the wandering lights and the gibbering things,
All the strangeness and evil that ran in the valley of Erl,
And besought her again, speaking suavely. "Oh, Mother Witch,
There is overmuch magic indeed, and the border with Elfland
Has been broken. The trolls and the goblins should stay in their elf-holes,
And we men with our folk and our fam'lies and homes, here in Erl.
Mother Witch, for our homes, will you give us no spell against magic?"

"By my broom and by stars and night-riding, I give you no spell!
I would sooner grant spells against water to make the world thirst,
Than a spell against stream-song which evening hears faintly past hills,
Whereby we hear old wars and lost loves of the Spirits of rivers.
I would sooner cast spells against bread, that the people should starve,
Than a spell against wheat in gold hollows of moonlit July,
Through which those of whom mankind knows nothing may rove in the night.

I would spell against comfort and clothing, and shelter, and warmth,
And would do so before I would tear from the poor fields of Earth
Any magic which makes, against Space and its chill, ample cloak,
And gay raiment against sneers of nothingness. Go hence to Erl!

And to you who sought magic in youth, but in age seek it not,
Know that age brings a blindness of spirit, as blindness of eye;
Brings a darkness, across which no truth may be well apprehended.
No voice from that darkness shall move me to spell against magic!"