a poem by C.A. Shoultz
Into the trees as sunny day
Went stooping at long last behind
The hills so green and lush with life,
And heat that wavered in the air
Grew finally to cooler warmth–
As longest day to shortest night
Gave way, I moved into the trees.
So soon the blackened sky above
Was pricked with stars that fiery shone
And bugs with stars upon their backs
Rose lazy, hazy through the dark
So as to make the trees gleam soft
With gentle light of yellowed hue–
So came the night of summertide.
Among the forest lit this way
I made my path, and could espy
More shapes and figures through the trees,
Who made their way alike to mine.
I saw upon a nearby bark
A signature scratched gently on–
But whose it was, I could not tell.
And then a child appeared to me–
Or not a child, for so he seemed
Much older than he looked to be.
He handed me a crimson mask.
“For life and love,” he said, so free–
I shrugged, and put the red mask on,
And through the woods was further drawn.
The golden light now shone like dawn,
And yet the night grew deeper still.
Amid the woods I saw a faun,
Or something like it, goat-legged, move
And through the branches wisps were drawn,
And spirits of the ancient dead,
Like me, to see what lay ahead.
I felt a joy, and yet a dread,
As I at last seemed to arrive
At that procession’s mighty head,
Where in a golden gleam there stood
A boy with pan pipes, who then said,
With voice that fired my weary heart,
“We are all here, ‘tis time to start!
But one of you fits not his part.
You there, with poet’s eyes agleam.
You were not meant to join our stream.
But time to time your type will find
Their way among the fairykind.
You’ve naught to fear—we’ll treat you well.
We’ll play no tricks, we’ll weave no spell.
But in return, we ask a boon.
Our revelries are gone too soon.
We sport in gossamer and dust.
Our dances do not last; you must
Record our tumult in your song,
So mortals know we yet live long–
Know that the fair folk frolic still.
So, poet, do take up your quill.”
The child, whose name I knew quite well,
Bowed to me then, and on his hill
He blew his pipe and all was wild.
The forest stirred to life, until
No bough or branch unmoved remain–
And I could not my joy contain.
But, good sir Robin, I maintain
You did my powers overrate.
Or rather, that bright fairy train
Was far beyond all poets’ skill.
I can, perhaps, a glimpse sustain.
A distant shadow my mind casts;
A snippet, now, is all that lasts.
So dappled knights in gold and silk
Made sport in air on dragons’ backs!
So stars in gowns and crowns their ilk
Came down to mingle with, and tack!
So far beyond my meager eyes
I could not see, but could surmise
That all was right
That all was bright
Both fae and wight
To their delight
Did sport with color, motion, sound,
Such that my very heartbeat’s round
Kept perfect clime with cosmic rhyme
And sang a song as old as time.
I felt that all eternal was,
That what once did, will do, and does.
The fair folk know this lovely truth.
And so do we all in our youth.
I felt next heat and light arise,
Upon my eyelids, gently closed.
I woke, and laid beneath a tree.
The verses you have read were there,
Complete-composed inside my head.
And, minding an old bard’s advice,
I clapped my hands, in thanks of show.
C.A. Shoultz is a poet and writer currently living in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Great Texts of the Western Tradition, and is currently attending the University of Dallas, where he is obtaining a Master of Arts in English Literature.
His previous poem for us was “The Dancer.”